What are Saints? Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta?

I received a text from my little sister, Christina, this morning asking “What is Mother Teresa the Saint of?”. I answered pretty well, at least as well as might be possible in texts. But, since I have more space and am able to give something more definitive here, I thought I would take a stab at the answer here. Thank you, Christina, for the question! This is something that is near and Dear to Christians, past and present.

So, to start, the Catholic Church does not “Make” saints, God does. The Church takes the signs that God provides and discerns if a person is in Heaven by following those signs or miracles. Over the centuries, many have noticed that some Saints interceed on the behalf of many in professions or walks of life, or the Church holds up a certain person as a special patron of those walks of life. The Cure de Ars, for example, who spent many many hours in the Confessional and hundreds of thousands from all France and Europe came to him for his guidance and wisdom in the Confessional, is the Patron of the Parish Priest. Others, such as founders of Religious Orders, are the patrons of their Orders. I’m sure that St. Mother Teresa is the “Patroness” of the Sisters of Charity, which she founded.

What is a “Saint”? In this context, a Saint is someone who has died with the mark of faith and is in Heaven with with Christ. There are many more Saints than we know about, God has chosen to make known the relatively few that we know about by giving us signs, or miracles. We ask, pray, for the Saints to pray for us. In the Early Church, we have graffiti from graves of early martyrs that are asking for their prayers. These date all the way back to the Apostles’ graves. The graves of of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Polycarp, St. Cecilia, and the list goes on. The earliest Christians asked their Triumphant brothers and sisters to carry their petitions to the feet of Christ and the Father. Just as we do now, with our living friends and, even strangers (just look at any Facebook feed and you will see someone asking for prayers), the Christian faithful have asked their resurrected brothers and sisters to pray for them too.

From these prayers, God has seen fit to strengthen his people by showing them signs that the Resurrection is, indeed, real. By the miracles gained from the Saints’ intercessions, we see that Christ’s promise of “Today you will be with me in Paradise” is not just empty words, but a Promise!

Sainthood is not a “Reward” of the Church, there are many deserving men and women who are probably in Heaven, but their intercessions have not brought about the miracles necessary for recognition. That is God’s choice, not the Church’s. The Church merely follows the signs that God provides and raises them up for recognition. Gifts of saints that lived while we lived, show us in no uncertain terms, that Christ is alive and well and has Dominion over this world today, just as He always has! Saint Mother Teresa, and her contemporary, Pope Saint John Paul II, show us that the “modern world” has not overtaken God and made Him obsolete, but that men and women walk our streets today, struggle through life, and are on the path to Heaven as these two were.

We are not alone! We have two parts of the Church, the “Church Militant” (which is the Church here on Earth and struggling to get to Heaven) and the “Church Triumphant” (which is the Church that has triumphed and is with Christ). We are not separate, we are bound together by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. We can, and should, ask for their prayers to help us to achieve the triumph they have achieved. We pray for Grace, we pray for signs, we pray for our friends and family that have gone before us (because we don’t know, but we still beg for mercy for their sins.).

So, Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pray for us!

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Listening and hearing

Despite what many have interpreted the Holy Father as saying, he was not telling the lawmakers how to make laws or not to have immigration laws or enforcement. What he counseled was compassion, hear their stories and treat the person with respect. As Catholics, as citizens, that is what we should expect. Maybe we do need to build a wall but we need a compassionate treatment for those that wish to enter. If we build a wall, we need to build a door as well and have a way to open the door. We have the Statue of Liberty which greets the “huddled masses” who enter, we need a greeter at the door.

“Inscription on the Statue of Liberty”

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Author: Emma Lazarus

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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 https://tranquilme.com/booking-page/ 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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Reflections on Sunday’s Scripture


“Thus says the LORD:
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” Ezekiel 18:25–28

There has been an unhealthy focus on “God’s Love” in recent years, to the exclusion of God’s parental influence. It has been so prevalent that many seem to believe that, if it is something that “I don’t like”, then it can’t be from God. This mentality has spread into parenting with parents having out-of-control children because they do not want to hurt their child’s feelings. They are so intent on being liked that they miss being a parent. Children of God have the same problem, Churches have the same problem, if God is teaching something that I don’t like, it can’t be from God because “God is Love”.

What is missed in all of this is that, indeed, God is Love. Fr. Gerry Coleman preached a wonderful Homily some years ago where he pointed out that “No” actually does mean “Yes”. As God, as parents, when we say “No” to our children, we are saying “Yes, I love you”.

  • “No, you may not run out into the street without looking” (“Yes, I love you. I am concerned for your safety and do not want to see you hurt.”)
  • “No, you may not stay up late on a school night. (“Yes, I love you. I want you to grow up to be able to support your family and be a responsible adult.”)
  • “No, you may not eat as many sweets as you like.” (“Yes, I love you. I do not want you to be sick and learn bad eating habits and be unhealthy.”
  • “No, you may not do whatever you wish.” (“Yes, I love you. I want you to learn to be responsible for your actions. I want you to be a dignified Child of God.”)

It is about dignity. The Lord is not being unfair, He is calling us to something better than acting like an animal following whatever whim comes our way. He calls us to be married to one person, to be true to that one even if our base passions may attract us to many. He calls us to earn our own way, to use what we earn to purchase with what we have earned rather than take it from someone weaker than ourselves. He calls us to follow something much more than our passions, to follow our Faith.

Heaven is not for everyone, some will neither desire it nor earn it. That may seem unfair but, though we live in a society which seems to believe that everyone will win, there will be losers. God is a loving God, Christ has paid a tremendous price for us. The difference is that, though some believe that they will be in Heaven because Christ paid their debt and that was it, He did not set up a “Welfare Heaven” where everyone gets in regardless, that is not the case. Christ showed the way and we are to follow Him there. That does not mean we are to ignore Him and still get in. We don’t get to recreate God in OUR image full of Sin and call it a day. “When someone turns away from virtue to commit iniquity and dies, it is because of the iniquity…”

This is not new, this was an issue with the Jews long before Christ. The lessons can still be learned.

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Apologetics for the Masses – Issue #152


Topic: Apologetics for the Masses – Issue #152

General Comments

We, at Knights of Columbus Council #11194 hope that you all had a Blessed and happy Christmas and New Year. Just a few days remain in the Christmas Season, which, for many, ended last Sunday with the early celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany. Enjoy the publication of the Apologetics for the Masses by John Martignoni. I encourage you all to subscribe to this newsletter yourselves.

Mr Gary Girdner, our Grand Knight, will be out of town tomorrow so he will not be presiding over our meeting. I, as Deputy Grand Knight, will have that obligation. Keep me in prayers. Do not forget our Knights who need prayers, Bill Hoover’s wife, Pat is out of the hospital, Gary remains on the road with his job, I and my wife are struggling financially and I am considering the options presented for the upcoming year to keep afloat.

J.A. Arroyo
Deputy Grand Knight (Webmaster)


(Thus begins the text from John Martignoni…)

This week will be a continuation of the response I started in last week’s issue (see Issue #151 on the “Newsletter” page of www.biblechristiansociety.com) to a list of “Arguments Catholics Shouldn’t Use” when evangelizing Protestants, that three Catholic apologists came up with a year or so ago. I heard from one of them this week and this is what he said in response to my comments:

“ALL IN ALL, I think we largely agree on these points. So it’s good to make it clear all of us Catholics are not really at odds here, but we might have some nuanced points of difference.”

And, I would agree with his assessment based on the other things he stated in his newsletter. I’ll put some more of his comments in the newsletter next week when I hone in specifically on the issue of how many Protestant denominations there are.

And I’m going to focus on that particular question next week in response to what a Protestant said on his website about my comments on this point in the last newsletter. I said that, based on my observations, I believe there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of de facto Protestant denominations. Well, this particular Protestant took issue with me and so next week I’m going to dissect his comments and point out the weaknesses of his arguments, or simply his lack of argument.

Below are items #8 – #18 from “Arguments Catholics Shouldn’t Use” and my responses to each of them.


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

8. Citing 2 Peter 1:20–21 against the Protestant principle of private interpretation of Scripture. St. Peter explains, in the preceding verses, that the Apostles did not invent their claims about the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, but saw it first hand when He revealed it to them in the Transfiguration. He then exhorts his readers to heed the “prophetic word.” He continues, “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men borne by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” In context, the “interpretation” which St. Peter refers to is on the part of the prophet, not the reader. That is, St. Peter’s point is that no prophet made up his own prophecies. The prophets spoke what they received from God to speak, just as the Apostles spoke what they received from God to speak on Mount Tabor. Hence, their words rest on divine and not human authority. 2 Peter 1:20–21 perhaps admits of a legitimate secondary application against private judgment, but this will not be convincing to an astute Protestant.

My Response: I disagree. 
First of all, one should never rely on a single verse to build your case, or to “be convincing” to a Protestant (whether they are “astute” or not), if you can at all avoid it. So, to rely on 2 Ptr 1:20–21 as a sort of trump card verse for proving the private interpretation of Scripture to be wrong, is not a good thing.  However, I believe this particular verse does indeed make a strong addition to your case, especially when you join it to 2 Ptr 3:16, about the ignorant and unstable who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. How is it that the ignorant and unstable twist the Scriptures to their own destruction?  By incorrectly interpreting them via private interpretation. 
Also, to say that the context of this verse is all about private interpretation on the part of the prophet, but not the reader of the prophecy, seems to me to be a private interpretation of prophecy that misses the mark. To say that God is telling us that no prophet can privately interpret a prophecy that has been given to him, but that that has no implication whatsoever in regard to the private interpretation of that prophecy by those who forever after read that prophecy, doesn’t really make sense to me.  An “astute Protestant” is going to argue that God is telling us that a prophet cannot privately interpret a prophecy given to him by God, but after the prophecy is written down in Scripture then private interpretation of that prophecy is fair game for one and all who read it?  That doesn’t seem to me to be a very astute argument for a Protestant to make. 
Two quotes about these verses from a couple of Catholic commentaries:
1) Haydock’s Commentary: “The Scriptures cannot be properly expounded by private spirit or fancy, but by the same spirit wherewith they were written, which is resident in the Church…every part of the holy Scriptures is delivered to us by the divine spirit of God, wherewith the men were inspired who wrote them; therefore they are to be interpreted but by the spirit of God, which he left, and promised to his Church to guide her in all truth…”
2) Orchard’s 1951/1953 Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture: “It is of prime importance to know that prophecy of Scripture is not subject to private interpretation by every individual, as the false teachers assume it is…”
9. Attacking the textual integrity of the Bible. The manuscript tradition is sufficiently robust that it is possible to reconstruct, to a moral certainty, the original reading of the vast majority of the New Testament. Instances where the original text is indeterminate, although they are significant, are far between and are not determinative of any major theological debate.

My Response: I agree.

10. Compromising biblical inerrancy in order to score points against Protestantism. For instance, Protestants will often allege that the books of Maccabees cannot be inspired Scripture because they contain contradictory accounts of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes. And unfortunately, sometimes Catholics, instead of defending the books of Maccabees by harmonizing their data, will retort that by that standard the books of Samuel and Chronicles cannot be inspired Scripture either since they contain contradictory accounts of the death of Saul. This defense is thoroughly inadmissible: it invalidates the authentic Catholic standard regarding the necessary characteristics of Scripture (one of which is inerrancy) just as well as Protestant standard.

My Response: I disagree. 
I disagree because I do not think it is “compromising biblical inerrancy” to point out the fallacy in someone else’s premise.  By using someone else’s argument about a supposed inconsistency in the “apocrypha,” to show them that using their same logic produces supposed inconsistencies in other parts of Scripture, is a perfectly legitimate form of argumentation.  You are not “compromising” biblical inerrancy, you are compromising their logic.  Now, one should also make every effort to harmonize seemingly contradictory accounts of Scripture, but one should also be aware, as St. Augustine recognized, that there are parts of Scripture that can be difficult to harmonize one with the other.
11 . Jumping to James 2:24 in order to counter every Protestant proof–text for justification by faith alone. Given that Catholic theology is true, it ought to be able to account for every text of Scripture on its own terms and in its own context. Hence, there is no escaping the duty to do exegesis, even of, especially of, Romans. It will not satisfy any Protestant to object to his proof–text that “it can’t mean that because then it would contradict this other passage over here.” The Protestant will have his own understanding of that other passage over there as well. Again, there is no escaping the duty to read the Protestant proof–texts closely and carefully and to furnish justified interpretations which are consistent with Catholic dogma.
My Response: I agree. 
Although, I love jumping to James 2:24, and even more to James 2:26, as a jumping off point for my arguments on this topic. But it i s a beginning of the argument, not the end.  There are many more verses one needs to use to “build the case,” plus one does indeed need to give a Catholic interpretation to the verses the Protestants are misinterpreting.
12. Descending into arguments over whether we should give priority to Jesus or St. Paul as our teacher of the doctrine of justification. Granted, some Protestants err in claiming that Jesus left it to St. Paul to teach the Church the theology of salvation. However, it is no sound rebuttal, but simply the photographic negative of the Protestant error, to boast that Catholics give primacy to the Gospels.
My Response: I agree.
13. If you wish to cite Acts 7:51 against the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace, be forewarned that there exists a cogent rebuttal. St. Stephen tells the Sanhedrin, “You stiff–necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose [Gk., antipiptete] the Holy Spirit.” Literally, they fall against, meaning they fight against or oppose, the work of the Holy Spirit. Those who quote this passage against the doctrine of irresistible grace assume that this means they are resisting and hence rendering ineffectual that which the Holy Spirit is trying to work in their own souls. I.e., the Holy Spirit is working on converting them, but they are resisting Him. However, in context this passage more probably means simply that they are fighting against and opposing the work which the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in others, by killing the prophets in attempts to silence the word which God is speaking through them and persecuting the saints who hear it. “Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute?” (Acts 7:52) The devil resists the Holy Spirit in the same sense.
My Response: I disagree.
First of all, I have never used this verse against Calvinists.  Second, as I mentioned above, I try to never use one verse to “prove” something.  It’s all about building the case.  Having said that, though, whenever I see the words used above, “…in context this passage more probably means,” or any such similar words, I use them as a springboard to letting any Protestant who disagrees with my interpretation of Scripture know that my interpretation of each and any verse is as valid as their interpretation of that verse, at least, when we play by their rules of individual interpretation of Scripture. 
So, if I did use Acts 7:51 against a Calvinist and I interpreted it as meaning they fight against what the Holy Spirit is trying to accomplish in them, which is a possible interpretation – they could be fighting against the work of the Holy Spirit in others as well as the work of the Holy Spirit in themselves – and the Calvinist said, “No, in context this passage more probably means that they are fighting against and opposing the work which the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in others,” then I would ask them:
“This passage MORE PROBABLY means? So, you are really saying that in your fallible private OPINION this verse means what you THINK it means, right?” In other words, I would make sure that they understand that their interpretation of that verse, or any verse for that matter, is seen by me for exactly what it is – a fallible, non–authoritative, man–made, private interpretation – and that their fallible, non–authoritative, man–made private interpretation does not hold much sway with me, no matter how infallibly they try to pronounce it.  And I would continue by asking them if my interpretation of that verse “could be” right.  And I would point out to them that unless they claim their interpretation to be infallible, then they have to admit that my interpretation could be right.  And if my interpretation could be right, then theirs “could be” wrong.  The point of which is to draw them into a “dialogue” on authority, which is where I believe all theological dialogue should start, and to point out to them that they have no authority whatsoever to tell me that their interpretation is right and mine is wrong.
So, while this verse may not be a “home run” as an argument against Calvinists, I don’t think one is necessarily making a mistake by using it and I don’t think the “cogent rebuttal” offered above is all that remarkable, especially since it affords the opportunity to move the whole debate to the issue of authority.  By the way, one of my favorite verses that I use to argue against the Calvinists is Luke 7:30.
14. Similarly , if you wish to cite Matthew 23:37 against the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace, be forewarned that there exists a cogent rebuttal. Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” Before one could validly apply this text against irresistible grace, one would have to prove the identity of the ones whom Jesus willed to gather together and the ones who would not. For if they are different people, then, as above, all this text means is that the wicked are opposed to God’s saving action in others. And in fact, context indicates that they are different people. “Jerusalem” refers to the Jewish leadership, the scribes and Pharisees (cf. Matt 23:13, 31, 34–35), whereas “your children” refers to innocent Jews suffering underneath them.

My Response: I disagree. 
Most of what I said for point #13 can apply here as well.  Plus, I don’t think one has to “prove the identity” of anyone.  I don’t think one should try to “prove” anything with Scripture, rather one should just build the case.  And, I see no reason why this verse cannot be used as part of the case you are building as, again, it can be used to launch into a debate on the issue of authority and private interpretation, etc., just like Acts 7:51 above can be.  Again, I have never used this verse when talking to a Calvinist, and I doubt I ever would…as I doubt I would ever use Acts 7:51…but the point that I am allowed, by the Protestant’s system of theology, to interpret Scripture for myself as I see fit and that I see fit to interpret these verses in a way they disagree with, can maybe get some folks thinking that this whole private interpretation thing has some holes in it. 
15. Citing Ephesians 2:10 against justification by faith alone. This passage, even rightly interpreted, contains nothing inconsistent with Protestant theology. Having been saved by grace through faith, we ought to do the good works which God prepared beforehand for His children to do. This statement does not require that these good works should themselves be salvific, but is consistent with the supposition that these works are merely the necessary outgrowth of a salvation already completed. In order to establish that good works are salvific, the Catholic must look elsewhere.

My Response: I disagree.
The question is: What happens if we do not do the works that God thinks we “ought to do” in Ephesians 2:10? This passage, when combined with Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will o f My Father Who is in Heaven,” provides a very effective argument against justification by faith alone.  If God has these works prepared for you beforehand that you should walk in them (Eph 2:10), then that means it is His will that you do them.  But, according to Matthew 7:21, if you do not do His will, then you don’t get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  So, saved or not, if you do not do the works referred to in Eph 2:10, you don’t get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  So, is it necessary to do these works in order to be saved?
16. Making hay about Martin Luther adding the word “alone” to Romans 3:28. While the word is indeed absent from the Greek text, Luther was not the first to regard it as a justifiable gloss. That it is not in fact justifiable makes Luther’s addition an exegetical error, but this is not the same thing as a blatant perversion.
My Response: I disagree.& #160; 
Many Protestants try to make big hay out of the fact that Catholics “added” the deuterocanon to the Bible at the Council of Trent (as they wrongly believe), and they take great pleasure in quoting from the Book of Revelation that anyone who adds to or takes away from “this book” – which they take to mean the entire Bible – will be dealt with severely.  So, I see absolutely nothing wrong using their own argument against them by pointing out that their hero Martin Luther added to “this book” and I also use the opportunity to point out to them that Catholics did indeed add to “this book,” and that we call that addition the “New Testament.” I also point out that Martin Luther took away the deuterocanon from “this book.” And, that he referred to a part of “this book” as an “epistle of straw.” In other words, I find this particular tact of great use for opening the door to a number of catechetical moments.  Finally, I would not call the deliberate addition of words to Scripture, for the purpose of providing scriptural back up for your own personal interpretation of Scripture, an “exegetical error.”  His misinterpretation of Scripture is indeed an exegetical error, but to deliberately add a word to the pages of the Bible and call it inspired Scripture goes beyond a mere “exegetical error.” 
17. Never ask, if a Protestant believes his salvation is eternally secure, what motivation he has to do good and avoid evil. The answer is obvious (and embarrassing to the Catholic who asked the question): the love of God. The love of God is sufficient motivation to pursue holiness with all vigor, absent any considerations of self interest. The most that a Catholic can argue in this respect is that Catholic theology, which furnishes men with both the baser motive of self interest an d the loftier motive of the love of God, is superior in the practical order. For, in many cases, the baser motive will effectually turn a man from evil to good whereas the loftier motive, even though it should have, did not.

My Response: I disagree. 
I quite often ask once saved always saved believers what motivation they have to avoid sinning.  And, when they respond, “Out of love for God,” it gives me the opportunity to ask: “But, it really isn’t necessary to love God in order to be saved, is it?”  And I follow up by saying, “In fact, since love has nothing to do with our salvation, we can be saved whether or not we love God or our fellow man, can we not?  And, since we don’t have to love God in order to be saved, then we really don’t have an ultimate necessary motivation for avoiding sin, do we?  After all, it doesn’t affect our salvation if we sin, does it?”
18. Do no otherwise than reference ancient documents for what they are. If a document is of probable authenticity (i.e., its author is probably the person it is attributed to), reference it as probably authentic. If it is of possible authenticity, reference it as possibly authentic. If it is spurious, reference it as spurious, and use it simply to document the beliefs of an anonymous ancient Christian author.
My Response: I agree.
There are so many good arguments for Catholicism that the religion will do just fine without the arguments on this list.

My Response:
The religion will indeed do just fine without the arguments on the list, as it will do just fine without any number of other arguments, but I see no reason to exclude most of the arguments on this list.  I believe most of them can be wielded in such a way as to plant seeds with Protestants.  Seeds that the Holy Spirit can then nurture and hopefully bring to fruition.

In Conclusion

Again, my “disagreements” could very well result from looking at different sides of the same coin. I imagine I will hear back from Nick after this issue as well and will let you know what he has to say.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little intellectual exercise and, as mentioned earlier, I will focus the next issue solely on the question of how many Protestant denominations there are and take to task a Protestant apologist on that question.

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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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Thanks to the Pope, Now We’re Talking

By David Warren
An extraordinary thing happened a week ago. Thirty-eight Muslim scholars and chief muftis, from across the Muslim world, jointly replied to the Pope’s speech at Regensburg (and more have associated their names with this document, since). It was presented to the Vatican’s envoy at Amman; the full text in English is available through the Islamica magazine website, the Catholic website, Chiesa, and elsewhere. I look through the list of signatories, and they are a “who’s who” of the learned leaders of a faith that has always aspired to be led by its most learned.
One of the points the Pope has made, about the difficulty of engaging in dialogue with Islam, is to know who speaks authoritatively for it — as, for instance, the Pope can speak for Catholic Christians. The document answers that question. In effect, the signatories reply, “Here we are.” Here, for Muslims as well as Christians to read, is an authoritative contemporary statement by men who DO speak for Islam. Not for “moderate Islam”, whatever that could mean, but for the living religion itself. And they speak in forthright contradiction of the welter of idiotic fatwas issuing from Afghan caves, the Sunni Triangle, and the North London Central Mosque.
Click Here to read the rest of this article

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Five non-religious arguments for marriage over living together

Five non-religious arguments for marriage over living together: “Five non-religious arguments for marriage over living together

There are enormous differences between being a ‘husband’ or a ‘wife’ and being a ‘partner,’ a ‘friend’ or a ‘significant other’.

I have always believed that there is no comparing living together with marriage. There are enormous differences between being a ‘husband’ or a ‘wife’ and being a ‘partner,’ a ‘friend’ or a ‘significant other’; between a legal commitment and a voluntary association; between standing before family and community to publicly announce one’s commitment to another person on the one hand and simply living together on the other.

But attending the weddings of two of my three children this past summer made the differences far clearer and far more significant.

First, no matter what you think when living together, your relationship with your significant other changes the moment you marry. You have now made a commitment to each other as husband and wife in front of almost everyone significant in your life. You now see each other in a different and more serious light.

Second, words matter. They deeply affect us and others. Living with your ‘boyfriend’ is not the same as living with your ‘husband.’ And living with your ‘girlfriend’ or any other title you give her is not the same as making a home with your ‘wife.’ Likewise when you introduce that person as your wife or husband to people, you are making a far more important statement of that person’s role in your life than you are with any other title.

Third, legality matters. Being legally bound to and responsible for another person matters. It is an announcement to him/her and to yourself that you take this relationship with the utmost seriousness. “

Fourth, to better appreciate just how important marriage is to the vast majority of people in your life, consider this: There is no event, no occasion, no moment in your life when so many of the people who matter to you will convene in one place as they will at your wedding. Not the birth of any of your children, not any milestone birthday you may celebrate, not your child’s bar-mitzvah or confirmation. The only other time so many of those you care about and who care about you will gather in one place is at your funeral. But by then, unless you die young, nearly all those you love who are older than you will have already died.

So this is it. Your wedding will be the greatest gathering of loved ones in your life. There is a reason. It is the biggest moment of your life. No such event will ever happen if you do not have a wedding.

Please, click on the link here to finish this important article.

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What Kind of Catholic Are You?

In the spectrum of Catholicism, where do you fall? Take our quiz–which covers issues like Vatican II, Marian devotion, and married priests–to figure out how you relate to the church.

Click on the link below to take this quiz.


Favorite Catholic Movie:
Very Traditional:”The Passion of the Christ”
Moderately Traditional:”Black Robe”
Moderately Progressive:”The Mission”
Very Progressive: “Dead Man Walking”
Favorite Catholic Actor:
Very Traditional:Mel Gibson
Moderately Traditional:Nicole Kidman
Moderately Progressive:Martin Sheen
Very Progressive:Tim Robbins
Favorite Apparition of the Madonna:
Very Traditional:Our Lady of Fatima
Moderately Traditional:Our Lady of Guadalupe
Moderately Progressive:The Madonna of the Streets
Very Progressive: Madonna
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