Assurance of Salvation

“From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me.” 
(1 Tim 4:8)

Paul seems to be certain of his final destiny in this passage but is he claiming that once one becomes Christian that heaven is a guarantee upon our deaths?  

The context of this passage tells us that Paul was writing this letter on the eve of his announced execution.  The study notes from the Ignatius Study Bile explains this passage thussly:

“The reward of everlasting righteousness (Gal 5:5) that awaits the saints, who have persevered in the grace of God (James 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4).  The image alludes to the garland or victory wreath used to crown winning athletes in the ancient Olympics (1 Cor 9:25).  Paul’s confidence that such a reward awaits him rests on his sense of accomplishment, since after 30 years of ministry, toil and suffering, he has remained firm in the faith without straying from the course set for him by Christ (2 Tim 4:7; Acts 20:24).”

Does this mean though that even though we have persevered up to now that we are guaranteed heaven?  If we died today possibly, if we have no unforgivien mortal sin on our souls at the time of death but how do we know that we will persevere until the end since we are not imminently clear that we are on the threshold of death at the moment?  Earlier in his ministry Paul himself wasn’t so sure of his final destiny because he didn’t presume to know the future while the race was still in progress.  He said: “If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16) or even more clearly, also early on in his ministry.  He says: “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” ( 1 Cor 4:4)

No, it is quite clear that our final destiny, our salvation is not necessarily assured once we’ve truly accepted Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior.  There are many Scripture passages describing this reality.  Jesus Himself said that even those who call on Jesus as their Lord shall not necessarily enter the kingdom of heaven (Mat 7:21).

Don’t be discouraged because we have a just and loving God.  He does indeed promise us eternal salvation if we persevere and that no trial shall be too great to bear with Him at our side for our trust in Him lightens our burden.  Jesus explains: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat 11:29-30).

Lay your burdens at the cross and pick up your own and do it daily (Luke 9:23) knowing that whatever burdens may come He will give you whatever strength you need once you put your confidence in Him (Sir 52:23,26).

God Bless

Purgatory Question

Hello! I am a Protestant, but I just have a clarifying question. I appreciate your explanation of purgatory, but I confess that I still am not so clear on its necessity. I understand that nothing unclean can enter heaven...but what is the necessity of putting forth a doctrine about the mechanism by which God purifies? Is that just for information purposes or is there some other need being met for the believer to be taught this mechanism?

In Christ,

First off, thank you for the question, I am answering here in a new post instead of in the one you asked in, since that one is two and a half years old at this point.  Your comment is linked above and I have linked this article back in the original spot of your comment.

Secondly, what we believe is that Scripture has laid out the "mechanism" by which God purifies.  We see it as "necessary" because it is truth - and we must put forth the truth of God.  Nathan recently posted an article here with scriptural references for Purgatory (click here).  For the Church to withhold truth simply because it doesn't fit with Protestant theology would not be honest nor beneficial to the sincere believer who is seeking the fullness of truth, which, of course, we believe can only be found in the Catholic Church.  The fact that virtually all of Protestantism either ignores or flat out denies this truth is quite telling, would you not agree?

Again, I urge you to read Nathan's article and if you have further comments or questions, feel free to post here under this article (which will not be moderated until 4 weeks after posting).


Time To Change the Holy Water

Austrian researchers have discovered that church fonts contain very high levels of bacteria and a majority of water samples from holy sources contain fecal matter.
Experts from the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna analyzed the water in 21 holy springs in Austria and in 18 fonts in Vienna at various times during the year, the Daily Mail reported.
They found that 86 percent of water samples from holy sources contain fecal matter, and every milliliter of holy water contained up to 62 million bacteria, none of it safe to drink.
Not surprisingly, the busier the church, the more bacteria it had in its font from people’s hands.
In addition to E. coli bacteria and enterococci, the holy springs contained Campylobacter, which can cause inflammatory diarrhea, the Mail reported. Nitrates from agriculture also made the water unsafe for drinking.
“We need to warn people against drinking from these sources,” said Alexander Kirschner, a microbiologist at the Medical University of Vienna.
He recommends changing the holy water often and adding salt to the fonts to reduce the chance of bacteria thriving, the Mail reported.

Wow!  Time to talk to our priests about how often the Holy Water is changed!  I know for a fact that at the chapel where I assisted the sacristine, only enough Holy Water was put out for each day's Mass.  What was left would evaporate before the next day so each day was "fresh" Holy Water.  Maybe this is a European cultural problem?  Note, the study was from the University of Vienna, and may not apply globally.  

I cannot speak beyond my own experiences at the moment - have any of you been a sacristine or assisted?  What was the practice at your parish?  I also know for a fact that salt is used during the initial blessing of Holy Water too, maybe those sampled did not use enough salt during that consecration?


Faith, Hope and Charity

Faith, Hope and Charity - you're heard, I'm sure "the greatest of these is charity" (1 Cor. 13:13) but which is the "weakest?"  We often find opportunities to strengthen Faith and Charity, but what of Hope?  In a French parable I was told by a French priest and as you can see in the Eastern icon to the right, Faith and Charity are portrayed as mature, and queenly - yet Hope is portrayed as a little girl.  Why is that?  Because Hope does not get exercised as much, and doesn't mature.  What does this mean to us as Christians?  Seeing that you're reading this now, you're likely somewhat interested in apologetics, which allows you to flex your "Faith muscles" or at least give them some exercise.  One would hope too that this exercising is done with Charity too, so both are getting strengthened and built up (when apologetics are done appropriately, per 1 Peter 3:15).

As Christians we are also called to do acts of charity, giving to the poor, spending time with the lonely, etc.  So if one is living their Faith, then Charity grows naturally from that Faith.  So, this is why we see these two portrayed as more mature adults.  Hope is still a child because she is not put to the test except, typically speaking, in times of great need - and for most of us, we don't see such times very often.

When we find ourselves on our deathbed, Faith and Charity may only take us so far - but Hope is what we're going to need the most in that hour when Satan attacks us and tries to bring us into the sin of despair.  In reality this is the "unforgiveable sin" for when one is in despair at that final hour they have given up on Faith and Charity - so THAT is where Satan will focus his attacks!  Despair is not only the loss of Hope, but also a loss of Faith.  

What is the difference between St. Peter and Judas Iscariot?  Both were Apostles, and both betrayed our Lord, yet one is exalted while the other shamed and condemned.  The difference is Judas went into despair, he did not believe Jesus would forgive him of his betrayal and went off and hanged himself.   St. Peter, on the other hand, after flatly denying our Lord was forgiven and Peter accepted His Grace!  The contrast between these two is stark - but their similarities are startling as well.

The point is Hope needs to be strengthened and matured so that we are more able to endure the attacks of Satan who would like nothing more than to get us to fall into despair, like Judas, and he "wins" another soul away from eternal salvation.  Having Hope gives us the ability to persevere through the darkness which can just about be guaranteed that each of us will go through.  So long as we have Hope, we can persevere - and those who persevere to the Last Day shall see eternal salvation (Matthew 10:22) see also:


Romans 8:24-25

Romans 12:12

Romans 15:13

Jeremiah 29:11

Psalm 39:7

Proverbs 23:18

1 Peter 3:15

Romans 5:4

Zechariah 9:12

Titus 3:7

Prayer Request

A good friend of mine underwent surgery this morning.  I have not heard how she's doing, please say a prayer for her.  I pray for God's Will to be done.  Will you join me?   I don't have her permission to post any details or even her name at this point - so if you can just pray for "Scott's Friend" - I'm sure God knows your intention and mine and can connect the two!


Sola Scriptura

14 But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it,  15 and that from infancy you have known [the] sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
(2 Tim 3:14-17)
The most damaging criticism of sola scriptura is the reality that the Bible doesn’t teach it.  This leads to an absurdity.  Those who believe in sola scriptura claim that everything that is essential for a Christian to know is clearly taught in the Bible.  However, the Bible does not teach that everything that is essential for a Christian to know is clearly taught in the Bible.

The passage that is most often cited as a proof text by those who support sola scriptura is 2 Tim 3:15-17.  Let’s examine that passage beginning with its immediate context.  Paul is clearly instructing Timothy and the church in Ephesus to be a faithful witness during difficult times.  There is no indication anywhere in this Epistle that he is contrasting Sacred Scripture with other sources of revelation, or even discussing the subject.

In addition, the “Scriptures” with which Timothy has been acquainted “from childhood” (verse 15) refers to the Old Testament.  Are we to believe that St. Paul is teaching that the Old Testament constitutes the only source needed to know what Jesus taught?
Secondly, Paul has many important things to say about the scriptures.  They “are able to instruct you for salvation in Christ Jesus” (v.15).  However, he doesn’t claim that only the scriptures can instruct one for salvation in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is inspired by God” (v.16), but Paul does not claim that only scriptures are inspired by God.  Paul also affirms that scripture is “useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (v.17), but he never asserts that only scripture is so useful.
Thirdly, This passage doesn’t teach formal sufficiency, which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and Church. Protestants extrapolate onto the text what isn’t there. If we look at the overall context of this passage, in 2 Timothy alone, Paul makes reference to oral Tradition three times (1:13-14, 2:2, and 3:14). And to use an analogy, let’s examine a very similar passage:
Ephesians 4:11-15 (RSV) - And His gifts were that some should be Apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are able to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.
If 2 Timothy 3:16-17 proves the sole sufficiency of Scripture, then by analogy, Ephesians 4:11-15 would likewise prove the sufficiency of prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth for the attainment of Christian perfection. In Ephesians 4:11-15 the Christian believer is equipped, built up, brought into unity and mature manhood, knowledge of Jesus, the fullness of Christ, and even preserved from doctrinal confusion by means of the teaching function of the Church. This is a far stronger statement of the perfecting of the saints than 2 Timothy 3:16-17, yet it doesn’t even mention Scripture!!

So if all Tradition and Church elements are excluded in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, then, by analogy, Scripture itself would logically have to be excluded in Ephesians 4:11-15! It is far more reasonable to recognize that the absence of one or more elements in one passage does not mean they are nonexistent. Hence, the Church, Tradition, and Scripture together are equally necessary and important for teaching. And of course this is the Catholic view.

