Pope 2 You

Follow Pope Benedict XVI on Twitter!  As part of your Lenten devotion, receive words from His Holiness via Twitter!


An interesting way the Vatican is reaching out to the world.
More here:  http://pope2you.net/

Being Tested?

Disqus Comments

If you don't see comments attached to posts - don't fret!  I've just added the "Disqus" feature, and comments (as of this posting) are in the process of being imported.  They should be here within 24 hours.  

Ash Wednesday


We are reminded, "from dust we came and to dust we shall return."  

Today begins the 40 days of penance traditionally celebrated in the Catholic Church, and a tradition carried on by many Protestant communities as well.  We offer up something which we would do regularly, or even something which will cause some lack of comfort.  Many give up some sort of food product, and each time when we would have partaken in that food, our mind is brought to the reason we're doing this - to be mindful of THE Sacrifice Christ underwent for us.

Haiti - Two Years Later

Things are still bad for Haiti, but perhaps not quite as bad as we were initially led to believe:



We initially posted (click here) a plea for help for the Haitian people, especially those in and around Port au Prince.  While the death toll may not be as high as they initially (or the Haitian government still reports), there is still help needed.  Some specific needs are pointed out in the following USA Today article:


God of Calvinism

SW: I wrote: "Our God is not the god of Calvinism."(1)  To which John Lollard wrote:
JL: I think that's a strange thing to hear you say. How seriously do you believe that Calvinists worship a false god of their own construction?
SW: I am quite serious about this.  They have taken a few verses from the context of Scripture as a whole and portray God as an unloving, arbitrary and unjust god.  I know, they reject this portrayal, but truly they can't get around it.   A favorite cited in response to Catholics is Romans 9:18,  "Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will; and whom he will, he hardeneth."   This is not saying that God has already decided, in our view of time, whom He will have mercy upon or whom He will harden, only that in specific cases, such as Pharoah (v. 17) where He has singled out someone to demonstrate His power, "To this purpose have I raised thee, that I may shew my power in thee, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth."  Consider why God would want to "show His power" - that His Name may be declared throughout the earth... not just "the Elect" - but the entire earth.   Why would God need to have His Name declared throughout the earth if He's already decided whom He will save and whom He will condemn?  Calvinist logic is severely lacking here!

The context continues on:  
19Thou wilt say therefore to me: Why doth he then find fault? for who resisteth his will? 20O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus? 21Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?  22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, 23That he might shew the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he hath prepared unto glory?  
The Calvinist would compare the Catholic position to the clay complaining to the Potter, however, again, the context is NOT about everyone in general being created for mercy or hardening, but for specific cases, like Pharoah.  Again, it makes no sense that God would need or want to proclaim His power to the earth if He's already made up His mind.
JL: For instance, if Calvinists worship a different (and hence false) god, then are they Christians?
SW: That would depend on how hard you want to draw the line of defining "Christian."  If that line is drawn at "one who believes in Jesus Christ," then I would say they are Christian.  Likewise, I would say Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are Christian by that standard.  If the line is drawn at "one who believes Jesus Christ is True God and True Man, who gives Himself freely to ALL who will accept Him as their Lord and Savior," that pretty much eliminates the LDS, JWs AND Calvinists.  So, when I speak "seriously" about this matter of a "different gospel" and/or the "false god of Calvinism," it is this higher view of God, not the overly simplified "one who believes in Jesus Christ."
JL: If so, then in what sense?
SW: Well, I have pretty much answered that above.  To reiterate, if one is taking this higher view of God as One who "freely gives" Himself to ALL who will accept Him, then we (Catholics v. Calvinists) don't have the same deity.  
JL:  In worshipping their false Calvinist deity, are they guilty of idolatry?
SW:  Idolatry implies the worship of an actual object, like a statue or a mountain or a tree, so no, I would not call their worship "idolatry."

SW: The above answers the direct questions Mr. Lollard asked, but how about some more details?

What is the god of Calvinism?
Calvinism adheres to a strict concept of predestination where by they believe that God has already predestined everyone to Heaven or Hell.  Let us look at Calvin's own words:
In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns the elect, is founded on his gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; but that to those whom he devotes to condemnation, the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible, judgment. In the elect, we consider calling as an evidence of election, and justification as another token of its manifestation, till they arrive in glory, which constitutes its completion. As God seals his elect by vocation and justification, so by excluding the reprobate from the knowledge of his name and the sanctification of his Spirit, he affords an indication of the judgement that awaits them. (emphasis mine).(2)
Now, while I agree with Calvin that for those who are saved this is founded/based on His gratuitous mercy and is totally irrespective of human merit.  No one "earns" salvation, but that is not what Calvinists of today focus on here!  They focus on the bolded text above and have developed an ungodly (from the perspective of the True God) concept of predestination.  I have recently had a discussion on "foreknowledge" with Barry Hofstetter(3)  and I believe it is this concept of foreknowledge or "prescience" where Calvinism goes awry.  

A proper sense of this foreknowledge or "prescience" would be based in the fact that from God's perspective there is no past or future.  God is outside of our concept of time.  RC Sproul explains it this way, separating foreknowledge from what God foreordains:
If God foreordains anything, it is absolutely certain that what He foreordains will come to pass. The purpose of God can never be frustrated. Even God's foreknowledge or prescience makes future events certain with respect to time. That is to say, if God knows on Tuesday that I will drive to Pittsburgh on Friday, then there is no doubt that, come Friday, I will drive to Pittsburgh. Otherwise God's knowledge would have been in error. Yet, there is a significant difference between God's knowing that I would drive to Pittsburgh and God's ordaining that I would do so. Theoretically He could know of a future act without ordaining it, but He could not ordain it without knowing what it is that He is ordaining. But in either case, the future event would be certain with respect to time and the knowledge of God.(4)
This brings us back to the so-called "Golden Chain of Redemption" discussion:
29For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren.30And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30
God does not predestine those whom He has not first foreknown!  Therein lies the fatal flaw of Calvinism's view on predestination!  Sproul (whom I often disagree with) has it right when he said, "He could not ordain it without knowing what it is that He is ordaining."  So those whom He has foreknown to make the right decisions and to persevere until the end of the race, it is those whom God has foreordained and calls "the elect."  If it were not so then Scripture itself would not make sense where it tells us to "persevere" and "run to win the race" or to "buffet (our) body" as St. Paul Himself said:
27But I chastise (buffet) my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27
If St. Paul himself worries about losing his own soul and becoming a "castaway" - how much more should the rest of us be concerned?  God does already know where we'll be at the "end of the race" - but from OUR PERSPECTIVE we cannot and do not KNOW this.  We can have confidence in the fact that by His Grace He has given us the strength to accomplish the desired end(5) and that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist the temptation(6).  These scriptural concepts make no sense if God foreordains WITHOUT foreknowledge of the outcomes of our temptations and/or perseverance.

Sometimes called the "classicus locus"(7) regarding Calvinism's predestination is Ephesians 1:3-11:
3Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ:
4As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity.
5Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will:
6Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved son.
7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace,
8Which hath superabounded in us in all wisdom and prudence,
9That he might make known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in him,
10In the dispensation of the fulness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him.
11In whom we also are called by lot, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will.
Now, keep in mind, the person writing this also wrote what we read above in 1 Corinthians 9:27!  So, either we have a contradiction of thought in St. Paul of 1 Corinthians v. St. Paul of Ephesians or this concept of predestination is based in foreknowledge - that God has foreknown the acts of men and therefore based upon this knowledge He predestines some to Heaven and others to Hell.  Rather than assent to a scriptural contradiction here, logic would side with the latter rather than the former.  If we read Ephesians 1 from the perspective that God already knows then it is not difficult to accept that He has also predestined those who will, in our perspective of time, persevere to the end and receive the prize which awaits the winner of the race.

