30 August, 2010

Continuing discussion with Hoyt Sparks about Baptism

(HOYT Sparks) “Before my first response to you I was aware that the twain shall not meet. You being a freewiller and I am a Predestinarian.”

(Cristoiglesia) I am not a “Predestinarian” in the Calvinist sense as are you. I do believe in the middle knowledge of God concerning our path to salvation.

Now I have no trouble in accepting God’s sovereignty but could not understand why God would predestine some to salvation and others as reprobate, all this by some mysterious selection when we were created. To me, it was impossible to ignore that God was creating some for righteousness and others to evil, some to eternity and others into the lake of fire and damnation if Calvin was correct. In a real sense, God was creating evil and goodness if Calvinist theology is to be considered consistent. This created great difficulty because I saw the consistent message in the Bible that God was just and loving. I just could not see the love and the justice in the Calvinist God creating those condemned as reprobate. In addition, this doctrine of Calvin was not consistent with my life experience where I had served in the military with many who had not accepted God’s saving grace but I saw the goodness of love in these people. With the presence of love how could they be the victims of the divine lottery of total depravity? Where there is love can there be total depravity? This seems inconsistent.

Calvinist doctrine continued to fall apart in my mind when considering why some are saved and some are reprobate. Calvin suggested that God chose who would be saved and who would be damned based not on any free will or choice of the individual but simply on God’s will through his declarative sovereignty, He wills it therefore it happens. But, I kept seeing in Scriptures that Jesus came to save all of humanity. I even thought for a time that Calvin might be right and the Scriptures that speak of salvific opportunity for all men may be a mistranslation from the Greek to the English or even the Latin as I was already a Latin scholar. Eventually, when I learned Greek, I found that the Scriptures do speak quite adamantly about the inclusive opportunity of all to receive the saving grace of God by our believing in Christ and through Him all salvation may be realized. Christ coming for salvation of the whole world certainly conflicted with predestination and with total depravity and try as I might I could not reconcile these Scriptures with Calvinist doctrine. This is especially clear in the writings of St. John the beloved disciple. No, Calvin must be wrong, the Scriptures do not talk of salvation for only the elect unless we would assume that the whole world is only the elect which Scriptures would also contradict. If the elect are drawn by irresistible grace why is this irresistible grace given to all and not just the elect? The Scriptures are not supposed to create more questions than they answer and in this doctrine leave so much ambiguity as to who will be saved and /or why some are elect and others are damned. Surely there must be some element of free will and not just irresistible grace. One thing in Scriptures that really jumped out at me was learning from Scriptures that God did not create the everlasting fire for mankind but for Satan and his minions (Mat 25:41). If He created the everlasting fire as punishment for them only as Scriptures teach, then why does He also create some of humanity for the everlasting fire?

Then there is the issue of original sin. We see the sin of Adam and Eve which we inherit but it is clear from Scriptures that they did not sin because of a depraved state. In the Garden there obviously was not irresistible grace that would prevent them from sinning. Had there been irresistible grace death would not have entered the world. It seems to me that they sinned from their choices made within their free will. Where in Scriptures does it suggest that as a result of original sin that we no longer have choice or free will but are subject to election through irresistible grace. Why, if God chooses us with irresistible grace as the elect, are we not regenerated into perfection, immune to sin? Where is man’s responsibility in Calvin’s theology?

(1Jo 2:2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

Are these words not true? John Calvin brings them into doubt.

(HOYT SPARKS) “You using your man-made writings and dogma, while it is clear to me the KJV sets forth dipping.”

(Cristoiglesia) You should have known that one cannot be a Catholic Christian and believe in the man-made doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Truth can be found outside of the covers of the Bible. I am assuming you are referring to the “Didache” which was written in the first century and is called the training of the 12. It gives us great insight into the practices of the first century Christians. Furthermore it is the only writing in the first century that speaks of the methodology of Baptism. The Bible is entirely silent on this issue. You are trying desperately to justify your prejudice for immersion or dipping only but there is absolutely no support from the Bible for this belief. Actually, I prefer this method as well for the symbolism of being buried and then raised but I am not so foolish or arrogant as to add to the teaching of the Bible to try to support my preference. Let us see if you can make your case from Scriptures.

(HOYT SPARKS) “I am not a follower of John Calvin, nor do I believe in how he practiced or carried out what he declared to be of a "religious" nature. Neither do I need to be adivsed by anyone of what and how I should believe and practice what I see as the truth, as it is in Christ Jesus.”

