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Showing posts from October 26, 2014

What Is "Pastoral Theology," Anyway?

You hear a lot about how we need to be "pastoral" these days. What does it mean? Well, first know that the root of the word means "shepherd" in the language(s) from whence it came. At the most basic level in theology, being "pastoral" means to shepherd people toward God, who loves all of us more than we do. The problem is that some people think "pastoral" means that we should hide the truth, or excuse sin, because the life God calls us to is too "hard" for some people. Or that our revealed truths are nice in theory, but not in practice. I couldn't imagine anything more wrong, or ultimately, more hateful. Still others think that being "pastoral" is a cowardly set of actions, seeming to forget that our God will punish all evil and sin that has not been pardoned with unquenchable fire in the pit of Hell. They believe that we should simply preach the Catechism, and admonish whoever we find the same way: "You're pr

Dear Everybody, The "Sacramental Treadmill" Is Awesome

You hear that a lot. "Catholicism has people running on a sacramental treadmill, never knowing if God loves them, and if they are saved." I confess, I can't beat up on you too bad, because I thought this, too. I'm sure Jerry Bridges is an awesome dude; many people have begun to have a relationship with Jesus through his work. The book "Transforming Grace" is where he uses the word. He should be honest, and plainly accuse the Catholic Church of whatever errors he wants to name. It's better that way. It's in that spirit of love, frankness, and fraternal correction that I say this: I have rarely read such dangerous, heretical nonsense. But then, that's the whole Reformation in a nutshell: giving some people a false peace, by telling them Jesus forgave them at the Cross for all sin, past, present, and future, and making the rest fearful and scrupulous, first telling those people that the sacraments of the Church don't really do anything, and th

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Progressives can't do political humor, really. They can't laugh at themselves; always so earnest and serious. 4. If you're going to make fun of someone in a good way, you have to like them. 3. If you appreciate Rick Santorum, and his faith-based morality, calling him "Archbishop Santorum" is sort of funny; if you actually believe an evil, theocratic cloud is descending, you sound like a paranoid freak. 2. Another day it isn't Lent. WOOO! 1. We've heard a lot about "catcalls" lately; it seems to me there's a difference between being crude, and being appreciative. At least once a week, I want to say, "I'd like to get hopelessly lost somewhere with you, with no GPS." [That's because you are a directional moron. You'll marry the first girl who rescues you from starvation.--ed.] [shrugs]

Well, They Did It Again

The San Francisco Giants have won the world championship of baseball. I'm not happy about it; my praise will be grudging and sparse, and I make no apologies for that. My Cardinals were beaten by the lucky trolls, for one. And for another, just that: they were obscenely lucky. I still haven't figured out how they score runs; they don't really hit! The ERA for the starters not named Madison Bumgarner was near 10; that's awful. The relief pitching was great, and obviously, it had to be. At this moment, I need to tell you how great Bumgarner really was, and is: he's played in 3 World Series, and he has surrendered about a quarter of a run per 9 innings over all of them. Forget winning; you're fortunate to score against him. When my profound distaste for them all wears off, I will say that it is one of the most impressive things you'll ever see in this game. He started and won games 1 and 5, and he pitched in relief 5 innings in Game 7. Two days of rest. He'

The Point Is...

At no point, to use a mathematical analogy, does 0*any number= anything but zero. So, if you have/assume not only fallible humans, but sinful ones, ecclesial communities with derivative authority (and not divinely-protected authority) and Sola Scriptura (and perspicuity, which follows necessarily from it) you must assert that the Holy Spirit protects and teaches a person as he interprets the Scriptures, if you wish to distinguish human opinion from revealed truth. At that point , and not before, does Sola Scriptura become a problem. You can see with your own eyes that there is no dogmatic agreement there; in fact, an invisible "Church" to use Newman's phrase, is a theory to account for a difficulty. The problem is, it doesn't do it very well. It's a uniquely Protestant problem, not simply a point of Catholic apologetics. The Catholic apologetic point is to say, "You can't account for the doctrinal consensus --imperfect as it is-- in a principled way, via

What Is Ecumenical Dialogue?

It sure seems like the Church does a lot of talking. Maybe too much, some fear. What is "ecumenical dialogue" anyway? I'm defining it this way: An ecumenical dialogue is a bilateral conversation regarding the content or application of revealed truth, principally concerned with defining terms, for the purpose of reaching agreement in that revealed truth. Appreciation is by no means excluded. But appreciation cannot be the end of dialogue, for appreciation is a rejoicing with and in the truth.

Begging The Question

What are "heresy," "orthodoxy," and "church," anyway?  If you think we need to go back to the early Church, you are unwittingly saying, "I want everyone to be members of the Catholic Church." Otherwise, you are imposing ecclesiastical authority and the doctrines they articulated in an ad hoc fashion. Realize what a unique situation this creates: you might even know the Catholic Church is the source of these truths, but refuse the rest (and the jurisdiction). To be blunt about it, such a person could not be saved. (Lumen Gentium, 14) Most people can't be said to knowingly, willfully reject Christ and the Church in this way. They either dispute the Church's claim to be uniquely founded by Christ based on a false notion, or the data which would make the claim reasonable are presented inaccurately or incompletely. In the most simple terms, my axioms can be summarized by two things: the faith must be received, and it must be infallible. So

Read Of The Day

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig writes good stuff a lot. I've linked her here on the blog, as you'll see on your right-hand side. One day, she will write something I hate, but it hasn't happened yet. I guess she's on the political "Left" somewhere, but that reality just leaves me saying, "Please keep talking; I'm still listening." I love those people!

Of Course They Called It Quits

Whatever you may feel for another impossibly sexy person while you are on "The Bachelor," it won't be the things that make a marriage. Poor Juan Pablo and Nikki; they are chasing this cultural phantom called "love," when it's really lust, or at best eros, when even that must become a self-giving love rooted in the eternity of the Kingdom of God. I watched a season, I'll admit. Brad and Emily. I'm still mad about it. Because that little girl Emily gave birth to had a raw deal when her father died in a plane crash. This plane crash.  We owe   it to our kids in justice  that they grow up with Mommy and Daddy who love each other. Emily obviously wants, on some level, to make the best of it. But you can't really do that on a whim, on TV. Jesus is so good to us, He gives us grace through the Church to accomplish what we ought to do anyway, in the Sacrament of Matrimony. That's change I can believe in.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I want to put some big speakers outside Rachel Maddow's house, and blast "Angry All The Time" by Bruce Robison. [OOOH, it's a Reverse Noriega!--ed.] A what? [You heard me. Just think about it.--ed.] 4. At the risk of objectification, she is really attractive. A guy who says, "You're beautiful when you're angry" is crazy. She might be cute when she's mildly annoyed, but true anger doesn't help anything. 3. I'm debating going back and listening to all the episodes of Drunk-Ex-Pastors , but then, I can't even be bothered to watch my Netflix shows, which I intentionally queued to watch. 2. My political crush is Christine O'Donnell. Yeah. 1. Pray for a thing I want to do. No other details.

I Believe In Indoctrination (Drunk Ex-Pastors, Episode 13)

If you don't start with something that cannot be questioned, you're a bad parent. No; I will force them to memorize things; I will have them learn it and memorize that Catechism. And the saints. Kids need things like that. Like you need to wear bike helmets. Christian at the end starts to make sense, because he's talking about "motives of credibility." But "question everything" is dumb. No one does that, and no one should.

Alan Noble, Call Your Office!

I'm still annoyed about Derek Rishmawy's asinine Tweet from yesterday, something about Reformation Day, yay! because we don't need indulgences, blah, blah, blah. Fine, if you are moved to dissent from the Catholic Church, do it. But at least get it right: Indulgences can't grant pardon for sins. They never could. You could read whole volumes of Reformed dogmatics, but you can't survey the official Catechism of more than 1 billion Christians for 10 minutes? But I get it: It's more about putting on a good show for your friends. Well, you're on notice. I'm watching. I hope you had a good "holy day" celebrating a divorce. How very postmodern.

Now, And At The Hour Of Our Death

It seems to me that death is all around us. It's almost absurd that we always act surprised. We do, though. Everybody's got those things, those sins, which seem like a little harmless fun. But what if you died before you finished reading this sentence? What would be the verdict of your life? The truth is, we're all Brittany Maynard (Diaz). We're all Oscar Taveras. It invites us to ask and answer the great question in life, posed by the great American philosopher, Scott Stapp: "What's this life for?" If you don't know, it's time to find out. We were not put here for ourselves; God put us here, to live for Him, for love of Him, and others. We don't have the right to live forever, but we have the opportunity. Jesus Christ died so that our sins may not be held against us. Ever since the message of his salvation has gone out, God has been reconciling the world to Himself in one body, the Church. The Catholic Church. It is not enough to know th

The Breath Of Life

"You've gotta shorten your swing!" I would yell at my TV nearly every time Oscar Taveras took his swings at the plate. A good hitter needs to get his hands through the ball as quickly as possible. Pitchers love long swings; long swings have many holes. I was tough on Oscar; St. Louis has astronomically high expectations for its team and players, and he was no exception. But in that dugout, on this team, you could see the kid grow. You know that this is the place to fail, while you learn to succeed. When you pull on that uniform, you join a huge family. Oscar is family; the wins and losses don't matter as much as playing with heart and guts. All the way to the end. The family that lives and dies with the count and the score is reminded that at the end of the day, it's only baseball. If you knew you had hours or minutes to live, what would you do? How would you be remembered? I pray that in those final moments, Oscar and his girlfriend knew true joy, and that,

A Thought

Romans 9:21-23: "Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory to the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory..." 2 Timothy 2:20-22: "In any great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble. If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work. So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart." It seems that the second text precludes interpreting the first in the manner of Calvinists. For if St. Paul means to

A Consideration

John 6:44: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." John 12:32: "And after I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself." If the Reformed wish to be consistent, it would seem they should be universalists.