Super??? Tuesday!

Bringing America Back

If you know me, you are likely to know where I stand on the various issues and, probably, even have a good idea of how I voted today.  That being said, I am not going into how I voted but I do have some thoughts on the campaign in general.

I guess it is appropriate that, in this election, the candidates are doing what they failed to do in the last election, fight. The problem is that they are not fighting for the issues, they are fighting and name calling each other.

Trump has opened up the dialog then his opponents have taken that opportunity to close it off again. Using the same tactics that he has used, they are now calling names and rolling up their sleeves like 5th graders in the playground. The problem is that no one is addressing the issues that divide the parties and clarified misunderstood sound bites.

Ted Cruz, 2016

The question that isn’t being asked, and wasn’t asked in the last two elections, is “What are the values of this candidate?” I am not going to attempt to answer this here, that is for each of us to decide. The candidates are not answering these questions, leaving us to speculate and listen to the sound bites from the media. This has been an issue that has played out, especially over social media, for almost 8 years. What religion is Obama? Is he Christian or Muslim? Are we going to listen to the same barbs for the next 4 years?

The question is not “What religion are you?”, the question is “What are your values?” A President can say they are anything they want but it is the underlying values that are important. The pressing question for all these candidates is on what foundation is their values built? As many of you know, I seriously question the moral conviction of anyone who can say they are supporting women yet support a government that tortures and murders women as a subclass of their society. I question the conviction of a person that says they support a woman’s right to ‘choose’ when an integral part of the choice is the murder of girls before they have an opportunity to express their own independence and choices.

Marco Rubio, 2016

So, I am not going to claim that this is the most important election of our lifetimes. This is the most important election of the next 4, possibly 8, years. The election of 2008 defined the direction of this country for the last 8 years and will have repercussions for years to come. Personally, as a student of history, I am saddened to see too many parallels with the last 8 years to the decline of so many cultures of the past 5000 years. There is no moral basis for our society and our country is left wandering without a compass.

In the past, this was the herald of destruction or restoration, I am hoping it is for restoration. Time will tell. This election may very well dictate if the decline is permanent or a temporary dip. Over my life time, the government has changed from, in the words of John F. Kennedy, “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

Today, many in our government, in our nation, believe that it is the generosity of the State that grants rights of men. It is this belief that is suspect. If a government can grant rights, it can also take them away.

This election, and the elections that follow, determine if we live and protect our God given rights or support the whim of an elected official.

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Planned Parenthood De-funding

I was unfriended by a family member on Facebook over a disagreement about De-funding Planned Parenthood. I think it’s important to address this rather emotional issue.
To the claim that De-funding PP would hurt women’s access to health care such as check ups, food, medecine and even relaxing by booking at for a good parenting you need to relax and avoid too much stress. I point out that, in Tulsa, OK, there are 13 free clinics for women, only one of which is PP. Of these 12, all provide all the services PP claims to provide, including PAP, STD testing, and mammograms. The only service not included is abortions.
To the claim that there would be children being born into unwanted situations, I point out that, after 40 years and over 55 million abortions later, we still have children in foster care and abused. Abortion has not proven to solve these sad situations.

Then, in Margaret Sangar’s own words, the reason for the existence of Planned Parenthood.

“The third group [of society] are those irresponsible and reckless ones having little regard for the consequences of their acts, or whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers. Many of this group are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper element dependent upon the normal and fit members of society for their support. There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped.”
Speech quoted in “Birth Control: What It Is, How It Works, What It Will Do.” The Proceedings of the First American Birth Control Conference. Held at the Hotel Plaza, New York City.

Finally, the challenge must be addressed of: “you pro-lifers want to make a woman have an unwanted child then don’t want to help them support it”. The response is two-fold. First, we have to challenge our citizens to be responsible. We can’t treat people like animals, with no responsibility to control their urges or the consequences of their actions. This completely diminishes the dignity of a human being. Second, treating these people as dignified human beings, we must provide with a leg up, with programs aimed at making them self-sufficient, not more dependent. Provide support that encourages the parents to make their own way, not rely on the government to support them.

Instead of continuing to support programs that are proven to fail over and over, were must provide support which enables our citizens to be productive.

We have to provide support and compassion without claiming innocent lives in the process. Murder cannot be compassion.

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1984? DoubleThink and 2015

In his essay “Politics and the English Language“, George Orwell observes that political language serves to distort and obfuscate reality. Orwell’s description of political speech is extremely similar to the contemporary definition of doublespeak;

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible… Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness… the great enemy of clear language is insincerity. Where there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, …[9]

Today, we are faced with such opposites and asked to believe them on face value, the language of the day. “Tolerance” is used to brow beat those that disagree so that those that do not hold those same views are “intolerant” and “haters”.

“Choice” is used to justify completely taking away choice from children and those that believe that abortion is murder are advocating taking away a woman’s right to choose.  Now we learn that a group that has made a campaign on describing the unborn child as no more than tissue are making money by selling the children’s organs as human tissue.

“Love” has been twisted into meaning whatever our carnal desires dictate rather than a life long commitment to raise children teaching the commitment to God, our spouse, and our children in a loving home. To disagree or to point out that an interpretation is wrong is not the same as hating another person.

I can tell you that a friend or family member is doing something that I believe is wrong without hating him or her. I have a family member that is an alcoholic, I do not condone the behavior, I do not condone the lifestyle. I may even chose not to be around that person. I do love that person and still try to be there as much as reasonable. I will not be around when they are drinking, which may be most of the time. But, despite that behavior, that person is stilled loved and will remain in my heart though I will not tell them that they have my approval.

Though the behavior is displayed more than I would like to admit, alcoholism is not WHO that person is. I do not define the person by their sins, I define them by who they are. I believe that is what God is calling me to do. I will accept a sinner into my home, just as Jesus did. However, I do not believe that Jesus defined his Apostles and disciples by their sins. He told the Magdalene, “Is there no one left to condemn you?… Nor do I. Go and sin no more.”

I condemn no one, that is not my place. I condemn behavior which I know is wrong. I taught my children what was wrong. Sometimes they chose do what I had taught them was wrong. I do not, nor can I, accept words on face value that have meanings that go well beyond what they say. I cannot believe that “Compassion” is taking someone’s life through Euthanasia, or that a “choice” is taking another life who cannot defend himself. I do not believe that “Love” can be gained by using acts rooted in hate or that disagreement is the same as “hate”.

I will proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord! Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

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A Cousin’s Memories

My first recollection of the McGrew family was after our return from living in California.  I was around six at that time. Uncle Bob and Aunt Wilma were to begin with, my cousins mom and dad.  From those early days, I remember Uncle Bob as a laid back likable guy that loved his family and also love to fix up cars. I can remember him whistling church songs as he went about his work.

Uncle Bob was very smart and talented.  He gained several patents when he worked for W.C. Norris Company.  Bobby and I stopped by his office one day and I was very impressed seeing him at his drafting table. 

I was also impressed when he built an addition to their house when Bobby was in grade school. He, Uncle Floyd, and my dad would at times work for Uncle Clifford in his welding shop to make a few extra dollars.  

I heard of stories how Bob served in Alaska during WWII.  And I remember something about him diving off a dam to save Jack and Shirley from drowning.  Jack may remember that, I was pretty young. 

Bob furthered his education the hard way, by taking correspondence classes.  Something that I admired that he did, so he could keep working to support his family. 

Aunt Wilma was a very bright witty and hospitable person. She had a great sense of humor and she always seemed sincerely interested in what I had to say.  I remember she would call into radio programs and give her opinion. She was independent in a good way. A very good and interesting conversationalist. She always enjoyed my jokes. She was always happy to see me, and encourage me.
Ron Ellison

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Grandma Taught me How Precious Life is.

Probably tomorrow I will post the eulogy that I wrote for Grandma’s funeral. As much it is her eulogy, it is a eulogy for “Grandma and Grandpa”. I know that they were not perfect, Grandpa was intimidating in his silence, and Grandma was probably not perfect either but I just can’t think of how at the moment. Humor aside, they were normal human beings that tried to love each other, their children and grandchildren and make a life for their family. I know that, as I age and am a grandparent myself now, they must have looked upon their children’s lives and wondered what they did wrong.