(Cristoiglesia) I am of the opinion that if you believe and teach the heterodoxy of John Calvin then you are a follower of Calvin. Surely what you teach is not the teaching of the disciples or our Lord nor can such a teaching be found in Scriptures without contradiction. Your view on soteriology is clearly Calvinist in nature and can be described theologically as eisegesis. You are making the same error on the Doctrine of Baptism.

Now, I do understand that what you see as truth but what you see as truth is nowhere to be found in God’s written Word the Bible. It is truthful to you because of your eisegesis. The truth is that the Bible does not say how anyone is baptized in regards to the particulars of the methods. What the Bible does tell us is that it was in living waters (rivers) but it does not state the method. Again, any supposition to the methodology is adding to the teaching of Scriptures one’s own prejudice. Instead of coming to Scriptures to learn about the method of Baptism one is forced to add to what they say to conclude that it was by immersion or dipping. Obviously you do need to be advised that what you believe is truth is not biblical in nature and is the truth in your mind without biblical citation. Which I might add is a odd approach for a Fundamentalist Baptist. Such prejudiced suppositions are not in Christ Jesus.

(Hoyt Sparks) “Why do the Greeks dip? Is it because they understand Greek better than the Latins?”

(Cristoiglesia) I am not an expert on Greek Orthodox practices but I have observed that in all the Greek Churches that they have a Baptismal font where one stands as the priest pours water over the persons head. This would be accurate with the art in the Catacombs of Rome where Jesus is depicted as standing in the Jordan River in water below His knees while John the Baptist pours water from a pitcher over His head. I understand Greek very well and in the context of Baptism it means to cleanse or to wash and not necessarily immersion or dipping. Actually immersion would be the least likely meaning in relation to Baptism.

(HOYT SPARKS) “Rome dipped until they went the way of the world by devising and following man-made practices, thus they departed from orthodoxy.

(Cristoiglesia) There is no evidence of what you surmise from Scriptures, history or patristic evidence. Surely the early Church used all three methods, immersion, pouring and sprinkling. I think the historical evidence shows that it was most often by pouring which is the most common Catholic and Orthodox Baptism even today. I was Baptized by immersion but I do not feel as if I have a greater efficacy than would occur if I had been baptized by pouring or sprinkling. Since all methods were used in the early Church it is ridiculous and unscholarly to claim that there is a departure from orthodoxy in regards to the methodology of Baptism.

(HOYT SPARKS) “It is possible that your steepness in Greek prevents you from understanding English in the KJV. Matt 3:16 indicates Christ went UP straighway OUT OF THE WATER. Jesus was DOWN IN the water, and He was not taking a bath.

Mark 1:9-10. John the dipper was IN Jordan. If John sprikled or pured water on Jesus, it was not necesary to be IN Jordan. John could have filled a pitcher with water, sprikled or poured it upon Christ, and saved all the trouble wading around IN Jordan. Also, John could have sprinkled or pured water on those he baptized by staying in town and catching water from the cistern.”

(Cristoiglesia) Actually, I believe that having an understanding of the original language of the Bible and having experience in translation makes it easier and with more veracity in understanding than reading only from a mediocre English translation in archaic language as is the KJV. It makes me appreciate the original language of the Bible even more. I also believe that being trained in biblical hermeneutics and exegesis aids in my understanding of Scriptures.

Now let us look at Matt 3:16 from an unprejudiced eye and without and attempt at eisegesis. What we can read here regardless of translation or the original language is that after being Baptized that Jesus came straightway out of the water as the Bible says. The most logical interpretation is that He simply walked out of the water after he was Baptized. He certainly was formerly in the water and was cleansed. The verse is silent on whether he was immersed, poured upon or sprinkled. He actually could have been baptized by any of these three methods. It is not necessary to add to what the Scriptures say which is very poor hermeneutical practice.

From the Didache we find the explanation as to why the river was chosen as the Didache says that it is best to be baptized in living water, if possible, which simply means running water. The Jordan river made baptizing in living water possible. Also, when the people came to faith at Pentecost they were likely baptized from a cistern.

(HOYT SPARKS) “Peter, who you claim was your first pope(I deny such), stated that baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward GOD, 1 Peter 3:21.”

