29 August, 2011

Showing love for one another through prayer

(Bird of Paradise) “Yes I can support my claims. I will start with 'praying to saints'. I want you to read the entire message, due to the fact that I will adress common catholic counter arguements in the end. If you still have counter arguements, I expect you use passages to back them up. If you are incapable of using passages, you would have proved my point (Catholics don't follow the bible).”

(Cristoiglesia) It appears that you come to this discussion with the erroneous presumption that the Catholic Church does not follow the Bible. Now I cannot address this fully unless you define what you mean by “follow the Bible”. If you are referring to the unscholarly approach to biblical hermeneutics of some Protestants called in the Latin “Sola Scriptura” of Bible alone then I am indeed guilty as is the Church. However, using proper biblical hermeneutical principals I will address and points you make with biblical citations as well as sound scholarship as to their meaning. I will not use Scriptures to support my teaching without explaining the correct and reasonable meaning of those Scriptures as well as the context they are presented. I do concede that there are differences in the approach to Scriptures between many Protestants and the Church founded by Christ as would be expected as there is a profound difference in authority between Christ’s authority as the founder of the Church and man’s authority in the founding of the many thousands of counterfeit sects to what our Lord has established and prayed that we have unity within. Your implicit claim will likely be that these man-made sects have the same authority or greater than the authority given by Christ to His Church. So much of what we will discuss has to do with that authority which I believe is Christ through His Church and you will obviously proclaim to be the Canon of Scriptures produced by the Church by the African Synods in the late 4th and early 5th centuries that confirmed the Canon of Pope St. Damasus is the sole authority of faith. Such a conclusion as this on your part cannot be supported in any reasonable way and certainly not by Scriptures which stands in witness against such an approach. Ironically in itself it is contradictory to the Scriptures themselves, which says that not all of Jesus’ teaching is contained within and that which is contained within is not for private interpretation. Instead the clear teaching of Scriptures is that it is to be understood and interpreted within the community of the Church and not individually or outside of this God given authority. I certainly will be careful not to be guilty of such an error.

Furthermore, I believe it is ridiculous and unreasonable to assume that the Church who wrote the New Testament, as all the writers were Catholic Christians, and canonized the Christian Canon would not follow the Bible that it chose as the rule of faith for Christian teaching. I submit that the Scriptures are not extra ecclesial but are to be understood in the Church under the authority of teaching given to the Church by Christ and the comforting guidance of the Holy Spirit that is absent outside of Christ’s Church. So, in summation, we follow the Bible according to the authority of Christ given to His Church instead of the unreasonable and unbiblical extra ecclesial approach to the Bible of non-Catholic Christians.

The approach to authority is very different in the ancient Church than in the modernist Protestant church. The Catholic Church follows the “Word of God alone” while the Protestant ecclesiastical groups follow Sola Scriptura which states that only God’s written word is authoritative. The latter is a sixteenth century man-made doctrine designed to destroy the unity of the Church and fragments the entire body of Christ by exponentially increasing schisms caused by accepting only part of God’s word by the Protestants. Sola Scriptura is not a doctrine for a better understanding of the Logos but instead is designed to circumvent the legitimate authority of the Church given by Christ.

It is the belief of the ancient Church that is the Magisterium of the Church that has the authority given by Christ to expound on, recognize and guard the Word of God. The Word of God is not only the written Scriptures but all that is handed to the Church by the Holy Spirit. In so doing and carrying out her responsibility the Church is the true servant of the Word.

God’s people have never been Sola Scriptura advocates. In Jesus’ day the orthodox Jews were not, nor were Jesus or the apostles. The continuation Sola Verbum Dei is a theological continuation of God’s Word from the Old Covenant to the New. The only ones who believed in anything resembling Sola Scriptura were the Sadducees who were the theological liberals of their day. We know that the first century Christians did not believe in Sola Scriptura by the teaching of St. Paul in Holy writ:

(2Th 2:15 DRB) (2:14) Therefore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions, which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle.

The Church teaches that the Word of God is the Logos:

(Joh 1:1 DRB) In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.

(Joh 1:2 DRB) The same was in the beginning with God.

(Joh 1:3 DRB) All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.

(Joh 1:4 DRB) In him was life: and the life was the light of men.

So the question among Christians should not be what is the Word but instead how is the Word revealed to man. To the Protestant the Word is only revealed in written form called Sola Scriptura. To the Catholic Christian the word has a much broader meaning and is revealed to man in more than a written form where men were inspired to reveal God’s Word. Catholics believe that inspiration is not only personal as with the biblical writers but is also revealed to and through the Church such as in the Ecumenical Councils and through the authority exercised through the Church to recognize, guard, interpret and teach the Word. The Church throughout history has faithfully exercised her authority to guard the word of God against the attacks of heresies, such as Sola Scriptura.

Should I conclude by saying that you do not follow reason or the Holy Spirit in using your private interpretations to support your preconceived ideas making you guilty of eisegesis in your extra ecclesial approach to Scripture?

(Bird of Paradise) “Praying to the dead is forbidden in the bible. Deuteronomy 18:11 tells us that anyone who “consults with the dead” is “detestable to the Lord.” You can also find these verses in Leveticus 20:16 and18:31.”

(Cristoiglesia) (Deu 18:11 KJV) Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

Here the Bible is speaking of the practice of the occult. A charmer is one who makes a compact with the devil as is defined as familiar “spirits”. Necromancers do their work to deceive those that consult them. As in Isa 24:4, 1 Kin 28:7.

(Lev 20:16 KJV) And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

I see no parallel between this verse and necromancy.

(Lev 18:30 KJV) Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

There is no Lev 18: 31 so I assumed you meant Lev 18:30. This verse is not related to necromancy.

The Church would agree that necromancy is forbidden in Scriptures. We would also agree that one who practices necromancy has a pact with the devil to deceive.

(Bird of Paradise) Just look at Saul. He contacted Samuel and was killed for it. 1 Chronicals 10:13 also states that this is the reason he died.

(Cristoiglesia) (1Ch 10:13 KJV) So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;

It was the sacrifice he offered unlawfully that precipitated his demise. He also was guilty of necromancy.

As I said before the Church agrees with the Scriptures that God forbids necromancy. By your statements you have put the onus on yourself to show some evidence that the Church teaches necromancy. There is none and such accusations are vacuous and false as a result.

(Bird of Paradise) “Now, the common catholic counter arguement for this: But the new testament speaks of how we will live eternally now! Thus, are we ever reall dead?”
(Cristoiglesia) No, that is not our argument against necromancy. Our argument against necromancy is that God forbids such practices as having a pact with the devil or having trust in those who do.

Yes, the Church does teach that we have eternal life when we are saved and that our souls never die whether in hell or in heaven. The Bible says that when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord:

(2Co 5:6 KJV) Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

(2Co 5:7 KJV) (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

(2Co 5:8 KJV) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

(Bird of Paradise) “True, we live forever in Gods arms but the new testament still recognizes death in the same manner. When somebody dies, the new testament still uses the term 'dead'. The meaning of 'death' itself never changed. There is no difference between the idea of death in the OT and the NT.”

(Cristoiglesia) Do you mind going into more detail and perhaps provide some scriptural references to your claim. I am sorry but your claim does not represent fact and I cannot comment on your claim unless you can elucidate us with the source of your claim other than your fanciful proclamation.

(Bird of Paradise) “Another common arguement includes: But the Old Testament shouldn't be followed!”

(Cristoiglesia) I have made no such claim nor is it the teaching of the Church.

(Bird of Paradise) “This is not true. Matthew 5:17 makes it clear that Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but fullfill it.The law is still revelant in countless ways.”

I have no disagreement with this nor does the teaching of the Church. You are trying to make a case that the Church teaches falsely by attributing to the Church teachings that are foreign to the teaching of the Church. The Church does not teach or practice necromancy and you have not even attempted to prove that it does which seems to be your claim. This is a diversion and not an argument against the Church as it has no basis in Church teaching. We do believe in the Law of God and that Jesus fulfilled the law. We do acknowledge that all the Mosaic laws are not relevant under the new covenantal relationship with Christ but that their moral precepts still apply. Again this is a diversion from the issue and is not based on the true teaching of the Church but is instead an attempt to build a straw man to argue against. Certainly you failed to argue against the straw man as well as against the true teaching of the Church which you did not even address.

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. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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