Saturday, December 30, 2006

Profession of Faith

In the entire time that I have been maintaining this blog, and really for as long as I have known it to be a necessity, I have tried to be faithful to the teaching of the Church and obedient to the pope and the bishops in union with him. The Code of Canon Law actually requires that certain individuals make a profession of faith, publically attesting to such allegiance.

Canon #833 reads as follows:
  • Can. 833 The following are personally bound to make a profession of faith, according to the formula approved by the Apostolic See:

    1.° in the presence of the president or his delegate: all who, with a deliberative or a consultative vote, take part in an Ecumenical Council, a particular council, the synod of Bishops, or a diocesan synod; in the presence of the council or synod: the president himself ;

    2.° in accordance with the statutes of the sacred College: those promoted to the dignity of Cardinal;

    3.° in the presence of a delegate of the Apostolic See: all who are promoted to the episcopate, and all those who are equivalent to a diocesan Bishop;

    4.° in the presence of the college of consultors: the diocesan Administrator;

    5.° in the presence of the diocesan Bishop or his delegate: Vicars general, episcopal Vicars and judicial Vicars;

    6.° in the presence of the local Ordinary or his delegate: parish priests; the rector, professors of theology and philosophy in seminaries, at the beginning of their term of office; and those who are to be promoted to the order of diaconate;

    7.° in the presence of the Chancellor or, in the absence of the Chancellor, the local Ordinary, or the delegates of either: the rector of an ecclesiastical or catholic university, at the beginning of the term of office - in the presence of the rector if he is a priest, or of the local Ordinary or the delegates of either: those who in any universities teach subjects which deal with faith or morals, at the beginning of their term of office;

    8.° in accordance with the constitutions: Superiors in religious institutes and clerical societies of apostolic life.
The Profession of Faith referenced in this canon (and in conformity to John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem) is found below. Even though I am not among those rquired to make such a profession, I make it nonetheless, as proof of my desire to be as faithful as they are called to be:
  • I, Nicholas Hardesty, with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely:

    I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

    With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

    I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

    Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.
Fidelity and obedience to the Church is a calling for us all, whether you make a profession of faith or not. If it can be proven that anything I have ever written here is contrary to the teaching of the Church, I will gladly correct it.

Pax Christi,

Friday, December 29, 2006

Of Necessity and Wetness

Unfortunately, I can't take credit for the witty title of this post. It comes from a thread started by "grace saved sinner" in the God board at Relevant Magazine. He began with the following post:
okay so i have not been around here that long so if this an old topic then dont hate me. i am interested about everyones thoughts on baptism. and since people seem to like lists ill make this easy:

1. define baptism.
2. emmersion or sprinkling? why?
3. necessary part of salvation or public confession of faith?
(side note- dont use "public confession of faith" in your definition)
4. any interesting baptism stories?

that's it. it has been an interesting topic for discussion lately so i though you guys my enjoy it. thanks and GOD bless.
I thought his thread would be a great opportunity to share the Catechism, so I responded in the following manner [his words are in silver]:
1. define baptism.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."

2. emmersion or sprinkling? why?

Either one is sufficient. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate's head.

3. necessary part of salvation or public confession of faith?

Necessary part of salvation. again, from the Catechism:

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

4. any interesting baptism stories?

Sorry, I don't remember mine (since I was baptized as an infant and all)
"gonzoguy" posted twice in response. Here are his posts with my response to them. This promises to be a worthwhile debate.

Pax Christi,
- - - - - -
Yeah, the whole thing about baptism being necessary for salvation seems somewhat contradictory to Christ's (and Paul's) teaching.
Even though Jesus said, "unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5) and Paul said, "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4)? Baptism seems perfectly in line with their teaching.

Seems to me like Catholicism has placed a little bit too much emphasis on the doing rather than the being regarding this matter.
I disagree. Faith requires action, and it is our Faith in Christ that compels us to be baptized.

[after someone else added that Scripture seems to disagree with him, gonzo added this second post]
No it doesn't, you just left out the parts that argue the other side. Here's a big one...

Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
I think the crucial point here is the nature of faith. What are the qualities of a saving faith? We know that it is not mere intellectual assent, because James says that faith without works is dead (Jam 2:17,26). Thus, a saving faith is a faith that compels us to act, and in very particular ways. One such action is baptism. Look at what Jesus says:

Mk 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

We must believe, and then this belief must compel us to be baptized if we are to be saved. Faith saves, initially, when it calls us to baptism, and ultimately insofar as it compels us to live a life in accordance with His will. That's why Paul says you will remain grafted to the tree of life “provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off” (Rom 11:22). Jesus will present us to the Father “holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith” (Col 1:22-23). We must “stand fast” (Gal 5:1) and “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1), working out our salvation with fear and trembling (cf. Phil 2:12), “for we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end” (Heb 3:14).

BBM, you would be hard pressed to find anything in Scripture that says a lack of baptism is synonymous with a lack of salvation. Indeed to come to that conclusion you would be forced to use reverse logic which is almost never helpful when it comes to Scripture.
I think the verses I have provided, particularly Jn 3:5 and Mk 16:16, show a definite link between a lack of baptism and a lack of salvation. No reverse logic is necessary.

As has already been referenced, the theif on the cross, John the Baptist, and possibly the disciples would be in danger of a lack of salvation since there is nothing that says they were baptized.
Regarding the theif on the cross, his circumstances certainly prevented him from being baptized, and God, being the just Judge that He is, would certainly not hold that against Him. Also, note that we are bound by the Sacraments, but God is not. He can certainly do what He wishes, and we see that He exercised this perogative when He promised the theif a place in His Kingdom.

For the record, I think that if a believer has the opportunity to be baptized they should be, but to say that it is necessary for salvation is to say that Christ's work is not enough which, coincidentally, flies in the face of his teaching. If baptism were a requirement for salvation we would still be under a sort of law and God's grace was only sufficient if we completed the "work" of baptism. It just doesn't make sense.
Your logic does not follow. It is plain to see that God requires certain things from us. This does not mean that we are under the "law" and not under grace. It just means that the Christian life places certain demands upon us. "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (Jn 14:15).

Furthermore, when I defend the necessity of baptism it does not follow that I am likewise asserting that Christ's work was deficient or "not enough." This is because it is the very work of Christ on the cross that gives baptism its efficacy. That's why Peter says:

1 Pet 3:21-22
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Baptism would not cleanse us from sin or initiate us into the Body of Christ were it not for Jesus' passion, death, resurrection, and ascension. After all, He had to return to the Father before He could grant to the Church the Spirit that gives the Sacraments their power. Baptism does not deny Christ's work, it affirms it.

