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Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Reformed Catholicity" Is A Word-Game For Smart People With Too Much Time

I would rather someone pick up a Bible and say, "Based on this string of passages, your doctrine is wrong here, here, and here" than someone who wants to claim the universal faith AND the right to interpret the Bible his own way. If you're Reformed, you're not Catholic. To say that you are truly "catholic" is a claim, which (blessedly) is made by both the Reformed and the Catholic Church. But you have to give each group credit: they want unity as far as possible, but they don't pretend it's closer than it is. They don't pretend that the differing dogmas are just semantics.

But that's why the historical challenge is so devastating from the Catholic Church: She points back in history and says, "To the extent we agree, was it not formed here at the Council? Was not the Holy Father the head of the apostolic college even then? Are not the heroes of the early battles in the visible Church Catholic heroes?" Biblicism cannot account for this rule of faith. You can agree with the rule of faith using your Bible; you can't create it. Biblicism can't account for the Bible; how can it account for the true faith?

One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time. Against this rock Sola Scriptura must be dashed. The one who dances on both sides thinks he does well, but he merely founds his own heresy.

5 Thoughts While Listening To Michael Bolton

5. This cat could top the charts with "Happy Birthday To You." Man alive.

4. Just so we understand each other, there is a 0% chance I'm not buying the new Streisand "Partners" album. Stevie Wonder, Babyface, Lionel, and John Legend. Are you kidding? She could have slept through the entire album, and it would still rule.

3. He doesn't know how he's supposed to live without you, but man, it sounds good.

2. I don't know what the Isley Brothers were upset about. "Love Is A Wonderful Thing" was a huge hit for Bolton, and a much better version. They sued it out of existence, even though they'll get royalties until their grandkids are 97. You make pop music, not life-saving drugs. Get over yourself.

1. Eeek, what an awful song! I can't believe Bolton lost the case! Nothing alike.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"anywhere in a Catholic rite" (CCC, 2180)

I take "Catholic rite" to mean, "in communion with the Bishop of Rome." Otherwise, the Sunday obligation is not fulfilled by a presence at even a true Eucharist celebrated by those not in communion with him, unless no other option exists.

That's my read of it, unless I'm missing something. Feel free to attend an Orthodox liturgy; just go to a Catholic one, also.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I'd say the Incarnation proves God is pretty "man-centered," but that's just me.

4. You could just say, "I don't believe you are saved, and thus, I accord your Scriptural arguments no consideration." It would save me time.

3. The logical consequence of having a makeshift "magisterium of scholarship" is being at the mercy of majority scholarly opinion, as in the opinion that John 8:1-8 isn't really in the Bible, or Mark 16:9-20. Put this in your, "Conservative Protestantism is liberal Protestantism waiting to happen" file.

2. I could have gone to worship with the Lutherans (or the soon to be formed Reformed) or to a Catholic Mass, in 15-something. What I can't get you to understand, Reformed Biblicist Guy, is exactly the power of this question: What makes you right, and the papist wrong? It does no good to point back from today to Calvin or whomever, because in that time, all options are live. The question of authority is ultimately, the only one that matters.

1. If the Church hierarchy is corrupt, the question turns to revelation. If something is supernaturally revealed, any number of grievous failures to abide by its dictates do not invalidate it. This is what so many fail to realize: The (Protestant) Reformation inaugurated a new method of ascertaining and receiving revelation. That's why the claim that nothing really changed from the early Church in the work of the "Reformers" is untenable. The deposit of faith and the manner of knowing it would not change, no matter what moral turpitude ensued. So, why the new doctrine? If the new contentions are correct, one is placed in a tenuous position regarding earlier truths articulated by the older means. I feel like Devin Rose has already said this. Buy his books! I'm sure they are great, if I ever get around to reading them.


Outside A State Of Grace, And Fear

I'm in this debate forum with Catholics and Reformed, and the Reformed keep saying, "Catholic doctrine compels one to conclude that one could and does go from regenerate to unregenerate and back again. And that's no way to live." Let me tell you about that.

