Saturday, May 19, 2018

Happy Birthday to the Catholic Church!

Pentecost Sunday marks the birth of the Catholic Church!  The day the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles in the Upper Room (Acts 2:1-12). From this event forward, the Apostles began their "Great Commission" (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 14:23) to "go forth into the whole world making disciples of all nations..." with a newfound courage and fury.  They came out from the Upper Room speaking the languages of all who were there for the Jewish celebration of Pentecost. Jews were in Jerusalem from all around the world for this pilgrimage and they each heard the Apostles preaching in their own languages! Truly remarkable for a bunch of men who never left the Palestine area. 

This feast day is celebrated in both the Eastern and Latin Churches in much the same way:

The holiday - or "holy day" - actually is rooted in Jewish tradition. The Festival of Weeks, or Shavuot, which was originally a harvest festival. It was to be celebrated fifty days after the celebration of unleavened bread (Passover) when a new grain offering was to be made. 

We get the name "Pentecost" from Greek speaking Jews who used the term "pentekostos" for the fiftieth day.

The Irony
While many other Christian churches/communities celebrate Pentecost NONE can claim the direct apostolic succession which can be found in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian Churches. Most non-Catholic Christian groups were born sometime after 1517AD (October 31, 1517 is when Luther nailed the 95 Thesis to the door of the Catholic Church in Wittenberg and most Protestants view this as the birth of Protestantism) or shortly thereafter when King Henry VIII separated the Catholic Church of England from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Protestantism took Europe by storm though several bastions of Catholicism remained and still remain to this day. The point of irony here is that if Catholicism is false then Jesus would have waited over 1500 years to build His Church, as He promised He would do (Matthew 16:18-19). He also promised the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, would come to His Church and stay with His Church until He returned again in glory (John 14:15-19). Well again, on Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles. So, either Catholicism is true - or Jesus was a liar. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Notre Dame Montreal Aura Light Show

So, I saw a video similar to the one below on Facebook. There are arguments going both pro and con for the use of the basilica for a "show." What are your thoughts?  Share in the comments which follow this article.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Is Catholicism Christian?


Jumping back into apologetics mode... I came across this site:

http://gotherefor.com/offer.php?intid=29657&changestore=true

Below I will answer to what Mr. Gilbert has presented:

Is the Catholic Church a Christian church?
  • Mark Gilbert
  •  
  • 17 August 2017
When we talk about God we often need to talk about him in parts. Because God is so big and our brains are so small, we need to be able to talk about him in manageable chunks. That is why we sometimes talk about the doctrine of the Trinity, or of Christ, of the church, of creation, and so on. However, because God is one and presents himself to us as a person, Jesus Christ, he is not reducible to those different parts; all these parts impact on and affect each other. You can’t change your doctrine about Jesus without it affecting your doctrine of the Trinity, for example. That is why when we learn and teach about God we study in a systematic way—so we can understand God best through an integrated and coherent system of truths, not isolated ideas.
The irony here is Mr. Gilbert is arguing FOR the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity - which is not explicitly defined in Scripture Alone (via sola scriptura) as any good "Evangelical" holds to. The fact of the matter is that it was officially defined through councils of the Catholic Church which were answering to, most notably, the Arian heresy which was rampant in the Early Catholic Church. Some very noteworthy saints of the Catholic Church of that day and age also addressed this matter of Arius and Arianism (e.g. Sts. Augustine and Athanasius, to name a couple), and again these sources are extra scriptura (beyond Scripture). One must keep in mind, Arians based their arguments in Scripture too - as do modern day Arians (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses). Scripture Alone (sola scriptura) does NOT answer the Arians or explicitly define the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.
Sometimes, as Evangelicals approaching Roman Catholicism, we look at various parts of Catholicism without considering how they relate to the whole Catholic system. For example, some might say Roman Catholics believe in the Trinity and the ancient creeds but that they have got the doctrine of Mary, Christ, salvation, the Bible and the church wrong at various key points. This atomization of Catholic teaching can lead us into saying things like, “The Roman Catholic Church is Trinitarian and creedal, and therefore more Christian than the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormons”. One of the consequences of this error is to be less likely to be intentional in our evangelism of them. However, you cannot have a different teaching about Jesus and Mary and the church and salvation and the Bible without it profoundly affecting your teaching about the Trinity and your understanding of what the creeds mean.1
I would agree with Mr. Gilbert here!  One cannot "atomize" (his terminology) the Catholic Church and/or the teachings OF the Catholic Church - but the ultimate argument needs to be one regarding authority. Did Jesus pass on ultimate authority to men to lead and guide His Church until He returns again in glory?  To this point we whole-heartedly and emphatically answer YES!  In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus Himself gives ultimate and infallible authority to one man, Simon Bar-Jonah, whom He renames "Cephas" (or "Rock"). Non-Catholics have a real hard time accepting "infallibility" here - but just examine what Jesus said!  "Whatsoever you shall bind on Earth is also bound in Heaven and whatsoever you loose on Earth is also loosed in Heaven." Now, unless you are willing to accept error can be bound or loosed in Heaven - THAT is clearly infallible authority and again, in this context, it is being granted to ONE man, Peter, our first pope. Similarly, in Matthew 18:18 the authority to bind and loose is also given to the college of Apostles, our first bishops. It is for this reason we accept that when the Church is assembled in an ecumenical council AND she defines a dogmatic teaching - then there too she speaks infallibly. Again, you HAVE to accept that the Church indeed HAS this authority - OR - you would HAVE to accept that error can be bound or loosed in Heaven.  
Gregg Allison and Leonardo De Chirico have done some very helpful work in critiquing the Roman Catholic system from a biblical perspective.2 In short, they suggest that the Roman Catholic system is best understood by the interaction of two key relationships. Firstly, there is the relationship of what they understand as the realms of Nature and of Grace. We might call them the physical world and the spiritual world. The second key relationship is the relationship between Christ and the Catholic Church. Catholics understand the Catholic Church to be the physical and spiritual continuation of Christ. The spiritual world is separated from the physical world and requires a mediator: Christ and the Catholic Church. You could represent it a bit like this:In this system the spiritual world (the realm of Grace) needs the physical world (the realm of Nature) so that Grace can be expressed in Nature. Also, the physical world needs the spiritual world in order to be perfected so that Nature can be perfected by Grace
Mr. Gilbert stumbles upon the truth here. Catholicism does not teach that nature exists wholly outside of grace - in fact in Catholic teaching Catholics must strive to remain in the "State of Grace" - which can be lost due to committing a "sin which is unto death" (1 John 5:16-17) which is more commonly called "mortal sin." The way to reconcile back into the State of Grace is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), which again is an authority given by Jesus Christ Himself to our first bishops (see John 20:21-23 - and make note - not only does He give men authority to forgive sins, He tells them that as He sends them out they too are to send others out - this authority is clearly meant to be passed on through the generations). The bottom line here is, Grace exists WITH us in Nature. 

The graphic is a bit off too - Christ < > Church for the Church is US!  The Church is the Bride of Christ.
An example of this relationship can be clearly seen in the Roman Catholic sacrament of Holy Communion, where the physical elements—the bread and the wine (Nature)—are transformed by the spiritual realm (Grace). Subsequently, when a Roman Catholic (in the realm of Nature) receives the sacrament of Holy Communion (which is transformed by the priest to communicate Grace), he or she can have their Nature perfected by Grace and God’s Grace expressed in their Nature. If this system sounds quite philosophical, that’s because it relies more on Saint Augustine and his 5th century Neo-Platonism and Thomas Aquinas and his 13th century Aristotelianism than it does on the Bible.
Well again, Mr. Gilbert is wrong here. The fact that we believe the Eucharist IS the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is based in Scripture!  Jesus Himself declares, after He blesses the bread and wine, "This IS My body..." and "This IS My blood..." so who are we to argue against what Jesus Himself authoritatively declares?  
Oh, and let's take a moment to point out - St. Thomas Aquinas was not Aristotelianist - in fact philosophers grant unto Aquinas his OWN method of philosophy called Thomism! Why? St. Thomas Aquinas blended the Socratic method with Platonism (spiritual realism) and Aristotelianism (physical realism) because the ultimate truth is not one or the other - but both. 
The problem with this system is the way sin is minimized: “though marred by sin, tainted nature still possesses a capacity to receive, transmit and cooperate with grace”.3 Nature and Grace are the key elements, and sin is secondary. This results in a religion of progress from a tainted but still intrinsically good state to a better one. In contrast, the Bible presents creation (made good but thoroughly distorted by sin in every aspect) as requiring a supernatural act of God’s grace alone to re-create or regenerate it. This is most clearly seen in the way Jesus redeems fallen human nature by dying to sin and rising to new life. The biblical account of the relationship between creation and new creation is one of radical discontinuity: from death to life, from destruction to recreation (Gen 6:5; Ezek 11:19, 18:31; John 1:12-13, 3:3; 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Pet 1:3, 23; 2 Pet 3:7-10; Rev 21:1).
The reality is that while our "nature" is a fallen nature, it is not "thoroughly distorted" or else we could never come to Christ.  Yes, we are redeemed through the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ but if our nature were "thoroughly distorted" we could never answer His calling to us to come and follow Him. Mr. Gilbert's hyperbole here distorts the truth.
Also, the Roman Catholic religious system sees the Catholic Church as the continuation of Jesus in the world.
 And again, Gilbert falsely represents the Catholic Church and her teachings here. Yes, Christ continues His Work through His Church, but the Church (again) is not Christ - the Church is US.
One of the ways you can see this is again in their teaching on Holy Communion, where they argue that “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained”.
When Jesus declares "This IS My body" and "This IS My blood," Mr. Gilbert finds himself arguing with Jesus. To say the Eucharist is anything less than the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ is to make Jesus a liar. (The above quote Gilbert takes from the CCC, but the CCC is actually quoting the Council of Trent here, DS 1651).
This teaching also impacts other doctrines where the Catholic Church takes on the characteristics of Jesus, like:
  • salvation is through the Catholic Church
  • the pope is the representative of Christ and infallible
  • the Church has the authority to determine and interpret the Bible
  • the Catholic Church is the continuation of Jesus, and is by definition the only true Church
  • Because Grace is superior to Nature, there is a hierarchy within Jesus’ human and divine natures; therefore, as the continuation of Jesus, the Church has a hierarchy between clergy and laity
  • Mary as mother of the Church plays a mediatorial role in salvation alongside Jesus by distributing Grace to Nature
  • The Catholic Church becomes both the object of faith and also the one whose faithfulness saves those who believe in it.
Responding to Gilbert's bulleted points:

  • Yes, the Church is the means by which Jesus left us for salvation.
  • The Pope IS the representative of Christ as it was Jesus Christ Himself, the Good Shepherd, who said to Peter (our first pope) to "feed My sheep" and "tend My lambs" - leaving Peter in the role of shepherd. We've already demonstrated the teaching on infallibility, so I won't repeat that here.
  • Yes, the Church has the authority to interpret the Bible. 
  • Again, the Church is not Christ. Yes, the Church does continue the teachings of Christ - and IS the bridge between the Old and New Covenant. Many, if not most, Protestants forget or may not have ever thought about the fact that Jesus was born a Jew, lived a Jew and died a Jew. The true Christian Church is the one which continues where Judaism left off. The Old Covenant is completed in Jesus Christ and the New Covenant continues in His New Testament Church.
  • There is no truth to Gilbert's statement of a hierarchy between the Two Natures of Christ, at least not in Catholic teaching.
  • With regard to Mary - Mr. Gilbert needs to get over the authority issue first. We can't really get into a discussion of Mary at this point as it would be a distraction from the more fundamental issue.
  • Again with the misrepresentation of the Church. It is not faith in the Church which saves - it is faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior, which saves. Now, can one truly claim to have faith in Jesus Christ if they stand in rejection of the Church which Jesus Christ built? Remember, Jesus promised to build His Church - it is wholly illogical to think He waited over 1500 years to do this!
There are a number of reasons why Evangelical churches have strongly and consistently resisted this idea that the church, however it is conceived of, is the continuation of Jesus in this world.
And we have already shown, a number of times here, that the Church is NOT the continuation of Jesus Christ Himself. The Church IS the continuation of the TEACHINGS of Jesus Christ. This equivocation of Christ to the Church is a clear error on the part of Mr. Gilbert.
The Apostle Paul, when faced with Christians in Galatia turning from his teachings to those of the super-apostles, said not once but twice, “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8-9). When viewed as a system, the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church denies the seriousness of sin and the need for a new creation, distorts the humanity and divinity of Jesus in conflating Jesus with the institution of the Roman Catholic Church, assumes the work of the Holy Spirit on itself and elevates Mary as an idol. They present a different gospel to the one the Apostle Paul fought so hard to preserve in Galatia, and therefore should not be regarded as having accepted the true gospel, nor be considered as a Christian Church. 
And yet another false representation of the Catholic Faith! Catholicism does NOT minimize or deny the seriousness of sin! Perhaps the second most important Sacrament is the Sacrament of Reconciliation - or "Confession" - where we confess our sin(s) to remain in the State of Grace. Nowhere does Catholicism deny the need to be reborn or for a "new creation." It is not Catholicism which distorts the humanity and divinity of Christ. Catholicism does not "assume the work of the Holy Ghost" rather it is through the Church that the Holy Ghost works. Mary, no matter how much the ignorant wish to repeat it, is not an "idol" or worshiped as a goddess. It's one thing for a Catholic apologist to defend the Church's ACTUAL teachings - quite another to point out the outright LIES being spewed forth by Mr. Gilbert. 
Because of this our Catholic friends, neighbours and family are in grave danger and need our love, urgent prayers and evangelistic efforts! 
Well, please don't get me wrong - I appreciate your love and prayers - but your "evangelistic efforts" are misdirected and based in falsehood - which is precisely why I reach out to organizations such as yours, Mr. Gilbert, so that you might realize the error of your ways and join me in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Those are the "Four Marks" of the true Christian Church as put forth in the early creeds of Christendom - and absolutely NO Protestant or so-called Evangelical church can make claim to all Four Marks.
By understanding Roman Catholicism better as a system, we can avoid the pitfalls that can occur when we look at the parts in isolation. We become convinced that we need to be intentional and persistent in our evangelism to Catholics to present them with the biblical gospel. Finally, by understanding how Catholics think about God we can present that gospel in a way that makes sense to them.
Mr. Gilbert, I would suggest that before you try to "reach us" that you actually LEARN what WE TEACH and leave the anti-Catholic propaganda behind. I'm sure your audience would not appreciate finding out that you lie to them in order to gain their following. So, engage me in the Catholic Debate Forum where myself - and several other well-suited Catholic apologists would be more than happy to respond to you and set you straight.

AMDG,
Scott Windsor<<<

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Graduation Friday!

Well, at long last - the coursework for my Masters is complete!  Friday, May 11, I graduate from Arizona State University with a Masters in Education - Education Technology! My GPA for in-degree courses is a 3.74. 

I am looking forward to getting back into apologetics again - at least until I figure out if I'm going back to school again. :-)