The god of Calvinism is a "sovereign god" who will not have his will dictated by the acts of men.    This god has created men for salvation and others for damnation - simply because he desires some to live eternally with him and at the same time wishes some to perish in everlasting fire.  When one points out the unlovingness or unfairness of such a god - the Calvinist will be quick to throw Romans 9:18ff into the argument.  As we have already seen, Romans 9 is not about mankind in general, but about specific individuals whom God has used to show His power and might.  

Catholicism does not deny the sovereignty of God - we accept that it is PART OF GOD'S FREE WILL(8) that God GAVE men FREE WILL.  God ALLOWS for men to freely choose or reject Him (except in specific cases, as pointed out in Romans 9, where God uses individuals for His Own purpose).  That ALLOWS for men to truly LOVE Him, for God IS Love(9). Love is not something forced upon another, no true love is something GIVEN and GIVEN FREELY by the lover(10).  Therefore it is illogical to think that God chose "the elect" without their consent and through some "Irresistible Grace" (the "I" in TULIP) God has forced "the elect" into obedience and a warped concept of "love."  It is God's Will that we love Him, TRULY love Him - and those outside of His Will will suffer the ultimate - an eternity without God.

I hope this discussion has helped you, and if it has - I invite your comments.  As always, I also invite those critical of what I have said to comment.  


(1) Windsor, Scott earlier on the CathApol Blog.
(2) Calvin, John,  Institutes, Book III, Chapter 21.7 - qtd. from here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/calvin-predestin2.asp full source and context available here: http://www.reformed.org/books/institutes/books/book3/bk3ch21.html
(3) Catholic Debate Forum discussion started here and continues here then the concept is further challenged here.
(4) Sproul, R.C. qtd. from here: http://www.the-highway.com/DoublePredestination_Sproul.html
(5) Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me."
(6) 1 Corinthians 10:13 - "Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it."
(7) White, James R. from debate: Does the Bible Teach Predestination? 
(8) CCC 295 We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance. We believe that it proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: "For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." Therefore the Psalmist exclaims: "O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all"; and "The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made."
(9) CCC 257 "O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!" God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the "plan of his loving kindness", conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: "He destined us in love to be his sons" and "to be conformed to the image of his Son", through "the spirit of sonship". This plan is a "grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began", stemming immediately from Trinitarian love. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.
(10) CCC 2002 God's free initiative demands man's free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of "eternal life" respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:
If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed "very good" since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.

Moses Stop It!

Divine Liturgy

A friend of mine gave me a copy of the following CD, and all I can say is that it is just AWESOME!  Now that is a word I only use in reference to things of God - and this most definitely fits that requirement.  It is the Divine Liturgy #3 of St. John Chrysostom.  I highly recommend this!  Give a listen to the samples and see if you do not agree with me.  It is SO glorious - and what's more - though the choir is out of this world (nearly angelic!) - this is not some special occasion - but the REGULAR way of the Eastern Rite of Catholicism as well as Eastern Orthodoxy.  Please, do give it a listen and see if you do not find yourself meditating on things beyond this world!  

Liturgy No. 3 - English (The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) 

Have You Found Jesus?

Tribute to Julianne

This week marks the first anniversary of Julianne's passing.  This video takes you on a walk through Julianne's life and entrance into eternity. 

"We will not comply..."

Bishop Slattery of Tulsa's message on the heathcare mandate.

For anyone who wants to see (or hear) what the Bishops are saying, go to Fr. Z's blog for updates.

Many Are Called

Today, Septuagesima Sunday (welcome to Lent!), at the Extraordinary Rite of the Mass, the readings struck a chord with me, especially in regard to the discussion I'm having with Barry Hofstetter on the Catholic Debate Forum (CDF).  The readings scream out against Calvinist theology, let us look at them first and then comments to follow:

EPISTLE 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-5
Brethren: Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize. So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud: and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food: And all drank the same spiritual drink: (And they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.) But with most of them God was not well pleased.
 GOSPEL Matt. 20:1-16
At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable:"The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle. And he said to them: 'Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.' And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: 'Why stand you here all the day idle?' They say to him: 'Because no man hath hired us.' He saith to them: 'Go ye also into my vineyard.' And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: 'Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.' When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: And they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, Saying: 'These last have worked but one hour. and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.' But he answering said to one of them: 'friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?' So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen."
So, let us start from the last words and work our way back...
"For many  are called, but few are chosen." 
Again, with Barry in mind and is Calvinist position of God's perfect sovereignty, foreknowledge and predestination...  how does this "calling" of "many" resolve to "but few are chosen?"   If "many are called" then why differentiate from "the chosen?"  Shouldn't it be (according to Calvinism) "many are called, and those same many are chosen?"  Was God, in a Calvinist view, somehow "imperfect" in this "calling" so that from that "many" only "few" are "chosen?"
The Laborers in the Vineyard
This is a comparison to the Kingdom of Heaven - where even those "chosen" at the "last hour" will receive the same reward as those chosen in the first, third, sixth and ninth hour.  One could ask, "Why does God not just take them all at once?"  Or, "If God's foreknowledge is perfect, then why are not all found at the first hour and 'chosen'?"  I'm not suggesting that God's foreknowledge is imperfect, but from a Calvinist view, at least from many who have engaged me in discussion and debate, God has already made up His mind.  It seems inconsistent then this story of the laborers being "chosen" at different hours.
But with most of them God was not well pleased.
This section deals with the people of Israel, God's "Chosen People" - yet "with most of them, God was not well pleased."   Again, how does a Calvinist explain that God "chose" these people, and yet He is not pleased with them?!  If, as per Calvinism's "Irresistible Grace" (the "I" in TULIP) His grace or calling is irresistible, how then could He (God) not be entirely pleased with the people of Israel (those "in Moses")?
Run That You May Obtain. 
Again, this part of the passage is wholly inconsistent with Calvinism.  First off, why run at all?  God has made His Choice - so no matter how much one runs or strives to "win the race" - it  really doesn't matter at all, God has already chosen!  But the clincher is next:
I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.
Why is St. Paul himself worried about his salvation?!  If even St. Paul could "become a castaway" - then so much moreso you or I!  So much for the "OSAS" (Once Saved, Always Saved) mentality of the "P" in TULIP (the Perseverance of the saints).
May God richly bless all who read this, and may those trapped in Calvinism be set free.

James White on John 6 Open Challenge

In a discussion at BeggarsAll the subject of a Purgatory Debate between James White and Tim Staples came up.  So I looked for the debate.  It turns out it wasn't an all-out formal "debate" - but Staples was a guest on White's "Dividing Line" webcast last year (which will now cost you $1.50 to hear it!)  Similarly, I was on White's program eleven years ago and while it used to be free, it will now cost you $2.25 to hear it.  When it was free, I also made a copy available on my site - for free - I'll see if I can still offer that.  Anyway, what struck me was the opening comment on White's blog concerning the alleged Purgatory debate:
Don't hold your breath for the invitation for me to be on Catholic Answers Live to discuss, oh, "Does John 6 Teach the Roman Catholic Doctrine of the Eucharist," (I'd do it in a heartbeat), but today we had Tim Staples on the program for 90 minutes to debate 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and the doctrine of purgatory.
Wait!  "Does John 6 Teach the Roman Catholic Doctrine of the Eucharist" was SUPPOSED to be the topic of my "debate" or "appearance" on his webcast!  THAT was the topic I was prepared to discuss!  My debate skills, however, were not keen enough to bring him back to the subject I THOUGHT we were to be discussing - and he took us down a path of Calvinism and "Who Is Drawn?"  I have a few responses to THAT question, and even during that program from January 13, 2001 - while I would not say I "won" that debate, I believe, even unprepared to discuss White's agenda, I held my own against him - and have offered him questions on the subject which remain unanswered.  In the "post debate/discussion" I believe I have "won" (especially since White has not responded to the post debate/discussion, and in debate silence lends itself to consent), but you can judge for yourself here:
Open Challenge to James White:   
"Does John 6 Teach the Roman Catholic Doctrine of the Eucharist?"  
You said you do that "in a heartbeat" for Catholic Answers, well how about me?  However, instead of on your turf (your program, and live debate where I am among the first to admit, you're good, even VERY good at live debate), I propose a WRITTEN debate, and we can conduct the 'Cross-Examination" phase live - either in yours or my IRC chat channel - or even on your Dividing Line webcast.  In the written medium the playing field is a bit more leveled, but I will consent to PART of this debate being "live."  How about it James?  (I'm not holding my breath).


May Faithful Catholics Disagree?

10:21 PM, JANUARY 31, 2012 (Link to EA's comment on BeggarsAll)
EA said:  
Scott has responded that Catholics can disagree with popes under certain circumstances. Even if I granted that premise in the example of Peter and Paul, how is that in the slightest exculpatory to the charge that the direction of two popes specifically addressing the instruction of Scholastic Philosophy to the clergy has been flouted? 
Scott replies:  Even if you granted the premise of Sts. Peter and Paul?  How can you NOT grant that premise? The fundamental challenge for Catholics is:  "How can a pope be contradicted?"  It really doesn't matter if that person challenging is a fellow bishop, a later pope or even laity, fundamentally speaking.  Now keeping the fundamental premise in mind - for Catholics, St. Peter IS our first pope, and he was contradicted by St. Paul.  If you're not accepting the premise based upon OUR point of view - then we're pretty much done here, as I cannot speak for a premise which is not mine.
Now, that being said you're still talking a matter of DISCIPLINE when it comes to a thought process a given pope or even group of popes wishes to be taught at Catholic universities.  Matters of DISCIPLINE CAN CHANGE!  

EA continues:
Are any Catholics taking the position that these popes were wrong?
Scott replies: No! Because NONE of them are "wrong" on this matter!

EA continues:  
It seems to me to be more a case that there are new occupants of the papal and diocesan chairs and that perhaps what was said many years ago by others is of little value.
Scott replies: There is "value" to BOTH positions! Again I reiterate, the type of philosophy taught in universities is NOT a matter of faith or morals - it's a matter of DISCIPLINE.

EA continues:  
I'm puzzled that Catholics expect Protestants to take seriously the utterances of a magesterium pertaining to faith and morals that Catholics themselves ignore.
Scott replies: That would be the "magisterium" you refer to, but again - the topic being discussed here is that of DISCIPLINE and NOT of faith and morals.  

EA said:  
I'm confident that the practices of providing a diligent and sworn report every three years to the Holy See, as with diocesan Councils of Vigilance held every two months and holding scholasticism in the highest regard, though enjoined by the Holy Father on the bishops of all dioceses, are no longer observed.
Scott replies: I too would be confident in this, as well as saddened. I am of the OPINION that Thomist scholasticism should be the philosophy of ALL Catholic universities too.

EA also said (quoting me first):  
SW: The next thing I'd say is that the quote from then Fr. Ratzinger is an obscure quote from an obscure source making it very difficult to check on the context. Therefore, without being able to see the context, I reject this quote from Fr. Ratzinger.

EA: The source for the quote in question is from a German Theological Journal article which has not been translated into English; Zum Problem Unfehlbarkeit (Karl Rahner editor, 1971). I have found references to this quote on-line only in citations from German and Portugese sources. Two English sites have a translation of the quote. Both however, are hyper-traditionalist Catholic sites and I doubt you would rely on their word for it. I have located an original edition in German and will have the pertinent section translated myself. I'm sure that your rejection of the quote will be renewed, though on different grounds at that point.

Scott replies: If you wish to spend the time to get this quote AND its context translated, fine - but you'll just be spinning your wheels. Even if contextually it says exactly how the "hyper-traditionalist Catholic sites" have represented it, it's still a matter of DISCIPLINE and NOT one of faith and morals. I rejected the citation because it is obscure, not due to its accuracy. Accurate or not, you're not talking a matter of dogma here so the entire premise of this discussion is based in ignorance. So I would not necessarily "reject" the quote itself, but I would reject the relevance of it to this discussion.

I do appreciate your efforts and zeal, but so far as this matter is concerned, they seem misdirected.


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...