As you can see, advocates of the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura (the “Bible only” theory) have a problem on their hands here.

If the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is true then we must be able to prove all doctrines from Scripture alone. If that is true, then we must be able to prove Sola Scriptura from Scripture alone. If we cannot do that then Sola Scriptura turns out to be self-refuting, an idea that cuts its own basis out from under itself, like the proposition “No generalizations are true.”


Naming Angels

18th Cent. "Angel de la Guarda"
I had an interesting discussion on the way to a retreat with some older ladies from my church.  The discussion was about naming guardian angels.  They talked about how a group one of them knew of suggested naming your guardian angel to make him more personal to you.  I did not feel comfortable with this conversation and it did not feel right to participate.  At the time, I had no good argument against it but I did have a gut feeling about it being wrong.  However, one of my theology professors stated outright that it is wrong.  This came up in another discussion so I thought I'd share a few thoughts on it.

217. Popular devotion to the Holy Angels, which is legitimate and good, can, however, also give rise to possible deviations:
  • when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel vision of the struggle to overcome the Devil, which requires moral commitment, a fundamental option for the Gospel, humility and prayer;

  • when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all setbacks to the Devil and all success to the Guardian Angels. The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.

    From: Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy  (published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Vatican City, Dec. 2001)

Popular 1900 postcard image
A popular devotion to guardian angels has been around for a very, very long time.  The angels already have names, as indicated by Scripture.  Naming yours would be like naming your dog or cat.  But, your guardian angel is not a pet and is not your possession.  He is a companion, a guide, a teacher, and a protector.  He is not here for your amusement; he has a special assignment from God--to watch over you.  God loves you that much.

Some of the things floating around out there, especially on the internet, border on or cross over into the realm of superstition (I've seen a webpage on how to find out your guardian angels name and cards to "read" his thoughts)--which is strictly forbidden by the Church.
2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.  (CCC)
17th c. Van der Weyden angels with Cross
Once you get into "feelings", sometimes practices of the faith become something else--not always healthy.  We have to keep in mind that angels are creatures and servants of God.  They are powerful and they are compassionate, but they are not our servants or our possessions.  Also, they are not their Master and we should not treat our guardian angel as a thing of worship, either.

There is a proper way of venerating angels and of devoting some time in thanking God for them and all that they do for us.

We thank them for protecting the Church:
215. The Church, which at its outset was saved and protected by the ministry of Angels, and which constantly experiences their "mysterious and powerful assistance"(281), venerates these heavenly spirts and has recourse to their prompt intercession.
During the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the role played by the Holy Angels, in the events of salvation(282) and commemorates them on specific days: 29 September (feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael), 2 October (the Guardian Angels).
(281) [CCC], 336.
(282) The same is true, for example in the solemnity of Easter and in the solemnities of the Annunciation (25 march), Christmas (25 December), Ascension, the Immaculate Conception (8 December), St. Joseph (19 March), Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), Assumption (15 August) and All Saints (1 November).

Pietro da Cortona, 1656
The Church asks them for our protection:

The Church implores God to send his Angels at the end of the day to protect the faithful as they sleep(289), prays that the celestial spirits come to the assistance of the faithful in their last agony(290), and in the rite of obsequies, invokes God to send his Angels to accompany the souls of just into paradise(291) and to watch over their graves.
289) Cf. ibid., Ad Completorium post II Vesperas Dominicae et Sollemnitatum, Oratio "Visita quaesumus".
(290) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo unctionis informorum eorumque patoralis curae, cit., 147.
(291) Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, Ordo exsequiarum , Editio Typica, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis 1969, 50.

And we've asked them to protect us in many ways:
216. Down through the centuries, the faithful have translated into various devotional exercises the teaching of the faith in relation to the ministry of Angels: the Holy Angels have been adopted as patrons of cities and corporations; great shrines in their honour have developed such as Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, San Michele della Chiusa in Piemonte and San Michele Gargano in Apulia, each appointed with specific feast days; hymns and devotions to the Holy Angels have also been composed.
The angels are a reality.  They are awesome and powerful servants of God.  We should neither neglect them, nor worship them.  We should honor them properly and not become superstitious about them.  We need to keep them in proper perspective and not get childish or out of hand about them.  While some saints and mystics seemed to have known the names of their guardian angels, we generally don't.  They already have names and don't need us to name them.

Bind and Loose Argument

The "Bind and Loose" Argument Rebutted

Over at GreenBaggins, Scott tried to make an argument for an infallible rule of faith other than the Bible.  He wrote: "The fact is that Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18 teach that man and/or those men can bind or loose, not just sin, but whatsoever they choose."  Let's consider this argument piece by piece:

"that man and/or those men"
Peter and the other apostles are gone.  Francis, like his predecessor Benedict XVI, is not an apostle of Jesus Christ, he did not personally receive revelation from Jesus as they did, It is a leap to say that the apostles could do X, therefore someone who is not an apostle can do X.

"bind and loose"
Of course, "bind and loose" doesn't sound anything like "define dogma."  It sounds more like freeing people from their sins or leaving people in condemnation for their sins.

