Sunday, December 27, 2015

We're moving.

For anyone out there who may run across this blog (and I do get page hits from time to time) I have consolidated all of my blogs at my new blog site

This is a much more robust platform with a much easier way of posting comments. You will not only see the old posts from this blog, but an old AA blog called and current posts on the new blog.

Please join us there.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I bid farewell because I have found others doing this better

To all of you (maybe two or three?) who have been kind enough to read this blog, I am closing up shop because there are other people doing the same work of apologetics and better at that.  is a superb site dedicated entirely to the Defense of the Catholic faith. Dave Armstrong has been involved in this ministry for many years and has an impressive arsenal of blog posts as well as links to the many books he has written.

In regard to "young earth Creationism" and other topics related to Genesis literalsim and the supposed conflict between the Bible and "science" please visit

I will continue to comment on and oppose the vile calumnies directed at out Church, so you may see me there.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Welcoming the rationalist

I have invited Malibu Bob from to join us here. Among his posts Bob said the following:
Christianity is so unbelievable and so contrary to everyday observation on its surface, that the only way in which people can maintain such an untenable set of beliefs is by constant reinforcement.
That's a pretty big challenge and one that I feel would be better addressed by breaking it into it a set of questions that can be approached more succinctly. So here's how I think it should go. Bob may feel differently.
  1. The supernatural: Is there a "reality" not readily accessible to human perception? Or at the very least, is it even possible to prove that one way or the other?
  2. If such a thing may exist, then does God exist or is it even possible to prove that as well?
  3. If God exists, what is his/her/its relationship to the natural world and to us human beings?
  4. What is the nature of man and how does it relate to God's nature?
  5. If man is imperfect, in what ways have we sought to achieve perfection?
  6. Finally, if God exists and it is not in our power to achieve perfection, what means have we been given to do so?
So to kick things off, let's talk about that which is contrary to everyday observation, namely question one. What does Bob have to say about the possibility of the supernatural?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Did Jesus lie about the age of the universe?

My friend from, Reason2012, crafted a very thorough and carefully reasoned response to one of my posts. Much of it concerns what Jesus Himself believed about Creation since, as the Bible clearly states, He was present at the creation of the world. And he makes a very valid point that we shouldn't distort Scripture because it makes us uncomfortable by not comporting with our scientific point of view. Given the absolute sovereignty of God, there is every reason to assume that He may create His universe in whatever form He pleases and I can't refute that. Omnipotence pretty much trumps everything.

However, I want to lay out some additional thoughts in relation to his response that clarifies my point of view. He begins by quoting part of my response.

"And what we know for certain about light makes it impossible for the universe to be much less than 13 BILLION years old."
No, all we "know" on this topic are assumptions
- we ASSUME light traveled the same speed since light first existed
- we ASSUME God cannot change that speed
- we ASSUME God cannot create other things, heavenly bodies, in mature form where we assume they went through other processes before their current state when God could have easily created them in mature form skipping previous 'states' as well.
Following that logic, it would also be possible to say that God created the entire universe ten seconds ago with you having a memory of your entire life even though it didn't "really" happen. That is PROBABLY absurd. (And not exactly Scriptural) But it leaves us with a quandary.

We know from Scripture that God's nature is clearly evident in His creation.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. - Romans 1:20 NIV [emphasis mine]
The crux of the problem is this: when what we can "clearly see" does not jibe with what we understand from God's Word, it seems as if we have to make a choice. Do we believe the Bible or do we believe the evidence of our senses (science)? Since both reflect the truth of God's nature they can't disagree. Do we distort the Word to make it conform to science, or do we distort science to make it conform to the Word? Or is it possible that we can believe that both are true but the reconciliation of the two exceeds our present understanding?

Before I delve into this, let's first consider for a moment language in the context of culture. As I mentioned before, I was at one time an anthropology major concentrating in linguistics. The study of contemporary cultures from a socio-linguistic context shows that language and culture are so inextricably intertwined that it may be said that they are each an expression of the same thing. And language operates at multiple levels. At the lowest levels, it exists as unarticulated concepts. The process of translating from one language to another is, at its root, the reduction of one language to its conceptual level and the re-articulation of these concepts back into the target language. And since language and culture are so intertwined, a culture that lacks a particular concept will not have the means of expressing it. We see this in modern day translation when one language "borrows" from another because it is better expressed that way. For example, there is a word in German, schadenfreude that expresses the idea of deriving  pleasure from another's misfortune. There is no succinct way of expressing that concept in English so it was borrowed and is now a legitimate English word.There are many words borrowed from English that appear in other languages albeit in their phonology. For example, the word "steak" (or beef steak) appears in French as biftec, in Spanish as bistec, in Japanese as suteki.

