Category Archives: Roman Catholicism

Saints Alive!

Jimmy Akin has an interesting article about former Pope John Paul II’s progress on getting canonized a saint. Not that JPII is advancing the cause, of course, but that his supporters are pushing the Vatican to name the recently departed pope a saint immediately. As in now.

I wanted to comment because a statement in it ties into my recent post answering questions from a Reddit thread enumerating questions we theists supposedly can’t answer (but we really can). That previous article was on questions that tied specifically to the soul’s eternal destiny, and Akin touches ever-so-briefly on that.

Akin’s article had a statement that dropped my jaw with regard to determining eternal destiny. Before I give my thoughts on that statement, let’s begin with asking why the Vatican would have an interest in thoroughly investigating a potential saint before canonizing him.There are three points to bear in mind. Read the rest of this entry

Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, Sidebar on 1 Corinthians

The first of today’s posts on DaGoodS’s (DGS) questions will come a bit later, as I wanted to examine a side issue that was raised. The discussion revolves around a specific interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:20-21. DGS thinks it supports a rejection of all worldly wisdom. However, I believe that in its proper context, it is trying to argue something far different. Read the rest of this entry

General Commentary on De-Conversions

You might think that this is going to be an article on Christians de-converting to atheism. No. I’ve interacted with those guys over the years I’ve been doing apologetics. I can actually sympathize with their position, and I can even allow for validity in some of their arguments.

One in particular that I hear again and again is that Christians don’t read the Bible for what it says; they cherry-pick whatever doctrine they want to believe and ignore the rest. That’s not true of every Christian, even though the ex-Christian turned critic of his former faith wants the reader of his blog (don’t they all have blogs?) to believe as much.

To bolster this claim, the ex-Christian typically points to the fact that there are many, many different denominations of Christianity. They usually put the number of denominations between 33,000 and 40,000, but it changes quite often. Thirty-three thousand was the prevailing number I heard when I founded this ministry in 2006. By 2009, 38,000 was the prevailing number. In late 2010, I heard 42,000 somewhere.

This number is grossly inflated and literally has no basis in reality. I’ve pointed to this article by James White as refutation (White revisited the issue here) and asked for some substantiation of that number from people who throw it to me. I have yet to receive any documentation proving that number. I’m sure I never will.

Leaving that aside, the next statement ex-Christians usually make is that, with all of these denominations, if you don’t like what doctrines your church has cherry-picked, then you can just go to the church down the road.

This is a horrible mentality, but often is the case with some Christians. Church-hopping is never the answer to a dispute. This is something Catholics have right on the money: the church is the central repository of doctrine; “a pillar and buttress of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The Christian should be in submission to his local church. He shouldn’t just hop to another church that suits his whims.

I can develop and defend this idea later. For now, let’s just take it as a given.

Recently, I have seen two examples of public figures church-hopping. When public figures do something, it lends respectability to the practice–however illegitimate the practice may be. Something like this just makes Christians look bad, or even hypocrital. Read the rest of this entry

Dave Armstrong vs. the Atheists

Dave Armstrong is a braver man than I: he attended a “secular Bible study” in his native Detroit in order to answer questions about the Christian (in Dave’s case, Roman Catholic) position on Scripture. In all, 16 atheists attended to ask Dave questions.

Dave was fortunate to get a good group. They were open to dialog. Not like the group of militant anti-Christian atheists that populate the Why Won’t God Heal Amputees discussion board. (That was a waste of my time; why did I even sign up and post at all?) The majority of Internet atheists are the militant variety who refuse to listen to any Christian response to their nonsense.

Dave had a few great insights into the atheist mindset that are worth a short discussion. First:

DagoodS asked the group (17 including myself) how many believed that miracles occur. I was the only one to raise my hand. Then he asked how many believed that miracles might possibly occur. Jon raised his hand, and possibly one other. Only one or two even allowed the bare possibility. This exactly illustrated the point I was to make.

DagoodS was saying that it is more difficult to believe an extraordinary miracle or event than to believe in one that is more commonplace. True enough as far as it goes. But I said (paraphrasing), “you don’t believe that any miracles are possible, not even this book raising itself an inch off the table, so it is pointless for you to say that it is hard to believe in a great miracle, when in fact you don’t believe in any miracles whatsoever.” No response. . . .

This being the case, for an atheist (ostensibly with an “open mind”) to examine evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, is almost a farcical enterprise from the start (at least from a Christian perspective) because they commence the analysis with the extremely hostile presuppositions of: (1) No miracles can occur in the nature of things; (2) #1 logically follows because, of course, under fundamental atheist presuppositions, there is no God to perform any miracle; (3) The New Testament documents are fundamentally untrustworthy and historically suspect, having been written by gullible, partisan Christians; particularly because, for most facts presented therein, there is not (leaving aside archaeological evidences) written secular corroborating evidence. Read the rest of this entry

Continuing Discussion With Doug Crews

I did a podcast a while back (part 1 | part 2) where I answered some tough questions for Christians proposed by Doug Crews. My comment policy has comments closed after 30 days, since I’m trying to spend time coming up with new material and normally after that time additional comments tend to rate higher on the ignorance scale than comments left in a more timely fashion.

However, Doug’s discussion is an exception to the rule. I can’t re-open comments on that thread without reopening comments across the board, so I’m going to open this new thread.

And so, the discussion continues: Read the rest of this entry

For Once, I Agree With Vjack

 

Christine O'Donnell

I normally bash what Vjack has to say, but in this case, I think it’s perfectly justified.

 

Christine O’Donnell, from everything that I’ve read about her, is making Christians in general look bad. She tried to argue that the phrase “separation of church and state” isn’t in the Constitution, so it’s not a valid concept.

The First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What’s clear here is that the Founding Fathers didn’t want any one religion to be the religion in the United States, but I don’t think that they meant to clean all references to God and religion out of the government. They wanted the governing authorities to remain secular and not tied to a specific church or denomination. Different denominations within Christianity often have very different ideas of what constitutes the greater good. To remain free to serve the diverse religious beliefs within the new republic, the government would have to remain clear of heavy church influence.

Since many were religious refugees from the Anglican church, they wanted to respect the rights of other religious refugees to practice their own religion when they emigrated here.

The main problem with O’Donnell’s argument is one of consistency. I’m assuming (dangerous, I know) that she would believe in the Triune God, since she is a Roman Catholic. Well, by opponents of the Trinity, it has been repeatedly asserted that the word “Trinity” is found nowhere in the Bible. That’s one of the main arguments against the Trinity. Yet, the Trinity can be supported with numerous Scripture passages, even if they make no direct reference to “Trinity.”

So it is with separation of church and state. The phrase itself may not appear, but it can be deduced that this is the intent of the Founding Fathers. They didn’t want a single religion or denomination to dominate politics. To support a free exchange of ideas and to arrive at what is really the common good, denominational in-fighting has no place in government.

The Bible tells us to submit to the governing authorities (Rom 13:1; 1 Pet 2:13-17). Nowhere can I see that we are called to be the governing authorities. Rather, Peter tells us:

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Pet 2:15-17)

So, Christians should fine with separation of church and state. All the more reason to witness by our lives that have been changed for the better by Christ, for Christ. Live up to Christian values and morals, leading by example.

As Promised . . .

In this post, I revised my previously negative opinion of Dave Armstrong and his ministry. In short, after following Dave’s blog for some time, I am now of the opinion that he is doing Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, a favor. He has started his promised series of posts on Christianity and its relationship to science, which I will be following with great interest.

Dave commented on my post:

I bear you no ill will at all and am happy to accept your apology. In fact, as soon as I can I’ll remove some old papers where we clashed, as a little “thank you” and reciprocal act.

To which I replied that I would also remove posts where we clashed. To that end, I did my best to follow through. I searched my blog for “Dave Armstrong” and either removed or revised the posts that resulted. There were posts specifically focusing on Dave. I removed them if they weren’t reasonable critiques or if they made fun of him. I revised posts that took unnecessary swipes at Dave, e.g. when he wasn’t the topic under consideration but I utilized an opportunity to make fun of him.

If I discover any other instances, I will promptly remove or revise those as well.

I pray that Dave’s ministry will continue to touch lives and advance the cause of God’s Kingdom on earth. We may have different ideologies, but I know that Dave and I have that as a common goal. Bickering among ourselves serves no purpose.

That’s What I’m Talking About!

Mel Gibson's mugshot from his 28 July 2006 arr...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been fairly critical of Catholicism. But this guy has pretty much summed up what needs to be said about Christianity in general and its relationship to the secular media. Yet people seem to find a causal relationship between religion and public stupidity, such as what we have seen from Mel Gibson in the past.

Revising Opinions of People

Sometimes, first impressions are not always right. I did something that I usually don’t do in regard to people in the course of writing this blog: I let the opinions of others unduly influence my opinion of another blogger. I generally ignore what other people say about a person I’ve just met and form my own opinion. But I never did that with a particular individual that I’ve had the fortune (or misfortune?) of encountering in the past.

The individual of which I speak is Dave Armstrong. I have said of Dave:

Words in English are precise, and are chosen to convey something specific. No convergence was ever meant or implied between the words “vicar” and “disciple.” Dave needs to head to the book store and get himself a copy of On Writing Well by William Zinsser and carefully read the chapters on Simplicity, Clutter, and Words before he constructs his next “paper.” (source)

This pretty much summed up the position I held about Dave. I thought (and still do, in some respects) that his blog posts are unnecessarily long. Conventional wisdom says that a blog post should run 200 to 500 words. After that, your audience tends to lose interest.

However, I’m not one to talk. My posts can reach 1100 words or better on a regular basis. I think that when a person blogs about philosophy or theology, it requires more words than the average blogger since the average reader isn’t as studied in the background of such posts. Therefore, the blogger has to lay the groundwork for why he (or she) thinks what he (or she) does.

That said, I’ve recently started to take a liking to many of Dave’s recent posts. He disagreed with an atheist on YouTube (beginning of series) and constructed a post about the top 10 atheist arguments. He also has a project in the works about Christianity and modern science, trying to explode the atheistic myths that Christianity had nothing to do with the rise of science. More recently, he commented on Anne Rice’s deconversion from Christianity. In that post, Dave said something that I agree with in spirit, though being a Protestant I would understand “Christian authority” differently than Dave:

There are serious lessons to be learned here: along the lines of having an informed, reasonable faith (complete with apologetic knowledge as necessary), and of yielding up our private judgment and personal inclinations to a God and a Church much higher than ourselves. Faith comes ultimately by God’s grace and His grace alone: not our own semi-understandings. Christianity is not “blind faith”; it is a reasonable faith. But there is such a thing as allegiance and obedience to Christian authority, too.

This is rather similar to my expressed sentiments here. I state emphatically that I don’t question Rice’s salvation, for that (as Dave aptly expresses) is a gift from God resting solely on faith in Christ. Rice still expresses faith in Christ; she just refuses to be bound by some of the strictures of doctrine (e.g. being against homosexuality, birth control, feminism, and Democrats). What I question is Anne Rice’s sanctification: whether she has submitted to the authority of God expressed in Scripture. That is something that she must wrestle with, and I pray that God can show her the error of her ways.

In sum, my opinion of Dave has changed drastically. Dave is a capable writer and meticulous researcher. I was very wrong in my initial impressions of him, and for that I apologize.

Catholic Response to Atheism

I was wondering when I’d see a Catholic response to New Atheism. Most books I’ve seen have been by Protestant authors, though I know Dave Armstrong has done a continuing series on his blog addressing an atheist on YouTube, and recently detailed the Top 10 Atheist Arguments and exposed their fallacies.

Now, Patrick Madrid has released a new book, The Godless Delusion, with coauthor Ken Hensley. Madrid’s book tackles philosophical objections to atheism, and isn’t a defense of theism per se. Madrid took note of some atheists commenting on his book at RichardDawkins.net. Fascinatingly enough, none of them had actually read the book. User xwizbit seems the lone voice of reason:

I have to point out that when I was (an admittedly very wishy-washy and doubting) Christian I challenged myself to test my faith against a reading of The God Delusion, for various and sundry personal reasons. It hammered home what I was already secretly thinking about god, and turned me into the radical atheist I am today.

Nevertheless, had I merely mocked and jeered at the book, I’d still be wandering about in a fog of confusion instead of splashing in the waters of a clear-thinking oasis. Is it too much to ask that we might dare to challenge a book by reading it and then commenting?

After all, thankful as I am to Mr Dawkins, I at least read his book before wholeheartedly embracing it!

Which, of course, meets with invective of its own, despite the fact that xwizbt all but recanted this position in the very next comment (after having read the introduction). This one from user TrumpetPower!:

xwizbt, in this case the very description is more than ample to dismiss the whole thing as purest nonsense: “With remorseless logic, wit, skill, and boundless, joyful enthusiasm it lays waste that stronghold, routs the enemy, occupies the high ground for Christ their king, and dares anyone to retake it.”

Anybody who thinks it’s a good thing to occupy the high ground for an ancient zombie hero in a religious snuff porn anthology isn’t deserving of serious consideration.

Defending the indefensible: sharp critique of a book that one hasn’t read. And a statement that clearly shows this person doesn’t understand anything about the Christian faith.

And an anonymous commenter said this:

It’s astonishing. Believers come about their superstition via faith, which has nothing to do with reason. Then they pretend that they can defend their faith with reason. It just makes no sense to me. All they should do–all that they are entitled to do–is to stand there and say “I have faith”. That’s it.

While most atheists scream at us to defend our faith, this guy says that we aren’t even entitled to defend our faith. Obviously, he doesn’t actually understand what faith is. Actually, no atheist I know of knows what authentic faith is. Faith and reason are certainly not incompatible; where did this serious error in logical thought originate? That might make an interesting e-book some time in the future.