"not just sin"
That sounds like Scott is saying, "sin and more."  But Rome's teaching of infallibility is that Rome is infallible only in her doctrinal and moral definitions, not in her exercise of discipline.  So, if it is "sin and more" and implies infallibility, then Scott has proved a point that is stronger than what Rome can adopt.  After all, a Roman bishop exonerated Pelagius (and then later condemned), a Roman bishop condemned Athanasius (and then later exonerated), and let's not even get into the trial of Galileo.

"whatsoever they choose"
In Roman Catholic theology, the definition of dogma is (officially) not arbitrary.  For example, CCC 86 states:
“Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”
Of course, I acknowledge that in practice the power is arbitrarily exercised (contrary to CCC 86), but this is just an internal inconsistency.

Likewise, to be precise the text does not mention choice, it just states that what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.

- TurretinFan
This post from TF (which I’ve already responded to) is flawed in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that he rips my words from their context and then presents his straw man argumentation. Let us examine his statements one at a time below and the "bolded" text was from my posting on Green Baggins.
"that man and/or those men"Peter and the other apostles are gone.  Francis, like his predecessor Benedict XVI, is not an apostle of Jesus Christ, he did not personally receive revelation from Jesus as they did, It is a leap to say that the apostles could do X, therefore someone who is not an apostle can do X.
Popes Francis and Benedict XVI are successors in the office of the Bishop of Rome - which was initially St. Peter's office.   Jesus explicitly stated in John 20:21 that as He was sent by the Father, so also He sends them (the Apostles).  He sent the Apostles with that authority so it follows that IF they are sent in the same way Jesus was sent, they too must choose others for the apostolic office (bishopric - Acts 1:20).  There is no alleged "leap" here, as TF would have the reader believe, that is if one accepts the Scripture which says the Apostles were sent in the same way the Son was sent.  So yes, even though someone who is not one of "The Twelve" (St. Paul and Barnabas were not of "The Twelve" either, yet both are called "Apostles" Acts 14:14) can do the "X" that an Apostle was given authority to do - IF that authority has been validly passed on to him.
"bind and loose"Of course, "bind and loose" doesn't sound anything like "define dogma."  It sounds more like freeing people from their sins or leaving people in condemnation for their sins.
Frankly, we cannot be overly concerned about what this "sounds like" to TF.  The fact is the authority to bind and loose was given in a specific context of to whom it was given - AND this binding and loosing was not limited to the forgiveness of sin.  How does TF limit the word/phrase "whatsoever?"
"not just sin"That sounds like Scott is saying, "sin and more."  But Rome's teaching of infallibility is that Rome is infallible only in her doctrinal and moral definitions, not in her exercise of discipline.  So, if it is "sin and more" and implies infallibility, then Scott has proved a point that is stronger than what Rome can adopt.  After all, a Roman bishop exonerated Pelagius (and then later condemned), a Roman bishop condemned Athanasius (and then later exonerated), and let's not even get into the trial of Galileo.
Taking these in reverse order...  Distraction point: Yes, let's not get into the trial of Galileo, there was nothing infallible going on there.   Distraction point: The condemnations/exonerations of Pelagius and St. Athanasius were not matters of infallibility.

My point is not "stronger than Rome can adopt."  The problem with attempting to apply infallibility to an "act" is that an "act" alone is amoral, it is neither right nor wrong.  Right or wrong (keep in mind, to be fallible means it has the ability to be "wrong") implies morality.  For example, the "act" of sexual intercourse, alone, is amoral.  If one has consensual sex with his/her spouse - that is moral.  But the same "fundamental act" when it occurs in the case of a rape is immoral.  It is the same "act," fundamentally - but the "actors" and "intent" are changed.   
"whatsoever they choose"In Roman Catholic theology, the definition of dogma is (officially) not arbitrary.  For example, CCC 86 states:
“Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”
Of course, I acknowledge that in practice the power is arbitrarily exercised (contrary to CCC 86), but this is just an internal inconsistency.
Because the exercise of infallibility is not arbitrary does not mean it is limited in any way, shape or form.  Again I ask TF, what is "whatsoever" limited to?  He gives an answer that in practice it only goes so far, but that does not change the reality that the charism can be applied to "whatsoever" they choose.
Likewise, to be precise the text (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18) does not mention choice, it just states that what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Perhaps this is about as close to a concession as we will see from TF.  The precise text is imprecise!  It DOES mention "choice" because it does not limit this charism in any way, shape or form - again TF, how is "whatsoever" a limiting word/phrase?


(the comments on TF's blog thus far follow...)

* John Lollard · 27 weeks ago wrote:
I'm not trying to discount your main argument, but I think there is a slight error in your point about binding and loosing. You say:
"Of course, "bind and loose" doesn't sound anything like "define dogma." It sounds more like freeing people from their sins or leaving people in condemnation for their sins. "
The underlying Greek text (hoping it embeds properly) is
καὶ ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς
where the word for "bind" is δήσῃς and for "loose" is λύσῃς, from δἐω and λὐω. I've only had one semester of Greek, and it was Attic Greek and not Koine Greek, but these words are quite often used to mean that a thing is necessary (bound) or permitted (loosed). For instance, just later in verse 21 when Jesus explains how he must go to Jerusalem to be killed, the word for "must" is again δἐω; i.e., Jesus was "bound" to go to Jerusalem.
I wasn't trying to nitpick or anything, but I know you appreciate precision, so I thought I'd point that out.
John Lollard:
We have a similar expression in English. When someone acts negligently and then dire consequences ensue, we say "Well, it was bound to happen."
But my point was, and is, that there is nothing at all in the context to suggest that the text has the least bit to do with identifying certain doctrines as true and others as false.
Instead, in both cases, the binding and loosing seem to have to do with sin and its consequences.
Matthew 16:19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Matthew 18:18   Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
In Matthew 16, the binding/loosing is associated with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which allow people to escape death (the gates of hell) or not. In Matthew 18, the verse comes right on the heels of  Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
And right before:
Matthew 18:19-20  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
It's not really a Greek translation issue (although it is helpful to be aware of the Greek), but rather a contextual reading issue.
1 reply · active 27 weeks ago
John Lollard· 27 weeks ago wrote:
TF,   I'm afraid that I have to still disagree. The English idiomatic usage of "bound" means that something is inevitable. The Greek idiomatic usage means that something is necessary. To "bind" something is to declare it necessary, while to "loose" something is to declare it permissible.
The Greek words do also occur in the passage in Matt 18 in a discussion of settling disputes with other believers. In Matthew 16 it isn't about sin and its consequences but about the nature of Jesus. In either case, the words used are the words meaning "make necessary" and "make permissible".
Really, I think the meaning of these words as they were used in the Greek language of the time requires an understanding of these two passages as Christ affirming a ministerial power of the Church as it relates to prescribing discipline. To "bind" definitely doesn't mean "define dogma", but it does mean to tell people what they must do. So, if the Apostles say "you must be baptized", or if the Apostles say "you can eat pork if you want".
I dunno, a little Greek is a dangerous thing. As it happens, you are very close friends with a world-renowned biblical Greek scholar; I am fairly certain that if you asked Dr. White the meaning of the words δἐω and λὐω, that he would tell you they most usually have the meaning of something being necessary or permitted. If not, then I'll retract my statement about the Greek words. The issue is, of course, probably way too trivial and Dr. White is way too busy with a million other things, but if you ever get a chance to ask him, it might be helpful.
I'm just trying to point this out as it presents a slight weakness in your rebuttal, and it is easy for people to see a single flaw in an argument and run away with it to total dismissal. A RC might see this, see that point, ignore everything else you said, focus on the meaning of δἐω and λὐω, dismiss you with reference to all kinds of lexicons, and somehow think the issue of papal infallibility even more settled despite the rest of your post being unaddressed. Your rebuttal would be stronger, I think, to point out that the underlying words absolutely have an established meaning in Greek, and the meaning is in reference to certain actions being required or allowed, and nothing at all about dogmas, like the "immaculate conception" of Jesus's mom. That δἐω means "make an action necessary" and not "declare with infallibility some belief to be absolutely true" is unassailable, and might be a more proper route.
Thought I'd point it out, is all, especially before someone else did.
Be blessed.
TurretinFan 61p· 27 weeks ago wrote:
I don't think I have anything new to add to my comments above, but thanks for the feedback!
For my part... thanks John for the Greek arguments. Naturally, since they support the Catholic position and not TF's, he will (and has) dismiss(ed) them. Now, since TF is responding to a discussion which took place on another blog, and took place a couple months before his posting here, AND since I would like to include a bit more formatting in my response than the combox allows, I too have responded (months later) on my blog:


Psychological projection was conceptualized by Sigmund Freud in the 1890s as a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world. For example, a person who is rude may accuse other people of being rude. 
(Sigmund Freud, Case Histories II (PFL 9) p. 132 - qtd. on: )
Have you ever noticed how some (if not most) Protestant apologists will try to point out divisions within the Catholic Church?  They are attempting to show we're not "one" - even though fundamentally we are.  What is really going on here is a psychological defense mechanism Freud called "projection."  One of the more serious of the flawed characteristics of Protestantism is the fact that they are not "one" as Jesus declares is His desire for us (John 17:21-22).  Rather than face this glaring fault, they "project" this toward Catholicism and attempt to point out every little disagreement they can find - as if to say, "see, they are no better than we are!"  It is as if to justify them being separated from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which Jesus Christ Himself built.  Like Luther, et al, they would rather be separated from that One instead of being within it and working to solve perceived problems.

True "reform" happens from the inside, not the outside.  There is no reformation among Protestantism, for they formed new churches and rejected THE Church they left behind.  The true history of any church of Protestantism is no more than 500 years old!  The history of the Church they abandoned is nearly 2000 years old!   Rather than build bridges back to their heritage, they continue to put up walls to reinforce their separation instead of seeking to be One - as Jesus Christ desires (John 17:21-22).

Rather than seek union, many Protestant apologists attempt to justify their separation by pointing out divisions among Catholics.  Think of the logic going on here, or lack thereof.  If there are divisions in Catholicism (which I am not denying there are) then these are scars within the Church which need to be healed.  It is not a valid argument to use comparisons of said divisions to justify being wholly separated from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  A stark difference in this comparison is that those divisions "within the Catholic Church" are still WITHIN the Catholic Church and not schismatic separations which are contrary to the will of God.  This "projection" of separation as a justification of their own separation must be truly disappointing to Jesus.

Perhaps next time you see the Protestant apologist preaching a "blueprint for anarchy" or the like, you will be reminded how opposed to God's Will these arguments are and how disappointed God is in them.

Validity - Part 2

Well, I posted a couple more responses to Triablogue, but since the original message is more than 5 days old now, new responses go into moderation.  The last messages which went into moderation there were never posted - so, rather than wait, I am posting here.  This is related to the earlier post on "Validity" in response to John Bugay.  Steve Hays added his input and here are my responses to Mr. Hays.  The first message below did show up on Triablogue, but as of this posting - the second two have not...

>> sw: "Steve, Thank you for providing the rationalization
>> which validates my point."
> sh: I presented a detailed argument. If you were either
> unable or unwilling to argue in good faith by presenting
> a counterargument, then don't waste our time by posting
> comments here.

sw: And why would I "counter" an argument which supports my own?  Well, I'll respond in more detail...

>> sw: "And we've never heard the Calvinist say, 'he wasn't
>> really saved' when someone leaves Calvinism for any
>> number of alternatives, including Catholicism? So, the
>> 'improperly catechized' is not something only Catholics
>> use."
> sh: Scott, you need to learn how to reason.

sw: I used sufficient reason, you supplied a bit more "detail."

> sw: i) To begin with, if someone leaves Calvinism, the
> comparison wouldn't be "he wasn't really saved," but
> "he wasn't really a Calvinist."

sw: OK, I accept the distinction, but it is really one without difference to the point I made.  You have just affirmed that point!  So reword my initial statement to say, "he wasn't really a Calvinist," and my point not only stands - but you have supported it!  I accept the correction and stand by my point.

> sh: Moreover, there are cases in which that's true.

sw: And you affirm it again. 

> sh: On the other hand, you have some individuals who
> were well "catechized" in Calvinism, and knowingly
> reject it. In their case, they really were Calvinists.
> Arminius is a paradigmatic example.

sw: And I have not denied that there may be some who may have known the truth and have left in in Catholicism - for whatever reason.  Some, I know of, leave the faith because they are divorced and remarried without an annulment and rather than get their life straight - they will be like King Henry VIII and leave the faith - in fact, he is a prime example of just that.

> sh: ii) In addition, we wouldn't say someone wasn't really
> saved just because he's an ex-Calvinist. It depends on his
> adopted alternative. We wouldn't say a former Calvinist
> who becomes a confessional Lutheran (to take one example)
> wasn't really saved. We wouldn't say Arminius wasn't really
> saved.
> If, on the other hand, someone leaves Calvinism for
> Mormonism (to take one example), then he's behaving as
> though he wasn't never really saved. Even in that case,
> he might be a backslider rather than a full-blown
> apostate. Time will tell.

sw: And I agreed with your distinction without a difference (to my point) so I accept what you're saying here.

>> sw: "However, in the case of Mr. Dreher, he left for
>> personal reasons, HE wasn't being challenged, etc.
>> He didn't leave (at least according to his testimony)
>> because the Truth was not there."
> sh: He says that all he heard on a regular basis was
> antinomianism. So he was hearing falsehood rather than
> truth.

sw: The word "antinomianism" is not used in that article even once.  I cannot answer to unsupported evidence.  Your point is invalid insofar as this discussion is concerned.


Next message:

Steve wrote on 10/06/2013 11:31 AM

>> sw: "And why would I 'counter' an argument which
>> supports my own?"
> sh: It doesn't support your position.

sw: Well, it does.  I have shown how it does - your simple denial is not a valid argument. 

>> sw: "I used sufficient reason, you supplied a bit more
>> 'detail' which I accepted."
> sh: To accept my details would be using my reason rather
> than yours. Try to keep that straight.

sw: The reasons are laid out perfectly straight.  I fully
understand that you do not wish to be seen as agreeing
with me - but you did, and I thank you.

>> sw: "OK, I accept the distinction, but it is really
>> one without difference to the point I made. You have
>> just affirmed that point! So reword my initial
>> statement to say, "he wasn't really a Calvinist,"
>> and my point not only stands - but you have supported
>> it! I accept the correction and stand by my point."
> sh: Since, by your own admission, I corrected your
> initial claim, I'm hardly affirming your point. I'm
> not affirming your claim; rather, you're affirming
> my claim. You have your wires crossed.

sw: Steve, you made a distinction without a difference to my original argument.  I agree with you, "he wasn't really a Calvinist to begin with" is a better comparison in this arena than "he wasn't really a Christian to
begin with."  The point of my argument is in countering John's statement regarding the "improperly catechized."  When I said, "he wasn't really Christian," in the context of Calvinism - I should have said, "he wasn't really Calvinist" and THEN the arguments are in perfect logical agreement.

>> sw: "And you affirm it again."
> sh: I see that arithmetic is not your forte.

sw: I see that you cannot resist ad hominem attacks.

> sh: To allege that I "affirm it again" implies that
> this is the second time I affirmed your point,
> when–in fact–this isn't even the first time.

sw: Again, your statement was a distinction without a difference - do you understand that concept, Steve?  Your distinction did not change my point, it only clarified it - and I accepted your distinction - and I still do.  Whether or not you're admitting to it in public or not is irrelevant.  We are in agreement.

> sh: You made a blanket statement. I made a qualified
> statement. My qualified statement doesn't affirm your
> blanket statement.

sw: Again, your qualified statement did not change my point.  Calvinists use the statement "he wasn't really a Calvinist to begin with" when someone leaves the Calvinist camp.  Not all Calvinists use this argument, but you cannot deny that some/many do/have.

> sh: You need to learn how to think. You also need
> to (learn) how to count.

(I didn't "save" the notepad file I used after this point after I copied and pasted my responses to Triablogue, so I am re-creating what I wrote last night.  What I posted last night to Triablogue still has not been posted there, so I am posting this re-creation to the CathApol Blog).

sw: My thinking and math are fine.  Your qualified statement fit precisely with my original point, not the ultra-literalist spin you put upon it.  You put all the focus on the word "Christian" but THE POINT was that Calvinists use the same argument - THAT point remains the same, AND you AGREED with it!  You just qualified that the Calvinist would say, "he was never really a Calvinist."  The argument is THE SAME!

>> sw: "And I have not denied that there may be some
>> who may have known the truth and have left in in 

>> Catholicism - for whatever reason."
> sh: So you're backtracking on your original claim.

sw: My original claim had nothing to do with whether or not some Catholics have left the Catholic Faith with full knowledge of the Catholic Faith.  I presented King Henry VIII as a prime example of one whom I believe did just that!  Just a few years prior to his departure from the Faith, he was called "Guardian of the Catholic Faith" by the Pope who was lauding his work in opposition to Martin Luther.  He could not get a "divorce" from his wife, who could not bear him a son, so he took matters into his own hands and declared himself (or had Parlaiment do it) "Head of the Church of England."  I'm quite certain many have left for similar reasons - but AGAIN - that was NOT the point of my argument, so there is no backtracking - not in the least.

>> sw: "Again, I was not saying there are other
>> alternatives only that the Calvinist will make
>> the same sort of argument when someone leaves
>> Calvinism."
> sh: Which is a overstatement, as I explained,
> and you conceded. You need to learn how to think.

sw: The "overstatement" was when I said, "not a Christian," to which you said (and I agreed) that the Calvinist would say "he was not really a Calvinist."  If you wish to brand my agreement with you as "concession" - fine, I concede that "he was not really a Calvinist" would more likely be the phrase - now, how about dealing with the REAL POINT instead of your constant attempt to distract from that REAL POINT?

>> sw: "And I agreed with your distinction without
>> a difference (to my point) so I accept what
>> you're saying here."
> sh: Since your point was a hasty generalization,
> my distinction is substantially different from your 

> original claim. You need to learn how to think.

sw: You really need to stop being so pompous.  The original claim was the ARGUMENT, not the precise wording.  To say "he was not really a Calvinist" fits with my original point, PRECISELY. 

>> sw: "The word 'antinomianism' is not used in that
>> article even once. I cannot answer to unsupported 

>> evidence. Your point is invalid insofar as this
>> discussion is concerned."
> sh: Your response is invalidated by your resort to
> the word-concept fallacy.

sw:  Really?  I would (and I sincerely mean this) like to see a valid argument of how Mr. Dreher's article even implies antinomianism (ironically, a trait applied to some Calvinists!).  I stand by my statement - antinomianism is not mentioned in Dreher's article - and not even alluded to.

>> sw: "I believe that would be a valid comparison."
>> (That "Jews attack Christianity as a theological
>> innovation" is validly compared to Catholics
>> attacking the Protestant innovation).
> sh: So, just as you reject Calvinism because it's
> (allegedly) a theological innovation, then by
> parity of argument, you must think we should
> reject Christianity because that's a theological
> innovation in relation to Judaism.

sw: Steve, that's a complete non sequitur!  Let's see, the Jews did not realize that their Messiah had truly come to them.  The Jews expected an earthly king, not God Almighty offering Himself up in our place to atone for our sins.  So, since the Jews did not recognize this, they attack Christianity as a theological innovation.  Well, I've got news for you, Mr. Hays, Christianity IS a theological innovation!  Jesus Christ did NOT come to continue the Jewish religion!  Jesus came to build His Church and promised He would do so (Matthew 16:18).  What Jesus built was VERY different from the Jewish religion.  Now, are there some similarities and carry-overs from Judaism into Catholicism?  Certainly!  It's still the Chosen People of God and our belief in the One, True God did not change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.  To posit that Christianity was NOT a theological innovation to Judaism is a bit ludicrous.  Christianity (specifically Catholicism) is the COMPLETION of the Jewish Faith.

sw: Now - does that change the FACT that there is no history of Calvinism more than 500 years (or less) ago?  No, it does not!  Can there even BE a "Calvinist" before John Calvin left the Catholic Church for his heresy?  No, there cannot be.

> sh: I take it that if you were a member of the
> Sanhedrin, you'd condemn Jesus to death.

sw: You would take it wrong.



Steve Hays wrote on 10/06/2013 5:09 PM

> sh:Scott
>> sw: "You have no validity to anything Calvinist,
>> no Eucharist"
> sh: i) We have the Eucharist which Christ instituted.

sw: You have SYMBOLS, but Jesus didn't say the Eucharist was symbolic of His body and blood, no, He said it IS His body and blood (Luke 22:19-20).

>> sw: "no history beyond or even a bit less
>> than 500 years"
> sh: i) On the one hand, no serious Catholic
> historian imagines that Calvinism popped in out
> of the blue.

sw: Not out of the blue, but certainly not before John Calvin!  I realize that Calvinists try to rationalize their way into a pre-Calvin history - but said rationalizations are just that, rationalizations.

> sh: ii) On the other hand, modern Catholicism
> has plenty of theological innovations, where it's
> broken with the past.

sw: More attempts to distract!  I'm actually currently working on another article on "projection," this may interest Mr. Hays.

>> sw: "no apostolic succession"
> sh: i) Calvinism has no need of apostolic
> succession to validate it.

sw: Well, at least you're not artificially trying to claim some sort of apostolic succession.  The fact is, succession has always been one of the "Four Marks" of the Church (One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic) as testified to in the earliest of Christian creeds.

> sh: It only needs revelation.
> Truth is self-validating.

sw: Actually, revelation is not self-validating.  The revelation you speak of operates from a presumption of faith in God AND that Scripture is God's Word (revelation) and since God IS truth then His Word is truth and thus is validated.  Now, be objective for a moment - that's a circular argument.  If you have a better way of demonstrating "Truth is self-validating," then I would be very interested in it.

> sh: But let's play along with Scott's
> criterion. Does his own denomination measure up?
> How does Scott propose to verify every link in
> the chain?

sw:  Yes, I do believe Mr. Hays will find the article on "projection" to be interesting.

> sh: i) Since valid administration of holy orders
> requires right intention on the part of the ordinand 

> and the officiate alike, how does Scott verify the
> presence of right intent? He has no direct access to
> the mental states of the concerned parties.

sw: I understand Mr. Hay's attempt to "turn the tables" here - it's a common debate tactic, but again, we are looking at "projection" here.

> sh: ii) Who was the true successor to Gregory XI?
> Was it Urban VI? Clement VII? Or Alexander V?

sw: It was Urban VI, if you think it really matters.

> sh: iii) Can Scott point me to an infallible list
> of the true popes and antipopes?

sw: Ah, "the request" for that "infallible list!"  Why do so many Protestants THINK that is a valid question?!  We have the list, no pope or council has declared it infallibly - so no, there is no such a list, and we don't need it!  The FACT is God's Church has existed throughout history from the time of the Apostles through to the current episcopate.  Jesus, like it or not, selected the office of bishop to be the leaders of His Church in His absence.  These bishops will continue to be His leaders until He comes back again in glory.  I reiterate my point (which Mr. Hays seems to be attempting to divert us from) that Calvinism did not exist 500 years ago.

> sh: iv) According to the Annuario Pontificio,
> "At this point [i.e. Pope Leo VIII], as again in the
> mid-11th century, we come across elections in 

> which problems of harmonising historical criteria
> and those of theologyand canon law make it
> impossible to decide clearly which side possessed
> the legitimacy whose factual existence guarantees 

> the unbroken lawful succession of the successors of
> Saint Peter. The uncertainty that in some cases 

> results has made it advisable to abandon the
> assignation of successive numbers in the list of the 

> popes," p12.
> sh: In light of that admission, how does Scott
> verify every link in the chain?

sw:  It seems like more than a few have tried to "make hay" over this quote.  The fact of the matter is popes do not elect their successors and there can be, and has been, a period of "sede vacante" (empty seat) with the death of every pope.  Even with Pope Benedict XVI, he stepped down prior to the election of Pope Francis - all Catholics were sede vacantists for a while.  Does it really matter if there are gaps and even conflicts over who was "the true pope" during parts of Catholic history?  No, not really.  Another put it this way... 

} "The Church does not actually need a Pope. In one
} instance, the Chair was vacant for more than a year
} and a half. Hypothetically, the Chair could be vacant
} for a century or more, and the Church would continue
} along just fine (and could then finally elect a Pope).
} If the Church went a century without ordaining a
} Bishop, She would cease to exist, but a gap in the
} line of Popes ultimately would not matter. 

sw: Well, that should say "If the Church went a century without consecrating a bishop..." for bishops are already ordained priests who are consecrated to the office of bishop by other bishops.  Apostolic succession is based upon the succession of bishops - of which the Bishop of Rome is just one.  We don't need to verify every single link, we have faith that Jesus kept His promise and that His Church exists from the time He left it and will exist until He comes again - and, back to the point of this response - His Church didn't start less than 500 years ago, He built it nearly 2000 years ago.


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...