The very fact that they spent more time raising me than my mother did attests to the fact that they gave up their empty nest to populate it with their grandchildren. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, my little sister was living full time with her dad in Inola and, when we returned to Oklahoma, I was spending most, if not all, weekends in Tulsa with my grandparents. I truly regret that, being 16 and driving, I was using their house for little more than a bed since I was back in Claremore with my friends. Had I known the unknowable, that Grandma’s days were numbered and she would be gone within 6 years, maybe I would have changed my behavior.

Of course, what is gone is gone and now we have passed 20 years since Grandpa died in 1994 and 30 since Grandma died in 1984. Life is so very precious and, sadly, I don’t believe that we’ve learned much in how to teach and express how precious those lives around us are.  I have begun to wonder if we are in a society that has taught our children that life is insignificant. I absolutely realize that we live in a culture of death, but that culture seems to infiltrated our lives to such a degree that I see our children seem to have diminished the importance of their family. It is almost as if our deaths will be a meaningless blimp when we are gone.

Will anyone mourn mine or my wife’s passing like we’ve mourned the passing of our grandparents or parents? If children are callous enough that they can act as if their parents are dead to them while they are alive, how much different will it be when they are actually gone? I do wonder what my grandparents endured from the hands of their children. I can only speculate unless they shared with someone that happens to read this or can share. I know that my grandparents did not tell their children or grandchildren one thing and do something else, I know they did not change what they believed or thought to avoid waves, they stuck to what they said and believed.

Tomorrow I will retyping my eulogy and I will remember my Grandpa and Grandma, as I do everyday. There is not a day that goes by that I do not remember them. I remember them as in the first two pictures. I also know that the last picture, the black and white with the young couple, was how they started. Our beginnings lead us to our endings. I, like everyone of us, am on a journey. If I journey correctly, I am on a journey for “the Greater Glory of God” (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam””). I don’t succeed as often as I want. I probably fail more than I succeed. What I do is try everyday to live up to my Faith and their legacy.

I love you, Grandma and Grandpa.


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Vatican City, 25 June 2014 (VIS) – This morning in St. Peter’s Square the Holy Father, in his general audience, continued to speak about the People of God, a theme that he began to explore last Wednesday. Today he highlighted the importance for a Christian of belonging to this people, and reiterated that we are not isolated Christians. “Belonging is our identity”, he said. “We are Christians because we belong to the Church. It is like a surname: if our name is ‘I am Christian’, our surname is ‘I belong to the Church’.

“No-one becomes a Christian alone; we must think first, with gratitude, of all those who have preceded us”, he continued. “If we believe, if we pray, if we know the Lord and are able to listen to His Word, we feel close to Him and recognise Him in our brethren, and because others before us have lived faith and transmitted it to us, have taught us. The Church is a family in which one is welcomed and learns to live as believers and disciples of the Lord Jesus”. The Pope explained that this is a path that one may undertake not thanks to others, but rather united with others, and emphasised that a “do-it-yourself Church” does not exist.

“How many times did Benedict XVI describe the Church as an ecclesiastical ‘we’? Often we hear people say, ‘I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I am not interested in the Church…”. There are those who believe they can have a personal relationship, direct and immediate, with Jesus Christ removed from communion and the mediation of the Church. They are dangerous and damaging temptations. They are, as the great Paul VI said, absurd dichotomies. It is true that to walk together is challenging and difficult. … But the Lord has entrusted his message of salvation to human beings, to all all of us, as witnesses; and it is in our brothers and sisters, with their gifts and their limits, that it comes towards us and is revealed to us. And this is what belonging to the Church means. Remember: being Christian means belonging to the Church”.

Before concluding, the Pope asked that the Lord, by the intercession of the Virgin Mary, might grant us the grace never to give in to the temptation to think we can do without other people, that we can do without the Church and save ourselves alone, that we can be ‘laboratory Christians’. On the contrary, it is not possible to love God without loving one’s brethren, it is not possible to love God outside the Church; it is not possible to be in communion with God without being in communion with the Church, and we cannot be good Christians other than by staying together with those who follow the Lord Jesus, as one people, a single body”.

Following his catechesis, the Pope greeted a delegation from the Bethlehem University, the first university founded in the West Bank and inspired by the principles of the schools established by the De La Salle Christian brothers, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year. He gave special thanks to them for their “laudable academic activity in support of the Palestinian people”.

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So, Hobby Lobby Can’t Act on their Faith?

How sad that we live in a country, founded on principles of religious freedom, on objections of taxation without representation, and our government is mandating that people of conscious leave their faith at the exit of their churches.

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Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: A Modern-Day Hero of Divine Love

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: A Modern-Day Hero of Divine Love

Thu. January 13 at 3 AM ET & 6:30 PM ET on EWTN

A moving chronicle of the life of St. Gianna Molla, her childhood in Italy in the 1930’s, and her later role as a physician, wife and mother. While pregnant, she was diagnosed with a malignant uterine tumor, but postponed surgery in order to not endanger her unborn child’s life. The child was born, but as a result Gianna lost her life to the spreading cancer.

Gianna Beretta Molla made a heroic choice, but it was something her family members and friends testified she prepared for every day of her life. Her heroic virtue, genuine holiness of life, selflessness, and quiet joy remind all of us that God entrusts us with a personal vocation. Each and every day presents us with choices that have the power to prepare us to take heroic action whenever it will be called for. We can do that, however, only if we surrender ourselves and what we desire to God and His will for us.

” Dr. Molla threw light on the importance of the Christian family, by her life and conscious sacrifice. She threw light on the importance of Christian schools and Catholic Action, in the formation of the human being in Christian values and it gives us guiding principles, to which the Christian subordinates his own life, as Dr. Beretta Molla knowingly did. The heroism of her Christian life will bear fruit.”

This example of lay sanctity, lived in the Sacrament of Matrimony, as the Vatican Council II teaches, will encourage many Christians to seek God in holy Matrimony. The exemplary fame of Christian conduct, lived by Gianna Beretta Molla is valid proof.

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ChilderMas…. Remember our Innocent Children on Dec. 26th

Last year, I printed this article in my old family blog. I am reprinting it today as a reminder. I love the history of our celebrations, they remind us where we have come from and where we are being led by these celebrations. During these last few days of Advent, we are being led to the new born Jesus, Our Lord and Savior. Fr. Raymond Brown, a noted Theologian, wrote a book, “The Adult Christ at Christmas” which taught how the birth of Christ is a precursor to the Crucifixion. As we are being led to the manger, we are also being asked to adore the cross. The sacrifices of Mary and Joseph are the preamble to what the Son will endure in later years, they were His first human teachers and they led by example

In centuries past, Advent season began with Martinmas (the feast of St. Martin on November 11). Advent was “the little Lent” that prepared the faithful for the celebration of Christmas (Christ’s Mass).

Christmas was in turn followed by Childermas (the Mass of the Holy Innocents) and continued until Candlemas (the Mass of Blessed Candles), also known as the Feast of the Presentation. In ancient times, great celebration centered not around Christmas, but around the Feast of the Epiphany. Indeed, in the eastern churches, the Mass of the Nativity was celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany, for the earliest Christians said it was only fitting to celebrate God’s revelation of His Son to the pagan Magi on the same day that His Son leapt out of the inner sanctuary of Mary’s womb into the larger world itself.
Today, apart from Christmas, most of the “-mas” days have been forgotten. But there is one laudable custom which should be retained. As the song notes, there has long been a tradition of small gift-giving during the first twelve days of the Christmas season, the period between Christmas and Epiphany, Dec 25 and Jan 6.

The day after Christmas is ChilderMas – a day to celebrate our children and honor the gift that God gave us in our children. God Bless you all!

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Apologetics for the Masses – Issue #151


Topic: Apologetics for the Masses – Issue #151

General Comments

Again, this was written by John Martignoni, of the Bible Christian Society. He is not a member of the Knights of Columbus Council #11194 but has allowed us to reprint his Apologetics Newsletter. We thank him for being so gracious to allow us to do so. There has been some confusion in the comments that lead me to believe that some believe that I have written these columns. I wish that were so but they are the writings of Mr. Martignoni.

J.A. Arroyo, Deputy Grand Knight


Below is a list some folks came up with of “Arguments Catholics Shouldn’t Use” when evangelizing Protestants. This was written more than a year or so ago and at that time someone emailed me and asked me to respond to these 18 points. I never got around to it last year, but I re-discovered the email request in my inbox recently and decided to take a shot at it. I’m sending it out to you in the hope that it will be a useful and informative exercise. Maybe you use some of these same arguments they say not to use when talking with Protestants, maybe not, but either way I wanted you to be informed as to possible difficulties, or alleged difficulties, with those arguments.

I will state up front that I agree with some of what they say and disagree with some of what they say. I disagree more than I agree, which is what makes it fun for me. My reasons for disagreeing with a particular point they make will be immediately below that point. I also wish to say, from the outset, that I do not know any of the authors of this article and that there is no antagonism in this response, whatsoever. They are entitled to their opinions and, as they stated, they put this forth as an exercise in intellectual rigor, which I think is a very good thing. For Catholics to discuss topics like this amongst themselves is an exercise that everyone can hopefully profit from.

I’m going to put the 1st half of it in this week’s issue and the rest next week. Their arguments are italicized.


Unsound Sticks, or, Arguments Catholics Shouldn’t Use

by Ben Douglass, David Palm, and Nick E.                                     May 1, Anno Domini MMIX

The following is a list of arguments against Protestantism which, in our judgment, Catholics should not use, either because they are not true, or because, while they might be true, it is impossible to prove that they are, for a plausible alternative explanation of the data exists. This is certainly not a complete list: it is merely one missive fired for intellectual rigor. Neither is it an infallible list: it is possible that one or more of these arguments might be saved.

1. Alleging that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations. This tally comes from the 2001 World Christian Encyclopedia, and it includes all denominations and paradenominations which self–identify as Christian, including Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Old Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Gnostics, Bogomils, etc. And even so, the number is too high. The World Christian Encyclopedia artificially inflates the number of Catholic “denominations” by counting Eastern Churches in communion with Rome as separate denominations. It likewise inflates the number of Eastern Orthodox “denominations” by counting Churches in communion with each other as distinct.

This reference lists 8,973 denominations under the heading “Protestant,” and 22,146 more under the heading “Independent.” Some, but not all, of the “independent” denominations may justly be described as Protestant. Still, these numbers may be inflated similarly to the numbers for Catholics and Orthodox. Suffice it to say that there are thousands of Protestant denominations.

Moreover, even if we could arrive at an accurate tally for Protestant denominations (20,000?), we still could not blame the whole of that number on Sola Scriptura. Some of these churches share substantial unity in faith, even if they are juridically independent (perhaps due to geography). And much of the disunity of faith within Protestantism, at least in the developed world, stems from efforts to subordinate the authority of Scripture (e.g., to various sexual perversions). In reality, if every Protestant denomination were serious and consistent in affirming and applying the rule of Sola Scriptura, the spectrum of Protestant belief would be significantly narrower. It bears emphasizing: the only thing for which we can directly blame Sola Scriptura is the extent to which it fails to provide unity in true faith and morals to those who sincerely adhere to it, e.g., “orthodox ” Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Campbellites, etc.

My Response: I disagree.
I disagree because I personally believe, based on my experiences, that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Protestant denominations, and the main reason for this is sola scriptura.  Now, I admit that my “experiences” constitute anecdotal evidence, but I have found nothing to dissuade me from the notion that my anecdotal evidence is not indicative of a much more widespread phenomenon.  And, for clarity’s sake, I define a Protestant denomination as a religious unit of one or more persons that has: 1) A particular set of beliefs on matters of faith and morals, which may or may not be unique to that group; and 2) Has its own structure of authority that ultimately answers to no human being outside of the denomination.

In the last 15 years or so, I have talked to hundreds and hundreds of Protestants, either on the radio, via email, on the phone, or in person.  I have heard from the mouths of at least 2–3 dozen or so of those folks that while they may attend a church in a particular denomination, let’s say a Baptist church for example, they are not, however, members of that denomination.  They have all said something close to this: “I only go to that church because that pastor comes the closest to what I believe.”  The first time I heard that about 15 years ago it blew me away.  But I have heard it time and time again since.

In other words, these folks are their own little denomination within a denomination. They have their own set of beliefs and they are their own authority for what is, in essence, their own private denomination.  They are the Pope, the pastor, and the chief theologian of their own personal denomination.  Now, out of the several hundred Protestants I’ve talked to, the number who have said something along these lines accounts for about, let’s say, 2–3% of the total.  I think the true  percentage who are in this situation is much higher than that, however, because I have actually not even addressed this particular point with the vast majority of the Protestants I have talked to.  So, there may be many more of the Protestants I’ve talked to who are in this same situation, but the topic simply never came up in our discussions.  Plus, I have talked to any number of Protestants who have flat out stated that they do not need any church, all they need is a Bible.  So, again, I believe the percentage of Protestants who belong to their own private denomination is rather high.  But, let’s use the 2–3% figure just to be conservative. 

So, estimating that 2–3% of Protestants, just in this country, are members of their own private denominations – they answer to no human authority in matters of faith and morals outside of themselves, and they have a particular set of beliefs they call their own – then we’re looking at the number of denominations as being in the millions.  I have said many times that if God leaves us on this earth long enough there will eventually be one Protestant denomination for every Protestant or, at the least, one Protestant denomination for every Protestant family.  And what is the main reason for this phenomenon?  Sola Scriptura.  Folks interpreting the Bible on their own to arrive at their own particular set of beliefs and subject only to their own authority.

Plus, I disagree that you cannot blame Sola Scriptura for the disunity of faith within Protestantism that results from the “efforts to subordinate the authority of Scripture.”  The essence of Sola Scriptura, whether its adherents realize it or not, is not the authority o f Scripture, but rather the authority of each individual’s interpretation of Scripture.  Big difference.  The authority of Scripture, and the authority given by Christ to the Church He founded, are actually usurped by sola scriptura adherents, again, whether they realize it or not.  And this indirect, or inadvertent, usurpation of authority by the individual, which allows him to “authoritatively” pronounce right from wrong, true doctrine from false, all based on his own private authority, inevitably leads to individuals believing they have the authority to directly and knowingly usurp the authority of Scripture and the Church.  It all stems from the same root. 

2. Using the term “anti–Catholic.” The term is ill–defined. If it refers to a form of bigotry or prejudice then it could only be applied to individual Protestants (or other non–Catholics) on a case by case basis, and that only after they had exhibited a demonstrable pattern of bad faith. If, on the other hand, it refers to theological opposition to Catholicism, then it ought not to be used as a term of disdain. For Catholics are theologically opposed to Protestantism. Indeed, according to Dominus Iesus, Protestant “churches” are not, properly speaking, churches. The distinctives of Protestant theology are heresy, and the Council of Trent has pronounced anathema upon them. If, then, Protestants who believe Catholicism to be heretical are anti–Catholic, by the same standard Catholics who believe Protestantism to be heretical are anti–Protestant.

My Response: I agree and disagree.  
I agree that the term anti–Catholic should not be used to simply refer to anyone who disagrees with Catholicism.  I disagree that the term is ill–defined and should not be used.  I have used the term a number of times in the past.   But, I have a very specific definition of an anti–Catholic which I published in one of my past e–newsletter issues of “Apologetics for the Masses.”  That definition, and the distinction between an anti–Catholic and a non–Catholic is basically as follows: An anti–Catholic is someone who will not let Catholics believe what they actually believe.  They substitute their biased understanding of Catholic belief for the true substance of Catholic belief even when presented with evidence from official magisterial documents that Catholics do not believe what these anti–Catholics think we believe.  They are not interested in discovering truth, they are only interested in railing against Catholicism.  A non–Catholic is simply someone who does not agree with Catholic teaching. 

An example: An anti–Catholic and a non–Catholic both say, “You Catholics worship Mary.” When the Catholic responds, “No, we don’t worship Mary,” and tells them that we love and honor Mary just as Jesus did, and presents the Catechism, papal encyclicals, and such that all say Mary is human not divine, the anti–Catholic says, “Yes, you do worship Mary.” The non–Catholic  says, “Well, okay, I see that I did not fully understand Catholic teaching on that…you don’t worship Mary after all.”  Now, the non–Catholic may still disagree on what we teach about Mary, and they may still even think all Catholics are going to Hell, but they at least are open to understanding what we believe and why we believe it.  The non–Catholic allows us to believe what we actually believe, the anti–Catholic does not.

3. Justifying lack of charity by appealing to the example of St. Jerome. Not everything a saint does is necessarily worthy of emulation. St. Cyprian was insubordinate to the Pope. St. John Chrysostom said some indefensible things about Jews. St. Thomas More used scatological insults.

My Response: I agree and disagree. 
I agree in that one should never be uncharitable and one should never appeal to St. Jerome, or anyone else for that matter, in order to justify being uncharitable.  However, it seems to me that there is a belief behind this particular point, which I have seen many a time and with which I disagree – the belief that one can never say anything to someone else which gives them a verbal punch in the nose, as it were.  That one always has to be “nice” and “sensitive” to the other guy’s feelings, cushion one’s blows, and so on.  Well I say, “Bunk,” to that. (And if I am misreading the thought behind this particular point then I apologize ahead of time.) 

I tend to be very direct and very blunt when engaged in a debate with someone, particularly when it is in writing – which is the medium for the vast majority of my debates – and I frequently call a spade a spade.  Because of that, I have in the past been accused of being uncharitable.  To me, however, I view it as being more respectful to the other person by not wasting the other guy’s time with a lot of wasted verbiage and wishy–washy niceties, nor am I treating them like a little child who is not capable of direct criticism and of being disagreed with.  I prefer people do the same with me.  And, if someone is being a hypocrite, I call them a hypocrite.  If someone is flat out lying and purposely misrepresenting what I say, I call them a liar. If someone says something that is ridiculous or absurd, I say that it is ridiculous and absurd.  If I believe someone to be wrong, I tell them they’re wrong. Is that necessarily uncharitable?

If someone thinks it is, then I would ask if Jesus was being uncharitable when he called the scribes and Pharisees liars, blind guides, white–washed tombs, sons of murderers, vipers and serpents, and said that they were full of extortion and rapacity and hypocrisy and iniquity?  I don’t think anyone would say that Jesus was being uncharitable, would they?  Was He being uncharitable when He got out a whip and turned over the money changers tables in the Temple?  Was He being uncharitable when He asked, “How long must I endure this generation?”  Was He being uncharitable when He called the Samaritan woman a dog?  Of course not.  He wasn’t necessarily being “nice” in all these instances, but not being nice is not the same thing as being uncharitable.  What I’m saying is that one needs to be very careful in judging something to be an uncharitable act.  Not being nice is not the same thing as not being charitable.  What might “seem” uncharitable to some, could actually be an act of charity, and to judge it as being uncharitable could be an uncharitable act on someone’s part. We’ve gotten so touchy–feely and sensitive and we worry so much about making everyone feel “validated” these days that it sometimes borders on the ridiculous. 

4. Exaggerating the inadequacy of Sola Scriptura, as if it were not possible to understand the Bible at all without the Magisterium. In reality, if one, without help from any external authority, gives the Bible a diligent, sincere, and attentive reading, it will be possible to achieve the right answer to a fair number of questions. Sola Scriptura is inadequate because it cannot give the Church definitive answers to every question which she needs answered in order to function as the Church. For example, it cannot give the Church a definitive answer regarding whether Christian marriage is dissoluble. On the other hand, the Bible is clear enough that the text alone suffices to tell the Church that homosexuality is evil, among other things. If one fails to recognize this then it will be impossible to come to terms with the patristic witness to the clarity of Scripture.

My Response: I agree. 
I always say that you can read the Bible on your own and come to some understanding of what you read, but I also always say that there are many things in the Bible that are difficult to understand and for which we need a guide – as the Bible clearly tells us.

5. Insisting that Protestants need to know, as a matter of faith, that Matthew wrote Matthew. According to the internal logic of their system, they do not. It suffices that the book of Matthew be inspired by God, regardless whether the traditional attribution is correct. As such, there is a limited value in asking Protestants the question, “How do you know that Matthew wrote Matthew?” If a particular Protestant does in fact accept the traditional authorship of Matthew, one might ask him on what basis he does so. If he replies that he does so on the basis of the patristic testimony, this can be an opportunity to expose any double standards he might hold as to the reliability of the patristic testimony at large. Nevertheless, it is fallacious to argue that, since Protestants need to know that Matthew wrote Matthew, and since Sola Scriptura cannot provide that knowledge to them, therefore Sola Scriptura is false.

My Response: I disagree. 
First of all, I disagree that there is any kind of “internal logic” in a Protestant theological “system.”  There may be internal logic in various compartments of a Protestant theological system, but not consistently throughout the system as a whole.  Now, I never specifically insist that Protestants need to know who wrote Matthew (or Mark or any other book) as a “matter of faith.”  I do, however, quite often ask the question: “Who wrote the Gospel of Mark, and how do you know?” And I ask because if the Bible is the sole rule of faith for Christians, and one only accepts as definitively true that which comes from the pages of the Bible, then it is indeed important to know who wrote the various books of the Bible.  Why?  Because the inspiration of Scripture comes from God through the authors of Scripture.  The authors were inspired by God.  If you don’t know who wrote the book, and the book is your only authority in these matters, then how can you know it was inspired? 

So, if the Bible cannot answer fundamental questions about its own inspiration – which is what the question, “Who wrote the Gospel of Mark,” is aimed at showing – that means you cannot know from the Bible that all of it is inspired, then how can Sola Scriptura be true?  So, since the Bible does not tell us who wrote Mark, or Matthew, or some of the other books, and the Bible is supposedly the only definitive source for answers regarding questions of this nature – one cannot turn to tradition when one does not believe in tradition – then Sola Scriptura has to be false because Sola Scriptura cannot provide you with a Scriptura in the first place.

6. Assuming that it suffices, for falsifying Sola Scriptura, to demonstrate that inspired oral Apostolic Tradition existed during the Apostolic era (2 Thess 2:15, etc.). Protestants grant this. One must proceed to demonstrate the perduring presence of this Tradition within the Church throughout all ages. Or at least, one must justify laying the burden of proof on Protestants to demonstrate that all oral Apostolic Tradition was eventually inscripturated.

My Response: I agree and disagree. 
I agree in principle, but in practice it may indeed suffice to prove Sola Scriptura wrong to any given individual by showing them that Apostolic Tradition existed during the Apostolic era.  One should always be prepared, however, after showing the verses on tradition (such as 2 Thes 2:15) to answer, should it come, the follow–up: “Well, that was just for the time before the New Testament was written,” with the appropriate responses.  I would also add that one should not really try to “prove” anything with this or that verse from Scripture.  Apologetics is about building the case.  Use Scripture and logic and common sense, and tradition if necessary, all to build the case and to plant the seeds.  Then let the Holy Spirit “prove” it.

7. Arguing that since St. Paul knew that the magicians who opposed Moses were named Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim 3:8), these names must have been preserved in the old covenant equivalent of Apostolic Tradition. According to the Catholic dogma of the inspiration of Scripture, God furnished the sacred authors with an infallible judgment in evaluating the truth of non–inspired and hence fallible historical records (Pius XII, Humani Generis, 38). As such, judging by the standard of Catholic theology (which conservative Protestants share on this point), it is possible that St. Paul learned these names from ordinary human historical records, and not from Jewish Sacred Tradition. To establish the presence of Sacred Tradition within the old covenant a Catholic must look elsewhere (e.g., 2 Chron 29:2).

My Response: I agree.

Next week: Points #8 – #18.


In Conclusion

As you can see, not all Catholic apologists think alike. I think exercises like this one are important, though, so that more Catholic apologists can start thinking like me [insert smiley face here].

I hope all of you have a great week!

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