Furthermore, Baptism is a particularly poignant affirmation of Christ's work because it is through Baptism that we actually enter in to His work. That's why Paul says:

Rom 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Col 2:12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Meakness and Righteous Indignation

"theculturewarrior" asked the following multi-layered question in the Q&A board at Phatmass:
  • What is the virtue of meekness?
Here are some definitions from both Catholic and Protestant sources:
  • 1910 New Catholic Dictionary
    • Meekness: The virtue which moderates anger, checking its disorderly effects. It is reducible to temperance. In a wider sense it controls every disorderly affection leading one to resent another's action. Saint James sees in it the general purification of soul required for the practise of the Gospel precepts already accepted by faith.

  • Pocket Catholic Dictionary
    • Meekness: The virtue that moderates anger and its disorderly effects. It is a form of temperance that controls every inordinate movement of resentment at another person's character or behavior.

  • Easton's Bible Dictionary
    • Meekness: A calm temper of mind, not easily provoked (James 3:13). Peculiar promises are made to the meek (Matt. 5:5; Isa. 66:2). The cultivation of this spirit is enjoined (Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 6:11; Zeph. 2:3), and is exemplified in Christ (Matt. 11:29), Abraham (Gen. 13; 16:5, 6) Moses (Num. 12:3), David (Zech. 12:8; 2 Sam. 16:10, 12), and Paul (1 Cor. 9:19).
Now, on to the rest of your questions:

  • Is there such a thing as righteous indignation, and if so, how does one be angry righteously?
There most certainly is such a thing! A man's indignation is righteous when it is motivated by love and zeal for the Lord and when his response is proportionate to the injustice committed against the Lord or His Church. It must be rooted in love of the Lord and His Church --not revenge, or hatred, or pride. As far as a proportionate response, you would not, for example, want to follow the lead of the Boondock Saints and run around killing every bad guy in the neighborhood just because their actions are contrary to the Lord's Will. However, when you see Church doctrine being misrepresented or maligned, you have every right to stand up and defend the Church with the utmost veracity, vehemence, and vociferousness (3 wonderful "V" words). That is righteous indignation.

  • Is voicing anger a sin?
The New Advent encyclopedia is helpful here:
  • Anger: The desire of vengeance. Its ethical rating depends upon the quality of the vengeance and the quantity of the passion. When these are in conformity with the prescriptions of balanced reason, anger is not a sin. It is rather a praiseworthy thing and justifiable with a proper zeal. It becomes sinful when it is sought to wreak vengeance upon one who has not deserved it, or to a greater extent than it has been deserved, or in conflict with the dispositions of law, or from an improper motive. The sin is then in a general sense mortal as being opposed to justice and charity. It may, however, be venial because the punishment aimed at is but a trifling one or because of lack of full deliberation. Likewise, anger is sinful when there is an undue vehemence in the passion itself, whether inwardly or outwardly. Ordinarily it is then accounted a venial sin unless the excess be so great as to go counter seriously to the love of God or of one's neighbour.
We see from this that voicing anger can be a sin, but not necessarily.

  • Is there a way to act out in anger that is not sinful? Is there a way to assert yourself while angry that is not sinful? Can you provide me with examples?
See the paragraph above on the definition of "anger" and how to be righteously angry. Jesus provided many of our best examples, for instance, when he drove out the money changers (here), called the Pharisees a "brood of vipers" (here), and chastised the "wicked servant" (here). Of course there are some excellent examples in the OT as well, such as when Moses slayed the worshippers of the golden calf (here) and when the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomor'rah (here). Note that the Lord's actions are proportionate in this instance because in the Old Covenant, the punishment for transgressing the law was death, and this was just since it was always the arrangment that the people agreed to when they entered into a convenant with the Lord.

I hope that helps

Pax Christi,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Apologetics in the Pre-Catechumenate Period of RCIA

Apologetics, or the defense of the faith, plays a very important role in the pre-catechumenate period of the RCIA process. People often come to this rite with nagging and persistent questions about the Catholic faith, and it can be difficult to continue the process and to accept everything that the Church teaches as long as these questions remain. Apologetics helps to remove those obstacles by providing a clear and concise explanation and defense of Catholic doctrine or practice as it relates to those pressing questions.

A clear and concise explanation: this is very important. If we present the faith in a way that is not systematic, or that does not follow a discernable train of thought, we can lose our audience. Thus, a clear presentation will be organized and structured so as to lead one to the necessary logical deductions. Clarity also means using words that accommodate your audience and their current progress in the journey of faith. RCIA is a gradual process of revelation through stages. The catechist does not want to present concepts that are more advanced than what the audience is ready to receive. This also means using vocabulary that they will understand, or at least explaining words before you use them.

A concise explanation is one that is both to the point and robust with meaning. Often, the catechist’s greatest challenge is fitting the breadth of Catholic teaching into a one-page handout, or a 30-minute presentation. This is difficult, but it is also necessary. If the catechist belabors his audience with lengthy dissertations, the audience is likely to feel overwhelmed and insecure in his ability to actually learn the Catholic faith. Furthermore, on a practical level, the catechist has to remember that attention spans are often very short. If he wants his audience to truly listen to and understand what he is teaching, he must accommodate their ability to remain alert and focused. Finally, the catechist must note that he has a lot of ground to cover in the 7 months between September and Easter. If he is not concise, even with his spiritual exercises during the stages of less instruction, he will deprive his candidates and catechumens of the preparation they need to enter into the Church.

So as to provide an example of clear and concise apologetics, I have included the following handouts, each one on a different Sacrament of the Church [see links at the end of this post]. Each handout is one-page in length and is divided into three sections: “Definition,” “Reasons for the Sacrament,” and “Support from Scripture.” There are many reasons why I have decided to format the handouts in this way.

The “Definition” section is important because it is often unclear to many what exactly the Church teaches about a specific doctrine. Purgatory, for example, is often misunderstood to be a middle-ground between those who aren’t good enough for heaven, but not bad enough for hell; or it is a place where you can work your way into heaven even though you didn’t initially deserve it. Providing a clear and concise definition of the subject will dismiss these errors at the onset and allow the audience to know the subject for what it really is. For each handout, I have used the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the source for my definitions. The Catechism has made as its goal the presentation of the faith, and it begins the majority of its sections with a short definition of whatever is about to be explained more fully. Thus, the Catechism is well-suited for the first section of each handout. Plus, it is always good for people to become familiar with the Catechism and to come to see it as a worthwhile and authoritative source on Catholic doctrine.