(Cristoiglesia) If you deny St. Peter was the first Pope then you not only deny the authority of our Lord to appoint him but also deny the prophesy of Isaiah that was fulfilled in Christ. If Jesus did not fulfill all the prophesies about the Messiah then He cannot be the Savior and is a pretender to being the Messiah. Are you really wanting to make such an assumption about the veracity of our Lord in fulfilling prophesy or having the authority to appoint a prime minister to fulfill the biblical promise and sign? I would be very careful going there.

Now let us examine 1 Pet 3:21…
The ark of Noah was a figure of Baptism but instead of saving one from the death of the soul as does Baptism the ark saved Noah’s family from physical death. No one lived outside of the ark and no one lives as an eternal soul without Baptism or at least a desire for it as prompted by reason and the Holy Spirit. Those persons who are capable of sufficient age, reason and repentance to know what they receive at Baptism are interrogated as to a good conscience whether they indeed believe in God in the Trinity.

This understanding is that one is saved as Noah was saved by water as both are a figure of the other. Baptism is not about washing away the dirt or filth but instead it purifies, cleanses or purges the conscience from sin when one is properly disposed in answering the questions asked in relation to the faith of the individual including the renouncing of Satan and his works with an accompanying obedience to God’s commands.

(HOYT SPARKS) “You wrote: "Thank you for the inspiration and the opportunity to contend for the faith delivered once for all". This is not true: Jude 1:3 indicates it is of the faith delivered to the saints, not to everyone.”

(Cristoiglesia) First of all, this points out a fundamental differenced in our beliefs. While I follow a systematic and non-contradictory view that salvation is available for all through the sacrifice of our Lord on Golgotha and not just the elect as you surmise by a cursory understanding of Scripture and theology. Jesus wrote the law on everyone’s hearts so that the Holy Spirit can appeal to that law and bring individuals to faith. No one lacks this Rosetta stone of understanding of he call of the Spirit. Thus for what purpose did our Lord give us this inherent knowledge. So, it is delivered to everyone even if some will not receive it and humbly become obedient.

I would be shirking my duty to my calling as a priest if I did not instruct you in the common concern and hope of our salvation. Therefore it is necessary as it was for Jude to encourage you to stand firm in the Christian faith. Are not believers all saints of the Church militant?

(HOYT SPARKS) “So you see, your freewillism demands that you distort scripture to deceive many.”

(Cristoiglesia) Please excuse me for pointing out the obvious but it is you that is using eisegesis and not I and quite awkwardly I might add.

(HOYT SPARKS) “There are many, many things that I could respond to from your latest post, but I'm certain the result will be the same, of no avail or benefit for you or me. And it is of a disadvantage for me to be restricted to the limits of your blog, rather than direct emails.”

(Cristoiglesia) The truth will always prevail and such exercises are fruitful in that iron sharpens iron which is a benefit to each of us. Our conversations may also benefit others who struggle with these issues as well.

(HOYT SPARKS) ” I sincerely hope that you do not dupe anyone with your false doctrine and practice, but that is not in my hands, GOD only will do as HE sees fit: He saw the end before the foundation of the world and will do HIS pleasure. Hoyt Sparks"

(Cristoiglesia) I do not subscribe to any false doctrines or practices to dupe anyone with but instead teach the original teaching of Jesus and the disciples in the only Church that He ever founded. It is the same Church that He prayed that we be one within as He and the Father are one. He prayed for unity and I am obedient to His will. I left Protestantism which you are still deceived within by the heretical Calvinist teaching and other doctrines of men being spread by false teachers lacking any authority to teach by our Lord. Your pride prevents you from hearing the Word and it falling on fertile ground. I can only pray that you receive the same grace as I to turn from your man-made church to Christ’s own Church where the fullness of truth is found. May His will be done. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

28 August, 2010

Baptism discussed with Hoyt Sparks

(HOYT SPARKS) ” It is your assumption, and that of any man-made writings, that Jesus Christ was not immersed/dipped in Jordan. The Bible refutes your false contention.”

(Cristoiglesia) No, I do not make assumptions on theological issues without considering the entirety of biblical teaching on the issue or in this case the absence of biblical teaching on this issue. The Bible is entirely silent on the method of Baptism. I am sure that if you knew of any proof from Scriptures that you would have provided them but you cannot because they do not exist. Certainly there is no biblical evidence of Jesus or anyone else being immersed or dipped in the Jordan as the methodology of Baptism. So your accusation that the Bible refutes my contention is without any merit and is only wishful prejudiced assumption on your part lacking scholarly evidence.

(HOYT SPARKS) “Water baptism does not wash or cleans the soul of sin; and does not in any way prepare, or help prepare, anyone for eternal peace and happiness in Heaven and immortal glory.”

