A Conversation with a Non-Theist on Luke’s Census

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As many of you know, my time has been stretched thin as of late, but what time I had, I’ve been discussing the Roman Census as discussed in the Gospel of Luke, which I’ve posted about previously here and here. So, in a different conversation, on Citizen Tom’s blog on a post about Romans 13 submission to authority, rebellion, free will, and God’s cosmology, I was approached by a non-theist blogger whom I’ve had a couple of prior discussions about posting his post on why Christianity fails.

I thought being both a promoter of free thought, a seeker of truth, and confident that the truth leads to Jesus Christ, I’d allow the link to remain on my about section. The information on that post is expansive, to say the least; however, as I discussed with the author, it’s not possible to navigate through a shotgun approach in a theist and non-theist dialogue, so I’d have to pick one topic and naturally my discussion pulled toward Luke’s Census:

Professor Taboo, abbreviated to TAB
Hello again Philip.

I wanted to leave this invite for you and hope you will allow it and kindly keep it posted. Some bloggers won’t/haven’t for reasons known and unknown. I also hope for the sake of civil, informative, alternate (much more comprehensive) history that incorporates all extant sources of the 1st – 4th century CE Levant and Fertile Crescent — more critically the Hellenistic Roman Empire — including Independent or Non-Christian sources that reveal an entirely DIFFERENT narrative of “Christianity” or Christology, instead of just Judeo-Christian or Hellenist-Christian sourced tunnel-vison. Also included are Secular viewpoints about Theism/Monism, and a plethora of philosophical, ontological, etymological, agnotological, and epistemological arguments against Theism/Monism. I scrutinize and examine Christianity’s binary-forms of supernatural Revelation: General and Special.

Where can this equitable, expansive work be found? A long, long Page on my blog under “My Library” called Why Christianity Will Always Fail. I warmly invite anyone, absolutely anyone to go read it (a few times!) in its entirety, including the many many support-links embedded for further, expanded, more secular-humanist knowledge and/or less common ignorance.

Nonetheless, I respected your etiquette and viewpoint. Perhpas you’ll have adequate time to look over it. Thank you Philip.

Philip Augustine abbreviated to AUG:
I briefly took a look, the material is expansive, so I would imagine and would tell anyone to look at any objection to Christianity on a case by case basis. I’m sure Professor Taboo will admit these objections have counter points, as I’ve recognize a several of the assertions.

The one thing, I’ll note that I saw confirmation bias was mentioned, perhaps, we’re all for the most part stuck in our positions on these matters.

But It’s good to hear from you again, my friend. I hope you are doing well.

TAB
Thank you for taking a quick look Philip. It is indeed “expansive,” as it should be covering some 1.5 plus millenia or 13-centuries of history in that part of the ancient world. There is no escaping it if one genuinely desires to be equitable about the subject. But I knew it would be way too much for most — call it laziness, call it the path of least resistance, or just following the crowd until it no longer benefits the individual or community. These affects are quite human indeed. They are also responsible for human’s shortening forethought/foresight and what makes the annoying frustrating cliché “History always repeats itself” so very unnecessarily true. (sigh)

Yes, there are familiar refutes (they still stand?) and there are newer ones too that I KNOW most all faith-followers and apologists alike are not familiar with. And I am aware that most all world religions, especially the (arrogant?) Abrahamic religions, have an answer for everything imaginable whether true, truthy, faithy, or false. And will in the future too! There’s ALWAYS an escape plan and secret hatch. Hahahaha. This I know — I use to be one of them. (wink)

Confirmation bias is also interrelated to Mob-Herd Mentality and the Placebo-effect as well. That should be kept in mind. Over the last 60,000 to 100,000 years or more humans have been EXTREMELY gullible. Today, it manifests its embarrassing head in other forms.

Thanks again Philip. I am well. I hope you are too Sir!

AUG

I’d like to take a more extensive look, it will have to over some time and as I said case by case. Do I agree that there’s arrogance within the Abrahamic religions? Of course, it’s a fairly common trait amongst humans. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily articulate that idea of an escape plan, it’s natural for challenges to be met with a response. However, as you mention epistemology, I’m influenced by the Catholic intellect John Henry Newman in this regard from his work titled “An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.” The basis of the entire work is that most of what we come to know in our entirety is based on leaps of faith.

Now, I do compare that with a bit of Hume’s rejection of Descarte’s idea that man is entirely rational in their decision. For example, I have no issue with your views and you posting them here to the degree that I believe ultimately humanity as a whole decides based more on emotion rather than logic. Of course, these thoughts necessitate a reflection on why I have my faith in God. The philosophy of Thomas Aquinas’ cosmology naturally appeal to my sensibilities; furthermore, Thomas articulates that discussions on the matter of theology between theist and non-theist must come to an understanding of theism itself. If there is no agreement then there is little else to be discussed about Jesus Christ, Trinity, and other Christian truth claims.

Once there is this element established, one can discuss the truth claims of Christianity. For example, you posit many similarities that I would assert are false equivalence: eg. The “resurrection” of Horus narrative isn’t really a resurrection. Now, I’ve discussed with some other blogging non-theist the historical truths of the old testament but Christianity’s central truth is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So long as one feels confident on this point, the historical points are moot to their hears and perhaps due to their emotion assent to the truth.

You state: Paul had an entirely different vision of salvation and resurrection greatly diverging from his abandoned Jewish heritage and that of the Jerusalem Church’s theology. It was also more suitable and attractive to Gentile Romans and how they understood gods.”

Have you by chance heard of NT Wright’s new book on Paul? NT Wright makes the argument that Paul had no conversion in the traditional sense on the road of Damascus in the traditional sense but rather had to assent to the Messianic Jesus as a fulfillment of the Old Covenant. Wright argues that Paul message is one that can only be fulfilled in the story of the people of Israel.

You also state: “If Jesus of Nazareth had arrived (his 1st coming) in the 18th, 19th or 20th century when precision recording of major world events were eons more advanced than 1st century CE witnessing, reporting and recording, would the facts and details of his extraordinary incomparable acts, teaching, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection been more convincing, more believable than 40-80 years after the events?”

Now, honestly, and my degree is in history, so studying the textual account of Acts and that it does not end with the death of Paul around 64 A.D. I am of the opinion that the Gospel of Luke and Act are written before this period. I believe that either Mark or Matthew, I’m still debating priority within myself, is written at the latest in 50 A.D. It’s true most secular scholars use the later dates because of the destruction of the temple but even if one doesn’t believe in prophecy or the Gospels, I would ask, “Would have taken a genius to figure out that eventually, the Romans were going to destroy the temple?”

In other posts on this blog, I’ve asserted that synoptic gospels do, in fact, assert Christ’s divinity. In the Christmas posts, I discuss the census for property found in Egypt in the Roman Empire that requires those to travel.

The problem with reading and responding is that I simply do not have enough time. Professor Taboo post appears well researched but I am not under the impression that I’ll change his mind, as I have assented that he’s come to his conclusion based on Hume’s emotional response.

TAB
Indeed, “time” is a furocious predator sometimes with an insatiable appetite, eh? LOL None of us can ever know or study all possible relevant and plausibly relevant (in investigation) factors on a person/event so very long ago. It takes, at least in MY case years, many years. Then couple that with too many moral and familial daily obligations often make the task impossible to be an expert in multiple fields. This constraint applies to all, theists, secularists, Christians, and non-Christians alike. I’ve blogged about Agnotology and how pervious it truly is regarding Knowledge.

Specifically, you address ONE contention on my page…

I discuss the census for property found in Egypt in the Roman Empire that requires those to travel.

Would you please share with me that source? I’m very curious to read it and study it closely. And it would be fantastic if there were MORE around the Roman Empire that copy it. Thank you Philip.

AUG
Luke’s Census post on Communio provided: Please see above link.

TAB
Assuming this census becomes valid and agreed upon by ancient/antiquity scholars, did a Kata Oikian census extend anywhere beyond Egypt? Has there been any corroborating papyrus (like a papyrus Lond. 904, 20f.) to at least HINT that this was possibly done in other remote Roman provinces? Because otherwise this sort of census is highly irregular (to say the least) in Roman governing of the time. Thanks Philip.

AUG

Commented about searching for available sources omitted

AUG
Do you have access to Journal Research databases? As Alumni, I still can use my schools access to such journal sites. So, I did a bit of research at my university’s database page and came across this article on Roman Census Papyri: entitled:

New light on Roman census papyri through semi-automated record linkage by:

Saskia Hina, Dalia A. Condeb,c, and Adam Lenartc,d
aFamily and Population Studies Group (FaPOS), Department of Sociology, KU Leuven; bDepartment of Biology, University of Southern Denmark; cMax-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging, University of Southern Denmark; dDepartment of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark

HISTORICAL METHODS
2016, VOL. 49, NO. 1, 50–65

In the article:

“Many details regarding the execution of these censuses remain obscure, including whether and to what extent temporal variation in the aims of these censuses affected recording procedures and the nature of transmitted cen- sus figures”

“For the Imperial period, the dry conditions in the Egyptian desert have preserved a number of census dec- larations that pertain to the first to third centuries CE and have been unearthed at various locations during archaeological excavations”

Naturally, this would indicate why there are few Roman census/tax records and what records we do have exist from Egypt, which is why the Bacchias census in 119 A.D. and the one mentioned earlier discovered in Roman Census Edict 104 A.D. are rare.

The authors continue, “What is clear, how-ever, is that the earliest documents within this body of Roman Egyptian census data date back to the period of the reign of the first Roman Emperor Augustus. That there was some degree of interference by the authorities in Rome with the process of census taking in the provinces is suggested among others by the Edict of the Fasti Ostiensis. This edict was issued by Augustus; the copy through which we know it was found in current Libya, and it describes how (in Cyrene) he had counted all people he had wanted to count .”

A brief overview, but the type of Census Luke talks about, seems to have evidence that this type of census did exist. Now, I would imagine with minimalist school of thought that you seem to hold, even if historians say that Roman documents are few( and here is the key to your asking beyond Egypt) not likely to be found outside of Egypt, that unless a papyrus/document is found that dates to around Herod the Great and mentioned Bethlehem, this material will not suffice. I think it should because as scholars indicate outside of Egypt would be rare, I suppose though this is part of confirmation bias, I see this and say good enough here is evidence and another looks at it says, “not good enough.” Convenient for us both, I suppose.

However, the scholars here indicate that censuses during Emperor Augustus though are, in fact, not rare.

TAB
Hello Philip.

HAH! I see you’ve been doing some work here on the subject of Roman censuses. I appreciate that! This is good stuff. Three things I want to quickly mention seeing that I’m on a quick break at the moment — my “time” at the moment is limited until the weekend. Sorry.

(discussion on blog posts location omitted)

Though I am happy to dig into this ONE subject (or tree in a vast forest) of Roman censuses concerning Luke, we should keep in mind the many, MANY other problems and failures I address in the rest of my Page. Just a friendly reminder. 🙂

Lastly, we also should keep in mind that this discussion/debate is about the TYPE or make-up of Roman censuses — their 3-pronged purpose, why they implemented them, etc. — and whether they were done (across the entire Empire, not just Egypt or Palestine) at the man’s/father’s birth-place or at his place/town of occupation, the latter being much MUCH more reasonable, feasible, and consistent with Rome’s 3-pronged purpose of censuses. The specific DATES of these censuses are what is critical to know or understand, not necessarily whether censuses were done in outer-provinces and if so, how frequently. Though important icing-on-the-cake to also know/understand, that is secondary to whether Quirinius’ census was done in c. 4 BCE and what specific type of 3-pronged data was being collected.

Real quickly, since my time at the moment is limited, here is an excellent resource from Stanford University on the purposes of Roman censuses beginning in the Republic as opposed to the Imperial Age:

https://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/hin/110703.pdf

I think you’ll find #8 “Serve, pay, and vote: the aims of registration,” 8a, 8b (Fiscal aims), 8c, #9 “The practice of census taking,” and #11e “Citizens outside Italy: registration and emigration.” I think the entire journal article is worth reading closely, several times!

Regarding your last two comments, I’ll likely have to get to them over the weekend. My apologies Philip for my schedule Sir.

AUG

Discussion on blog post location omitted

I will certainly concede that your link has several objections: However, you’ve presented an entire body of work over some time and thought. You posted it here. I would think it unfair for me to respond to a shotgun approach of conversation. So, we’ve brought up this one single issue to discuss, an issue that interests me, it’s posted on your link. So, I think it fair to discuss this one particular subject.

One thing to note with looking over this particular article that you’ve provided from Princeton is that it appears to be distinct to Romans in Italy or at least the goal of the particular piece. As the article, which is dated 2016, I posted states that most data on tax census would be unknown; however, searching your article, it appears the scholars have the same issue in regards to the Italian peninsula. You could certainly argue that a date is more important in regards to a census, I would say only in the particulars of the type of government that was in place at the time. I would certainly argue that the Roman government, under an emperor, in 104 A.D. would more similar to Augustus than the early Republican governments leading up to Caesar. Again, much of this is conjecture, as there are few actual documents, as stated by the scholars in each particular article.

So, as I searched for Egypt in the particular article, I found some important information. I think, Egypt being a province it is likely that government censuses operated similarly in outlier provinces rather than in Italy. The Princeton article you cited:

“In Roman Egypt this was not the case. Whereas metropoleis had permanent offices open for census registration, declarations from small communities are dated within a brief period, suggesting instead that the censors went to the village and called everyone to appear, or perhaps went knocking on people’s doors – we can only speculate here. Bagnall and Frier (1994, 17-8).”

In fact, even the Princeton article admits that there is little known of how census’ were conducted in Italy by what documents are known to scholars at this time (p.22):

“Extrapolation from Egypt to Italy may obviously prove to be a dangerous expedition into marshy fields. The numbering and gluing together of the household declarations is suggestive of the method the censors employed to organize their administration in Roman Egypt, but does not necessarily tell us anything about Roman Italy.”

It appears that we actually know about census recording is mostly concluded from the Egyptian documents and attempted to piece together with small bits of information about the Italian peninsula.

I’ll have to take a look at the article a few times like you suggested. 11e Did appeal to some of the issues discussed with the census, but as admitted the Roman institution did have the capability, “All in all, it seems difficult to hold that Rome was a society that was simply too underdeveloped to be capable of organizing such procedures”

It’s also important to frame into what the Gospel of Luke is actually telling us about the Census, which Classical scholars indicate due to Greek language being lost in translation is probably more likely to be like what is represented in your particular article of “small” census in regional provinces over time and as illustrated in the article that I posted.

The Nativity Census: What Does Luke Actually Say?
Author(s): John Thorley
Source: Greece & Rome, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Apr., 1979), pp. 81-84
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association

Original Text of Comment omitted and Screenshot added to add Greek Text:
Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 9.37.32 AM

TAB

Blog Post location text omitted

 

Regarding more specifics of Roman Republic and Imperial censuses, I think we’ve gotten a bit off track here (on a tree or two despite the forest) about the prevelance of censuses — Italian peninsula or provincial isn’t of critical importance — because as I think we both know from our own quality (extensive?) study of Roman life, politics, economics, demography, etc, from the Republic Era up thru the Imperial Age, scholars know Rome conducted censuses on fairly regular cycles definitely starting in 32/33 CE up into the early 4th-century CE if my memory serves correctly. And the Quirinius census was in 6 CE after King Herod’s death, but Jesus’ approx. birth is 4 BCE. This is why Luke’s account is very problematic at best, and flat wrong/mistaken at worst.

Nevertheless, there is an even bigger problem with Luke’s account. Making Roman citizens and non-citizens in the Provinces to go long, long distances back to their ancestral homes is honestly, ludicrous for a few reasons. One is a chaotic distrubance of the Empire’s economy, out of the some 35-40 reliable census records survived NONE of them ever cover the entire Roman world just various Governors or when the Emperor asks a specific Governor to do one, another is imperfect and/or partially unknown or completely unknown geneologies of Romans and non-citizens, still another is that simply determining “tax tributes” is much easier done by the person’s current place of occupation (while still declaring properties elsewhere to the Magistrate), and because my own time is limited I’ll just quote Dr. Bart Ehrman on this problem of historicity and gospel veracity; he has some very good reasons too:

There are enormous historical problems here. […]

For one thing, there is a major problem with this “first registration” under Caesar Augustus. We have no record of any such thing (first or second), even though we have good documentation about the major events during Augustus’s reign. And this would have been a major event indeed. Luke indicates “all the world” had to register. Well, that can’t be right: he must mean “all the Roman Empire.” But even that defies belief, and not just because it is never mentioned in any historical source. (Point worth making: this is not said to be a local registration, but one for the “entire world”) Are we supposed to imagine that everyone in the Roman empire had to register in the town of their ancestors, the way Joseph did? Joseph’s ancestor David came from Bethlehem, so that’s where he registers. But wait a second. Why does he go to the town where David came from? Why not from the town that David’s great-great-great grandfather came from? Why is he stopping with David? Something odd is going on here.

It’s important to note that the text does not say that Joseph himself was originally from Bethlehem. He registers there because he is from the Davidic line, and David was born there. But how many thousands and thousands of people in Joseph’s time could in one way or another trace their line back to David? Moreover, how would anyone really know? Contrary to what is often said and thought, there simply were not reliable genealogies back then.

But there’s yet a bigger problem. David lived a thousand years earlier than Joseph. Are we to imagine that everyone in the Roman empire is returning to the home of their ancestors from a thousand years earlier to register for this census? And there’s no record of the massive migrations involved in any historical source? They just forgot to mention that part? Even more, how is it even possible? Imagine that to avoid the current fiscal cliff, the Congress works out a deal that we all need to register for a new tax, and the requirement is that we register where our ancestors from a thousand years ago came from. Where will *you* go?

There are more problems with this account. The most famous is the fact that this could not have been, contrary to what the text says, when Quirinius was the governor of Syria, if it was also “in the days of King Herod of Judea” (1:5). We know from inscriptions and the Jewish historian Josephus that Quirinius did not become governor until ten years after Herod died.

Ehrman continues this scrutiny in a following post/article:

Yesterday I discussed Matthew’s account of how it is that Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem, if in fact he “came” from Nazareth. For Matthew it is because Joseph and Mary were originally from Bethlehem. That was their home town. And the place of Jesus’ birth. Two or more years after his birth, they relocated to Nazareth in Galilee, over a hundred
miles to the north, to get away from the rulers of Judea who were thought to be out to kill the child. (That in itself, I hardly need to say, seems completely implausible, that a local king is eager to kill a peasant child out of fear that he will wrest the kingdom away from him…)

Luke has a completely different account of how it happened. In Luke, Bethlehem is decidedly not Joseph and Mary’s home town. The whole point of the story is that it is not. They are from Nazareth. But then how does Jesus come to be born somewhere else? In the most famous passage of the birth narratives, we are told that it is because of a “decree” that went out from the ruler of the Roman Empire, Caesar Augustus. “All the world” had to be “enrolled” – that is, there was a world-wide census. We are told that this was the “first enrollment” made when Quirinius was the governor of Syria.

Since Joseph is “of the house and lineage of David,” and since David (his ancestor from about 1000 years earlier) had been born in Bethlehem, Joseph had to register for the census in Bethlehem. In other words, everyone in the Roman empire is returning to the home of their ancestors (from a 1000 years earlier??? Really? “the entire world?” And everyone in the Roman empire is doing this? How are we to imagine the massive shifts of population for this census? And no other source even bothers to mention it???) (But pursue the questions further: why does Joseph have to register in the town of his ancestor [David] from 1000 years before? Why not an ancestor from 1200 years earlier? or 700 years earlier? or 100 years earlier? Does this even make sense? Why David in particular?).

In any event, since Joseph has to register in Bethlehem, and since Mary is his betrothed, they make a trip to Bethlehem. And it just so happens that this is when Mary goes into labor. So she gives birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. Since there is no room for them in the inn, they lay the child in a cattle manger, and the shepherds come to worship him.

Eight days later they have him circumcised. And then, since they are right next door anyway, 32 days after birth they go to the Temple in Jerusalem and perform the offering for Mary’s ritual cleansing “according to what is said in the Law of Moses” (referring to Leviticus 12), and then, “when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.”

So even though Jesus was raised in Nazareth (starting when he was just under two months old), he was born in Bethlehem.

But what about the wise men from Matthew who come to find them in a house in Bethlehem, over a year later? Moreover, if Luke is right that they return to Nazareth a month after Jesus’ birth, how can Matthew be right that they fled to Egypt (they’re obviously doing this on foot, so it would, well, take a while), and that they don’t return until much later after
Herod dies. In Matthew they want to return from Egypt to their hometown Bethlehem, but can’t because of Archelaus. But here in Luke their home town isn’t Bethlehem at all, but Nazareth.

There are other irreconcilable problems with Luke’s account. How could this have been the first enrollment when Quirinius was the governor of Syria? Quirinius was not the Syrian governor when Herod was the Judean king. Not even close. Quirinius did not become the governor unto 6 CE. But Herod died in 4 BCE.

So what’s going on here? What’s going on is that both Matthew and Luke want Jesus to be born in Bethlehem even though they both know that he came from Nazareth. Both accounts are filled with implausibilities on their own score (a star leading “wise men” to the east – they wouldn’t be very wise if they thought that a star could lead them in a straight line anywhere — and stopping over a house; a census of the entire Roman world that could not have happened); and they contradict each other up and down the map.

My view is that neither story is historical, but that both have an ultimate objective to explain how Jesus could be the messiah if he was from Nazareth instead of Bethlehem. So they (or their sources) came up with stories to get him born in Bethlehem. These stories are meant to show that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Micah 5:2, and Matthew himself indicates in
clear terms, by quoting the very prophecy.

And so what conclusion can we draw? To me it seems all fairly straight forward. Jesus was not really born in Bethlehem. — from The Bart Ehrman Blog at https://ehrmanblog.org/

But again Philip, these highly plausible (truer, correct) deciphered explanations from broader historical context, compared to the errors of Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ birth and Gospel authors later finagling them to Micah 5:2, are only the tip of the ice-berg as far as the rest of the New Testament’s and Old Testament’s serious problems, as I address exhaustively on my Page — which as it turns out is NOT exhaustive compared to the work of many other non-Christian secular scholars such as Ehrman and Robert Eisenman to name two. Sorry for this long, long info-comment.

AUG
Blog post location text omitted

First off, although I converse with Evangelical Christians, I’m not one. I’m Roman Catholic, I would imagine you’ve figured it out, so my views on scripture can be very different, as Evangelicals and Catholics believe different things.

An example being that I believe the Bible is a library written by different authors during a long period of time in different genres. So, for example, in your post, you mention numbers of people and things: I think numbers are not literal in some book of the Bible, especially the older books. And sometimes, I think that those numbers are used in the New Testament typologically. The number 12 symbolizes Holiness, The number 40 symbolizes a trial, I do not think the world was created in 6 days—Neither did St. Augustine as early as 4th century btw, etc. In fact, the father of the Big Bang theory is a Catholic Priest, Fr. Georges Lemaitre.

In regards to the census, you say:

“Nevertheless, there is an even bigger problem with Luke’s account. Making Roman citizens and non-citizens in the Provinces to go long, long distances back to their ancestral homes is honestly, ludicrous for a few reasons. One is a chaotic distrubance of the Empire’s economy, out of the some 35-40 reliable census records survived NONE of them ever cover the entire Roman world “

I believe I’ve addressed many of your points in my previous comment by the Roman 104 A.D. Egyptian Roman Census which illustrates folks being called back for property, by referencing the article that you provided that did claim the empire was capable of census projects, it also discusses in Egypt that people were allowed extensions.

Furthermore, as I provided, Classical Scholars, do not believe Luke is claiming a one census in the entire Roman world in the original Greek. And perhaps the census in 8 B.C. could be the one. The translation is lost when it carries over into English by the scholarly article I quoted above.

Ehrman is the definition of a dude with an ax to grind, but nonetheless, I think his comment: “even though we have good documentation about the major events during Augustus’s reign,“ is addressed by the few scholarly articles as wrong because we’d have differ on what “major events” were as Ehrman is attempting to use it as a one size fits all. All three of the scholarly articles presented, would more or less say that censuses may of took a period of time, when they came to outer provinces were rushed, gave extensions to the people there (maybe to travel?). The scholars also claim that there not much we can know from the limited census data and that what we physically have we piece together in conjecture. In my original post, I believe I address some of the reasons why Joseph would have traveled to Bethlehem that Erhman brings up.

Also, remember, I’m Catholic, so Church tradition carries as much weight as the scripture. I’d imagine that Evangelicals get caught in scriptural “got you” moments because well, I do it to them too. I mention what my faith teaches so you can have the proper tools in conversation with me:

107 The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”72

108 Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living”.73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.”7

110 In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.”76

111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.”

So, naturally, you may ask, is there shifting goal posts? Well, honestly, in some aspects of the Old Testament, perhaps, it depends as the Catholic Church holds to the historicism of authors and their genres. So, why do I have a keen interest in the Census?

Well, the Catechism teaches:

126 We can distinguish three stages in the formation of the Gospels:

1. The life and teaching of Jesus. The Church holds firmly that the four Gospels, “whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up.”99

All of the contexts of the scripture is connected to the journey towards “eternal salvation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever Happened to the Jesuits, the nuns, the priests and the world at large?

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I think that if you look at the way the ‘updating’ as required by Vatican II proceeded it is rather instructional. Psychologists like Carl Rogers and Wm. Coulson got involved and almost single handedly destroyed the Jesuits and the nuns. Their ideas still permeate  the Church and much of the world as well; especially in sex education. Priests and nuns do not seem to find any sin in following their own ‘lights’ of conscience and therefore sexual promiscuity is forgiven because, after all, they feel no guilt; so it can’t be evil. Please read the following interview between The Latin Mass and William Coulson that took place in the late 90’s. 

https://www.ewtn.com/library/PRIESTS/COULSON.TXT

Now along with the ‘new psychology’ which took a thriving order of nuns from over 600 members and 6 functioning schools down to 0 schools and several dozen aging members is quite a feat for the science of psychology and satan. Please read the above interview as it is full of interesting things, many of which live on in our day despite Coulson’s efforts to undo all the damage he caused the Church.

Now, this new ‘I centered’ approach to examining ourselves seems to be only a stepping stone to Narcissism and, Ann Barnhardt is not wrong to dub it Diabolical Narcissism for that is what it is. For all love is extinguished in the souls of these people and they only care about satisfying their own cravings and getting away with whatever they can. They have no love for themselves either but they do relish being above the law and behaving as though they are above God Himself. They are cunning and they are good at manipulating others and destroying their enemies and/or creating other narcissists that are created in a psychological effort to escape the suffering caused by these unfeeling powerful individuals. So they lose their love as an escape from their misery. Read the latest Barnhardt post which explains alot about the problems of Diabolical Narcissists but also sheds light on our own Bergoglio and his actions.

https://www.barnhardt.biz/2018/06/15/were-all-being-watched-bergoglio-soros-palo-alto-the-nhs-and-a-girls-gymnastics-coach/

Finally, I have taken a new post on 1P5 that illustrates how bad these things are institutionally. The story, which I will not ruin for you, is a case study in what was mentioned in the first link above by Coulson: the fact that many priests and nuns started thinking of themselves as bachelors and bachelorettes on the make, I think it explains a lot.

https://onepeterfive.com/report-austrian-bishop-has-girlfriends-while-churchs-leadership-is-silent/

Beyond this partial understanding of world culture and the new Church culture we are left with a sickening pit in our stomachs. How can this be fixed if we cannot find a way to drive these people from their posts of power and instill new good men into such positions? How do we get the seminaries to create such men when there are so few men to teach them? I have nothing more to add though I would be interested if someone had what they think might be a fix that might have a chance of working. I can’t think of one.

Is Bergoglio encouraging us to live in a near occasion of sin?

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“Occasions of sin are external circumstances–whether of things or persons–which either because of their special nature or because of the frailty common to humanity or peculiar to some individual, incite or entice one to sin.” __ New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11196a.htm

Catholics have long been warned to avoid near occasions of sin by our Church. And for very obvious and good reasons.

Note that as an external circumstance, living in close contact to a believing Muslim, there is an obvious reaction that occurs both to them and to the non-Muslim. For they intentionally or unintentionally have over the centuries proved beyond any manner of doubt that they incite and/or entice us (and themselves) to sin by returning hate for hate and harm for harm. And our presence around them seems beyond reasonable doubt to be an occasion of sin for them as demonstrated throughout history; for it is a well known fact that Muslims have been at war with the non-Muslim world and wish to convert it by the sword and eliminate all those who do not accept their Islamic faith. It is also a fact that they hate both the Jew and the Christian and all other peaceable religions. They do not accept those who are without a faith, for they too are not acceptable to their faith or ideology; for they will only settle for complete domination of the world to their cult. The world must, in their view, bow to them.

So why do we ask Christians and especially why does the Pope ask Catholics to welcome these people to migrate into our countries and to extend a hearty welcome and have no fear of their barbarous acts against us? Yet the recent history of bombings, killings, beheadings, rapes and beatings of innocent people only shows what we already knew of Islam. In fact, all that we are accomplishing in our acceptance of their migration to our lands is to give them more victims to feed their blood lust and frenzy and entice civilized people to drive them from their midst or to attack them to protect themselves and their families.

That sounds to me like a situation that should be categorized as creating a near occasion of sin rather than avoiding a near occasion of sin. We should listen to the old teachings of the Church and stop all of this foolishness.

To avoid this situation is easy. Leave them in Muslim countries and isolate them. We will be doing the world a favor. We will keep Catholics from being put into a situation that will cause many to sin and we know that the Muslims have already proved that they are being encouraged to commit more sins of violence, rape and murder upon those who do not hold their faith. It is certain that this crazy experiment is detrimental to both the Muslim and the non-Muslim and does nothing to help save the souls of anyone. 

How many conflicts between the Christians and the Muslims from history must we read before we learn a most basic lesson? We are like oil and water and we do not mix and never will mix. We have driven them out in the past and we are in a situation where we need to start doing this again or else face a prolonged war of terror that will either end with us or them as victors. Best take care of this while we still might have a chance to win and remove ourselves from what I think is a global near occasion of sin.

Coming up for air

Well, my end of year exams are over. For better or worse, I committed my efforts and will need to wait just over a month for results. In July, and possibly after, I shall have some interviews for potential training contracts. For now, though, I need to breathe and  climb back down from the exam frenzy. In my tired state, as I reflect upon this year of learning law, the mechanics of everyday life are more apparent than they were ten months ago. I have a better understanding of the corporate world, although that understanding needs to grow and my intention is to obtain a master’s in corporate law next year.

The complications of land law help me understand why acquisitions of real estate take so long and cost so much in lawyers’ fees and in risk mitigation – e.g. paying a party to surrender an interest in the land. Tort law has shown me why otherwise attractive architecture is plastered with specific warning signs, while public law enabled me to grasp exactly what had happened to Tommy Robinson while may were floundering with inaccurate understandings of events – not that I could tell anyone that at the time. Criminal law has given me some understanding of sexual offences, and EU law gives me some insight into the problems surrounding a proposed merger between Siemens and Alstom in the railway sector. Equity and trusts has shown me why laypeople should get lawyers to draw up their wills. Life will never be the same.

I have been keeping half an eye on the news during my revision break and have been reading the posts here and at NEO, as well as those at Richard’s Watch. I was disappointed with the result of the Vollgeld referendum. I took Steve’s point that we should be wary of central banks, and the Swiss proposal was a version of a solution that I did not particularly favour compared with other options, but I felt doing something was better than nothing, and my basic moral views on the matter remain the same.

I do not like the fractional reserve banking system we have at the moment, and I consider it to be at its root a theoretical breach of contract. I say theoretical because in practice banks provide small print to customers so that, in the eyes of the law, customers have agreed to terms and conditions. Legally speaking, customers are not being cheated. In real terms, however, despite discussions in various parts of the internet, I believe that large chunks of the public in Britain – perhaps a majority – do not really understand how banking works and that the distinct concepts of deposit and loan have been merged.

It is true that the UK government passed a law after the 2008 crisis providing that the state would guarantee deposits up to a certain amount – but this is not a perfect solution. Firstly, it does nothing for money deposited above that upper limit. Secondly, it makes the tax payer liable for choices made by an industry over which the average person has little control. There aren’t many alternatives to high street banking from the deposit and payment angle (as opposed to investment). Furthermore, in this age of crazy inflation, people would resent paying for deposit services. Being accustomed to deposits earning interest, paying for a deposit service sounds like a swindle to the average person and makes no sense when the value of the currency decreases. Paying for deposits only makes sense in an age with long-term stability and minimal inflation.

Banking aside, my thoughts have lingered over geopolitics and the practicalities of starting up businesses, changing industries in an unstable world economy, and the possibility of changes in our lifestyles as products such as synthetically grown meat come closer to state approval and commercial viability. Against this backdrop, large parts of the mainstream church seem left behind. By this I mean that the liberals in positions of authority, despite their orations, are not actually as in touch as they think they are with current realities. Ironically, the traditionalist who did not surrender to post-modern and Marxist heresies seem better placed to survive in the fast-paced world of today. Amidst the instability of our geopolitics and economic and technological upheaval, the traditionalists have a bedrock of metaphysical commitments that cannot be broken by empirical data. Their slowly evolving ethical views also make them well placed to communicate with the average person, unlike the jargon-filled revolutionary rhetoric that excites the emotions, but fails to connect with our most basic convictions.

 

A Parish Reconstruction Project

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My parish is trying to raise a huge amount of money for a reconstruction project to fix the numerous problems with our parish; things from electrical, air conditioning, water damage, and design issues. It is amazing to see the amount of time and effort going into this project. We have all been requested repeatedly to ‘pledge’ a monthly gift for the next 3 years in order to get this problem solved. I just want to say that the word ‘pledge’ is theirs and not mine. For I signed up and pledged a nice amount to this endeavor before I had a change of heart and mind on this. So for reasons of conscience, I have de-pledged my gift which is what I consider it; not a solemn vow or pledge to fulfill. I hate when they use such words for it causes people to think that they are tied into their gift giving under pain of sin should they have a change of heart or mind.

Why did I have this change of heart and mind you might wonder? The reason is simple. A parish is simply a building that has no significance at all without the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a solemn and respectful ceremony. If that is not happening we have a far more urgent ‘reconstruction project’ that needs restoration far more than the building. These problems need be remedied  prior to the work of the masons, carpenters and other workmen needed to fix the brick and mortar. For any Church building should only take second place to the reconstruction of a Mass that has lost its former dignity and solemnity.

As it is, the Mass, as it has evolved over the years that I have been a member of this parish has fallen into great disrepair; novel changes have entered in and each new pastor has ‘grandfathered’ these changes into his own new and novel changes which are, of course, added to the previous novelties. Changes such as the placement of things on the sanctuary, the movement to receive under both kinds, the impossibility of receiving on the tongue while kneeling (altar rails were demolished years before I even came to this parish), the introduction of extraordinary ministers (including women) , girl altar servers, lay lectors (including women), cantors who sing from the sanctuary rather than apart from the holy space, bilingual Masses and sappy, silly music to accompany the Sacrifice of the Mass are just a few of the many things that need immediate attention. Without concern at all for these things then what is the point of a beautiful parish with a Liturgy that leaves one empty after the Rite is over? I often think that I might have gotten the same benefit had I simply stayed at home rather than attend a predominantly happy, clappy, egalitarian get-together which has become the norm.

Now this is not to say that some of the parish priests of the past were not devout men who meant well and were likable on a personal level. But as priests they were rather weak or more appropriately effete in their reluctance to deal with issues that should never have been allowed to remain unchanged. So like our deteriorating building our Mass too has suffered the same and perhaps a more significant deterioration; slowly, just as the building’s deterioration has been a long and steady process.

What can we do about it? I really do not have an answer unless it is the withholding of funds from the parish until such a time that the Mass is fully restored to its majesty; and that is precisely what I am doing even though my small individual protest will amount to no more than a speck of dust which falls lightly to the floor and disappears from view. If I were a super-major financial supporter of the parish then it might not be so easily dismissed but as it is, I fear that I only satisfy my own conscience and rectify nothing.

Not being an activist, nor is my advanced age an asset for such things, there is no way that I can even dream of organizing a sizable protest to fix what needs fixing and then move on to the restoration of the building which does need attention. So mine is but a lonely voice, crying out in the wilderness so-to-speak, which is unlikely to have any effect whatever on those things that I find essential in a Catholic parish. And so my emails to my priest, my few candid remarks to him after Mass have not netted me or the Church any satisfaction or noticeable changes for the better. 

I am beginning to feel as though I am a passenger on a long treacherous voyage. On this sea voyage, I have watched, in just a few short years, the sailors being replaced by its passengers to run the ship and set its course; and of course the passengers in these new positions of importance are thrilled and excited and have no intention to give the ship back to the Captain or the trained sailors. In fact the new rank and file of sailors, which are now few, have not even learned basic seamanship it seems, so they are as reluctant to change as are the passengers of this floundering vessel. One can only pray for fair skies, calm seas, a favorable wind and current, as there is nobody on board it seems that cares a bit where we are going or if we are sailing into a typhoon or about to go aground. The vessel is in need of repair but the real appointed crew and their knowledge of seamanship and their leadership are far more important than painting the hull so it looks nice and letting everyone have a turn at the wheel in the spirit of egalitarianism. And all the while we continue to navigate into the unknown darkness of a troubled sea and we sing and dance and make merry.

 

Gnosticism Today

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This is another great article that appeared in The Catholic Thing that was written by Fr. Thomas Weinandy. In his article he lets us see who the real neo-Gnostics might be in today’s world. We should think a bit more on this before we allow the progressives and modernists to hurl their slanderous comments toward their enemies willy-nilly. Enjoy.

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Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, Cap.

THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 2018

There is much discussion today concerning the presence of a new Gnosticism within the Catholic Church.  Some of what has been written is helpful, but much of what has been described as a revival of this heresy has little to do with its ancient antecedent.  Moreover, attributions of this ancient heresy to various factions within contemporary Catholicism are generally misdirected.  To bring some clarity to this discussion of neo-Gnosticism first demands a clear understanding of the old form.

Ancient Gnosticism came in various forms and expressions, often quite convoluted, but some essential principles are discernible:

♦ First, Gnosticism holds a radical dualism: “matter” is the source of all evil, and “spirit” is the divine origin of all that is good.

♦ Second, human beings are composed of both matter (the body) and spirit (which provides access to the divine).

♦ Third, “salvation” consists in obtaining true knowledge (gnosis), an enlightenment that allows progress from the material world of evil to the spiritual realm, and ultimately communion with the immaterial supreme deity.

♦ Fourth,  diverse “Gnostic Redeemers” were proposed, each claiming to possess such knowledge, and to provide access to this “salvific” enlightenment.

Read more: https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2018/06/07/gnosticism-today/

Vollgeld

Tomorrow the Swiss will hold a referendum on the subject of “Vollgeld” (nouns are capitalised in German), which, if successful, will end fractional reserve banking in Switzerland. Private banks will no longer be able to create money. I hope they are successful.

You can read about it here:

Tomorrow Swiss Citizens could change how banking works forever in the Vollgeld referendump

If you have access to the Financial Times, Martin Wolf also has a piece in favour of it from this week. While I do not agree with him on all things, I do on this, and I salute him for standing up against opposition from the “mainstream” financial, legal, and economic communities.

I was first alerted to the problem of fractional reserved banking during my freshers’ week of university, but did not come back to it until this year when I read part of Dr Jesus Huerta de Soto’s book on the topic. Banking may be broken down into three separate categories (two really being the reverse of each other).

A) Deposit banking

B) Investment banking

C) Loan banking

By (A), I mean that the customer comes to the bank and asks him to store his money for him (and also potentially to use his account to make payments to third parties at the customer’s direction) – no more, no less. By (B), I mean the customer leaves money with the banker to invest for a term. In effect, this is a loan to the bank: the customer understands that he loses access to the money during the term of investment and runs the risk of losing some or all of it. He accepts this on the understanding that, if successful, he will make a profit on this venture. It is essentially a kind of gambling, and the bank is acting as the customer’s agent: a skilled customer with the right connections could cut out the middleman and do this for himself. By (C), I mean the bank gives a loan to the customer, usually secured by a kind of charge (e.g. fixed or floating; a charge by way of legal mortgage over land would be an example of a fixed charge).

Fractional reserve banking occurs when these three separate concepts are mixed. The money deposited under (A) is used for investment purposes for a different customer. Where a deposit contract specifies that this is not to be done, the transgressing banker will be liable for breach of contract, for breach of trust (where a fiduciary relationship exists), and potentially for misrepresentation in contract law and the tort of deceit where the banker never had the intention of obeying the terms of the deposit contract and made a knowing false statement of fact in order to induce the deposit customer to enter the contract. Where criminal laws penalise fraud, the banker could also be liable for criminal sanction in the deceit scenario. There were times when fractional reserve banking was illegal and where such breaches were scandalous. As late as the twentieth century, bankers in Spain were tried for misappropriation of deposit money.

I hope you will consider the gravity of fractional reserve banking and support the Swiss in your thoughts and prayers on the eve and day of the referendum. Earlier polls suggested it would fail, but if it succeeds, it will be a first blow against an aspect of the globalism and financial technocracy that is responsible in part for the economic problems of our era.

Boys to Men: a rite of passage

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Fr. Z had a very interesting post about Anthony Esolen’s latest post concerning the making of men from boys and that it is something a mother cannot provide her son with; it takes a father (or father figure to do that). Fr. Z’s post is here: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2018/06/esolens-observations-on-boys-and-men-and-what-women-cannot-give-them/

I am of the opinion that the failure of this present generation in creating men has spread far beyond the simple idea of boys (in a man’s body) and women who create a child without the prerequisite marriage; which became natural in every civilization. This was a part of a boys rite of passage into manhood. But note that in our present day most of the areas in a boys life where his manhood is put to the test has been eradicated; that the rite of passage from boyhood to manhood has almost disappeared from our society. It is apparent in the new Boy Scouts that allows girls, military academies and the military itself are now coed and has even pervaded our churches where boys who were altar boys in the past are now simply altar servers along side girls and the male mentoring of boys has all but disappeared. 

For a boy to become a man he needs a father or a father figure; a mentor, grandfather, uncle, older married brother or a manly pastor/priest  that will give boys the necessary information they need in order that they might make this cultural passage from boyhood to manhood. In robbing these young boys of the traditional rite of passage has impoverished our societies with fewer real men who have been replaced with big boys, with bodies of men, who have never, and may never, grow into men. They do not understand how to relate to other men nor do they know how to create monogamous relationships that are fueled by procreation, provision and protection. They simply enjoy the sex as a satisfaction of their lust and without learning that men need to learn the responsibility that men once were taught: procreation, provision and protection. For this is the realm of real men who find their manhood in fulfilling the role of a husband. Women, on the other hand, are different and their desire to seek a real man for a husband is hardwired into their very genes. And today these women are having a hard time meeting a real man to enter into matrimony and willing to live out a life of sacrifice to provide and protect his nuclear family. It is perhaps our greatest failure and the largest worldwide crisis  we have faced since the dawn of man.

Please read the following 2 articles which are related. The Esolen article is better but the Stanton article fills in some gaps and gives another perspective on the subject as well.

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2017/12/20272/ – Glenn Stanton

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/06/21528/ – Anthony Esolen

What then are we to do about this situation? For once down this track of fatherless households it seems that we have gone down the slippery slope and things will just get worse from here. I have no answers but I do know that if we don’t start making men from boys soon, we won’t have any men to mentor the next generation of boys. 

Betrayal: the killing of trust and friendship

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The word betray has all the following meanings according to the Dictionary and a few more as well but the following will suffice for my purposes in this post:

  1. to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty: Benedict Arnold betrayed his country.
  2. to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling: to betray a trust.
  3. to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to: to betray one’s friends.
  4. to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence: to betray a secret.
  5. to show or exhibit; reveal; disclose: an unfeeling remark that betrays his lack of concern.
  6. to deceive, misguide, or corrupt: a young lawyer betrayed by political ambitions into irreparable folly.
  7. to seduce and desert.

I was thinking lately about the act of betrayal and perhaps a bit on the very pinnacle of betrayal; the betrayal of Christ by the kiss of Judas. Now none of us likes to think that we would commit such a treasonous act against our friends, families, spouses, children and relatives much less against the Lord our God. Perhaps it is for this reason that I know of nobody who has not experienced betrayal in this life by others or who, sometimes unconscious of the fact or perhaps protected by excuses has in turn betrayed others their very self. It happens in marriages, among friends and is almost commonplace in corporate America where trust is repaid with betrayal to further one’s career or to create a new, more influential ‘friend’ that might aid ones climb up the old corporate ladder of success.

As we experience and re-experience such betrayals it seems one is prone to react in two different ways. First, one becomes reluctant to offer their trust to anyone for fear of being hurt and disappointed and second, one might become untrustworthy themselves thinking that it is far better to be the betrayer than the betrayed. The first response leads to depression and loneliness and almost predisposes people to be wary of anyone who approaches in friendship. The second leads one to despise others and see in them only a means to use them for their own gain; narcissism where only one’s own good is desired and there is no real love between persons though they may feign such affection for their own gain and groom them for other dastardly deeds in the future.

Betrayal is something that one never forgets but something that is possible to forgive and stop dwelling upon; though the possibility and remembrance is always lurking in the background and puts us in a defensive posture. Unless one has dementia, the memories mount up through life and one learns to be wary of becomings anyone’s fool.

It is that ordinary human reaction that makes both of these most obvious reactions stated seem unavoidable. But if not for Christ who has shown us another way; a third way. Though we can only imagine the hurt that Christ must have felt at the betrayal of Judas whom He loved, He was fully capable of not only forgiving Judas but in also forgetting his betrayal had Judas only acted as St. Peter did after betraying Christ 3 times. His sorrow, contrition, shame and tears would have been enough to have won Him the crown of saints had it not been for his pride. For pride is tied to betrayal and one is unlikely to admit their betrayal and ask forgiveness even taking one’s own life before admitting this deceit and act of betrayal. And therefore his self-hate destroyed his soul.

I do wonder about the rest of us who go through the normal life experience of betraying and being betrayed. How do we react and how do we find the grace to overcome the bitterness of heart or the loneliness that might take a firm grip on our lives. Or for those who become evil in our natures and never extend our trust to anyone and view all others as prey for us to ensnare and take advantage.

I have no answer outside of contemplating these experiences in our life and asking for forgiveness and for the grace to forgive those who have breached our trust. It seems an impossible human virtue depending on the depth of the deception but surely Christ knows all about what we have experienced and has the means to overcome them. Prayers are always in order but then again perhaps it is for our own good that we learn that we must find our own salvific grace before we go and try to save the world which has always placed lies before truth, hatred before love, and treachery above loyalty.

For perhaps in our solitude we might just realize Who it is that it is proper to give our trust, love and loyalty to; and it isn’t ourselves.

The Necessity of God’s Revelation for Salvation

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I answer that, It was necessary for man’s salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed God, besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: The eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for Thee (Isa. 66:4). But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards those truths about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas man’s whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation. It was therefore necessary that, besides philosophical science built up by reason there should be a sacred science learned through revelation

The excerpt from St. Thomas Aquinas drives home the idea that faith in God is a gift from him. Indeed, without revelation, we could surmise by our reason that beings we observe in the world that are created are contingent on a prior being. However, we wouldn’t know anything more about God by coming to this conclusion. Furthermore, we cannot expect that other folks in the world who do not believe in God to be able to debate and discuss various parts of the Scripture without a consensus on the existence of God.

I recently heard that Thomas Merton once wrote that the demon of the current age is noise. I wonder that if our technological age’s noise, the speed of life, and constant attention stimulants has led to the drowning out of God’s grace. I suppose God’s grace is greater than all of these obstacles, but like an addict, I wonder if it doesn’t distort and twist our will. If God’s revelation is necessary for our Salvation, how can we hope that our fellow neighbors will take the time to hear the call? Or has the gate narrowed? 

 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, n.d.).