I would not say I know for certain that I'd have gone to Hell if I died. God's mercy is...

But I know the worst part of judging yourself unworthy to receive the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, is that when you're really stuck, you don't care. Lesser sins really don't do what the grave ones do. You can experience what it means to cut yourself off from God. There is no doubt of it; we are different people at times like that. You lose the direction of your life; you sense yourself choosing against what you know to be true, because something earthly is preferable, for any number of reasons.

But mercy comes again. God says, "Hey! This isn't what you want. This isn't who you are. Come back!" Being in a state of mortal sin (or quite probably so) is like cutting off a dear friend for no good reason. You just ignore them, as if they don't exist. Except the friend is God. One other thing: It's way worse than giving people time and space; that happens. That's OK. But if you are hating God, there is no talking; there is no future, and no past. This is why people persisting in grave sin stop going to Mass: nowhere does God speak louder (or softer, as the case may be) than in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and they know it.

The only thing I'm afraid of is turning into the guy who doesn't care to hear God's voice anymore. That is Hell on Earth, a foretaste of damnation, when Love will fall silent forever.

I Get That It Gets You, Leticia

I enjoyed it. But then, I like pop, and I like Madonna, in spite of herself. There is something about "faith and sex and God," as Counting Crows say. McLaren is right about that, even if he doesn't know much of what he speaks.

This isn't the first time I've read your blog, by the way. If you are a "crazy-face," we need a few more. Grace teaches us the twin truth that we have no right to be in communion with God, but here we are, provided that we continue in His kindness. I come to know that this continuing does not consist in effort, but in giving and receiving. If it had been said that we are passive in the reception of grace by various dissenters, its kernel of truth is that grace is not native or natural to us.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Read This. Seriously.

Of course, we Catholics don't believe "religion" and "politics" are like the potatoes and lima beans on the plate of life which should never touch. Buahaha! But seriously, someone have the stones to challenge the Johnson Amendment! So long as we weren't lurching toward tyranny, it'd be fun to watch avowed secularists and relativists (attempt to) explain why their morality should be imposed on churches and ecclesial communities, even if those groups flouted the prohibitions of the law.

What inherent authority (beyond good old monopolies on coercive force) would sanction the taxation of groups who refused to comply? Just dare them to take away the tax exemption. What common good justifies the restriction of political activities by churches? I can't think of one. There is a difference between accepting pluralism to an extent for peace, and making pluralism the highest civic virtue.

You probably know for whom your pastor voted. You know who he might suggest if you asked. What's the point of this charade of pretending we're achieving some good by forcing them to stay out of it?

Theologians Speak Heresy

Shocking, I know. Yet it's not only because they are wrong--though they might be, depending on the context--or that they lack any shred of living faith in any form, though of course, that's entirely possible. There are other contexts where you need the freedom to be wrong, to consider even the logical outcome of the most odious theological conclusions. Speculative theology, for one. So, I think this is the main reason the Holy Father was so...conciliatory toward positions I'm sure he could readily identify as "temptations" or even occasions for sin. He doesn't know precisely why they are being offered in any one case, and even if he did, he doesn't ever close the door on an opportunity for conversion, even a bishop! When we say "conversion," by the way, we mean the ongoing process of being conformed to the image of Christ. So, a justified person undergoes conversion; an unjustified person certainly could. Obviously, I was confused by this for a long time, as a former Reformed person. But in Catholic thought, justification and sanctification are two different terms to talk about the same thing. They are not synonymous exactly, because you are talking about holiness from two different directions.

Here's the Holy Father's closing address.

Personally, I'm excited. There are a lot of people who doubted that he would even speak such words. In my opinion, "faithful" in (conservative) American parlance means, "not an abortionist, not a hippie, not an NPR listener, not a Mass-skipper." There's some good things in there, and there's some cultural preferences in there, too. Anyway, that isn't what it really means. And some of those "faithful" need some more faith. Are they just mad because Burke wasn't elected pope? This is the successor of Peter, man. We're not talking about the GOP primary. Rick Santorum will never be pope, God love him. Just because you meet somebody "faithful", it doesn't mean that their judgments in what the pope/Church should do or say are right. Just sayin.' For the record, I love Rick Santorum. Actually, I kinda like NPR, too, in small doses. I'm still wondering why Raddatz is getting all this noise for bad moderation of the VP debate in '12; I loved it. I digress.

Take a deep breath. Read a good catechism. Remember that JP II kissed a Koran, and Paul VI was like the Dwight Eisenhower of popes, and not in a good way. Both those cats are definitely in Heaven now. [You need to stop mixing metaphors.--ed.] I know. I'm sorry, but not.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gravy Train, Thy Name Is Fred Noltie

I should like subscribe by e-mail or something. How did I miss this most recent post? Was I asleep when they taught that section of the Catechism? [No, man. It's like Dukeman et al. say: no one reads the Catechism.--ed.] I aspire to! Somebody is!

I would look quizzically at the CINOs in college (let the reader understand) who told me they got "days" instead of absolution. They boasted about it. I never knew why until I heard the stories of St. John Vianney, who could read souls. He'd tell you he knows you're not repentant, so come back in 3 days. It's not even a hard bar to clear: if you want to be free of a "besetting sin," in the evangelical parlance, he'll absolve you, even if he knows you may need practice in virtue before it's gone.

Anyway, the Church is exceedingly merciful these days, but it's not "mercy" to say sin is no longer sin. I used to feel like some of my readers: call down fire from Heaven on all the sinners! But then, perfect Light revealed I'm not much to write home about. So I'm a huge fan of being asked if I've made peace with a certain sin, and if I intend not to fall into it again. This is that "discipline" people are always saying the Church lacks. Ahem.

Important Things Are Often Not Complicated

It's like this for a ton of things. In baseball, sometimes winning and losing is separated by a base hit up the middle, or a bunt. In theology, if your idea of the "Church" leads unquestionably to mutually exclusive doctrines concerning the same question coexisting, it must be false. That which Christ promised to protect is not the US Senate. I realize that this opens up unpleasant and scary possibilities, but trust me, you will not die, and Jesus is waiting for you.

11 vs. 15

Nope, it's not a Grand Slam bracket when Federer has a bad day; it's the dilemma that made me a Catholic. Here's the Westminster Confession Of Faith, Chapter XI, "Of Justification" in its entirety:

 I.Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies;[1] not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,[2] they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.[3]
II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification:[4] yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.[5]
III. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real and full satisfaction to His Father's justice in their behalf.[6] Yet, in as much as He was given by the Father for them;[7] and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead;[8] and both, freely, not for any thing in them; their justification is only of free grace;[9]that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.[10]
IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,[11] and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification:[12] nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit does, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.[13]
V. God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified;[14] and although they can never fall from the state of justification,[15] yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.[16]
VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.[17]

Right out of the gate, no infused righteousness. Fine. But if it is "no dead faith, but worketh by love," (true) WHO CARES? It's God's love, and God's work alone, allegedly. You don't need to get Him off the hook for a dead faith. You'd only say this because you were defensive about it, but logically, you don't need it. Hold that thought.

Here's Chapter XV, "Of Repentance Unto Life," in its entirety:

I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace,[1] the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.[2]
II. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God,[3] purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.[4]
III. Although repentance is not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof,[5] which is the act of God's free grace in Christ,[6] yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.[7]
IV. As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation;[8] so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.[9]
V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man's duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.[10]
VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof;[11] upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy;[12] so he that scandelizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended;[13] who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.[14]

Articles III and V make no sense, and together with Ch. XI, art. I, form an irreconcilable dilemma: If the righteousness of Christ has already been imputed to me, how does God the Father even see my sins, much less expect repentance for them? And why would pardon be denied if repentance is lacking, if the sins have already been forgiven?