In observing language development in children, we see that their use of language reflects their level of conceptual ability. If a five-year-old asks his father "what makes the car go," he will probably be able to grasp the concept that the big thing under the hood "eats" gas and pushes the car. Dad will probably not get into the details of the internal combustion engine. And it is much the same with cultures. Human beings can only understand language in the context of their existing categories. And while they are certainly capable of learning new concepts, attempting to convey information information radically beyond their understanding is not likely to be fruitful.

So now let us now consider the Holy Spirit inspiring the writer of Genesis. There's a pretty good chance that the Biblical story of creation existed in oral form long before it was written down, but for the sake of argument let's assume that Moses sat down with pen and papyrus and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit began to recount the story of creation.  Keep in mind that this is God the Holy Spirit who knows all of nature down to the tiniest details. And again for the sake of argument, let us assume that the universe was created 13 billion years ago, that the stars are distributed in three-dimensional space and not attached to the inside of a solid sphere (or "firmament"), and that the Earth is not its center, that matter is not composed of uniform substances but is composed of indescribably tiny particles. How could this information be conveyed in a true sense but still be comprehensible to Moses? In my opinion it was God's intended purpose to convey the parts of the message that were essential for the spiritual life of the Jews in categories that were comprehensible in their culture. Did God lie? Is the withholding of unnecessary details dishonest or is it expedient?

So when Jesus spoke to His disciples, he spoke to them as the first-century Palestinians they were. Did he lie because He omitted the details of the Higgs boson? He had a very few years in which to convey the vitally important details of God's plan of salvation. (Even then they didn't understand Him a lot of the time). So he used terms with which they were already familiar. In their minds the world was the center of the universe and was recent in origin. Would it have served any purpose for Him to expound on the fact that when he said "from the beginning" he was referring to a time less than 13 billion years ago but more than several thousand?

In the intervening two thousand years we have learned a lot more about God's creation and it continues to astound us how infinitely beautiful, complex and massive it really is. If Jesus were speaking to us today, would it make sense for Him to speak to us as first-century Palestininans, or would He have the ability to offer us even deeper understandings of the creation? (I picture him at CERN explaining to the particle physicists how to improve their experiments.) Why, then, do we insist on reading the Bible as if we were Palestinian fisherman?

By approaching it this way there is no need to distort Scripture, nor to reject our scientific understanding of the universe. Why, after all, did God give us such powerful brains? As our understanding increases we usually find that it conforms to the Scriptures in a way we could never have imagined. Who would have thought that the discovery of the background microwave radiation would settle the dispute among astronomers and cosmologists as to whether the universe had a beginning or had always existed. When the truth was finally determined, it turns out that Genesis was right, that everything that exists was brought into being all at once out of nothing.

We will not always be able to harmonize what we can discover through our senses with what the Holy Spirit teaches us, but when there are apparent conflicts we can say that we're still very young and continue to learn at the feet of our Father.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

God, the Father

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. - from the Nicene Creed
The creed begins with the single most important statement, a belief without which no faith is possible. "I believe in ... God."

This is not unique to Christian or even Judeo-Christian theology. Belief in deities is a cultural universal. All cultures have at their core a belief in something greater than they are. And anyone who rejects this basic belief is by definition an atheist. Catholic and Evangelicals alike confirm their unshakable belief in God.

But more importantly, we all believe in God as one God. We are both entirely monotheistic and this finds expression in a number of places in Scripture:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: - Deuteronomy 6:4 (KJV) 
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
    and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
    besides me there is no god.  - Isaiah 44:6 (KJV)

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: - Mark 12:29 (KJV)

We also share the trinitarian concept of God (for which the creed was its perfect affirmation), and this first part of the creed is devoted to God, the Father and affirms His role as omnipotent Creator.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him..." Colossians 1:13
It's important to note that the phrase "all things visible and invisible" was in direct opposition to the teachings of the Gnostics who believed that there were a number of divine powers in the world. This affirmation in the creed makes it clear that there is no God above the God of Israel. In Christian theology, this means that however many invisible things there are (thrones, dominions, principalities, or powers) they are all created, but God and God alone is uncreated Being. On this point Catholics and Evangelicals agree 100%.