The “Reasons for the Sacrament” section is perhaps the most difficult one to complete. Even when Catholics know what they believe, they often don’t know why. Defenses from Scripture or from the Tradition of the Church don’t really answer the question. Yes, we believe in the authority of Peter because of Mt 16:18, but why do we need this authority in the first place? Why would Jesus build his Church on a person? Why would he institute a papacy? As Catholics, we often do not think of these questions, but potential converts to the faith ask them all the time. Thus, this section of the handout attempts to answer the most fundamental questions about Church teaching and to present the logic, coherence, and inner-consistency of what the Church believes.

Each handout concludes with the “Support from Scripture” section. This section is necessary, for one, because it shows that all that the Church believes is well-grounded in the Word of God as it was written down in the Bible. This is especially important for Protestants, who regard the Bible as the sole rule of faith. However, in utilizing the Bible we are also showing the person who has little or no regard for it that the Bible is a work that the Christian turns to for guidance and spiritual nourishment. We would not bother ourselves with what the Bible had to say if the Bible was not a reliable witness to the teachings of Christ and the Church. Of course, quoting Scripture also has the effect of helping the audience to grow familiar with its content.

All of these sections help not only the prospective Catholic, but the catechist as well. In defining doctrine, he comes to know the faith in its most concise expression. In listing the reasons for a doctrine, he forces himself to ask questions that he has never asked before, to plum the depth of and purpose for what we believe, and to place himself in the position of the uninstructed. In finding the support for a doctrine in Scripture, he grows more and more acquainted with that which is the very heart of catechesis.
- - - - - -
Pax Christi,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Start a Catholic Group on YOUR Campus!

"Curtis" emailed me the following question, and I have received his permission to publish our exchange on my blog. Catholic evangelization is very important on college campuses, where students are often asking questions about religion for the first time. It's also good to have a support group for the Catholics on campus, especially if you go to a secular institution. I hope my answer to Curtis' question is helpful to my other readers as well.
Awesome apologetics blog! I attend Purdue University, and my roommate and I are considering starting a Catholic Truth League here on campus. The organization would have the mission of evangelization and apologetics. We have a lot of ideas for activities and events, but we were wondering if this type of group exists at other colleges that could give us some more ideas and practical advice. Do you know of any such college student organizations? Do you have any ideas for evangelization on campus? Eventually we would like to have a presence in the dorms to provide support for incoming freshmen who are always being challenged by the very influential and powerful "inter-denominational" christian groups on campus. You seemed to be someone who might have ideas. Thought I'd ask. God bless you with the work you are doing for the Church.
Thank you for writing! I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. I'm in the middle of finals week at FUS, so things have been pretty crazy.

Anyway, the largest group of the kind you are referring to would be Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS. They'll actually send missionaries (young adult like yourself) who are trained in going to colleges and starting up Catholic ministries, including a Bible study. They'll live there for at least a year, helping you to get the ball rolling and training people to take their place. It's an amazing thing. The catch is that they won't go to a college or university unless the bishop invites them.

If you want to check them out, here's their website:

If you don't want to mess with that, it's pretty easy to start up a Catholic group on your own. First, you'd want to round up some signatures of people who would be interested in something like what you want to offer so you can show your student government association that there is legitimate interest, thus reason to sanction a new club/organization.

Then you would start advertising. Use every means possible: campus tv and radio, flyers, posters, little signs to put on the lunch tables and above the water fountains and the urinals, hehe. Make t-shirts, start a blog, send out a mass email, do everything you can to advertise your group.

Then you just have to give them a reason to come. When I started a catholic club on my campus (back when I went to a Methodist school), I tried to provide opportunities both to learn and to grow spiritually. Each night I would present a different Catholic doctrine. But, I also organized trips to monastaries, and old Cathedrals, and other holy places. You could get people together to go to the Right to Life March. Also, if you have the money, you could have speakers come to talk about doctrine or spirituality.

You can also lead your own bible study. Catholic Exchange offers one of the best ones I've seen. I actually lead this study for my parish for 3 years. Here's the link:
--Catholic Scripture Study

You'll want to fundraise some way, at least until your club can have access to your student government association's budget for student activities. You could sell t-shirts, or rosaries, or brownies, or whatever. You could raffle off an ipod (everyone wants one of those). A PS3 would be even better!! You get the idea. You'll also need an amabassador from your group to be a member of your student government association so that you can formally request funds and have a say in how student activities are ran on campus.

Make sure that you let people know that your club is for everyone, not just for Catholics. Since you also want to incorporate evangelization, let people know that they can come to learn about Catholicism, about why we do what we do. Also, see if you can get a regular column in your school's newspaper, where you can give a Catholic perspective on events in the news or what's happening on campus. Provide opportunities for evangelization. Go speak to the poor, or work in a soup kitchen, or talk to the local third graders, or teach Sunday school. Go out and preach the Gospel!

I know that this is alot to take in all at once. Just take it slow. You can't conquer the world overnight, if at all. If you need anymore help just let me know.

Pax Christi,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Behemoth and the Leviathan

"TrueConvert" asked the following question in the General Theology board at HCR:
What is it? Any perspectives on the Leviathan of Job 41, or the Behemoth of Job 40?? Fire-breathing? Wow!!
I dug up some commentaries and here's what they say:


Douay-Rheims Bible with Notes:
"Behemoth"... In Hebrew, behema, which signifies in general an animal; but many authors explain, that here it is put for the elephant.
New American Bible with Notes:
Behemoth: the hippopotamus.
Geneva Study Bible:
This beast is thought to be the elephant, or some other, which is unknown.
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible:
behemoth--The description in part agrees with the hippopotamus, in part with the elephant, but exactly in all details with neither. It is rather a poetical personification of the great Pachydermata, or Herbivora (so "he eateth grass"), the idea of the hippopotamus being predominant. In Job 40:17, "the tail like a cedar," hardly applies to the latter (so also Job 40:20,23, "Jordan," a river which elephants alone could reach, but other hand, Job 40:21,22 are characteristic of the amphibious river horse. So leviathan (the twisting animal), Job 41:1, is a generalized term for cetacea, pythons, saurians of the neighboring seas and rivers, including the crocodile, which is the most prominent, and is often associated with the river horse by old writers. "Behemoth" seems to be the Egyptian Pehemout, "water-ox," Hebraized, so-called as being like an ox, whence the Italian bombarino.
Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible:
God, for the further proving of his own power and disproving of Job’s pretensions, concludes his discourse with the description of two vast and mighty animals, far exceeding man in bulk and strength, one he calls behemoth, the other leviathan. In these verses we have the former described. "Behold now behemoth, and consider whether thou art able to contend with him who made that beast and gave him all the power he has, and whether it is not thy wisdom rather to submit to him and make thy peace with him.’’ Behemoth signifies beasts in general, but must here be meant of some one particular species. Some understand it of the bull; others of an amphibious animal, well known (they say) in Egypt, called the river-horse (hippopotamus), living among the fish in the river Nile, but coming out to feed upon the earth. But I confess I see no reason to depart from the ancient and most generally received opinion, that it is the elephant that is here described, which is a very strong stately creature, of very large stature above any other, of wonderful sagacity, and of so great a reputation in the animal kingdom that among so many four-footed beasts as we have had the natural history of (ch. 38 and 39) we can scarcely suppose this should be omitted. Observe,
I. The description here given of the behemoth.
1. His body is very strong and well built. His strength is in his loins, v. 16. His bones, compared with those of other creatures, are like bars of iron, v. 18. His back-bone is so strong that, though his tail be not large, yet he moves it like a cedar, with a commanding force, v. 17. Some understand it of the trunk of the elephant, for the word signifies any extreme part, and in that there is indeed a wonderful strength. So strong is the elephant in his back and loins, and the sinews of his thighs, that he will carry a large wooden tower, and a great number of fighting men in it. No animal whatsoever comes near the elephant for strength of body, which is the main thing insisted on in this description.
2. He feeds on the productions of the earth and does not prey upon other animals: He eats grass as an ox (v. 15), the mountains bring him forth food (v. 20), and the beasts of the field do not tremble before him nor flee from him, as from a lion, but they play about him, knowing they are in no danger from him. This may give us occasion,
(1.) To acknowledge the goodness of God in ordering it so that a creature of such bulk, which requires so much food, should not feed upon flesh (for then multitudes must die to keep him alive), but should be content with the grass of the field, to prevent such destruction of lives as otherwise must have ensued.
(2.) To commend living upon herbs and fruits without flesh, according to the original appointment of man’s food, Gen. 1:29. Even the strength of an elephant, as of a horse and an ox, may be supported without flesh; and why not that of a man? Though therefore we use the liberty God has allowed us, yet be not among riotous eaters of flesh, Prov. 23:20.
(3.) To commend a quiet and peaceable life. Who would not rather, like the elephant, have his neighbours easy and pleasant about him, than, like the lion, have them all afraid of him?
3. He lodges under the shady trees (v. 21), which cover him with their shadow (v. 22), where he has a free and open air to breathe in, while lions, which live by prey, when they would repose themselves, are obliged to retire into a close and dark den, to live therein, and to abide in the covert of that, ch. 38:40. Those who are a terror to others cannot but be sometimes a terror to themselves too; but those will be easy who will let others be easy about them; and the reed and fens, and the willows of the brook, though a very weak and slender fortification, yet are sufficient for the defence and security of those who therefore dread no harm, because they design none.
4. That he is a very great and greedy drinker, not of wine or strong drink (to be greedy of that is peculiar to man, who by his drunkenness makes a beast of himself), but of fair water.
(1.) His size is prodigious, and therefore he must have supply accordingly, v. 23. He drinks so much that one would think he could drink up a river, if you would give him time, and not hasten him. Or, when he drinks, he hasteth not, as those do that drink in fear; he is confident of his own strength and safety, and therefore makes no haste when he drinks, no more haste than good speed.
(2.) His eye anticipates more than he can take; for, when he is very thirsty, having been long kept without water, he trusts that he can drink up Jordan in his mouth, and even takes it with his eyes, v. 24. As a covetous man causes his eyes to fly upon the wealth of this world, which he is greedy of, so this great beast is said to snatch, or draw up, even a river with his eyes.
(3.) His nose has in it strength enough for both; for, when he goes greedily to drink with it, he pierces through snares or nets, which perhaps are laid in the waters to catch fish. He makes nothing of the difficulties that lie in his way, so great is his strength and so eager his appetite.
II. The use that is to be made of this description. We have taken a view of this mountain of a beast, this over-grown animal, which is here set before us, not merely as a show (as sometimes it is in our country) to satisfy our curiosity and to amuse us, but as an argument with us to humble ourselves before the great God; for,
1. He made this vast animal, which is so fearfully and wonderfully made; it is the work of his hands, the contrivance of his wisdom, the production of his power; it is behemoth which I made, v. 15. Whatever strength this, or any other creature, has, it is derived from God, who therefore must be acknowledged to have all power originally and infinitely in himself, and such an arm as it is not for us to contest with. This beast is here called the chief, in its kind, of the ways of God (v. 19), an eminent instance of the Creator’s power and wisdom. Those that will peruse the accounts given by historians of the elephant will find that his capacities approach nearer to those of reason than the capacities of any other brute-creature whatsoever, and therefore he is fitly called the chief of the ways of God, in the inferior part of the creation, no creature below man being preferable to him.
2. He made him with man, as he made other four-footed beasts, on the same day with man (Gen. 1:25, 26), whereas the fish and fowl were made the day before; he made him to live and move on the same earth, in the same element, and therefore man and beast are said to be jointly preserved by divine Providence as fellow-commoners, Ps. 36:6. "It is behemoth, which I made with thee; I made that beast as well as thee, and he does not quarrel with me; why then dost thou? Why shouldst thou demand peculiar favours because I made thee (ch. 10:9), when I made the behemoth likewise with thee? I made thee as well as that beast, and therefore can as easily manage thee at pleasure as that beast, and will do it whether thou refuse or whether thou choose. I made him with thee, that thou mayest look upon him and receive instruction.’’ We need not go far for proofs and instances of God’s almighty power and sovereign dominion; they are near us, they are with us, they are under our eye wherever we are.
3. He that made him can make his sword to approach to him (v. 19), that is, the same hand that made him, notwithstanding his great bulk and strength, can unmake him again at pleasure and kill an elephant as easily as a worm or a fly, without any difficulty, and without the imputation either of waste or wrong. God that gave to all the creatures their being may take away the being he gave; for may he not do what he will with his own? And he can do it; he that has power to create with a word no doubt has power to destroy with a word, and can as easily speak the creature into nothing as at first he spoke it out of nothing. The behemoth perhaps is here intended (as well as the leviathan afterwards) to represent those proud tyrants and oppressors whom God had just now challenged Job to abase and bring down. They think themselves as well fortified against the judgments of God as the elephant with his bones of brass and iron; but he that made the soul of man knows all the avenues to it, and can make the sword of justice, his wrath, to approach to it, and touch it in the most tender and sensible part. He that framed the engine, and put the parts of it together, knows how to take it in pieces. Woe to him therefore that strives with his Maker, for he that made him has therefore power to make him miserable, and will not make him happy unless he will be ruled by him.
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible:
Behemoth - Very learned men take the leviathan to be the crocodile, and the behemoth to be the river - horse, which may fitly be joined with the crocodile, both being well known to Joband his friends, as being frequent in the adjacent parts, both amphibious, living and preying both in the water and upon the land. And both creatures of great bulk and strength. Made - As I made thee. Grass - The river - horse comes out of the river upon the land to feed upon corn, and hay, or grass, as an ox doth, to whom also he is not unlike in the form of his head and feet, and in the bigness of his body, whence the Italians call him, the sea - ox.
Nave's Topical Bible:
An amphibious animal
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:
[Behêmôwth ,] Perhaps an extinct dinosaur, maybe a Diplodocus or Brachiosaurus, the exact meaning is unknown. Some translate as elephant or hippopotamus but from the description in Job 40:15-24,this is patently absurd.
Easton's Bible Dictionary:
Some have supposed this to be an Egyptian word meaning a "water-ox." The Revised Version has here in the margin "hippopotamus," which is probably the correct rendering of the word. The word occurs frequently in Scripture, but, except here, always as a common name, and translated "beast" or "cattle."
Smith's Bible Dictionary:
(great beasts). There can be little or no doubt that by this word, (Job 40:15-24) the hippopotamus is intended since all the details descriptive of the behemoth accord entirely with the ascertained habits of that animal. The hippopotamus is an immense creature having a thick and square head, a large mouth often two feet broad, small eyes and ears, thick and heavy body, short legs terminated by four toes, a short tail, skin without hair except at the extremity of the tail. It inhabits nearly the whole of Africa, and has been found of the length of 17 feet. It delights in the water, but feeds on herbage on land. It is not found in Palestine, but may at one time have been a native of western Asia.


Douay-Rheims Bible with Notes:
"Leviathan"... The whale or some sea monster.
New American Bible with Notes:
Leviathan here is the crocodile. But cf Job 3:8.
Geneva Study Bible:
Meaning the whale.
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible:
leviathan--literally, "the twisted animal," gathering itself in folds: a synonym to the Thannin (Job 3:8, Margin; see Psalms 74:14; type of the Egyptian tyrant Psalms 104:26, Isaiah 27:1; the Babylon tyrant). A poetical generalization for all cetacean, serpentine, and saurian monsters all the description applies to no one animal); especially the crocodile; which is naturally described after the river horse, as both are found in the Nile.

tongue . . . lettest down?--The crocodile has no tongue, or a very small one cleaving to the lower jaw. But as in fishing the tongue of the fish draws the baited hook to it, God asks, Canst thou in like manner take leviathan?
Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible:
Whether this leviathan be a whale or a crocodile is a great dispute among the learned, which I will not undertake to determine; some of the particulars agree more easily to the one, others to the other; both are very strong and fierce, and the power of the Creator appears in them. The ingenious Sir Richard Blackmore, though he admits the more received opinion concerning the behemoth, that it must be meant of the elephant, yet agrees with the learned Bochart’s notion of the leviathan, that it is the crocodile, which was so well known in the river of Egypt. I confess that that which inclines me rather to understand it of the whale is not only because it is much larger and a nobler animal, but because, in the history of the Creation, there is such an express notice taken of it as is not of any other species of animals whatsoever (Gen. 1:21, God created great whales), by which it appears, not only that whales were well known in those parts in the time of Moses, who lived a little after Job, but that the creation of whales was generally looked upon as a most illustrious proof of the eternal power and godhead of the Creator; and we may conjecture that this was the reason (for otherwise it seems unaccountable) why Moses there so particularly mentions the creation of the whales, because God had so lately insisted upon the bulk and strength of that creature than of any other, as the proof of his power; and the leviathan is here spoken of as an inhabitant of the sea (v. 31), which the crocodile is not; and Ps. 104:25, 26, there in the great and wide sea, is that leviathan. Here in these verses,
I. He shows how unable Job was to master the leviathan.
1. That he could not catch him, as a little fish, with angling, v. 1, 2. He had no bait wherewith to deceive him, no hook wherewith to catch him, no fish-line wherewith to draw him out of the water, nor a thorn to run through his gills, on which to carry him home.
2. That he could not make him his prisoner, nor force him to cry for quarter, or surrender himself at discretion, v. 3, 4. "He knows his own strength too well to make many supplications to thee, and to make a covenant with thee to be thy servant on condition thou wilt save his life.’’
3. That he could not entice him into a cage, and keep him there as a bird for the children to play with, v. 5. There are creatures so little, so weak, as to be easily restrained thus, and triumphed over; but the leviathan is not one of these: he is made to be the terror, not the sport and diversion, of mankind.
4. That he could not have him served up to his table; he and his companions could not make a banquet of him; his flesh is too strong to be fit for food, and, if it were not, he is not easily caught.
5. That they could not enrich themselves with the spoil of him: Shall they part him among the merchants, the bones to one, the oil to another? If they can catch him, they will; but it is probable that the art of fishing for whales was not brought to perfection then, as it has been since.
6. That they could not destroy him, could not fill his head with fish-spears, v. 7. He kept out of the reach of their instruments of slaughter, or, if they touched him, they could not touch him to the quick.
7. That it was to no purpose to attempt it: The hope of taking him is in vain, v. 9. If men go about to seize him, so formidable is he that the very sight of him will appal them, and make a stout man ready to faint away: Shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? and will not that deter the pursuers from their attempt? Job is told, at his peril, to lay his hand upon him, v. 8. "Touch him if thou dare; remember the battle, how unable thou art to encounter such a force, and what is therefore likely to be the issue of the battle, and do no more, but desist from the attempt.’’ It is good to remember the battle before we engage in a war, and put off the harness in time if we foresee it will be to no purpose to gird it on. Job is hereby admonished not to proceed in his controversy with God, but to make his peace with him, remembering what the battle will certainly end in if he come to an engagement. See Isa. 27:4, 5.
II. Thence he infers how unable he was to contend with the Almighty. None is so fierce, none so fool-hardy, that he dares to stir up the leviathan (v. 10), it being known that he will certainly be too hard for them; and who then is able to stand before God, either to impeach and arraign his proceedings or to out-face the power of his wrath? If the inferior creatures that are put under the feet of man, and over whom he has dominion, keep us in awe thus, how terrible must the majesty of our great Lord be, who has a sovereign dominion over us and against whom man has been so long in rebellion! Who can stand before him when once he is angry?
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible:
Leviathan - Several particulars in the following description, agree far better with the crocodile, than the whale. It is highly probable, that this is the creature here spoken of. Cord - Canst thou take him with a hook and a line, as anglers take ordinary fishes.
Nave's Topical Bible:
Possibly a crocodile
Job 41; Psalms 104:26

"The crooked (RSV) serpent."
Isaiah 27:1

Psalms 74:14
Torrey's Topical Textbook:
Created by God
Psalms 104:26

Nature and habits of
Job 41:1-34

God’s power, exhibited in destroying
Psalms 74:14

--Powerful and cruel kings
Isaiah 27:1

--Power and severity of God
Job 41:10
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:
See definition 03882. A large aquatic animal, perhaps the extinct dinosaur, plesiosaurus, the exact meaning is unknown. Some think this to be a crocodile but from the description in Job 41:1-41:34 this is patently absurd. It appears to be a large fire breathing animal of some sort. Just as the bomardier beetle has an explosion producing mechanism, so the great sea dragon may have an explosive producing mechanism to enable it to be a real fire breathing dragon.
3:8 *marg: Psalms 74:14; 104:26 Isaiah 27:1
Easton's Bible Dictionary:
a transliterated Hebrew word (livyathan), meaning "twisted," "coiled." In Job 3:8, Revised Version, and marg. of Authorized Version, it denotes the dragon which, according to Eastern tradition, is an enemy of light; in 41:1 the crocodile is meant; in Psalms 104:26 it "denotes any large animal that moves by writhing or wriggling the body, the whale, the monsters of the deep." This word is also used figuratively for a cruel enemy, as some think "the Egyptian host, crushed by the divine power, and cast on the shores of the Red Sea" (Psalms 74:14). As used in Isaiah 27:1, "leviathan the piercing [RSV 'swift'] serpent, even leviathan that crooked [RSV marg. 'winding'] serpent," the word may probably denote the two empires, the Assyrian and the Babylonian.
Smith's Bible Dictionary:
(jointed monster) occurs five times in the text of the Authorized Version, and once in the margin of (Job 3:8) where the text has "mourning." In the Hebrew Bible the word livyathan , which is, with the foregoing exception, always left untranslated in the Authorized Version, is found only in the following passages: (Job 3:8; 41:1; Psalms 74:14; 104:26; Isaiah 27:1) In the margin of (Job 3:8) and text of (Job 41:1) the crocodile is most clearly the animal denoted by the Hebrew word. (Psalms 74:14) also clearly points to this same saurian. The context of (Psalms 104:26) seems to show that in this passage the name represents some animal of the whale tribe, which is common in the Mediterranean; but it is somewhat uncertain what animal is denoted in (Isaiah 27:1) As the term leviathan is evidently used in no limited sense, it is not improbable that the "leviathan the piercing serpent," or "leviathan the crooked serpent," may denote some species of the great rock-snakes which are common in south and west Africa.

I hope that helps

Pax Christi,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Addition to the Sidebar

I added a new section to the sidebar. It's called "Sound of the Trumpet" and it's where you will find links to Catholic audio. Note that this is not for Catholic music (like Catholic rock or Catholic rap), but for Catholic audio apologetics, talks, interviews, Q&A's, book/movie reviews and other radio shows and podcasts that further the cause of this blog in their dissemination and defense of all things Catholic (I suppose music does that too, but in a different way).

I named this section "Sound of the Trumpet" because the trumpet is "the alarm of war" (Jer 4:19) and I thought it went well with the theme of my blog. Israel defeated the walls of Jericho "at the sound of the trumpet" (Jos 6:20). God cannot stand still at the sound of it (Job 39:24) and when we sound it He will fight for us (Neh 4:20). The trumpet also marks the coming of the Lord (Joel 2:1; Zech 9:14; 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thes 4:16), and we all hasten the coming of the Lord and His Kingdom when we do His work. I think that's what these audio files attempt to do. I pray that you will all give heed (Jer 6:17).

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Debate with "eve" on Sola Scriptura: Part 2

Here is Part 2 in my short exchange with "eve" on Sola Scriptura. Also see Part 1. Her words will be indented and italicized.

well ... first i want to say i don't believe the scripture you posted about us holding to tradition means what you said mainly because (1) scripture warns against the "traditions of men" and (2) "as it is written" is mentioned so many times. the Word doesn't contradict itself and the fact that "traditions of men" are warned against and "as it is written" (suggesting that written scripture holds much weight) are there would suggest such a conflict if the "holding to traditions" clause is interpreted as you interpret it.
How else would you interpret it then? Paul is telling people all over the place to maintain the traditions. He presents Scripture and Tradition as standing alongside each other (2 Thes 2:15; 2 Tim 3:10,14-15). He affirms the Tradition they have received (Rom 10:8,17; Gal 1:11-12; Eph 1:13-14; Col 1:5-7; Titus 1:3), commands them to follow it (Phil 4:9; 1 Thes 4:1-2; 2 Thes 3:6-7; 2 Tim 1:13), and praises them when they do (1 Cor 11:2; 15:1,3,11; 1 Thes 2:13). What else could this mean then that they are to maintain the traditions?

The reason that Paul's words don't contradict what Jesus says about "the traditions of men" (Mk 7:8) is that the tradition he refers to is not the novelty of man, nor does it "leave the commandments of God." Instead, they are the teachings of Christ. "For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ" (2 Cor 2:17). "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers" (1 Thes 2:13).

but let me tell you my main concern with this notion that God's Word comes in both the written scripture and in oral traditions: it is vveeerrrrryyyyyy dangerous. reason number one: you've played the game, "telephone," right? oral passing-down doesn't always work. you may ask if i trust God will be sure it does. well, the fact that God allowed scribal errors or various translations (including the message bible) shows that this has nothing to do with trust. oral traditions shift and change between the first speaker and the last listener. reason number two: people saying they "heard from god" has led to much mischief from seeing a dude on tv who blows on people to give them their healing yet won't go to every children's hospital in sight to heal them ... to folks engaging in crazy dramatics and acrobatics to get a "blessing" a fly-by-night profit told them about.
This all assumes that God has not put anything in place to ensure that the Tradition of the Church remains inviolate. We know in fact that he has. For one, we have the succession of authority established by the apostles. We also have the promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit will be with the Church, and He will guide her into all truth (cf. Jn 16:13). Finally, we have Jesus' promise to Peter that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever he looses on earth will be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:19). All of this ensures that nothing unorthodox will creep into the teaching of the Church.

that's why it's sooo important for everything to be checked against the written Word of God. it doesn't change. you may feel one way about an issue, but the bible on your shelf says what it says what it says. and when you check it again next year, it will still say it. no room for our naturally wicked motives and shady interpretations. no room for "hearing" that which could very well be in ones imagination.
I disagree wholeheartedly. Men are everyday picking up the bible one year and understanding a passage one way, and then picking it up the next year and understanding it a different way. Men are everyday approaching the Bible with wicked motives and deriving from it shady interpretations. People "hear" things all the time from the Bible that are not in fact true.

The fact is that Scripture, by itself, does not prevent heterodoxy and schism. If that were true then there would be no division in Protestantism. An infallible book requires an infallible interpreter. Without this, the Bible is simply subject to misrepresentation by fallible men. Surely you agree that it would be very negligent of the Lord to say, "Ok man, here's my perfect Word in written form. Go have fun." I can imagine man standing there, with a puzzled look on his face, thinking, "Ummm, ok, you're leaving it up to me to properly interpret all of this?" Praise God that he gave us the Church and Her Tradition of thinking, believing, and worshiping throughout the years as a guide when we sit down to see what God is trying to tell us with His written Word.

Pax Christi,

Debate with "eve" on Sola Scriptura: Part 1

"eve" started a thread at the HCR forum entitled "Are Catholics THAT Bad?" With it her point was to show that some people put too much energy into criticizing Catholicism and not enough energy into addressing what is wrong with their own church. Of course, that didn't go over well, and most of the posters in the thread still spent the whole time talking about what they deemed the heretical elements of Catholicism.

Eventually, I chimed in and what follows is a fruitful exchange between "eve" and I. So far, I have been the last one to post, but she may end up responding later. What follows is my initial post and then my comments on her response. Her words will be in indented and italicized.
- - - - - -
All of the arguments against Catholicism in this thread assume that Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide are actually biblical doctrines. I assert that they are not. If anyone would like to prove otherwise, just let me know. Perhaps a one-on-one debate is in order, so that you all can see why Catholics believe what they do about these doctrines. Catholicism is not simply ignorant reliance upon "man-made traditions."
- - - - - -
thanks for this post, phat.
I'm glad that you appreciate it

i noticed you suggested that Sola Scriptura is not a biblical doctrine. am i correct in assuming, then, that you don't believe that even the bible instructs us to derive God's Word from the 66 books of scripture alone?
You are correct in that assumption.

I know the Bible well. I have read it several times. I also know every verse that christians use to defend Sola Scriptura. I find none of them to be a compelling defense of this doctrine.

if i'm correct in my assumption, how would you interpret 2 Peter 1:3-4, which says "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire"?

one of the messages i see God expressing through those words of scripture is that God has given us all we need through the knowledge of Him. our knowledge of Him comes through scripture.
Indeed.........BUT, our knowledge of him is not found only in Scripture. It is also found in the teaching, or the "deposit of faith" or the one word of God handed on to the apostles by Jesus Christ. Some of the apostles wrote letters that we now find in our Bible. This deposit of faith informed their writing. But, they did not just pass on this teaching through writing. They also entrusted what they knew to faithful men who would in turn teach it to others (cf. 2 Tim 2:2). So it has been, down to the present day.

Thus, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition make up one Word of God that the Christian is exhorted to follow. "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thes 2:15).

there are over 50 references to the importance of "scripture" in the NT; and John 17:17 suggests that God's Word is truth (not "true" or "a" truth).
Indeed. But, like I said earlier, the "Word of God" is not confined soley to what has been written.

i'm not yet a theologian, so please educate me. have i misinterpreted "Sola Scriptura" and/or misinterpreted the 2 Peter passage and/or ... maybe you'll say that though John 1 says Christ is the Word of God scripture clearly says there were many things Jesus said and did not written here so therefore you look to other sources to find the fullness of the Word which is Christ.
Actually, I haven't found that verse (Jn 21:25) to be very effective, so I don't usually use it. But, I hope that everything else I have said so far has been helpful.

help! (i hope my question isn't too layered ... so thanks for your response!)
Anytime! I'm not here to convert people. I just want to share my faith and help people understand why Catholics believe what they do. If you ever have any other questions about Catholicism, I have a thread in the "General Theology" board specifically for asking questions. Here it is:
Pax Christi,

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Immaculate Conception, and the Study of Scripture

My phatcatholic faithful,

I have alot to cover today! First, I need to make up for a glaring ommission. Since I had to spend all day yesterday working on a paper, I was not able to pay tribute to our Blessed Mother on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This must be rectified. So, below this note you'll find a crazy amount of articles that explain and defend the sinlessness of Mary. As far as I know, there isn't a collection like this anywhere else on the internet. You need ammo? Here it is.

Also, I have two --count 'em, TWO-- papers to post. One is called "The Search for Biblical Truth." It is my review and analysis of Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and Church. Anytime you can get Cardinal Ratzinger and Raymond Brown together to talk about the state of Biblical scholarship today, you know that you have a momentous occasion on your hands. The theological conference that this book presents did not disappoint.

The other paper is called "The Multiple Senses of Scripture and Its Religious Meaning." This paper describes the various senses of Scripture --the literal, allegorical, moral, anagogical, and fuller senses-- and how an emphasis on them, including even some aspects of the literal sense, can reveal the religious meaning of Scripture and its theological significance for a contemporary audience. It's probably not the best paper I've ever written, but if you're looking for a good summary of the senses of Scripture, you can find that here.

Both papers are Word documents for you to download. Later on I will post them on my blog in html format.

Also, I have to tell you about a new website that "Laura H." from ...and if not... was kind enough to tell me about. The US bishops' Committee on Communications is now offering a podcast of the daily Mass readings! Here is a short news brief to learn more about it, and here is where you go to subscribe. Thanks Laura for the heads up!

Finally, I have a formal debate on Sola Scriptura all lined up. The opening statement is due around January 15th. It will be hosted at the Holy Culture Radio forum. So, make sure you check that out, and please pray for me that I will be able to share the truth of Jesus Christ and His Church in a charitable and effective way.

Mary, seat of Wisdom, pray for us. St. Justin Martyr, pray for us. St. Jerome, pray for us.

Pax Christi,
- - - -

General Arguments
Exegesis of Luke 1:28
The Ark of the New Covenant

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

If Non-Catholics Can Still Get to Heaven, Why Evangelize?

"Joey-O" asked the following question in the Q&A board at Phatmass:
I have encountered several Roman Catholics who have said things, like: "It's easier to be a Buddhist and make it to Heaven, because they are only accountable for what they know. They don't know Christ (assuming the Buddhist never heard the Gospel message), so they are accountable to far less than a Roman Catholic, who has the full knowledge of the Revealed Truth."

I understand that they get this from the need to say something about those who do not hear the Gospel message. It seems sort of unjust to say that everybody goes to Hell, even if they're never given the chance to go to Heaven. However, it seems that it is incongruant with the Gospel. Christ wanted us to spread the Kingdom, but if it's easier for someone to go to Heaven without the knowledge of faith, why did Christ tell us do that?

I'm basically looking for a Roman Catholic answer that is soteriologicailly sound (because the above example, clearly isn't) and still comes out with God remaining just and good.
I assert that it is actually more difficult for a non-Catholic to get to heaven. While ignorance may spare some, it is definitely nothing to bet your life on. The fact is that while non-Catholics may in fact find salvation, their road is much more perilous because they do not have access to the many instruments of grace that are available to Catholics. Primarily, I have in mind the seven Sacraments, and especially the Eucharist. The Sacraments are seven sure ways to receive the grace of God. Without them, the non-Catholic Christian, or the non-Christian, must find the Lord's grace through other means (like praying or reading the Bible) that may not always grant them the blessing they wish to receive (for example, if their prayer is selfish or if they read and/or interpret the Bible incorrectly).

So, it is actually quite vital that we share the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church to the whole world. While non-Catholics may in fact find salvation in their religion, that doesn't necessarily mean that they will. The Catholic Church is the most perfect way and as Christians we should always strive for the ideal.

2 Cor 12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

I hope that helps

Pax Christi,

Monday, December 04, 2006

Do the "Unsaved" Receive an "Unglorified" Body?

"Light and Truth" asked the following question in the Transmundane Lane at Phatmass:
Is there any scriptural reason to think that the unsaved will be resurrected with an unglorified body?
Yes. It is, in the least, implicit in Scripture, and from there we apply arguments from reason which solidify what we believe about this.

First, note that a literary device is often employed in Scripture in which, when two things are pitted against each other, what is relative to the first is usually the opposite of what is relative to the second. For examle, see Rom 2:

Rom 2:6-10
6 For he will render to every man according to his works:
7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,
10 but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

The good and the wicked are pitted against each other. Thus, the wicked do not receive what is particular to the good. Also, notice verse six. If the Lord will render to every man according to his works, the man whose life was marked by works of inequity will surely not earn the glory of those who did good. The gift of a glorified body would not be in accord with the works of a sinner's life. See also 2 Cor 5:10.

Some more verses:

Dan 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

I think this verse hints at the type of body the unsaved will receive, since the rewards of "everlasting life" and "shame and everlasting contempt" are spoken of in the context of awaking from the dust of the earth. A glorified body will not add shame to a soul and so the wicked must inherit a different kind of body that adds this particular punishment.

We see another example in 1 Corinthians:

1 Cor 15:42-50
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual.
47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.
49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Basically, what this passage means is that from the first man we have received a fallen nature, with which the body is usually identified. However, from the Second Adam this nature can be redeemed. Thus, what was perishable now becomes imperishable (vs. 42). What was weak is raised in power and becomes a "spiritual" body. (vs. 43-44). However, if we are found "of the dust" (or, of the things of the body) we will remain like the man of the dust (Adam, who lost the glorified body that was to be his). If we remain in the perishable we cannot inherit the imperishable (vs. 48 and 50).

All of this, I think, points to the type of body we will receive.

I hope that helps. For more on the resurrection of the body, see The General Resurrection and Hell, headings 6-8.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, December 02, 2006

History and Merit of the KJV Bible

"lovinmomhood" asked the following question in the Q&A board at Phatmass:
Wasn't the KJV Bible written based on interpretation of the Standard Bible? I thought it was and yet so many say it is the one and only true Bible? ( according to some who are trying to show me my way to God and they are so NOT Catholic)
I'm unfamilar with the "Standard Bible." The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica says that the KJV, or "Authorized Version" as it was formally so called, was "a revision The of the Bishops' Bible, begun in 1604, and published Authorized in 1611" (here). The Encarta Encyclopedia says it is "a new revision of the English Bible" (here). The Christian Cyclopedia says that "The version is essentially a revision of the Bishops' Bible of 1572" (here). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia tells us that "On the title-page as issued in 1611 the version is described as 'newly translated out of the original tongues' and as 'appointed to be read in churches,' two statements not easy to reconcile with the actual facts. The first rule for the revisers' guidance provided that the work was to consist in a revision of the Bishops' Bible: it was not said that it was to be a new translation" (here).

From all this, we can easily discern that it was a revision of the Bishops' Bible. It was not a new translation of the original languages, and it was certainly not the first English translation of the Bible. The links provided make this abundantly clear (see also this and this).

However, people still claim that it is the "best" English translation of the Bible that we have. Personally, I don't agree. I give it credit for the amazing impact it had and continues to have on the English-speaking world, but I hardly venerate it to the same degree that many fundamentalist Christians do. Some even go so far as to say that it is an "inspired translation" and the only Bible that Christians should use. In order to refute this "KJV-onlyism," it is helpful to point out the many errors found in it, especially in the original 1611 version. Here are two links that are helpful in that regard:
Pax Christi,

Blog Update

I added some more links to the sidebar:

Old War Heroes
The new link in the "Documents" section is from the new website of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. They still have some content left to add, but it promises to be an amazing resource on the social teaching of the Catholic Church.

Catholic Outpost is another new website, and looks promising as well. It reminds me of a simpler Catholic Exchange. Make sure you check that out, too. (They're looking for columnists, if anyone is interested).

Well, that's it from me. I know I haven't posted a paper or anything related to apologetics in a while. Things have been so busy with the semester approaching its end that I've had to just post some Q&A's that I've done over the years. However, expect two papers from me within the next few days. A promising debate is in the works as well.

Pax Christi,
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