(Cristoiglesia) I truly understand your opinion on Baptism but I must advise you that your understanding of Baptism is contrary to the teaching of Scriptures. The Bible also speaks of the necessity of Baptism.

Acts 2:38 (King James Version)

38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.

Here you see St. Paul teaching that Baptism is a necessity after one has repented for the remission of sins and for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He then goes on to say that this Sacrament and the grace it provides is necessary for everyone whom the Lord has called. St. Paul also teaches of the urgency of Baptism in the following:

Acts 22:16 (King James Version)

16And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Here we see that indeed Baptism washes away sins which indeed purifies the soul in preparation for heaven where no sin shall enter.

As you can see from Scriptures, your assumption that Baptism has no efficacy in preparing one for their eternal promise is a false assumption contradicted by God’s Holy Word. Certainly a purified soul is necessary for heaven and immortality. Baptism is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel which states the following:

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (New International Version)

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

(HOYT SPARKS) “Question: How could one read Strong's and then ask WHERE do we get the word "immersion, or submersion, or whelmed (overwhelmed) as a meaning for the word "Baptizo" or those who are "Baptized" by a Baptizer ?”

(Cristoiglesia) Well, I am a Greek scholar and rarely use Strong’s as a source for understanding Greek. Let me lay it out for you…. Strong’s makes the reference of baptizo meaning submersion, what you failed to research is that there is only one source for such an assumption as to apply this meaning to baptizo and that is contained in Attic Greek instead of the first century Koine Greek. The problem you have created is why would one apply this meaning since the language was dead for hundreds of years before Christ and this meaning is found in only one place and that is ancient Greek literature in describing a ship being sunk or submerged. The author was probably trying to be poetic in describing the sinking of the ship in this way. Certainly we find this word describing an object being dipped. In Fact we have only one instance of this and that is in an ancient pickle recipe describing them as being dipped in the vinegar solution. All other instances of this word it is used to describe washing which is the only appropriate definition to match Scripture and the teaching of Christ and St. Paul on Baptism.

(HOYT SPARKS) “Note: To say that "water baptism" is a washing that does not require "immersion, submersion, dipped, or to be completely covered with water" is contrary to sound doctrine and practice, and contrary to what millions and millions of professing Christians have believed for over 2000 years.

(Cristoiglesia) Immersion only Baptism is only a couple of hundred years old and is a Protestant doctrine introduced by the Anabaptists. Prior to that and continuing for 2000 years was the practice of immersion or of pouring three times in the name of the Trinity. Sprinkling was rarely used and today used only by some Protestants. The modernist doctrine of the Anabaptists has no Scriptural support and is contrary to the teaching of the Church for 2000 years. Personally I prefer immersion for its symbolism but it has no more efficacy than pouring or sprinkling according to the earliest teaching of the Apostles recorded in the Didache.

(HOYT SPARKS) “Today, Water Baptism by immersion is the doctrine and practice of the Old School Primitive Baptists, but they are not the only ones to still insist in correctly following the precepts set forth by Jesus Christ on this subject.

(Cristoiglesia) Well sir, if you think it is the teaching of Jesus then it must be from personal revelation because it is NOT in Scriptures. I thought Baptists were sola Scriptura advocates and do not believe in this type of personal revelation. If what you say is so then why can it not be found anywhere in Scriptures?

(HOYT SPARKS) “ROMANS 6:3-7 speaks of BOTH our "spiritual baptism" INTO Christ AND water baptism as a "likeness" and testimony of that which God has performed in our hearts. By no means does it teach that one is "baptized INTO Christ" by water baptism”

(Cristoiglesia) Baptism results in a justification of the spirit in which the old man is dead and a new man is born. The old man is dead and we are grafted branches into Christ so that we can bear fruit through a virtuous life. We come into a familial relationship with God as our souls are cleansed as we are justified from sin. Our sinful bodies are destroyed by Baptism and we become dead to sin and we must sin no more just as Christ dies no more. Christ in his establishment of Baptism as a means of Grace by water is indisputable as the graced bestowed is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

(HOYT SPARKS) “ Such a doctrine would be the false doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. MARK 16:15-16 verse 16 is a continuation of verse 15. To teach that the Gospel must be preached and that the hearers MUST believe and be baptized, is the same as teaching "Gospel Regeneration", and fails to take into account the Doctrines of Election, Predestination, Calling and Justification - which is done by God alone. IF one MUST do something in order to have eternal life - then it is by works and not by Grace.

(Cristoiglesia) Baptism is not a work of the law as are forbidden in Scriptures but instead an act of obedience to Christ who taught of the necessity of Baptism by water. Why would Christ teach a false doctrine as the Bible clearly teaches of our justification through Baptism? Jesus personally said to Nicodemus that we must be baptized.

Higher Calvinist heresy should not be applied in understanding Scriptures as Calvinist teaching and doctrine are the doctrines of devils and results in a misunderstanding of the fundamental characteristics of God’s grace and the opportunity for mankind to have an equal opportunity of receiving the efficacy of that grace.

What is “done by God alone” in a soteriological perspective is that God writes the law on everyone’s heart so that we can respond to the Holy Spirit when it appeals to that law. Our response in this way brings us to faith and not by divine lottery as Calvin surmised. We all have an equality of free will to respond to God’s grace. The Gospel is but one means that the Holy Spirit appeals to the law but Gospel alone for regeneration is truly not sustainable as a doctrine from Scriptures but neither is predestination except in the understanding of God’s middle knowledge. All salvation is by God’s grace regardless of works.

(HOYT SPARKS) “For someone to take the FOUR times "baptismos" is translated into the English word Wash or Washings - and try to Change the PRECEPTS taught in the Scriptures about Water Baptism being by Immersion and a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ - can be compared to what Jesus said to the Pharisees: "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." (Matthew 23:24).

(Cristoiglesia) I agree with you about the symbolism of immersion Baptism. But, again this is nowhere taught in Scriptures nor is there any evidence of anyone being baptized by immersion. Therefore, Matthew 23:24 seems to apply to you rather than my contention that there is no biblical reason to insist on immersion alone. You have confirmed this fact from your failure to connect the Scriptures to immersion only. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

20 August, 2010

Discussion with one calling himself "The Beloved Apostle Paul"

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “First, the roman church is NOT God's church.”

(Cristoiglesia) First of all the Catholic Church is not the “roman church” but instead it is the universal Church of Christ. It is the only Church founded by Jesus and the disciples. Jesus used construction vernacular saying the He is the cornerstone of the Church and the High Priest. The Bible tells us that it is built on the 12 foundation stones of the disciples laid by Christ with Him choosing these men and training them to lead his Church in perpetuity through apostolic succession. He chose Simon and renamed Him the Rock (Petros in Greek or Peter in English) to be the prime minister of the Church fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah. This is the Church that exists today as the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church who maintains this leadership and fit the definition of the visible Church given by St. Ignatius in his letters to the Trallians and the Smyrnaeans in the year 107 AD. Jesus said that His Church would endure for all times and the Catholic Church is that church that has endured now for 2000 years. No other Church can make this claim. Without exception all biblical, historical and patristic evidence point to the fact that the Church is the Church spoken of in the New Testament of the Holy Scriptures.

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “The only church today is the Body of Christ.”

(Cristoiglesia) I guess that can be determine how one defines the “Body of Christ”. A very strong argument can be made that the Protestant sects are outside of the Body of Christ. Even the Bible contributes to this argument saying the following about the Protestant rebellion against the Church in a most prophetic way. This is what the Bible says about those who depart from the doctrines of the Church.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (King James Version)
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

The invisible Church are those who have faith in our Lord but one cannot discern who are a part of His invisible Church. However, Jesus and the disciples founded a visible Church and we see the formation of that Church in the book of Acts. This Church is the Catholic Church and is the self-same Church that Jesus prayed that we would all be one within. Otherwise as professed Christians and not being obedient to His Church would place us outside of His will, blessings, promises and grace; if not fully but in great measure. Those outside of His will would be those that some describe as "playing" at Christianity and not following Jesus.

There are some outside of the visible Church which some call a "remnant" that are not be on the path to the narrow gate but may be saved by God's mercy. These are those who seek God but are deceived into being outside of His visible Church by no fault of their own. While not a part of the visible Church they can be considered a part of the invisible Church. So, Jesus and the disciples formed a visible Church as we see after Pentecost recorded in the book of Acts and it could be said that there are those known only to God who are a part of that visible Church against their will or knowledge that will be received in Glory to be a part of the Church Triumphant. But, as one can see in Scripture this is not the ordinary way to be saved through His Church but as an extraordinary example of His mercy.

