26 September, 2010

Discussion of Limbo and Changing Doctrines with JoeBama

(JoeBama) “The word "doctrine" means "teaching". When I said that the Catholic Church has changes its doctrine, I could have also said they changed their teaching. Both these statements say the same thing. The fact that the Catholic Church considers some teaching (or doctrine) essential and unchangeable and they consider other doctrine changeable does not alter the fact they have changed their teaching on many points”.

(Cristoiglesia) The Church through the centuries has discussed many speculations as to what happens to infants who have not been baptized if they die. Two doctors of the Church St. Agustine and St. Aquinas each had different ideas on this. In order for there to have been a change there would have had to be a dogmatic teaching on Limbo but there was not. Instead there were many very different speculations not only held by Augustine and Aquinas but others as well. There is no change in the teaching of “limbo” or any other teaching. It has always been a question open to speculation. So, the doctrinal teaching on Limbo is that there is no dogmatic belief in regards to what happens to infants when they die without baptism. The Magisterium has never officially taught limbo. It is the teaching of the Magisterium that is binding on the Church and never the opinions of individual scholars on any teaching of which there are many opinions on a host of similar speculations. If a teaching is not dogmatic as defined by the Magisterium individual Catholics as well as scholars are free to have divergent opinions and agreements. No change has occurred because the Magisterium has never declared dogmatic doctrine.

(JoeBama) “You said, "Catholics are free to believe it, not believe it or have no opinion." Isn't this true of any teaching? Don't people of many religions have the freedom to reject things their church teach? In fact, many freely rejected the words of Jesus.”

(Cristoiglesia) Personal interpretation and conclusions is a Protestant concept that is not a part of Catholic Christianity. We do not believe nor teach that each individual is their own theologian. We follow the biblical teaching closely that teaches that it is the Church and not private interpretation of Scriptures that has the chrism and the authority to discern the interpretation of Scripture and to come to dogmatic theological teaching. The Magisterium is the final word on doctrine and it cannot ever change. What ever the Magisterium teaches is binding on Catholic Christians for all times. To reject Church teaching is to depart from the familial relationship that Christ desires in His Church.

What Pope Benedict XVI was speaking to was really a moral question. Some people believed that aborted babies were excluded from heaven for eternity which would be a victory for Satan and against the hope that we all have in Christ. The Pope was removing that speculation by some with a more charitable belief that by some means God will provide salvation even though they have not been exposed to the laver. This is in line with Catholic teaching that God will provide for the salvation of those by some means unknown because of his divine mercy for those without actual sin. The Church is open to a path to salvation that is not normative as is Baptism but charitable through divine mercy and justice.
We know from Scriptures efficacy of Baptism for infants as it related to the circumcision of the Old Covenant being the circumcision of the New Covenant.. Of course, in the New Covenant circumcision both male and females are baptized which denotes the change in the familial relationship between God and man. In Old Covenant Judaism the familial relationship is passed to a child from its mother where in the New Covenant of the perfected Jews represented by Christians the familial relationship is passed on through the father and the mother as God the Father is the cause of our salvation through His Son so that the replacement of circumcision with Baptism has the same efficacy for males and for females. As circumcision was not necessary for the salvation of a female as she carried the bloodline of Judaism instead under the New Covenant the familial relationship is passed to both through Baptism.

(JoeBama) “If "Limbo" was not a doctrine of the Catholic Church, where did this teaching come from?”

(Cristoiglesia) From the beginning of the Church the subject of Limbo was not a common one among the fathers. The prevailing opinion was that dying with original sin was not punished until the teaching of St. Augustin who first agreed with the majority of the fathers that preceded him but later changed his teaching when he was confronting Pelagianism at the Council of Carthage. He said that there is not a “middle state” for unbaptized infants and that they were undeserving of the familial relationship enjoyed with the baptized in heaven. Later others supported this view such as Anselm. Abelard and Aquinas took a different view saying there was no punishment for these infants. Others, like Savonarola, Catharinus and Suarez taught that they would be with God in the general resurrection which is close to the prevailing Protestant view. So as you can see some of the best minds that the Church has ever produced, which I include the brilliant theologian Pope Benedict XVI, do not agree on this teaching. You can also see from the evidence that this teaching never reached the level of dogma but has remained as theological speculation which clearly shows there is no change in the Church’s position and the open speculation persists. Except that with the Statements of Pope Benedict XVI we should remain in hope for divine mercy.

(JoeBama) “Likewise the doctrine that priests should not marry which changed in 1079 AD. I read one article that calls this a "disciplines" and not a "doctrine". 1 Timothy 4, however, calls it a "doctrine" and a departure from "the faith".”

(Cristoiglesia) This is a discipline for some Catholic priests but not for all. The majority of priests make a vow of chastity. There are 23 Rites in the Catholic Church. 22 of the 23 Rites do not have the discipline of chastity nor do they require that all priests are chosen from the chaste. Even in the Roman Rite that has the discipline it is a choice. The Church does not forbid anyone to marry as is the teaching of St. Paul in his epistle to St Timothy. However the Church does honor those who choose chastity and make their vow’s to God as is taught by St. Paul, St John and Jesus in Word and/or in practice. Both Jesus and St. Paul taught that the ideal state of clergy was chaste and not married. But you are correct that St. Paul taught against forbidding to marry as it is against God’s commandment to multiply.

St Paul- “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs. Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7: 32-34)

“He who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry he does even better (1 Corinthians 7: 38)

Jesus- “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of Heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it” (Matthew 19: 10-12).

St. John- “ There are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure...purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb (Revelation 14:4)

(JoeBama)“I never said every doctrine of the Catholic Church has changed, but many have. The fact that when changed they no longer call that point of teaching "a doctrine" does not change the fact.”

(Cristoiglesia) The fact is that the dogmatic teaching of the Church has never changed in the 2000 year history of the Church. Doctrine is not the teaching of each individual theologian but instead the teaching of the Magisterium which is the binding doctrine of the Church. Theological speculation on those things that are not dogmatic doctrine as taught by the Magisterium are simply opinions without the charism of the teaching authority of the Church which is the Magisterium of which all Catholics are bound to recognize as the truth. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

08 September, 2010

Discussion of Catholic Criticisms with Matthew D

(Matthew D) “How come many people say that Catholicism is one of the man made sects just like protestantism is ?”

(Cristoiglesia) They are ignorant of the history of the Church or they are intentionally lying to justify their disobedience to the only Church founded by Jesus.

(Matthew D) “Most people on here tell me that the only proper way to follow God is to follow the bible and that one does not need a priest to talk to God and does not need a priest to confess to , because just following God alone is enough and havin a direct connection with him”

(Cristoiglesia) I am pleased that they say to follow the Bible as the NT is written by Catholic Christians and is about the Catholic Church. The best way to follow the Bible is to be taught by the only authority of teaching authorized by Jesus which is His Church the Catholic Church. (Mat 16:19) Protestants have no choice but to say they do not need a priest as it is impossible for them to have priests in their rebellious state against the Church. However, it is Jesus who established the priesthood as an enduring leadership and teaching authority for the Church. The Church does not teach that one cannot talk to God themselves but the Church does teach that Jesus established priestly confession giving the priesthood the authority to forgive sins acting in persona Christi.( John 20:23) Since Jesus clearly gave the authority, which the Scriptures confirm, it seems reasonable to use that authority as the normative way of repentance and forgiveness.

We come into the familial relationship with Christ through Baptism. We lose that familial relationship through sin thus the need for reconciliation through confession. Even the demons believe so this is clearly not a sole criteria to be in the familial relationship Christ’s desires.(Jam 2:19)

(Matthew D) “Many also say that there is no pope in the bible or no mention of Catholics”

(Cristoiglesia) It does seem as if Protestants are missing vast sections of the Bible with these kinds of criticisms. I believe they just ignore any parts of Scripture that contradicts their prejudices. The Bible clearly states that St. Peter was chosen as the prime minister of the Church fulfilling the prophecies of an ongoing leadership found in prophecies of Ezekiel. (Matthew 16:13-19) We call him the Pope from the Latin for Papa.

The entire New Testament is about the Catholic Church. The book of Acts emphasizes the formation of the Church. All of the authors of the New Testament were Catholic Christians.

(Matthew D) “And also the fact that the catholic church has turned a blind eye to a lot of child abuse cases .”

(Cristoiglesia) Nothing could be further from the truth. The Church has been very proactive in ensuring that the Church is the safest place for children with in depth programs. Even though the cases that have been in the press allegedly occurred several decades ago and the alleged perpetrators are dead or elderly, the Church investigates each case and pays restitution if it is merited. The Protestants that gloat at the press these evil priests have received do not even think about the fact that their pastors are 30 times more likely to be child abusers than a priest. They live in glass houses but love to throw stones. They need to take charge of their own problem before deflecting their own problems on Catholic clergy. In fact, priests are the least likely to be child abusers of any identifiable adult group. The Church has been extremely open about these incidences.

(Matthew D) “What do you say to these people?”

(Cristoiglesia) To the liars about the Church I say: (Proverbs 1:7) “The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge.” They should be more careful before bearing false witness against the bride of Christ.

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

02 September, 2010

Continuing discussion with Hoyt Sparks

(HOYT SPARKS) “It amazes me how you ignore what I have written, in plain English, and distort with your RC freewillism.”

(Cristoiglesia) I would never ignore what you write. I have not distorted anything that you have said but simply responded with the biblical and orthodox Christian teaching. The Catholic Church does not teach “freewillism” or Arminianism which is a Protestant doctrine. What the Catholic Church teaches in regards to soteriology is Thomism or Molinism. I am personally a Molinist.

(HOYT SPARKS) “Example: I wrote clearly that I did not believe John Calvin, but you insist that I believe John Calvin. If there are things that John Calvin believed and I believe also, it is because I find mine in KJV.
Also, you are using a different rule book, while I use only the KJV.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, you said that and then went and started pontificating Calvinist doctrine. I think that the way you said you came to believe Calvinist theology is by using the Bible. You said ”I find mine in the KJV” which suggests classic eisegesis. Instead of coming to the Bible to learn you came to the Bible to support your own doctrines and in this case those doctrines originate with Calvin. The Bible is not simply a “rule book” or using your writings as an example, a place that one goes to prove their own personal theology. Instead the Bible is Canon or a source where orthodoxy may be measured. The KJ translation is by today's standards a very unscholarly translation that is difficult to read and understand. It is also not very close to the original language as are translations like the RSV. A serious Bible student would never use the KJV as a sole authoritative source of truth.

The misuse of Scripture does not help credibility for one may encounter those knowledgeable in Scriptures like those encountered by St. Paul and St. Silas in Acts 17:11. When one practices this kind of deception it makes them appear as a demagogue instead of one being a teacher in truth. It would be better if one simply stated one’s opinion without the “proof text”, which with proper exegesis does not prove or support one’s opinions. Certainly, the Bereans would have been even more skeptical if St. Paul and St. Silas had used improper hermeneutical methods in spreading the Gospel and would have had little success. The Bereans would have noticed that the use of Scriptures did not support the claims when understood using proper methodology. In fact, proper understanding of the Scriptures often illustrates the opposite of what is claimed. Much too often those attempting to convince others of their views are those that are predisposed to hate others and find it necessary to justify their own beliefs while demagoging those beliefs held by others.

Before one uses “proof texts” to support one’s position, one should be aware that the scriptures they are using are a translation from another language that most often does not allow a word for word translation but instead the translator must seek equivalence in meaning rather than it being an exact word for word translation. Today we are two thousand years removed from the writing of the NT Scriptures, are in a different place and a different culture. For proper exegesis these things must be taken into consideration. This is why the Reformers, especially Martin Luther, were frightened and feared damnation by the misunderstanding of the new theory of “sola Scriptura”. This theory was meant to be a partnership between the layman and the scholar and not a license for each individual to become their own theologian. This is how false teaching propagates itself and is responsible for thousands of exponentially increasing schisms within the body of Christ.

This is why many of us (conservative, traditional and orthodox) in the Christian academic community use the interpretation theory of grammatico-historical exegesis. This method dictates that one coming to understanding of Scripture take into consideration the language , history and culture in which it is written or the context of the time, culture and history. To do otherwise is to allow our preconceptions to determine the meaning causing great error. We must learn and to strive to turn off our mental filter and allow the Scriptures to instruct instead of allowing our preconceptions to obscure what the Scriptures teach. When doing apologetics it is better to use “proof texts carefully as not to misuse them to spread false teaching and doctrine.

The proof text methodology of understanding Scripture meaning puts too much emphasis on the practical side of understanding. Typically the interpreter searches for topical texts to support their preconceptions. For instance, if one begins with a preconception that the Catholic Church is apostate, and that it’s various teaching and doctrines are false; one finds value in these texts and use them for their short, epigrammatic use of several key words that coincide with your presuppositional theme or topic rather than the evidence or support they actually bring from their own context. It is the ignoring of the context that makes this methodology wrong and, in fact, useless. This methodology treats the Bible as some sort of magical, mythological book where one can choose from its anthology of sayings for every occasion to support ones worldly views or fleshly desires. This is no different from the liberals or progressive Christians who use the Scriptures as a menu for creating their own personal theology and god, picking and using Scriptures without understanding. Scriptural texts always belong to larger units and address specific situations, coming out of historical purposes for which they were written and contexts for which they are now relevant. Most often, interpretation using this method shows a na├»ve reading of the text and disregards the purpose for which the text was written. There is no regard for the historical context which is relevant for understanding or the genre conventions which shape the understanding. What many have engaged in when using these texts is allegorization and other forms of reckless use of Scripture texts to support one’s prejudices against those whom they disagree, such as the Catholic Church, and have ignored their intended purpose and usage as determined by context, grammar and history. I cannot over emphasize the importance of context.

(HOYT SPARKS) “You insist you are correct, I insist I am correct. Your thrust is to gain as many converts as human nature will allow, in order to bolster opportunity for more money to be cast into the RC coffers. While I entrust what I know and believe for myself, I am made to know and believe that only those of HIS HE will call and add to HIS visible congregants here on earth, and not for filthy cash, and that I can do nothing to bring about the making of one of HIS nor lead them to Christ.

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, I do believe that Christ’s own Church whom Christ taught would never fall into apostasy and the Bible says is the “pillar and foundation of the truth” is truly the fullness of God’s divine revelation to humanity.

It is the Holy Spirit that brings people home to Christ’s Church and into the fullness of the familial relationship God desires. It is His Church that is the symbol of unity which is His will as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest that He desired that we all be one in his Church as he ant the Father are one. We shepherd those who the Holy Spirit sends us to be in the ark of the Church through which all people are saved. Unlike the Protestant churches, of which you belong, we do not beg for money and falsely promise monetary prosperity for obedience but accept all people who have responded to the call of the Holy Spirit through the appealing to the law written on everyone’s heart. With the Catholic Church it is not about money but is about providing refuge to souls from a sinful and seductive world. God does not call people to be outside of His visible Church but to be within the ark represented by the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. You are correct in suggesting that all salvation is by His grace. You are wrong in suggesting that this gift is offered to some while condemning the rest to hell. Where can we find the loving and just God in Calvinist soteriology? We cannot. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph