Posts Tagged 'salvation'

Bringing Back the Angry God

I thought God was love not anger.  I mean, the Bible even says so.

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It’s Jonathon Edwards and his “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God” with a Catholic bent.

This isn’t coming from one thing or article but multiple blogs, articles, and even CAF (Catholic answers forums). 

I don’t understand this need to punish others.  Reveling in the pain and suffering of others who have been deliberately hurt and abused in the name of God and saying this is a good thing.  These are Catholics who are advocating Edwards’ tyrant of a god who dangles sinners over an open pit of fire and then throwing them in with glee even after the sinners beg for mercy. 

These Catholics want God to hurt people.  They would be extremely happy if God destroyed certain people.  Their God is not the God of love that we hear about in the Bible.  Their god is a bully and a tyrant and an abuser who only loves them and loathed everyone else.  They make proclamations of judgment and condemn everyone who isn’t like them to a fiery Hell that is much worse and more violent than anything the Church teaches or accepts.  They like to hurt people and they want their god to hurt people, to torture people for fun.

This is not the Catholic God.  This is not the Christian God.  This is no God.  This is evil.

Wanting the destruction of another person is a mortal sin. It violates the commandment to love your neighbors as yourself.

God does not punish, at least not the way these people want. Most of our punishment comes from our own choice to sin. 

Our sins hurt us, not just God.  God does not seek our destruction but our salvation.  He loves us.  He doesn’t hate us.  He doesn’t love our sins.  Rarely does God need to actively step in and smack us down.  And he doesn’t even smack.  Mostly he let’s us suffer the consequences of our sins.  He might magnify the consequences, make them worse or more painful but he doesn’t deliberately set out to hurt us.  He doesn’t need to.  We’re pretty good at hurting ourselves.

Yes, God did punish the Israelites in the Old Testament.  But look at the context.  This was a people who were like children in their faith and God acted like the father he is.  Yes, there were time when his punishment seems excessive but then then look at what the Israelites were doing and the context.  The Israelites got a lot of second chances.  And I mean a lot.  And they still kept being disobedient.  So God escalated the consequences.  But he kept giving them chances, kept forgiving them even after sending them into exile.

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And Jesus changes the whole game.  Forgiveness, mercy, grace, salvation are there for the asking.  And if we fail, we sin, we have recourse to the Sacraments.  We aren’t cut off or sent into exile or have plagues sent.  We have grace and mercy and forgiveness and salvation all because God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die for us so that we might have eternal life.

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Nowhere in there is punishment. God isn’t a pushover, either.  We do have to repent of our sins and change our ways but God will give us the grace to do so.  We have but to ask.  We have but to ask.

People who want punishment don’t want mercy or love or grace or salvation or forgiveness.  They want rules and formulas and lines and penalties and punishment.  Oh, the grace and mercy they can have but they don’t want other people to have it.  They want to horde it all to themselves.  They refuse to understand or accept that God doesn’t discriminate in whom He gives his mercy, grace, forgiveness, love, and salvation to as long as people ask for it.  They make god in their own destructive image.

I don’t want that god.  I don’t want a god that is out to get me just so he can hurt me.  I grew up with that god.  That god was going to send me to hell just for existing.  I don’t want that god.  I don’t like that god. That is not god.

I want the God who is love.  That God that forgives.  The God that gives mercy.  The God that gives grace.  The God that offers salvation and eternal life. 

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That God is a much better God than the god that I grew up with.  The god that certain Catholics want to impose on everyone.  The god that hurts and punishes and isn’t a god at all but a bully and a tyrant and a condemner and abuser.  The god that isn’t God but a demon, a devil, a god made in man’s image.

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The Jesus we need.

Signs/Symptoms of a Radical Traditionalist

Having come across so many radical traditionalists in my time on CAF and even one or two in real life, I thought I’d come up with a set of diagnostic criteria for a radical traditionalist, not unlike the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV for psychologists and psychiatrists.  This isn’t perfect and I know I probably forgot things but this is what I have so far.

For a diagnosis of Radical Traditionalist, three or more of the following criteria may be met (OB is obscure):

-Believes the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, usually referred to as the Tridentine Latin Mass (TLM) is the only valid form of the Mass.  Everything else is inferior, heretical, or Protestant.

-Holds the 1917 Code of Canon Law above the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

-Believes Latin in the only language of the Catholic Church.  All prayers, private or public, are to be said in Latin.

-Believes God only understands Latin.

-Believes Palestrina and Gregorian chant that is sung by an all male choir is the only form of music, esclesial or secular, allowed.

-Believes the Rosary is the supreme and highest devotion.  It is the only prayer, besides the Mass, that is necessary for salvation.  Believes anyone who does not pray the Rosary is not a Catholic.

-Believes the Ordinary Form of the Mass, normally referred to the Novus Ordo and refuses to use the forms of the Church, in the vernacular is inefficacious, is invalid, does not present a valid Eucharist, is inferior, and Protestant.  Believe people who attend the OF are either Protestants or heretics.

-Believes communion on the tongue while kneeling at a communion rail is the only way to receive the Eucharist.  People who are unable to kneel are deemed irreverent.  Communion in the hand is considered heretic and pagan.

-Believes the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima is the only Marian apparition or at least the highest.   Believed to be the best Marian devotion and the only one worthy of belief.  Believe Catholics who do not believe it, follow what was said, or refuse to acknowledge it are heretics.  Requires automatic believe in this apparition as a criteria as to being a real Catholic.

-Believe Confession is required every week.

-Believe most things are a mortal sin, especially if they say so.

-Believe no woman is allowed anywhere near the sanctuary.  This even means the first pew unless they are a nun/sister praying the Rosary.

-Believe there is a strict dress code for every occasion.  This only applies to women and children.

-Believes women are required to veil at all times.  Mantillas only.  Hats and other forms of headcovering are not allowed.  No hair is allowed to show otherwise a woman will be inciting a man to sin.  She is at fault if a mans sees even one strand of hair.

-Believes women are required to wear dresses or skirts (dresses are the preferred option) down to the floor with full length sleeves and extreme high collars.  The prefered style is fundamentalist Mormon.

-Believes women who dress in pants or skirts above the toe are inciting men to lust and other sexual sins and just asking to be raped.

-Believes women are responsible for men’s sins, especially sexual sins.

-Believes the Church does not go far enough is legislating modesty and dress.  Believes the Church should dictate a strict dress code for everyone that must be strictly adhered to at all times.

-Believes women are to be minimally educated.

-Believes women should never work outside the home.

-Believes no one should go swimming do to the immoral form of dress required.

-Believes women are meant only to be wives and mothers, and occasionally sisters but nothing else.

-Believe Natural Family Planning (NFP) is contraception and goes against God’s will.

-Believes the number of children a couple will have is should be entirely left up to the providence of God.  Any abstinence, NFP, or any other method is contraception and a mortal sin.  A mother’s health, a family’s finances, etc. are irrelevant to family size and having children.

-Believes all children should be homeschooled.  All other forms of schooling are tools of the devil.

-Believes colleges, universities, high schools, elementary schools, public and Catholic are bastions of radical feminism, secular humanism, and atheism.

-Believes sheltering children from every interaction with the world and especially other people will make them strong Catholics.

-Believes TV, radio, movies, computers, and any other media that is not explicitly Catholics is immoral, a tool of the Devil, and never allowed in the home.

-Believes EWTN doesn’t go far enough.

-Believes most Bishops, priests, and Catholics to be outright heretics and have no knowledge of the faith.

-Believe Michael Voris is the second coming and like his in the face style and name calling of bishops and fellow Catholics.

-Believe Colleen Hammond is the go to authority for dress and follow her rules exactly.

-Believes if the book is not the Bible, the Early Church fathers, or one of  a select few writers then the books are immoral and advocating devil worship.

-Believe only young earth creationism.

-Believes they must call all behavior not exactly like theirs a sin and everyone who does not believe like them a heretic.

-Believes they are the only one on the right path to Heaven.  Everyone else, except for a select few, is going to Hell.

-Believes having fun is a sin.

-Believes contemporary music is immoral regardless of the lyrics.  Some classical music by some Catholics composers is acceptable.

-Believes the organ is the only instrument.  All other instruments, regardless of use, is profane.

-Believes that quoting documents from Vatican II is sinful and will only cite pre-Vatican II documents to support their arguments, even if they are off topic or have nothing to do with a topic or are out dated.

-Will ignore, put down, or trash Vatican II.

-Believes happiness and joy are useless and pointless especially in the spiritual life.

-Believes it is necessary to point out every little flaw and mistake a priest makes as necessary to stop liturgical abuse.

-Believes liturgical abuse is extremely rampant in OF/NO parishes and have never existed in EF/TLM parishes.

-Believes the Baltimore Catechism is the only necessary catechism.

-Believe the 1950s were the Golden Era of Catholicism in America.

-Believes the 1960s were the end of the Catholic Church in America.

-Believes Council of Trent trumps Vatican II.

-Wants all Catholics to be exactly like them.

-Believe unity is the sam thing as uniformity.

-Believe the EF/TLM would solve all the problems in the Church, including but not limited to sex abuse by priests, lack of vocations.

-Believe a college education is worthless unless you are going to be a lawyer or a doctor.

-Believe they are the only true Catholics and everyone else is a Protestant heretic.

(OB)-Believe women who dress in pants or in skirts above the toe are guilty for their own rape.

(OB)-Believes all Protestants are going to Hell.

(OB)-Believes Jews were abandoned or are ignored by God.

(OB)-Believe Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox are to be Latinized.

(OB)-Believe that is a person receives any sort of spiritual consolation, you are doing something wrong or are possessed by a demon.

 

This is not an exhaustive list but it does include what I have seen, read, and heard.

Reality Sets In

With my new schedule at work, I’ve been wanting to update here more often.  So far, that hasn’t happened.  I’ve been so tired from working especially picking up overtime since my relief has been sick a lot lately (we’re all concerned about him) so I’ve been covering some of his shifts.  And don’t know what to post about.  I have ideas but I don’t know how relevant they are, how I feel about posting about them, how well I could write about them, etc.  So I’m going to ramble which I can be rather adept at, usually when it’s not necessary (I’m not much of a talker in real life and especially bad at explaining things.)

Something that has been bothering me is the need of some people to impose their spirituality and their spiritual practices on everyone else.  That their personal devotions are the only devotions that are allowed and should be followed.  I’ve seen people push the Rosary, the Brown Scapular, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Carmelite or Charismatic spirituality, St. Theresa of Liseux, St. Padre Pio on people usually by saying these private devotions will “cure” everything; that they are the only prayers one needs; that by not conforming they are being “Protestant;” that they have all the answers.  They don’t recognize that each person is unique and prays in the way that they can and that God calls them to pray in the best way for Him to reach that person.  What works for one person may not work for another person.  I don’t feel called to Franciscan spiritual though the Church recognizes it as one of many beneficial spiritualities and the Church doesn’t have a problem with that.  The Church Herself doesn’t adhere to one spirituality and doesn’t require Her children to either because She recognizes that each of us are unique individuals, not automatons.

Yet there are Catholics that believe and demand that there is only one spirituality/devotion that is absolutely necessary, usually the one that the person is trumpeting.  They refuse to acknowledge or accept otherwise.  This is a huge turn off, even detrimental if they want more people to learn about, practice that spirituality or devotion.  If someone is in my face about the Rosary, telling that just by praying it once all my problems will be cured, that everything wrong with me will be healed in a moment, that it’s the only prayer a woman needs, and won’t listen to anything I say, that’s a huge turn off to me.  I’ve had this happen to me and have seen it a lot. I would have a hard time taking this person seriously because even the Church doesn’t say this.  The Church and Jesus himself never said that prayer was magic.  Yet people treat devotions and spiritualities like this which is detrimental to not only the person being encouraged to try a new devotion but also to the devotion/prayer itself.  The Church treats its members as adults yet people like this treat fellow Catholics like stupid children who can’t be trusted to dress themselves.

Faith isn’t a feeling yet this seems to be a big problem for people who go looking for excitement, for entertainment, etc. in the Mass.  I’ve posted here about Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and the effect that TV, movies, Internet, etc. have on people.  I see this play out in the Mass not only in the Ordinary Form but also in the “young people” who seek out the Extraordinary Form.  Now, not all those who seek out the EF are necessarily looking for entertainment but I believe there are those that do go for ‘the show.”  People my age have been raised almost exclusively on TV, movies, the Internet exploded with us, etc. and that has an effect on how we view our faith.  How much of this is TV’s fault and how much is our fault? And don’t our parents play a role in all this?  People are taught to be entertained, to constantly seek out pleasure, to seek out the latest newest fad, to seek out the pretty lights and flashy clothes.  I’m not trying to denigrate the EF but I am pointing out that people’s reason for seeking out one particular Mass over another is impacted by our  excessive exposure to the media and entertainment and that people need to be aware of this.  If you are looking to get something out of the Mass, you are completely missing the point.  You are at Mass to worship God, not to be entertained by Him.

Why is it if someone hears something questionable in a homily they automatically assume the priest is a heretic?  I’ve seen multiple posts to this effect on a forum I belong to.  Why can’t it be that Father just doesn’t have the innate talent for homilies?  Or that he’s sleep deprived and he’s lucky enough to stay awake long enough to celebrate Mass? Or that he practiced his homily one way but it came out another way and he didn’t realize it until after Mass?  Or that he’s still afraid of public speaking no matter how much prayer and practice he’s said and done?  Or that he’s still a new priest and still learning?  Or that the priest doesn’t and probably won’t put things the same way you do?  People seem to be waiting for the priest to make one teeny tiny mistake so they can pounce on him and denigrate him.  Isn’t the media and the Devil doing enough of that already?  If you denigrate the priesthood, you denigrate Jesus himself.  Maybe you should think twice about what you say about a priest.  Don’t criticize unless the priest asks for constructive criticism otherwise it’s all about putting someone down to puff yourself up and there’s something very, very wrong with that.  It’s called sin.

When did Latin become the only language in the Church?  Considering there are 23 sui juris Churches, only one rite the Latin Rite uses Latin.  Greek, Aramaic, Russian, Arabic, and probably a language or two, at least, that I can’t think of are also used in the Liturgies.  Latin is only applicable to the Latin Rite and even then wasn’t the only language used in the Latin Rite.  The Latin Rite has never been uniform in it’s use of Latin in it’s liturgies.  It’s only with the Council of Trent and the suppression of other rites at that time that Latin really came to dominate the Latin liturgy.  Yet, even Latins still use Greek when we pray Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy).  And one does not need to pray in Latin to have their prayers heard or answered.  God’s bigger than that but I still see people saying that we need to pray in Latin and that only prayers said in Latin are “effective.”  Considering God is the one listening and answering prayers, I think He’s the only to judge if praying or not praying in a particular language is necessary for it to be effective.  I’ve only come across Him saying that we need to pray and St. Paul saying to pray without ceasing but nothing about all our prayers need to be in Latin.

All of us are on a journey in our faith.  We each follow the same path using a roadmap that is unique to each of us.  What works for you may not work and probably won’t work for me but that doesn’t mean that you should abandon it because it only applies to you.  God didn’t create clones, He created individuals whom He loves as individuals but also as His children.  God doesn’t pigeon-hole us so don’t pigeon-hole others in their journey and how they live their Catholic faith.  Your eyes should be on Christ.  Don’t take them off Him or you will lose your way.

It’s Good Friday. Do you know why?

Well, do you?

If you don’t, I suggest a reading of the Passion in all four Gospels.  That might give you a clue.  But beyond that it’s about how Christ conquered death and freed us from sin.  Jesus did something so incredibly fantastic that only God could have done it.  And God did do it. It’s entirely mind-boggling and yet so profoundly simple that for over 2000 years we’ve recognized that fact in the celebration of Christ’s death on Good Friday.  Death may be the end and yet it is only a beginning.  There’s more but I’m not going to spoil the rest of the story.

Catholics remember and celebrate this conquering of death every time at Mass.  We hear about a people waiting for a Savior, he is born, lived, we follow him into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, celebrate the Last Supper with Him and the Apostles, celebrate His death, and then His Resurrection all in an hour on Sunday.  Holy Week affords us the opportunity to slow it all down and meditate and contemplate all these events at a much slower pace.

Yet even the Catholic Church understands that this daily celebration isn’t enough.  We have to spend time meditating on each event individually rather than all together.  We can get lost or even forget why and who we are supposed to be focusing on.  Yet how many of really slow down and truly think about these events?  Think about them outside of Lent and Triduum, outside of Mass?  Do some of use even think of them at all?  For how many of us, is Mass just a chore, something to check off the list with no engagement mental, spiritual, and very basic physical input whatsoever?  Is it even something out of the ordinary or is it just like watching TV or playing a game on the computer?

We live in a world that lets us, hell encourages and orders us to, tune in, turn on, and completely drop out while posting inane information on Facebook and Twitter that makes it look like we are busy when in reality we’re so closed off from reality, from God, from other people.  We’re stuck in our little make-believe worlds and wonder when we temporarily come out of them why things don’t go the way we want and escape back into our digital make-believe worlds.  God, Jesus, people, faith all require actions from us not passive mindlessness that’s found in watching TV and posting on Facebook and Twitter.  We apply our digital make-believe worlds to God and Jesus and faith and religion and get upset when they don’t match.  They aren’t meant to match.  God and make-believe are so vastly different that they shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence.  So we find that we have trouble with conceiving of a God who would take on human flesh, become a baby, live in poverty, gather twelve men one of which would betray him, and die on a cross as criminal and abandoned by all his friends while his mother watched him die.  It’s no wonder that Jesus becomes more myth-like, more a figment of the imagination, than the real flesh and blood human who suffered to save humanity from itself.   We live in a world that doesn’t want truth as absolutes and where God would suffer the indignity and humiliation of being treated like a criminal so he could conquer death and free us to be with him for all eternity.  Sounds nuts, doesn’t it.  Yet that’s exactly what Jesus did 2000 years ago.  And that’s the world we live in.

We live with people who don’t believe in sin while they commit it.  Where people think killing unborn babies because it “inconveniences”  the mother is a good enough excuse for murder.  Where sex is advertised as god and children should be allowed to worship such a god at an early age.  Where vices are considered virtues and virtues are considered vices.  Where anger and hate for God is considered THE religion.  Where children are led to the slaughter by willing parents.  Where common sense is out and propaganda and feel good is is.

Yet that’s exactly why Jesus came and died on a cross.  For sinners.  For ALL OF US, not just a select few.  He wanted to save all of us yet so many reject the gift he gave of himself because they have been seduced by the Devil.  We are the ones that crucified him with our sins and our silence and our shouts of rejection and our support of evil.  He conquered death but we sure don’t want that gift.  That gift is free but it comes with a price.  Yet His yoke is easy and His burden light.  Yet so many would rather crucify him over and over and over again than put down the hammer and nails and accept what he did.

We need what Jesus did 2000 years ago now more than ever.  We need to remember why he did and for whom he did.  We can’t forget or trivialize or push it aside or put it off.  It’s here and it’s now.  It’s GOOD FRIDAY.

Blessed Christmas

Sorry I haven’t updated in so long.  I’ve been busy with a new, full-time job that leaves me tired all the time (the schedule I have isn’t the greatest).  I intend, after the beginning of the New Year, to update more often.

This time of year is either a blessing or a curse for people.  For some, it’s even both.  I fit into both categories.  Christmas is hard on the personal front (family issues that have gone on for nearly three decades at this point) and a blessing in that it is the celebration of the first Advent of Christ as a small, helpless baby who would thirty-three years later save the world through his death and resurrection on the cross.  Pretty powerful stuff.  We don’t always remember that.  We focus on the gifts and the TV specials and the parties and the good feelings.  Sometimes these are focused on to the detriment of what Christmas and Advent really mean.  Preparation for the coming of Christ first at his birth and later when he comes at the Second Coming.

As a Catholic, we focus on preparing for both advents with Advent.  We remember not only Jesus’s birth and the dangerous circumstances surrounding it. (Herod did order and carry out the killing of numerous infants and those under the age of 2 in order to protect his earthly position.  People who abort their babies are no better than Herod hence the Feast of the Holy Innocents celebrated on December 28 to remember not only those killed by Herod but also those killed by abortion.)

It wasn’t a feel-good story that Jesus came.  He was born to a teenage mother (Mary) who was married to an older man (Joseph) who wanted to divorce her in order to prevent himself and her from shame.  His foster-father was a poor carpenter.  Mary and Joseph had to travel when Mary was about to give birth because of a government census.  Mary had to give birth in a stable without any medical support.  Then they had to flee from their homeland or risk being killed and moved to a foreign country where they didn’t know the language.

Yes, they were visited by shepherds who were nobodies at the bottom of the social economic ladder.  And by astrologers from the East who didn’t know they were to find the King of the Universe in such poverty conditions.  Yet they gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that alluded to his future death.

Jesus lived in obscurity for thirty years before he began to preach his message of salvation from sin and repentance.  And many of disciples still left him.  He was then betrayed by someone he had personally chosen and abandoned by all his friends save one.  He was crucified as a common criminal out of love for mankind.  He died a criminal’s death while his own mother watched.  Three days later he rose from the dead.  He left the Holy Spirit to guide the new church he had founded on Peter and ascended into heaven.  He promised to come again.

There are people who don’t want to hear this or want it watered down.  They don’t want the truth.  They want to hear only that which will make them feel good.  Or they say that Jesus lied or that wasn’t what he meant because if they acknowledged the truth then they would have to change, to repent, to acknowledge that they are sinners in need of a saviour.  Worse than that, they attack those that do acknowledge and accept this fact and accept Jesus.  Or they attack those who also believe in Jesus but don’t believe exactly as they do.

I won’t preach peace on earth and good will towards men.  Without God’s grace, it isn’t possible.  And wasn’t possible until the King of the Universe came as a helpless baby born into poverty over 2000 years ago.

For some of us, Christmas is a time of depression, increased abuse, financial worries, etc.  It’s not a happy time.  It may be a time of year that people want to avoid.  For some it’s a reminder of loss of a loved one or home or family or a job.

And yet, it can still be a time of hope.  It isn’t easy and isn’t much but it can be there.  For myself, I can cope with the celebration of Christ’s birth.  I can’t cope very well with the family issues and past abuse and the focus on material goods and the need to keep or surpass the Joneses.

Till then: Blessed Christmas.

Judge Not Salvation

Luke 6:37

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NKJV)

I point out this particular passage because I find, especially on the Internet in blogs and other venues on the Internet, the words and conclusions of those that declare someone intelligent or stupid, beautiful or ugly, saved or damned.  The last particular dichotomy is one I see the most especially from those who believe in a very narrow, out there set of beliefs though there are those who are supposedly who seem “mainstream” (thinking and believing like everyone else) who also determine people’s eternal fates.  Now, this is nothing new, judging people acceptable or rejectable by some arbitrary set of definitions.  The concept of us versus them has been around since we humans have had the ability to classify and assign value to those classifications.  How else would our ancestors have known that one group was an enemy or another group was a friend or that a friend had turned into an enemy.  But it is more than that.  It is a matter of fear but also of pride.  If Person A says the Person B isn’t a person or less than a person because they (I’m going to use an absurd example here) use the color purple to color in a picture of a flower and that by doing so they reject the superiority (as defined by Person A) of the color red, then Person A is operating from a place of pride.  Now Person A may also be operating from a place of cultural influence but even then it is still a matter of pride.

Christians, in some cases especially American evangelical fundamentalists, certain American developed Protestants (I refer to those Protestant sects that were created in the US after 1800 and especially those groups that developed in the 1900s like Calvary Chapel and non-denominational churches) predicate much of their interactions with Christians who don’t belong to their church in determining their likelihood of becoming a notch on their belt (“winning souls”) or damning them to Hell for not having the “correct beliefs (read “Not agreeing with exactly every word, small thing, and made up rules and regulations that the “pastor” and/or “elders” have come up with) (usually done to Catholics because they believe in a “false gospel” and “added beliefs and kept pagan ones”).

This determining of the eternal destination of others is not only problematic but un-Christian.  It attempts to place the judger in the place of God.  Only God alone can determine if a person is to go to Heaven or Hell.  No one can know if they are saved (there is no assurance of salvation i.e. no one knows if they are bound for heaven or hell) (CCC quotes 1741, 456-460).  From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), “By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. “For freedom Christ has set us free.” In him we have communion with the “truth that makes us free.” The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Already we glory in the “liberty of the children of God.””  Now there is more to salvation but it is important to understanding that salvation isn’t just about one specific thing be it saying a prayer or having a relationship or “being saved” or being freed from sin.  Salvation isn’t simple and it is not complex either.  It is, however, wonderful and desired of all men.  Not just a select few who dress the right way or say prayers in a certain way.  Further in the CCC 456-460, “

456 With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”

457 The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who “loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins”: “the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world”, and “he was revealed to take away sins”:70

Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?71

458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”72 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”73

459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”74 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!”75 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”76 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.77

460 The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature“:78 “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.”79 “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”80 “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”

Many err on this because they want to be in “the right” and determining someone’s eternal destination gives that person a smug feeling of superiority, smug satisfaction of knowing that they and they alone have the truth and Jesus, and that they are better than everyone else because they have the “correct” beliefs, the “correct” behaviors, the “correct” “interpretation” of the Bible, and that Jesus and God speak to them all the time and reveal all that they need to know and what to decide.  They have a very narrow view of the world.   Sounds a bit like Gnosticism doesn’t it?  It is but it is also lack of charity, not loving one’s neighbor, pride, selfishness, not loving God.

With recent celebrity deaths and the deaths of loved ones, neighbors, friends, and others, I have seen in the blogosphere several posts where the poster has unequivocally determined the final eternal judgment without any input from God.  They determine where this person had gone based on their own criteria, usually what that particular poster believes.  They refuse to entertain let alone respect the fact that judgment is God’s and God’s right alone.  He gives that right to no one else yet there are those who certainly talk and believe that they have and use this un-given right to judge others, usually quite harshly and with great venom.  Many times they cast them into Hell for doing something the poster doesn’t like even if it is not a sin.

Then there are those who judge others not to be Christian because they don’t believe what they do, they belong to a different theology or sect, they are Catholic, or they aren’t in communion with the Catholic Church (I’ve seen this from many Catholics in regards to Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox, calling them names and saying they are schismatic or even heretics (which is false)).  Again, many who do this belong to or adhere to evangelical fundamentalist ideology.  Actually, many are likely to be weak in faith and understanding of their own faith.  They may know a few basics and are sent out or even forced out to “win” converts, i.e. make members for that group.  This tends to be more common.  Way of the Master is a good example.  They use a flawed opening question, “Are you a good person?” to break the ice.  It’s a loaded question meant to start the ‘sales pitch.  If the questionee answers yes, then the questioner follows up with more questions and into the Ten Commandment (note they use a different numbering order than Catholics and Lutherans use where 2 is not to have idols where as Catholics have you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (the first reads like legal definition if you were to look at a section in the criminal code for a state you would have the offense (I am the Lord you God. You shall have no other gods but me) and the elements that make up that offense (no other gods, no graven images, etc.)).  They then go through the Ten Commandments to see if you have broken any of them, which everyone had at least at one point in their lives.  However, it’s a trap.  They continue through the sales pitch to get you to say a prayer to accept Jesus as you personal savior (remember, they’re selling a product and they have to” make a sale” to be a good Christian).  That’s it.  They don’t follow up, usually.  They tell you to join a “Bible-believing” church and that’s it.  Way of the Master only believe, or limits their definition of a Christian to somebody who had gone through this process (accept Jesus as savior, say a prayer, join a “Bible-believing church) so Catholics and even liturgical Protestants such as Lutherans are considered apostate because they follow a false gospel and added pagan elements in their worship (because organized worship like a liturgy is pagan, apparently).

Those who consider people not to be Christian because don’t believe as Group A does.  Group A’s definition of a “Christian” will be defined not by essentials but by non-essential or even disciplines rather than doctrine.  For example, no dancing, no smoking, no playing cards, no pants on women, no watching movies, long hair on women, no partying, no mixing between genders, marriage only (no single life), mandatory Bible reading for a set period of time a day, no wearing makeup, no jewelry, women aren’t allowed to work, women aren’t allowed to serve in any kind of ministry or service, praying in tongues, praying in a specific manner, not praying spontaneously, must win converts, contemporary worship songs, no musical instruments, etc.  These are all disciplines (subject to change) and some are even deliberate misreading of the Bible (marriage only, women have no place, praying in tongues, no musical instruments, anything with regards to women).  Catholics are typically called apostates or heretics for:

-supposedly adding to the Bible (which is laughable since the CATHOLIC CHURCH put the Bible together!),

-believing in false or pagan doctrines such as Mary as the Mother of God (Nestorianism, a heresy, denies that Mary is the Mother of God),

-Mary as the Queen of Heaven (again, Biblical; just look to the mother of kings in the Old Testament where the mothers were Queens and sat at the King’s right hand and offered advice and supplications/petitions) (if you ask someone else to pray for you, you can certainly ask a saint to pray for you),

-the Mass (which can be found in parts of Saint Paul’s letters and in the Book of Revelation),

-praying to saints (again in Revelation) (if you ask someone else to pray for you, you can certainly ask a saint to pray for you otherwise you would never be able to ask anyone to pray for you since you can only pray to Jesus, according to that logic),

-salvation by works (Ephesians 2:4-10) (“4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Good works were set aside for us to complete for our salvation.”)(again, not true and very Biblical that we can’t just say a prayer and we’re saved; we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)). We are not saved under the Jewish law, true enough, but we must obey Jesus’ commandments: love God and neighbor, and to eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood (John 6:51-58) (“51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”  52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”  53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”)

Yet there are Christians who don’t look to Jesus’ words but to Saint Paul.  They have to be read all together rather than in isolation and separate.  Plus, they have to be read in context.  Paul is writing to a specific audience in a specific place about a specific problem.  Many who read the Bible assume the Bible can be read and interprets (everyone interprets what they read) that it can be done the same today as it was when it was written.  That the meaning and application of a passage is the same then as it is today.  Not true.  Some passages are very specific for the time and have no real application to today (passages referring to slavery for example) and so cannot be applied or used in a contemporary sense.  Others are misinterpreted, deliberately in some cases, to support a specific belief or practice that isn’t Biblical at all (Ephesians 5:22 is used by some men and some “churches” as a means to oppress and abuse women when the meaning of the verse is more than just submission; you have to read the verses before and after to understand the whole meaning and context). (emphasis mine)

Catholics are the first Christians.  Catholics believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him in the Eucharist.  Yet, many say Catholics aren’t Christians because they don’t believe exactly as Person A or Group B, etc.  They do not determine if someone is Christian or not.  Only the individual and God truly know.  Anyone else is just guessing or making false judgments against their neighbor which is a sin and lack of love for their neighbor.  It bothers me but mostly it saddens me when I read posts or blogs or what not by people who accuse or vilify or condemn others for not believing as they do or calling Catholics apostates and heretics and condemning them to Hell for nothing more than a lack of understanding or deliberate ignorance on the part of the poster.  Most people do not want to learn the Truth.  They are satisfied with the little truth they have and so stay in their comfort zone.  If they learned that Catholics are truly Christians, that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ and gave us the Bible and preserved it and all the beliefs such as the Trinity and Jesus’ divinity down through the ages it would destroy some people because they can’t handle change especially in their world view.  They would refuse to believe because it means they were wrong (coming from pride) and wouldn’t accept the Truth.  They would hang on to that pride because it gives them false comfort and a false sense of superiority.  They want their own easy truth to swallow.  They don’t want The Truth handed down and preserved by the Apostles to the Bishops and the Priests of the Catholic Church for over 2000 years.  They don’t want to be wrong.  They would lose their sense of self especially if their identity is built upon a specific belief system or set of beliefs (Mrs. Smith is a Baptist preachers wife and will always be one and if she didn’t have that, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself because being a Baptist preachers wife is all so knows; it’s who she is).

With regards to Catholics who don’t consider Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox as Catholics, this again comes from pride.  All contain the fullness of Truth and have preserved that Truth for over 2000 years.  Praxis, meaning actual practice, varies and has always varied by culture and region.  The Latin Rite of the Church is not the normative right of the whole Church.  It is only normative in the Latin West.  Latins are not superior or better or holier than Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox.  While there are divisions, there are similarities and the fullness of Truth.  All hold the fullness of Truth, as I have already stated.  Yes there is a difference is ecclesiology (how the church is organized and governed) but the Sacraments are the same and the graces available are the same.  I’m not up on the differences but in some ways it doesn’t matter because I am to love my neighbor.  I have no need to convert them to the Catholic faith because they already have it.  Unfortunately, many Latins don’t see this or refuse to see this and it leads to prideful posts and behaviors and even in some cases, attempts to proselytize (convert or perish mentality of evangelization).  They will even damn them to Hell.  Unfortunately, some Orthodox and Eastern Catholics are no better and refuse to see the similarities and that they are all brothers and sisters in Christ and rather resort to name calling (calling Latin Rite Catholics Protestants) or resorting to nationalism (there are divisions along ethnic and nationality but I’m totally not up on the differences but again comes down to pride and lack of love of neighbor rather than a love of the Truth).

Judge not lest ye be judged.  Remember that rather than falling into sin.  It isn’t easy but it is possible.  Love your neighbor.

More Salvation by Knowledge, Internet Protestantism, and My Truth is the Only Truth

Okay, so I visited the blog/website I said I wouldn’t visit again.  At least I didn’t read the comments. That would have been too much.  But the blog is promoting a book to “fix” your relationship with Christ.  More Salvation by knowledge.  I need a better definition but it comes down to reading as many books about Christianity and the faith instead of focusing on Jesus, prayer, the Bible, and the Sacraments.  Now, I understand the desire to read to help but this blog seems to read books in excess.  Forget talking to Jesus or getting to know Jesus personally.  I’ll just read about him and that will save me.  No, it won’t.  It’s sad at how many people will choose smoke and shadows over the real thing.

Internet Protestantism

This is something I’ve “defined” in the last few days.  It seems to me, an observation more than anything else, that Protestantism (not a good term but I’m talking about a movement, academically and socially rather than necessarily theologically) (still not a good definition) on the Internet is becoming, will become, intends to become, has become, is different, is the same as, is something I’ve made up that is different than “real life Protestantism.”  What I mean, is that people who call themselves Christian on the Internet seem to hold entirely different beliefs than their real life counterparts.  Moreso, they engage in behaviors and postings that most people would refrain.  I guess I see Internet Protestantism as a digital playground that doesn’t adhere to the rules previously decided on by Protestants or common courtesy in the real world.  Online behavior is deplorable, as evidenced by the blog  I mentioned in my last post and other blogs and even “official” websites belonging to apologetic organizations and churches.  It’s an anything goes mentality that is incompatible with Christianity.  What I mean, is that online Christian posters are more willing to malign, condemn, degrade, belittle anyone who does not agree with them and feed these posters to the wolves.  If on Blog A run by Poster A, poster B posts a comment that is in disagreement with Poster A, poster A will resort to name calling on Blog A and run a smear campaign against poster B and if poster B has Blog B, then a smear campaign against the blog.  There is no discussion.  It’s just a free for all and no body is safe especially other Christians.  Poster A and Blog A are also pretty willing to engage in digital damnation that is setting themselves as God and declaring others as saved or damned, all based on a single post or belief even if they do not know the poster or what they believe.  Pretty much, they see monsters under every rock and retaliate rather than taking a good look at the monsters in their own heart.  They would rather play the victim than accept that there are other people out there who do not agree with them and would rather treat those people with hatred and contempt than love and acceptance (though they don’t have to accept their beliefs).

The concept of my truth is the only truth again comes from the bit on Internet Protestant”ism” and behavior of Christians toward people who don’t accept/can’t accept/don’t understand Protestant Christianity.  I specify Protestant Christianity because it’s members are more likely to adhere to this concept in a negative and derogatory way and Catholicism, while there are definitely members who act and behave in the same way do so more towards other Catholics and adhere to schismatic or heretical groups rather than Catholic teaching, but mostly because I’ve seen this behavior and attitude among Protestant posters.  Now I know some very charitable non-Catholic Christians who are willing to engage in dialogue with other non-Catholic Christians and Catholics even though they don’t share the same beliefs and do so very well and intelligently.  However, there are other non-Catholic Christian posters who see anybody who doesn’t agree with their narrow and incomplete version of the truth as damned and not worth talking to.  Like the the blog I mentioned previously.

There was a post on a Calvary Chapel “pastor” blog that covered dealing with someone who doesn’t believe the same as the “pastor.”  I qualify the word pastor here because he has no real training, seminary work, or background to preach and pastor a congregation since anybody can become a Calvary Chapel pastor as long as they believe the distinctives and worship Chuck Smith as their “pope.”  No education required.  This “pastor” mentioned having a conversation on Facebook about truth and God.  The “pastor”, who called the poster “Sue,” argued that truth is absolute and that his truth is the only truth one needs to believe.  Well, there is absolute truth.  What he gets wrong is whose version of the truth “Sue” “needs” to believe.  He questioned “Sue’s” questioning of God (how else are you going to learn, to know God except through questions?) and told her that she needed to accept “his” (the pastor’s) truth or she was lost.   He doesn’t allow her to come to grips with the truth on her own.  He pushes and pushes her to accept his definition and version of the truth, trading on the fact that he’s a “pastor” so that means he knows the truth and is the only one who can help someone find the truth.  Wrong.  As Catholics and the Catholic Church has said, faith and reason are not mutually exclusive things.  Faith can lead to reason and reason can lead to faith.  We can use logic to learn the Faith and to understand what we believe.  Non-Catholics (especially those groups that have formed in the last 50 years or so) abdicate and reject reason and logic as a means of understanding.  You aren’t supposed to use your brain because that means you don’t really believe and aren’t really saved.  But they’ll read books to help them find “faith” and to “fix” their relationship with Jesus.  I just don’t get it.

What really annoyed me was the post by the “pastor” that said that someone who commits murder isn’t a murderer (argue that in court, I dare  you) but because someone is a murderer then they commit murder.  Okay, post hoc ergo propter hoc, and therefore because of.  B happened therefor A must of caused it.  A logical fallacy, a bad argument.  Someone chooses to commit murder otherwise, by his reconning, we couldn’t prosecute anyone for murder because they were always going to commit murder and therefore there could be nothing done to stop it.  That didn’t fly before and it ain’t gonna fly now.  Why would we need a Savior if God was always going to save us?  Why did Jesus have to suffer, be scouraged, and crucified if it was going to amount to nothing?  Because that is what that “pastor” is saying and it doesn’t make a lick of sense.  We wouldn’t need God at all if we were going to be saved or damned regardless of what happened on the Cross.  If were born to be murderers and God knows this, why send His Son to rescue us from damnation and an eternity separated from God?  Why make us in the first place if the effort was going to fail?  Sounds like a god I wouldn’t want to follow.  It’s also a really badly twisted understanding of the Fall and Original Sin.


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