The gates of hell will never prevail against His visible Church because of the protection of the Church by the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost. The Church is other worldly and heavenly in its nature and is endowed with its holiness and veracity from its founder Jesus. Jesus gave His promises to His visible Church so that the world could see the testimony of His Church as the pillar and ground of the truth and a shining city on a hill (Mat 5:14) It is the will of God that all should be saved by and through His Church as it is the Church that was commissioned to spread the Gospel throughout the world both corporeally and individually. The Church is a refuge and the Ark from the sins and temptations of the world. It is heaven on earth where Christ dwells in the Tabernacles and is worshipped. So if the visible Church ceased to exist it would make Jesus a liar and a pretender as the Messiah and Savior of the world because all of His promises would be proven false.

Unity requires that there be a knowledge and physical manifestation of that unity. That is the Catholic Church which is the visible Church. The invisible Church does not represent unity because it is known only to God which may be unified in faith but not in purpose.

The purpose of the Church is its testimony in spreading the "good news" to the world. That requires a visible unity. The world will never know if those who are in the invisible Church are preserved but the visible Church will always be the witness to the world that it remains after empires and governments have fallen, political ideologies have been born and died and false and counterfeit religions have come and gone. It is a testimony that Jesus is God of the Trinity and that His will be done on earth as well as in heaven regardless of the snares of Satan and His lies against humanity.

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “Your church draws on JEWISH scripture, as does any other church that professes Christ. I have no hatred for your church, I simply know false doctrine when I hear it.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes we do draw on the Jewish Scriptures and it is the Church through the authority given to the Church by Christ that we have canonized those Scriptures as part of the Christian Bible. I also agree that all Christian sects should use those same Scriptures as does Christ’s Church. It is very good for one claiming to be Christian not to have hatred for Christ’s Church. It is enough of a sin to place oneself outside of that community in direct opposition to Jesus who prayed to the Father that we all be one in unity of faith and practice without having hatred for the Holy institution Christ Himself founded.

I am not so sure that you do know what false doctrine is being outside of the authority of teaching of Christ’s own Church. I think what you are describing is what St. Paul said in His letter to Timothy about not being able to endure sound doctrine.

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “The ONLY source of information we have about all things concerning God is the Holy Scriptures of the JEWS.” That goes for you, as well as for me.

(Cristoiglesia) Well no, Christians have the New Testament as well. We also have the teaching of Jesus passed down through apostolic tradition in the writings of the Church fathers and the leadership of the Church by the Holy Spirit which prohibits doctrinal error. The Bible itself teaches the following:

John 21:25 (King James Version)
25And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “You SHOW me where the BIBLE tells us to pray to MARY! You SHOW me where the BIBLE tells us to pray to SAINTS!”

(Cristoiglesia) Where so many Protestants in their doctrinal ignorance ere is in assuming that praying is always associated with worship. Actually the word pray means simply to ask and in the case of the blessed mother of God and other saints whether in the Church militant, suffering or triumphant this is all we are doing when we ask them to pray for us. We are petitioning them to be prayer partners. It is no different than me asking you to pray for me or me for you.

First of all it is disingenuous to state that the practice of praying for each other has no biblical foundation, we are instructed in Scripture to have a prayer life for others as it is part of God’s commandment to love one another.

(2Co 5:8 DRB) But we are confident and have a good will to be absent rather from the body and to be present with the Lord.

The Catholic Church does not teach that it is absolutely necessary for one to ask for the intercession of saints for salvation. The Church does teach that prayer to God is necessary for salvation for all believers. For a Catholic it would be wrong to ignore the liturgical worship offered to God at feast days for the saints and the prayers asking for their intercession.

The Communion of Saints is a dogma of the ancient Church and is recorded in the apostles Creed. It simply states that the faithful because of their relationship with Christ are alive even after the death of their flesh and worship with us. To us the Church is made up of the Church militant who represents all those believers living out their hope in the flesh.

(Phi 2:12 DRB) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.

(Phi 2:13 DRB) For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.

It consists of the Church Suffering who are those who are temporarily in need of further purgation from sin so that they may enjoy the presence of God.

(2Ma 12:46 DRB) It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

Lastly, the Communion of the Saints consists of those who have won the race:

(Phi 3:14 DRB) I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus.

Their immortal souls are in heaven in God’s presence:

(Rev 5:8 DRB) And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

The universal stream connecting all of God’s creation is His love, which we take on in our baptism into our journey towards sanctification. This is not an emotional but a desire placed in us by the Spirit of God that endures as a desire for those other than ourselves and this love extends even to our enemies. This is truly a love that comes only from God and is a foreign concept and nonsense to those who have not received God’s salvific grace. This desire within our souls does not end with the death of our flesh but continues into eternity where the saints through their intercession in prayer encourage us in our race and assist us to endure unto our union with God.