So even in this one short sentence we see a very full elaboration of the Person of God, the Father. I take great joy in knowing that Catholics and Evangelicals are in complete agreement thus far. If anyone feels this is not the case, please comment so we explore the possibility that we understand things differently.

Friday, June 5, 2015


The blog has a purpose. I was pondering just how I could bring Catholics and Evangelicals together when I recalled one of the events in my life that started turning me toward Rome. I was challenged to read the Catechism and could find very little I disagreed with. I was amazed that the Roman Catholic Church toward which I held such animosity was, in fact, pretty much in agreement with most Protestant doctrine, at least in matters of faith and morals. Sure, there were things I felt I could not accept, but I really had to look for them.

So it is in this spirit that I would like to start an exploration of one of the most fundamental expressions of Christian orthodoxy, the Nicene creed. But before I begin I would like to explore what it is and why it came into being.

The creed takes it's English name from the first word in the Latin version, "credo" - "I believe." It was adopted primarily to counter the heresy of Arianism which held that Jesus was a created being and not co-eternal with the Father. As Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike, we believe in the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and it was in this creed that most of the theological elements of the Doctrine of the Trinity were set out in detail. There have been subsequent controversies regarding elements of the creed, especially between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church, but they are irrelevant for our purposes here.

I plan to discuss each section of the creed in separate posts and examine them in terms of both Evangelical and Catholic theology and see where or even if we disagree. I'll be using the current form adopted recently by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as it is a much better translation of the Latin form which was in use at the time of the Reformation. In other words, this was the creed that Luther and the Reformers confessed. And it is the creed that sits as the foundation of Evangelical theology.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Shedding "light" on Creation

In one of the discussion threads on the issue once again arose regarding the age of the Earth. This particular discussion dealt with newly discovered intact fossil fish. The debate raged (on and on and on) about geology and Genesis and man's creation. But I asked a question several times and could not get any responses (save one) from "young earth" believers: Is the Earth the same age as the universe or is it much older?

So in the next series of posts I want to explore if and how the Biblical account of creation squares with our empirical understanding. I will start by exploring the first created thing: light.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. - Genesis 1:3
You can't get much earlier than that.

Sir Isaac Newton is considered the first scientist to explore the nature of light. He was able to determine that white light was actually composed of many colors, i.e. a spectrum. Isn't it interesting that the God left a spectrum (rainbow) as a sign that he would never again destroy the Earth.Was light composed of many colors prior to the Flood? We have no way of knowing for sure, but we can be certain that such is the case today.

Another thing that Newton determined was that light behaves like a wave. Using a double slit experiment he observed the interference pattern that one would expect a wave to produce. In the physics of that time, it was believed that waves were fluctuations in density of some medium, so if light were a wave then there must be some medium in which it propagated. No one knew what it was, so they proposed a hypothesis that the universe was infused everywhere with a substance with no mass which could occupy the same space a other objects. It was deemed the luminiferous aether (or ether). It was a major goal of 19th century science to determine its nature.

If there were such a thing as the ether, then it was reasonable to expect the velocity of light to differ depending on the direction in which it was measured. After all the Earth was speeding through space at considerable velocity.One experiment sought to prove the hypothesis that the velocity of light differed depending upon the direction in which it was measured. This is the famous Michelson-Morley experiment. It is one of the classic examples of a falsifiable hypothesis and this experiment is a stunning example of falsification What they found was that light propagated at exactly the same velocity irrespective of the direction in which it was measured. In other words, they determined that the velocity of light in a vacuum was a constant.

This would have major repercussions in physics leading eventually to the Special Theory of Relativity. It is of such major importance that the question must be asked: Is there anything in Michelson-Morley the contradicts the Biblical account of the creation of light?

I am very interested in getting the response of anyone (especially a pastor or teacher) who holds to a more literal reading of Genesis. If we can't come to some common ground on this topic there may be little hope in harmonizing the Biblical creation account with current cosmology.

Let's hear what you have to say.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fighting fire or fighting firemen?

"Jennifer" replied to one of my posts on regarding concerns we have over the direction Pope Francis appears to be taking us. I had expressed some reservations about his Jesuit worldview and she agreed that she had similar concerns.

Specifically, she wondered how those who believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and those who deny it can operate under one roof. This cuts to the very purpose of the blog site. It's one thing to want Christians to work together to achieve positive change in this increasingly anti-Christian world, but how exactly do we overcome our differences? What kind of "roof" can we operate under?

I have two approaches to that. First, to list the things that we all share in common and that cause us to identify as Christians. And second, to identify the specific evils in the world that we need to address together.

The first is what C. S. Lewis called "Mere Christianity." What does that mean? Here's my (perhaps incomplete) list:
  • That Jesus Christ was truly the Son of God.
  • That Jesus Christ lived and walked on the earth
  • That Jesus Christ performed miracles
  • That Jesus' death on the cross is the sole means by which we obtain salvation
  • That Jesus intended His church to survive eternally
Catholic believe these things to be literally true. Evangelicals believe these things to be literally true. And although there are other immense theological differences between us, we can still choose to set these aside and choose to cooperate as Christians in love and brotherhood.

Here are some of the evils in the world we must work together to overcome:
  • The evil of abortion
  • The evil of inhibiting the free exercise of our religion by limiting our speech
  • The evil of compelling us to operate against our religious principles
  • The evil of a hostile LGBT minority that seeks to demonize any deviation from their political agenda by any means at their disposal
  • The evil of religious genocide
  • The evil imposition of Sharia law by force
This may not be an exhaustive list, but I think it lays out both the common ground for our cooperation as well as goals towards which can agree to work.

If out of this comes a greater tolerance of one another's beliefs, then it is all to the good. But that is not necessary to begin to accomplish the tasks at hand.

I liken our problem to two people in the midst of a burning building, arguing about whose firefighting techniques are the best instead of just putting out the fire any way they can.

Why can't we just put out the fire?

All things in moderation

Since this is my blog I am also the administrator. That means that I have the ability to moderate comments before they appear on the site. There are some discussion sites that block content they feel is not germane to their purposes. I suppose I would do the same if someone started directing their comment to unrelated issues such as politics or vegetarianism since this is not what we do. But I would never block content that challenged my beliefs or the beliefs of other commentators.

The only thing I insist on is civility and as open mind to other viewpoints. So I would like to propose some minimal ground rules.
  • No ad hominem posts. Please do not attack a person for what she or he says or believes.
  • No off-topic posts. Please address your comments to the actual matter at hand.
  • Please start your comments by stating something positive. You can almost always find common ground. And even if you can't, you can thank the person and show that you understand their point of view.
I hope no one finds these guidelines onerous. I genuinely want my thinking to be challenged. I hope you each share that goal.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" - Proverbs 27:17 NIV

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mea maxima culpa: how I lost sight of my goal

I just read two replies to comments I posted on and suddenly realized how I had lost sight of my goal of joining Evangelicals and Catholics in harmonious action to defend the Christian faith against the evil of the world.

I started up this blog to further the efforts initiated by Charles Colson and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus delineated in "First Things" in 1994, an article that began my journey to the Catholic faith. I can't do much about the Evangelicals who see the Catholic Church as the work of the devil. When they are being polite they try to win me back the their faith. And when they are not I am given both barrels of every anti-Catholic misconception in vitriolic and personal fashion. It has been this experience that precipitated my descent into anger and unforgiveness.

But there are a few that take the time and effort to respond to me in a thorough and civil fashion. I have invited a few of them to join me on this blog and I sincerely hope some do. I have become a little discouraged by my inability to draw some of these folks here to have real discussions away from the heat of comment threads.

If you have responded to my invitation, my sincere welcome. Please post comments. Tell me if you think this joint effort can succeed. If the Lord chooses to use this venue to advance the cause then my joy in being in the His service knows no bounds. If not, then I rejoice as well that I am needed elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In response to a tedious calumny

So once again on we are reminded that Catholics believe that salvation comes through good works. This is, of course, a tired and easily refuted accusation, but here's an analogy that may make clearer what Catholics actually believe.

Let's suppose my wife gives me a wonderful book as a gift. I am so grateful to have received it that I tell everyone about it. I praise my wife for caring about me so much that she was willing to make a personal sacrifice to obtain it for me. But I never actually read it. It sits unopened on the shelf in a place of honor. So ask yourself this: did I actually receive the gift she gave me?

It's much the same way with salvation. We don't do good works to obtain salvation. We actively participate in our salvation by living the Gospel in our lives. We have three choices: do evil, do nothing, or do good. Which do you suppose the Lord would have us do?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Who is BVM?

Luke 1:48: From now on all generations will call me blessed.

Do you call her "blessed?"

Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Mary is "the virgin" not "a virgin."

Her name was Mary.

Do you call her the Blessed Virgin Mary?  If not, why do you claim to be scriptural?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Who wrote Genesis?

My college education was long and chaotic. Some might call it eclectic but it would more accurately called undirected. For a good part of the time I was an anthropology major at Wayne State University studying under Dr. John Cole, a student of the famous social anthropologist Leslie White. One of the foundational principles in studying other cultures is never to bring your cultural biases into your field work. Most of the field work of the nineteenth century was terribly flawed in this regard. "Civilized" anthropologists went out to study "primitive" cultures, imposing their values on what they observed. 

One of the most common errors was to treat oral traditions as "myths" in the sense of being fables or legends. They assumed that the indigenous people "believed" literally the stories they told. This was a bias made by members of a literate culture observing a non-literate (not illiterate) culture. The meaning of the concept of "belief" they held was much more concrete than the understanding of the speakers. 

The role of story-telling in preliterate cultures has a distinct evolutionary advantage. Stories are the means by which the deepest truths of the culture are preserved intact even after many generations because stories contain a relatively small number of details which must be preserved if the story is to make sense. Let me illustrate

Have you ever had the experience of hearing someone describe an event at which you were also present? Did you notice that the other person always got it "wrong" by leaving out facts, adding new ones or distorting some? Personal memory is a very unreliable way to store information, so if we are to transmit cultural wisdom we have to have some way to ensure that information is preserved intact through countless generations.

If you have children or grandchildren you must have told them some classic bedtime stories which are pretty much known throughout our culture. And did you notice that when someone else told them the details were pretty much exactly intact? Why? Because unlike the memory of actual events, they are not dependent on personal recollection but rather on the fictional details, repeated time after time.

So in preliterate societies, the story tellers were responsible for passing on the culture And we call these stories"myths." Myths are not untrue in a modern Western sense, but rather they contain essential truth wrapped in a fictional structure that protects that truth from distortion. As a culture begins to develop writing, these myths start to be written down, not so much as a historical record as a modern person would define it, but as a memory aid to ensure even more the accuracy of the story. When we approach these texts as modern Westerners, we tend to bring our understanding of textual criticism with us. And many people approach early texts incorrectly with that bias.

Creation myths are cultural universals, that is they appear without exception in all cultures. I happen to believe that the creation myths of the Jews were in fact inspired by the Holy Spirit and provide infallible information about God and our relationship to Him. I don't think one needs to read them in a literal, Western sense to understand the truth contained within. For instance, I do not need to believe in a literal Garden of Eden with a literal serpent in order to accept as true the fact of Man's fallen nature. I also believe that God is revealed to us in two manners: via the direct evidence of His magnificent creation, and by direct revelation through the Holy Spirit. They are each true in their own way and cannot disagree. When science seems to conflict with Scripture, I think it is reasonable to assume that our reading is where the problem lay. Bear in mind that God can only reveal Himself in the language and the mental constructs of the men (and women) he inspires. The fantastic vision that Ezekiel saw, of wheels within wheels, would have been described entirely differently by a native of of a mesoamerican culture that did not yet have the technology of wheels. God's revelation is so immense and so entirely beyond our ability to express it in words that anything we say is in one sense "mythic," not that it speaks of the untrue but rather of the unknowable.

So to answer my question, it would be entirely correct to say that God "wrote" genesis since He was the only one around at the time. But I also believe it was the earliest writers of the Pentateuch who received the revelation of God and passed it faithfully to us. For me, the most important thing is that God the Holy Spirit can speak directly to us via the Scripture in order to know Him and, in so doing, begin to know ourselves. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I am not alone

I ran across this site in the comments threads and am happy to post a link.

Not exactly what this site is about but close, and I recommend it as a well written and thoroughly researched defense of Christian faith and reason.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Off the rails

I just came out of an experience in the comments section of where, rather than defending the Catholic faith against uninformed attacks, I found myself sucked into contentious arguments with some thoroughly hostile people. And, being the pillar of spiritual perfection that I am, I was in there scratching and biting with them over such things as the supposed foolishness of "theists" or whether the Masoretic or Alexandrine texts were more reliable. So much for reasoned and dispassionate discussion.

I can only comfort myself in knowing that this is a really human tendency. But I tend to define all human tendencies as sin unless they are informed by the Holy Spirit. I would really prefer that people who disagree with me could come here for a little more civilized debate but that's apparently not exciting enough.

So I shall blog on. Whether or not anyone ever finds this site, I can at the very least use it as a journal and derive the benefit that always comes from committing one's thoughts to written form.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


This post concerns a comment by a reader "John" of I quote:
First of all I certainly am against killing of the innocent. The timing of the abortion (how far along the pregnancy is) is important to me. I certainly am against late term abortions.
I have invited him here to discuss this in a more temperate atmosphere.

Here are a few questions that I need clarified if we are to have an intelligent debate on the subject.
  1. Why are you "against late term abortions?"
  2.  Is your opposition based on objective principles or are you just uncomfortable with the practice?
  3.  Do you believe there is a right to an abortion that ends when it becomes " late term" or is this right absolute?
What do you say?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Elephant in the Sanctuary

Respect for another's beliefs is impossible if one does not in fact know what the other believes. If this exercise is ever to fill a need, then it is necessary that we approach boldly those things on which we are most divided.

My evangelical brothers would of course point to things like salvation through works and the "worship" of Mary, but these things are trivialities compared to the amputation of the very center of Christian worship. I am referring to the denial of the True Presence of Christ's Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Here we find evangelicals backed into a corner. The discussion usually focuses on all the things that Catholics do that aren't in the Bible, but when it come to the True Presence we are suddenly told that the clear sense of Scripture is not in fact saying what it appears to be saying. You may thank John Calvin for that. Martin Luther had no problem with it, although his enmity toward Rome may have compelled him to find a middle ground, namely consubstantiation vs. transubstantiation. I sincerely doubt that any Bible believing evangelical could accept either one.

Scripture clearly shows that Jesus was emphatically not speaking metaphorically when He said that unless you drink His blood and eat His flesh you have no part in Him. The Patristic texts also show that it was central part of Christian worship less than a century after Jesus' death. There are plenty of resources outside this blog if anyone cares to look them up. That's not my purpose here.

The point of this post is to raise two very important points:
1. If Jesus was, in fact, speaking in a metaphor, where else in all of scripture does he say "this" is "me?" There are numerous examples of His use of metaphors which evangelicals use to buttress the argument that this was not different. "I am the door..." Was Jesus saying He was a door? Of course not. Same thing with "I am the vine.." "I am the Way.." etc. But there is no other passage that says "this is me" or "this is my." Metaphors don't work that way. One may say to one's beloved "Your hair is golden flax," but if you say "this golden flax is your hair" the definite pronoun means that golden flax is the thing present and the hair is present as well. That is not a metaphor. So when Jesus says with respect to the bread He is holding in His hand, "This is my body.." he is saying that the bread is a real and present thing and it is referring to His real and present body. This is no metaphor.

2. The Eucharist had been the center of Christian worship for centuries. Why, them did the Reformers attack that first? Were they scandalized by its implications? If so they were in familiar company:

John 6:60, 66
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
When I was an evangelical Protestant, I knew nothing of the true meaning of the Mass. I had a vague sense that it was all a bunch of meaningless ritual, no different in kind from the frankly arbitrary nature of evangelical worship. When I began to educate myself as to what Catholics actually believed, I was forced to see the Eucharist as either a horrendous abomination or else the very center and focus of Christian worship and piety. 

That is the challenge I place before my readers: either prove that it is an abomination or admit that it is what the Lord truly intended. There is no middle ground.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Permabear rants

Haha you folks are a bunch of gullible idiots. Shame on this "news" site for deliberately misrepresenting the president's quote to get its uneducated reader base all fired up. Reaffirming a commitment to
"a fundamental American value: that government should not intrude in our most private and personal family matters"
and that
"The federal government should not be injecting itself into decisions best made between women, their families, and their doctors"
does not equate at all to a "commitment to abortion". How stupid can you people get? Grow up. 
Judging by your other comments, it is almost a certainty that I am better educated, more successful, and innately more intelligent than you'll ever be. Given this, if you believe that I am stupid, I shudder to hear how lowly your opinions are of yourself, assuming you perceive a proportional relative comparison. I also like how you're incapable of presenting a proper rebuttal that could have included facts, quotes, or even some sort of logic-based argument. Typical.
- "Permabear Hunter" on

Here's my response and an invitation to take it outside:

This posting is about to get the kind of attention it shouldn't deserve.

1. "a fundamental American value: that government should not intrude in our most private and personal family matters". I'm 100% with you on that. Such as home schooling, what we pack in our children's lunch boxes, how we choose our medical care, how we choose to defend our homes. Stuff like that. Obama has no problem intruding when it supports his agenda.

2. "The federal government should not be injecting itself into decisions
best made between women, their families, and their doctors" Couldn't agree more. The Constitution grants the states sole discretion into matters of this type.Yet Roe tramples on the rights of states to protect its citizens from an over-reaching federal government.

But this nonsense about "a decision between a woman and her doctor" is entirely irrelevant. A woman and her doctor are not protected if they plan to rob a bank or kill a toddler. So it all boils down to what they are, in fact, deciding to do. And if one believes, as I do, that a fetus is a person entitled to protection under the law, then a criminal conspiracy has no constitutional protection. The ENTIRE argument regarding abortion hinges on that one question and nothing else.
And later:

If you want to take this off line, comment on my blog I'll provide you with all the intelligent discussion you crave.

Will (s)he show up? Or am I not well educated, intelligent and successful enough to engage?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Evangelical idol destroyed by fire

Our friends at have posted this article:

Apparently statues of Jesus are considered "idols" by that web site.

Here's another idol:

God must have been displeased because this evangelical idol was destroyed by lightning from heaven on June 5, 2010.

It has since been replaced by this idol:

Apparently only Catholic statues are considered idols.

I'm obviously being sarcastic, but I wonder if being sarcastic is worse than being hostile and self-righteous. It probably is.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Patristic Gap

How many of my evangelical readers have read any of the Church Fathers? The period during which they wrote, and during which much fundamental doctrine was hammered out, is referred to as the patristic period. And keep in mind that the patristic period could be said to have begun with the Resurrection. We have no problem reading Acts, or Paul's writings for example, but many evangelicals seem to act as if nothing written after Paul and Revelation has any significance. No Augustine, no Justin Martyr, none of the early councils. And. most surprisingly, no Ignatius of Antioch. Here was a man who was appointed by Peter as bishop of Antioch and was himself a disciple of John, yet who is disregarded almost entirely in evangelical teaching. Is it possible that nothing he said was important to the life of the Church?

It would not be too much of a stretch to say that the patristic writings are ignored by evangelicals because they are too "Catholic." In fact, it is quite clear that many of the "unbiblical" practices of the Catholic Church were already an established part of Christian worship in the first and second centuries.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that at some point the patristic writings took the Church away from the simplicity of the Gospel and had become by then distorted by the accretions of the "traditions of men." We would therefore have to ask ourselves when exactly did that occur. Did the Gospel message get lost immediately after the death of the last Apostle only to be rediscovered by the Reformers fifteen centuries later? Or should we  assume that the Church lost her way gradually and that the earliest writings may shed some light on Christian practice soon after Jesus' death. If so, then we are forced to take seriously the writings of those who were themselves disciples of the Apostles.

Here is my proposition: let us discuss what aspects of Catholic and evangelical theology and practice best conform to the earliest writings of the Church and to the writings of the Reformers. Where did Catholicism lose its way? Where did the Reformation get it right and where did it get it wrong? How closely to the teachings of the first Protestants does evangelical worship adhere? These are things we must discuss without rancor and with open hearts and minds.

I was raised an evangelical and I was led to the Roman Catholic Church. There are many, many testimonies of those who have taken a similar path, just as there are those who feel that God led them in the opposite direction. Let's discuss their testimonies and see what understanding we can glean from them.

I still have some lingering doubts about the Catholic Church just as I had doubts about Protestantism. I'm perfectly willing to listen to those who have discovered the truth and have no doubts at all. Talk to me and share the truth. I am strongly of the opinion that as each of us draw closer to the true God we inevitably draw closer to one another.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Who owns the Bible?

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20 - King James Version (KJV)
Any reader of knows that the debates in the comments are almost always loaded with scriptural references that "prove" the writers' points. As you can see, I just did it myself.

If we believe that the Bible itself is the final word on sound doctrine, we are still left with a dilemma: no text, including scripture, can speak authoritatively about it's own veracity. In other words, if I say "Everything I say is true," I have not proven in any way that "everything I say is true." If I truly never utter a falsehood, then that statement is true. If, on the other hand, I say untrue things at times then that statement is false, and the text offers no clue as to which case is correct. This argument in no way implies that the reliability of a text can't be determined by other means, only that the text itself can't be a deciding factor.

We take it on faith that the scripture is the inspired Word of God manifested through the writings of men filled with the Spirit of God. And we justify this faith because "we know in our hearts" that the Word of God is true. We believe, for instance, that God's word was given to the prophets by inspiration:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hebrews 1:1 - King James Version (KJV)
That, of course, raises another very thorny issue. If every Protestant Evangelical (and from now I will use the term "evangelical" to mean that, even though there are evangelical Catholics) "rightly divides the word of truth," then we would expect there to be only one true bible-believing church set apart from that great Whore of Babylon. Of course there are a fairly large number of evangelical denominations which disagree on some issues but not on the major ones. Here is a link to an article that addresses that very well from an evangelical standpoint.  

There are really only two major issues dividing Catholic from Protestants: "sola scriptura" (the Bible alone as the true source of all Christian doctrine) and sola fide (justification through faith alone). And actually sola fide is itself a consequence of sola scriptura. Every other doctrinal disagreement stems from that as well. So we really can't have a dialog until we come to some understanding of who, in fact, "owns" the Bible.

Again, here's a quote from the website I referenced earlier (and it's a pretty good one):
The truth is that both Roman Catholics and Protestants must, in the end, rely upon their reasoning abilities (to choose their authority) and their interpretive skills (to understand what that authority teaches) in order to determine what they will believe. Protestants are simply more willing to admit that this is the case.
I disagree that Protestants are inherently more willing to do that. I see "blind obedience" on both sides of the divide and I also see many Catholics and as well as evangelicals who confront the issue of the Magisterium (traditions of men) head on. But the point is well made. In the end it is Reason informed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that matters. We do "see in part" and "know in part." And although we may be justified by faith, we still retain the taint of original sin that obscures our understanding.

Any discussion of scripture must inevitably confront the issue of just how the Bible came into being. And while I believe that its writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit, I suspect that not all of them would have made the claim of innerancy at the time they were writing. Books were included in the Bible (or what is called the canon of scripture) because they conformed to the teaching of the Church at that time. And "that time" was many decades (if not centuries) after the last Apostles died.

 So the composition of the Bible is, in a very real sense, a reflection of what the Church taught at the time the canon was fixed. (This is a very complex history and beyond the scope of this blog.) Or to put it another way, and in a way that is bound to be troubling to fans of sola scriptura, it was the teaching tradition of the Church combined with the inspired writings that formed the "deposit of faith" which Catholics refer to as the Magisterium.

I believe it is actually that way today. No scripture is of any private interpretation. Catholics and evangelicals both understand the necessity of studying scripture in the context of a larger faith community. Evangelicals have their own "magisterium" but it is so woven into the fabric of their religious culture that it's taken for granted. There is a tradition of teaching stretching back to the Reformation that defines evangelical theology but which no evangelical would dare call "the traditions of men." (That phrase alone will be the subject of another probably lengthy blog.)

So, who owns the Bible? Who gets to interpret what it really says? No one, if by "really" you mean defining absolutely unassailable truth. Yet, at the same time, it belongs to everyone who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord. And as unpalatable as it may seem to some, that includes Roman Catholics. Thus the title of my blog. Catholics believe the Bible, they have always believed the Bible and they always will. And the sooner we begin to understand that the world is drawing strength from our divisions, the sooner we will stop this petty name-calling and get down to spreading the Gospel.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Are we as one?

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. - John 17:20-23
I have been moved to create this blog as a counterpoint to the heated and, dare I say, often vitriolic posts in regarding Roman Catholics. Sadly, the free-for-all atmosphere of the comments arena does not lend itself to the dispassionate and reasoned discussion we need if we are ever to achieve Jesus' prayer that we "be as one."

I think perfect Christian unity is not something that we, as fallen people, will ever achieve in this world. But I do believe that there exists common ground where it is not necessary to label as apostate other devout Christians. I do not think for a moment that unity means Protestants coming back to Rome or Catholics forsaking the Eucharist.

I do think that unity means that the "world may know that thou hast sent me". Our unity in Christ is the face of Christ to the world. What face are we showing? It's bad enough that there is such rancor between Catholics and evangelicals. How much worse that even evangelicals are seen occasionally attacking each other over doctrinal issues.

I was raised in an evangelical family and, in spite of my youthful rebellion, returned to it as an adult. I was baptized in a full-gospel church and received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I was very opposed the the Roman Catholic Church and never in a million years thought that I would one day belong. While debating with a Catholic friend about our different doctrines she challenged me to actually read the Catechism. It was shocking to find that it differed from Protestant doctrine in surprisingly few places. I was already a student of the bible but returned to it with a desire to refute Catholic doctrine. I was only partially successful.

I now believe firmly that sincere evangelicals stand on solid theological ground. I also firmly believe that sincere Catholics likewise have a scripturally sound basis for their beliefs. How is this possible? 

It is because we all see in part and we all know in part. We will never be in total agreement until we see Him as He is. For now it will have to be enough that I can accept the possible truth of your beliefs without having to adopt them, and you mine. Anything less and the world has already triumphed.