Friday, June 13, 2014

Just Be Liberal, And Get It Over With

This is flying around the internet (and my Facebook Feed). I don't necessarily care how John MacArthur reads the Bible, (Holy Orders, cough, cough) but I watched the video within, and I had a few thoughts:

Firstly, since he believes in Sola Scriptura, no one has any idea what he means by "church". He wants to mean "my visible community," but alas, the progressive lackeys who wrote this post have obviously found a visible community that believes whatever they think is right. And the point is this: Unless your community speaks infallibly by the Holy Spirit, your discipline ultimately means 2 things: Jack and Squat. I hate the invisible "Church." I hate it, and these situations are the reason. Which is not to say that everyone holding a "conservative" position on this, or any other issue, is being completely arbitrary. It's an ad hoc morality and exegesis, but it's also correct in many respects. Just pull on the rope; Frank the Hippie Pope is at the other end. Put it this way: The Catholic Church will NEVER, EVER, teach that homosexual practice, abortion, pornography, adultery, re-marriage, "open" marriage, masturbation, etc. are OK. Where do you think those "traditional" views came from? From Sacred Tradition, faithfully explicated by the Church! And God love the "Reformers," they hadn't chucked all of it by then. And many separated Christians, with the sure aid of the Holy Spirit and Natural Law, maintain the truths of Tradition in their lives and communities (even unknowingly).

Secondly, I respect the ongoing discussion among the "Same-Sex Attracted" community about whether people seeking to preserve continence and chastity should use the word, "gay". I can't give you an answer. What I can point out is, the purveyors of the zeitgeist are using the word to mask the discussion about virtue and temptation that is at the heart of the matter. Do you sense it? It's not a sin per se, to have a sexual desire or thought of some kind, even if it's viewed as weird, different, or downright deviant. But the question really is, "In light of the fact that Jesus Christ loves me, and died for me, what will I do?" Insofar as he talked about that making all the difference, and that a Christian ought to respond to the heavy crosses of temptation in a particular way, he's absolutely right. If I were unrepentant in serious sin, I should excuse myself from Communion, until such a time as I've resolved to make a definitive break with whatever it is, and received pardon in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That is not a man-made hoop to jump through; it is Jesus Christ literally meeting me and leading me out of the darkness and into the light! I will not apologize for it, be shy about it, or be ashamed. We the members of His Body the Church have a power through this sacrament that those separated from us do not have. It cannot be mimicked or fabricated.

To conclude, I might believe John MacArthur is being pastorally insensitive, depending on the situation. And besides the fact that John MacArthur cannot speak or act definitively in the person of Jesus Christ on account of being separated from the Church, he's not entirely wrong, either. Everybody has to decide: Do I endeavor to be accepted by others, or accepted and pleasing to God? (This post has been changed from its original version; I originally misidentified the person in the video as John Piper. I regret the error.)

5 Thoughts For Today

5. When we're saying stuff like, "You can't leave Patty Mills open for 3," the Spurs are too deep, Miami is too slow, and this thing is over.


3. Here's the sick thing: I'm a Spurs fan. I've seen them play many games. They can play much better than they have.

2. Is Dwayne Wade done? It sure looks that way to me.

1. Tim Duncan scored at least 10 points and 10 rebounds for the 158th time, just in postseason play, which surpasses some guy named Magic Johnson for postseason "double-doubles," though Magic's preferred combination was points and assists.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

95 Theses, Part III, The Search For Crock

11. When canonical penalties were changed and made to apply to purgatory, surely it would seem that tares were sown while the bishops were asleep. My comment: I have no idea what penalties he might be talking about, but Purgatory probably isn't a party in the first place.

12. In former days, the canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution was pronounced; and were intended to be tests of true contrition. My comment: Penances are not, strictly speaking, tests for contrition. They relate to satisfaction for the temporal (real world consequences) of our sins. The vertical aspect of them is pardoned by the priest acting in the person of Christ. In other words, "the former days" were screwed up from the hop, if that is a true representation of them.

13. Death puts an end to all the claims of the Church; even the dying are already dead to the canon laws, and are no longer bound by them. My comment: Except for particular Judgment, and (hopefully) Purgatory. (or not)

14. Defective piety or love in a dying person is necessarily accompanied by great fear, which is greatest where the piety or love is least. My comment: Is this an objection, or a random pastoral comment? Those with moral certainty (and not an unreasonable expectation of certain knowledge in the absence of a private revelation) have no reason to fear.

15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, whatever else might be said, to constitute the pain of purgatory, since it approaches very closely to the horror of despair. My comment: Purgatory is not about despair; it's about hope. If you go to Purgatory, you win! Purgatory is only for the elect. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Archbishop Carlson

As most of you know, Archbishop Carlson has given several depositions over the years related to sex-abuse allegations and confirmed crimes, like this one, concerning a case he'd previously given testimony. Read the transcript yourself; ask yourself if the lawyer doing the questioning wants to get the truth, or is trying to trap the witness. I appreciated Carlson's frankness, and taking of responsibility in general on behalf of the Church, for mistakes in dealing with these kinds of cases in the past. I also appreciated the care he took not to answer hastily, and potentially inaccurately. Here is the statement from the Archdiocese. I think the Post-Dispatch owes the people of St. Louis an apology, and the reporter should be fired. Yes, I feel that strongly about it. Well, they ought to be sued for every penny they are worth for how they've reported the accusations against Fr. Joseph Jiang, but I'm not holding my breath. "How long, O Lord?" (Pro Tip: Sometimes, courts drop charges when they are baseless.)

I didn't see anything in here that has shaken my confidence in the Archbishop, or in his solicitude, both physically and spiritually, for the people under his care.

I'm praying for you, Your Excellency. Just tell the truth, as you have done, and we your children in the Lord will hold you up in these times of trouble.

Too Funky

5. My sister-in-law told me I'd like Ariana Grande; she's right. But I've listened to the album several times, and I know why. She sounds like Mariah Carey. Less vocal range, surely. And it's cruder, owing to the further degradation of our culture since then. But if she told me she was born in Rye, NY in 1970, I would have believed her.

4. I do shout, "By what authority?" a lot. Why? Because that's the whole matter. We can't judge any doctrine except by the ones who sent this particular person as a herald of the gospel. So, again, if I were in Zurich in 1540, deciding whether to remain Catholic or not, what evidence would you present to persuade me to go with the new "reform" movement? By this scenario, I'm taking away an implicit, "Well, the Reformation happened, it's not going away, so it must be right" provided somewhat by the pass of the centuries.

3. Dude, we put the antiphons back for the graduation Mass, and it screwed me up. Figures.

2. "Every time she sneezes, I believe it's love/And O Lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing."

1. Go, Spurs, go!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

95 Theses, Continued

6. The pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God; or, at most, he can remit it in cases reserved to his discretion. Except for these cases, the guilt remains untouched. My comment: Did you catch that "declare and confirm"? This is fully-formed Protestant denial of the sacramental economy right here. On the contrary, the necessity of Holy Orders given in apostolic succession is because grace must be mediated through the Church. Even in extraordinary cases, God's mercy has an ecclesial dimension.

7. God never remits guilt to anyone without, at the same time, making him humbly submissive to the priest, His representative. My comment: God does not "make" anyone do anything. If Luther is denying the possibility that contrition may be imperfect, (that is, from fear of punishment) or even non-existent, and that the priest has the right and the duty not to absolve in the latter case, he's flatly wrong.

8. The penitential canons apply only to men who are still alive, and, according to the canons themselves, none applies to the dead. My comment: Frankly, I have no idea what this complaint is. It feels like he's laying the groundwork to deny Purgatory altogether.

9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of the pope, manifests grace to us, by the fact that the papal regulations always cease to apply at death, or in any hard case. My comment: This is exactly backwards. It is precisely in a "hard case" that the Pope has his full power as Vicar of Christ.

10. It is a wrongful act, due to ignorance, when priests retain the canonical penalties on the dead in purgatory. My comment: If a priest ever actually said this, he's wrong. Maybe Luther should have been in the parish catechizing, instead of lecturing the Pope. Never mind. With theology like in (6), the faithful wouldn't know anything.

95 Theses, Commented

Ben Carmack has asked to go through the 95 Theses, so even though that's a Lutheran document, and he's not Lutheran, I'll try to keep the snarky chuckles and jokes about the allegedly perspicuous Scriptures to a minimum. Let's just do 5 for now, eh?

When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. My comment: This appears to completely unobjectionable. We agree that lives are to be entire, marked by a continuing awareness of our need for God's mercy.
The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy. My comment: This is objectionable. The greatness of the New Covenant is in the power of the sacraments to confer grace ex opere operato, that is, by the fact of it being performed. What a joy, if I go to Confession, whether with small burdens or large ones, that Christ, as the true minister of all sacraments, pardons the penitent who seeks him in good conscience! St. Thomas said previously in essence that this sacramental economy distinguishes the New Covenant from the Old. (Ironic, that the Protestant position turns the clock back on redemptive history.)
Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one's heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh. My comment: This could be Catholic, but given his known position that the will is in bondage, it cannot be understood in the Catholic way, that a man participates in his own redemption by not only assenting to the truths of faith, but bearing fruit in holiness of life and works, testifying that his faith is formed by agape.
As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward repentance) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven. My comment: It depends on what he means by "hatred of self." If he means hatred of sin, fine. If he means total depravity, the Church has never said that the man by nature is incapable of good, as Luther may be implying.
The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law. My comment: I don't understand why this is here. Yes, the pope's jurisdiction is limited by collegiality, and the legitimate recognition of the jurisdiction of others. But "his own discretion" is pretty broad, since he is the head of all the successors to the Apostles, and Luther knows it. In short, the Pope can remit any penalty, since he holds the keys.

Come back for more (heretical) fun with Luther!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Thanks, Doug

Paging Tim Dukeman!

I Still Love Reformed University Fellowship

I went to a PCA seminary with a dude named Kyle. I'm telling you this because I got this article from Kyle because we are Facebook friends. Hi, Kyle! Hope things are going well!

Anyway, this got me thinking (again) about some stuff that isn't probably on this guy's day-to-day radar. Mr. Cannon writes: "I am on the team that believes the PCA’s existence and survival is incidental to the work of the Kingdom. 
Mind you, if we go belly-up I will be sad and disappointed but I do not embrace the notion our denomination is essential (or even that important) to the commission Jesus gave his church to make disciples, baptize and teach." 
Did you catch it? Did you notice the "invisible church" ecclesiology? At the risk of sounding rude, he's probably assumed it so long, he'd never even think to question it. Let me ask it this way: What if (let's assume the PCA was the Church Christ founded) the PCA was not incidental to the work of the Kingdom? What if it was the Kingdom, for lack of a better turn of phrase? You're not supposed to hammer people with questions when making an argument, so this sentence is here to break up the monotony. Ha! Who or what decided that visible structures were incidental to the Church? Actually, Sola Scriptura and the self-justification for the Protestant Revolt decided that. You know you believe in an invisible Church when you leave one denomination for another, because (for whatever reason) you thought it wise. I have never met a person who did this and feared for his soul. Why? Because he's not leaving the "Church," per se, just this particular outpost of it. And that would be fine, if we stopped thinking about it. But our hearts won't let us, because we have to ask, "What does this body do, if not preserve the gospel as it has been handed on to us?" We'll come back to this.

Pope Pius XII wrote in his encyclical letter Mystici Corporis Christi, "From what We have thus far written, and explained, Venerable Brethren, it is clear, We think, how grievously they err who arbitrarily claim that the Church is something hidden and invisible, as they also do who look upon her as a mere human institution possession a certain disciplinary code and external ritual, but lacking power to communicate supernatural life. On the contrary, as Christ, Head and Exemplar of the Church "is not complete, if only His visible human nature is considered..., or if only His divine, invisible nature..., but He is one through the union of both and one in both ... so is it with His Mystical Body" since the Word of God took unto Himself a human nature liable to sufferings, so that He might consecrate in His blood the visible Society founded by Him and "lead man back to things invisible under a visible rule."
 For this reason We deplore and condemn the pernicious error of those who dream of an imaginary Church, a kind of society that finds its origin and growth in charity, to which, somewhat contemptuously, they oppose another, which they call juridical. But this distinction which they introduce is false: for they fail to understand that the reason which led our Divine Redeemer to give to the community of man He founded the constitution of a Society, perfect of its kind and containing all the juridical and social elements - namely, that He might perpetuate on earth the saving work of Redemption - was also the reason why He willed it to be enriched with the heavenly gifts of the Paraclete. The Eternal Father indeed willed it to be the "kingdom of the Son of his predilection;" but it was to be a real kingdom in which all believers should make Him the entire offering of their intellect and will, and humbly and obediently model themselves on Him, Who for our sake "was made obedient unto death." There can, then, be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy spirit and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually complement and perfect each other - as do the body and soul in man - and proceed from our one Redeemer who not only said as He breathed on the Apostles "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," but also clearly commanded: "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you;" and again: "He that heareth you, heareth me."

I can remember when I first read this, and the relief in knowing that someone could feel and articulate what I felt: the acute sense that the dogmatic principle was being lost. If these visible bodies can't tell us what God said, or at least preserve what we already know, why do we have them? More than this, by what mechanism would they preserve the faith once delivered, even if we intend them to do so? I'm sure Cardinal Newman says it better, but I say it nonetheless.

Even before I could wrestle forthrightly with Catholic claims, the invisible Church died. It had to, by necessity. "An invisible Church cannot define itself, or what it believes." If you respect theological claims in their particularity, you must also respect from whence (and from whom) they came. But that's why debates and polemics are historical: It honors the fact of the Incarnation. He came, he walked, he wept, he sighed, he breathed on the Apostles, he died, he rose, and he reigns! This becomes very challenging to any Christian who is not in full communion with the Church, but it's also comforting. God has not been distant in history. We have not "lucked out,"; the gospel has never been lost, needing to be recovered.

I appreciate what he says about a so-called "Middle-Ground Fallacy," because I've met a few of those folks, who don't seem to care what you say, as long as you say it nicely. But what's the point of being at "full throat" about anything, if you say right from the hop that you are one among many? Are you Reformed and not Methodist for some non-theological reason? Does that make sense?

The thirst for historic Christianity is a desire to see God's faithfulness concretized and actualized in horizontal fellowship, in visible unity. What if Sola Scriptura makes it impossible?

You See...

There is the smallest clip of Patrick Stump singing "Rich Girl" by Hall & Oates, here, about 30 seconds in. Which leads one to ask, "How much would you pay to hear Patrick Stump (of Fall Out Boy) sing an entire album of Hall & Oates covers?" I'd estimate I'd pay about eleventy billion dollars. I haven't been this pumped since, while listening to "Kissing A Fool" by the incomparable George Michael, I said, "You know who'd be great singing this song? Michael Buble!" Only to find that Mr. Buble thought of it already. The Buble Debacle, I call it. For my ignorance, not for the song.

[Are you becoming a Hall & Oates fan?--ed.] Who's to say? I wasn't even there for most of their work, but I can say that what I know of them never displeases me, and that many well-known tunes of theirs sound pretty good in 2014. You've gotta wonder if they'd be more popular if they'd come 10 or 15 years later. I'd say that melody has been lost today. Nothing personal, but no one is going to hear "Super Bass" in 20 years and think, "Wow, that takes me back," or, "That Nicki Minaj is a great songwriter." A "classic" song in pop music is one that young people won't be ashamed to hear and sing along to when they are 85. [But you have no shame, anyway.--ed.] Shut up.

A few brief musings.