I think that some people of faith, who do not understand the Communion of Saints, somehow believe that asking saints to pray for us is detracting from our love or our trust in God. In truth it is impossible, if we truly love as God commands and has given us the grace to understand, not to pray to those whom we love and in turn we expect them to return that same love to us by praying for us and presenting our prayers to God.

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “You SHOW me where the Word of God speaks of purgatory, sir.”

(Cristoiglesia) That is very easy in that the doctrine of Purgatory is one of the most biblically supported of all Christian doctrines. If there is not a process of purgation then heaven will be an empty place and the Scriptures regarding soteriology cannot be reconciled with each other. Either a sinful soul may enter heaven or it can not. The Catholic position is that it cannot but must be pure and sanctified by Christ.

There is a common Protestant misunderstanding of purgatory. At least one protestant minister, John Wesley, spoke of perfectionism in this life, possible but rare. He is one of the few to proclaim that one can be sanctified in this life and he left the Moravian Church over this issue after a rebuke by Count Zinzendorf for this teaching.

People in purgatory are already justified by receiving the supernatural eternal life into our souls through Baptism making us a part of the Body of Christ. Those in purgatory have accepted Christ by faith and have not rejected Him by unrepentant mortal sin. It is a place where one is purified by fire (Mal 3:2). Imagine the joy of being in purgatory and knowing that you are there because you have passed judgment and are assured of being in the presence of God in heaven. Purgatory is not an eternal destination, there are only two, heaven or hell.

We should not think of purgatory as some kind of legal punishment for past sins as it would be under the old law. Those in purgatory are already new creatures changed by Christ’s grace, they are the adopted children and part of God’s family in purgatory one receives final discipline and cleansing preparing one for the perfection of heaven. Catholics believe that sanctification is a process and is not completed when one comes to belief. So purgatory is not a suggestion that Christ’s atonement is insufficient but that we have not yet completed our sanctification through the grace of Christ.

Cleansing or sanctification is a gradual process and we must endure to the end to be saved.

(Mat 10:22 DRB) And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.

(Mat 24:13 DRB) But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.

(Mar 13:13 DRB) And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake. But he that shall endure unto the end, he shall be saved.

Catholic soteriology recognizes that for some of us the process was not completed at death or that we died with unrepentant sin.

(Heb 9:27 DRB) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment:

The judgment is our eternal destiny and for those whose name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life, heaven is assured. But we know that one must be free of sin to be in God’s presence.

(1Ti 6:14 DRB) That thou keep the commandment without spot, blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,

It may be that one is not prepared to be in our Lord’s presence as we may still be with spiritual shortcomings or temporal effects of forgiven sins on our soul making it necessary for some form of purification to enter heaven in God’s presence. Since this is a process of purgation it is called purgatory and it is in keeping with prophecy of the prophet Habakkuk who said that only that which is holy may enter heaven.

(Hab 1:13 DRB) Thy eyes are too pure to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity. Why lookest thou upon them that do unjust things, and holdest thy peace when the wicked devoureth the man that is more just than himself?

St. Paul also taught of a process of purgation which may involve suffering on the soul of Christians and in his first letter to the Corinthian Church he describes the process of purgation after death.

(1Co 3:10 DRB) According to the grace of God that is given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation: and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

(1Co 3:11 DRB) For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus.

(1Co 3:12 DRB) Now, if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble:

(1Co 3:13 DRB) Every man's work shall be manifest. For the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire. And the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is.

(1Co 3:14 DRB) If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

(1Co 3:15 DRB) If any mans work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

St. Paul speaks metaphorically that the results of sin that remain on one’s soul is like “wood, hay and straw” and are burned away in the process of final purification to be received in the presence of the Lord. St. Paul also speaks of one’s works as “gold, silver and precious stones” which are refined and retained.

This passage reminds me of what Christ said in the following indicating that some sins may be forgiven after death.

(Mat 12:32 DRB) And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, nor in the world to come.

Purgatory is also related to the parable of the unforgiving servant which is as follows…

(Mat 18:32 DRB) Then his lord called him: and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me:

(Mat 18:33 DRB) Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee?

(Mat 18:34 DRB) And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt.

After telling the parable Christ emphasizes His message lest it be misunderstood with this warning……..

(Mat 18:35 DRB) So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

Christ was warning us of the danger of a hard heart or anger making us unwilling to forgive others. We should acknowledge that these are the signs and example of a defective soul in need of purgation so that he that is imperfect may be in the presence of God and dwell in glory. (See CCC 1030-1032)

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “Do NOT cite words from the apocryphal books, as they are NOT the word of God. Those books were written during the 400 year silence from heaven between Malachi and the Gospels. Heaven was silent. There were no prophets. God was not speaking to men, and so those books are NOT the word of God.”

(Cristoiglesia) First let me teach you that there is a difference between books called apocrypha and the biblical books of the Old Testament that are properly called the Deuterocanonicals. The apocryphal books are those banned by Pope St. Gelasius in the fifth century and were never a part of the canon approved by the Church. The seven books of the Old Testament or the Septuagint are canonical and they are the Word of God approved by the authority of the Church given by Christ and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

All of the books of the Old Testament were not written by prophets yet the writings are still considered canonical. There has never been a 400 year period when God failed to inspire men.

In first century Jerusalem there were at least four OT Canons in use by different Jewish Groups. There was the Canon of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Ethiopian Jews and the Diaspora/Essene Jews. Jesus and the disciples used the Septuagint which was the Canon of the Diaspora/Essenes. We know this because it is quoted in the New Testament. This Canon continued to be the Canon of Christians until after the Reformation and, in fact until about 200 years ago when the Protestants adopted a condensed version of the Canon eliminating the Deuterocanonicals from their Bibles. Even the AKJ originally contained the complete Christian Canon. It has been said by critics of Christ’s Church that the Deuterocanonicals were never believed to be inspired and just the opposite is true. The decision by Christians as to which books are inspired and useful for teaching was decided at the African Synods in the late fourth and early fifth century. There was never a question about their inspiration.

The OT Canon chosen by the Protestants is actually a Jewish Canon not chosen by the Jews until after the establishment of Christianity as a result of the spread of Christianity to slow the growth of the new group in Jerusalem after the fall of the Temple in 70AD. Until then as I said previously there were many Canons in use. The adoption of the Canon missing the Deuterocanonicals united the Jews against the Christians was decided in the Jewish Council of Jamnia because the Deuterocanonicals referred too strongly to the Messiah fulfilled in Christ.

Some Protestants will claim that only the Jews have the authority to choose Canon but the Church deferred that decision to Christ and the disciples and it is clear through biblical research, that the Septuagint is the Bible used by the first century Church and quoted in the NT Scriptures. The fact that Protestants choose to adopt the Canon that was approved by the same Jews that accused our Lord that resulted in His crucifixion suggests the source of this confusion as from the father of lies who led the Pharisees to accuse Christ and petition for His punishment. It is another way that Satan divides the body of Christ and separates the faithful denying Christ’s prayer that we all be one in Christ through His Church. The Christian Church has always used the Septuagint as Canon and never the truncated version of modernist Protestants.

Some Protestants erroneously believe that Catholics added to the Bible with the Deuterocanonicals but this shows an ignorance of their own history and the history of Christianity as witnessed by Christ’s Church. The facts are that the Protestants removed the Deuterocanonicals and even considered strongly to remove some of the NT books currently in use by Protestants and Catholics. Fr. Martin Luther was in favor of removing the book of James because it conflicted with His heretical man made doctrines of the “Solas”, Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. The heretic Ulrich Zwingli wanted to remove the Gospel of John because of its teaching of the commandment to Eat Christ’s Body and drink His Blood which contradicted his view of a real absence of Christ instead of a real presence in the Eucharist. Even Fr. Martin Luther could not endorse such a departure from Scriptures and deny that Christ is truly and really present in the Eucharist in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “The FACT, sir, is that your church does NOT preach the Lord Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which IS exactly what the apostle Paul DID preach, sir.”

(Cristoiglesia) You could not be more inaccurate as the Church has not departed one iota from the teaching of the apostles of our Lord. Christ’s Church is still true to the promise in Scriptures that the Church is the “pillar and foundation of the truth”.

(The Beloved Apostle Paul) “All else aside, you had better hope that you are counting on the perfect and completed work of Christ on the cross for your salvation. Without THAT, you are lost.”

(Cristoiglesia) Jesus did not complete His redemptive work on the cross. What was finished were the Old Covenant and the Passover. We are saved by His grace which continues His redemptive work through His Church. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph