Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (Getty) The Pope has ordered him to maintain a life of ‘prayer and penance’ Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington, and has ordered him to maintain “a life of prayer and penance” until a canonical trial examines accusations that […]
Know the face of a Predator.
As a concerned Catholic, I’ve been following the tag list for Catholic blogs on WordPress for several days, and there has been little to no mention of Cardinal McCarrick sex abuse scandal with seminarians and now potentially teenage boys. In fact, the only mention I can find are from Protestant sites attacking the Catholic Church, but let’s take a look at what they have to say in their condemnations since they do still carry the weight of truth:
“Sadly, the vocal or visible Catholic religious and laity alike seem “publicly to agree that victims should “just get over it,” and even fault survivors for not forgiving. They are conflating our need to forgive with their wish to avoid the topic. This extends the wounds in relationship, because these strong voices blur, like our bishops in the United States of that era, the critical distinction between forgiving and enabling, between predator and priest. I grieve the persistence of this confusion deeply, but my life in God is testimony enough to refute their falsehood.”
Posted July 24th, 2018: I admit, I was a little angry at the quote when I first read it until I thought, well I can’t really disagree with the guy. https://patrickwalts.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/praise-of-deatb/
“but the Catholic Church should perhaps put as much effort as they apparently do warning people about Santa Muerte into not being a pedophile factory. The Catholic Church fully endorses the fucking of children by its leadership. Bold statement, I know, but if you routinely, as an institution, facilitate and cover up pedophilia, that to me is an endorsement of that kind of sick behavior. So pump your brakes, Catholic Church.
What is at stake with your silence fellow Catholic bloggers and trying to go about your day normally? Complicity!!! Enough is Enough! The Catholic Church is going to have a synod of World Meeting of Families which one of the leaders of this synod is U.S. Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who is a protege of Cardinal McCarrick–in fact, his style and Bishop Coat of Arms are styled after Cardinal McCarrick’s own.
Starting to see a trend in leadership?
But don’t forget the darling of the progressive church in the United States Fr. James Martin will give a talk at the same synod. The Evangelical Ex-Catholic Tom who loves to point out scandal in the Catholic Church, in fact, uses Fr. James Martin’s book in a recent post:https://excatholic4christ.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/but-doesnt-scripture-call-homosexuality-a-sin-no-problem-just-avoid-all-of-those-problematic-scripture-passages/
“Martin calls for the church to repent of its bigoted past attitude towards active LGBT members, just as he calls upon active LGBT members to repent of their disrespectful attitudes towards the church’s “overburdened” and formerly intolerant hierarchy.
Although there are several references to Scripture passages that appeal to love and acceptance, the Bible passages that identify homosexuality as a sin are noticeable by their absence.
All of the above is essentially a moot point because Roman Catholicism does not teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But as a Vatican observer, it’s interesting to watch the liberal and conservative factions of the church jostling for advantage in this mounting controversy. Pope Francis has already overturned church dogma by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and by leaving the question of intercommunion with liberal Protestants up to each bishop. Will Francis also be able to overturn the church’s teaching on same-sex relationships and marriages or is the 81-year-old pontiff pragmatically preparing the way for his successor?”
Fellow Catholic bloggers the only way this gets resolved is if we Catholics do not let this get swept underneath the rug. You must say something, one might wonder if saying nothing will be committing the sin of omission. It is your duty to the virtue of justice, it is your duty to Jesus Christ.
It is not uncommon in our current political and cultural society to hear the assertion that slavery had been an institution supported by Christianity. The issue is that claim is one not founded on a proper understanding of the historical geopolitical climate of ancient times, the middle ages, and Judeo-Christian culture. A claim that rests on nothing more than the generalization that both Judaism and Christianity existed in societies that functioned economically through slavery but did nothing to prevent it until roughly the 18th and 19th century—The Age of Enlightenment. Naturally, the claim lies in a lousy history of both economics and the history of religion. The first point is simply that it wasn’t until the advent of industrialization and technological advances that Western civilization was willing to fully give up an institution that lasted more than two millennia. Furthermore, as will be discussed within the parameters of the history of religion, in the more than 2000 years of history, there is a failure to recognize the development and changes in the institution of slavery.
The predominant viewpoint is best expressed by Historian John Francis Maxwell who wrote: “Since the sixth century and right up until the 20th century it has been the common Catholic teaching that… slavery is morally legitimate.”
The challenge with most historical reconstructions of history is not, as the relativists claim that we cannot know the past but rather much like our present condition is that humanity is as messy and complex then as we are now, and most likely for the rest of our time here on earth. As examined by Rodney Stark, professor of social sciences at Institute of Religious Studies at Baylor University, in his book Bearing False Witness, the modern historical consensus of the ilk of Christianity is based on Anti-Catholicism. He presents evidence for this generalized thesis of his work by quoting renowned American Historian from the University of Chicago Daniel J. Boorstin, “ Christianity conquered the Roman Empire and most of Europe. Then we observe a Europe-wide phenomenon of scholarly amnesia…the leaders of orthodox Christendom built a grand barrier against the progress of knowledge.”
Naturally, this consensus sets up the environment and culture where Catholic, and now Christianity as a whole, is now set upon by the commentary of modern historians that now shapes the prevailing outlook of the faith as a whole.
At this point, It’s important to flesh out what the Bible actually says about the institution of slavery before further examining the history of the Catholic Church’s involvement with it. Catholic Apologist, and new professor of moral theology at Holy Apostles College, Trent Horn argues in his book Hard Sayings that to have any debate on the topic we have to give a proper definition of the term slavery. He writes, “When most people think of slavery they think of kidnapping, imprisonment, and forced labor of Africans that took place in the New World between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, these events aren’t a good definition of slavery because slavery existed before and after this time period (including in the present day), and not all slavery is like what happened in the antebellum or pre-Civil War south. Hector Avalos, an atheist scholar who extremely critical of the Bible and its view of slavery, defines slavery as ‘a socioeconomic system centering on the use of forced laborers, who are viewed as property or as under the control of their superiors for whatever term was determined by their masters or by their society.’”
By using this proposed definition of slavery, Horn explains that there are various degrees of slavery such as chattel slavery, debt slavery, and criminals forced to work. At this point, Horn focuses on the last particular category to illustrate that slavery cannot be outright considered an intrinsic evil. For example, criminals who are forced to work in prison do retain certain basic rights like not being tortured, the right to a lawyer, the right to food, clothing, and medical care, but they have been deprived of their freedom through the laws contracted by the community. Horn develops his explanation on why the Bible cannot universally condemn slavery by writing, “ it might be necessary to the common good to force criminals or prisoners of war to work against their will. If that’s true, then it’s not surprising the Bible does not universally denounce slavery, because not all kinds of slavery are wrong.”
So, let’s get to the point, what does the Bible actually say on the topic slavery? Horn explains that one has to understand the basic economics of the ancient world to understand what type of slavery existed during this period of time. He cites Gregory Chirichigno, author of a tome on the topic Debt-Slavery in Israel and Ancient the Near East:
“small landowners were often forced into procuring loans which often included high-interest rates. If their crop(s) failed or was below expectation, then the debtors would be hard pressed to pay back the loan. Therefore, many of these landowners were likely to become insolvent, since they were able to engage only in subsistence farming. As a result of their insolvency famers were forced to sell or surrender dependents into debt-slavery.”
Of course, what Chirichigno is explaining here as the most common type of slavery in the Ancient world is not chattel slavery, but instead, debt-slavery, which has more in common with what modernity calls indentured servitude. Naturally, when one is able clearly examine the institution within the framework of first-century Judea, parables in the Gospels begin to make more sense.
Let’s take a look at the Son outlook at the end of Parable of the Unmerciful Servant:
23 ¶“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 ¶ and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 ¶ So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. 35 ¶ So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” 
How is modernity to understand the Biblical view of slavery? The scriptural evidence for these types of arrangements, other than the beginning of the above parable begins with Joseph in Genesis:
19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be slaves to Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.” 
After framing what type of slavery is in the Bible, Horn explains that although this type of slavery was common in the Bible:
“the Bible’s authors did not endorse or celebrate it. As with polygamy an divorce, the sacred authors of Scripture attempted to limit the harm caused by this ubiquitous yet degrading human institution…instead of issuing shrill, universal condemnations of slavery that would have been ignored by most people (just as condemnations of abortion fall on deaf ears for many today) the laws set down in Scripture progressively guided God’s people toward eventual rejection of slavery…For example, the Old Testament does not instruct the Israelites to treat slaves in the same way one would treat an animal or a chair. If a master seriously injured a slave by knocking out a tooth or an eye, he had to set the slave free (Exod. 21:26-27) Slaves could not work on the Sabbath (Exod. 20:10, and were allowed to participate in religious festivals (Exod.12:44)…Slaves could marry free persons (1 Chron. 2:34-35), own property, and even own other slaves (2 Sam. 19:17) (like exampled in Jesus’ parable). If an ox killed a slave then the ox would be stoned, which was the same punishment that was administered for the killing of a free person (Exod. 21:28-36)”
It’s important to note historically that all ancient peoples had a functioning institution of slavery, Rodney Stark notes that what is unique about Christianity is that “Amid this universal slavery, only one civilization ever rejected human bondage: Christendom. And it did it twice!”
Stark explains how slavery in Western Europe was first removed during the middle ages, “As the ninth century dawned, Bishop Agobard of Lyons thundered: ‘All men are brothers, all invoke one same Father, God: the slave and the master, the poor man and the rich man, the ignorant and the learned, the weak and the strong…None has been raised above the other…there is no…slave or free, but in all things and always there is only Christ.’ Soon, no one doubted that slavery in itself was against divine law. Indeed, during the eleventh century, both Saint Wulfstan and Saint Anselm successfully campaigned to remove the last vestiges of slavery in Christendom.”
Slavery because of the Catholic Church had been eliminated from Western Civilization, but when Europeans discovered the New World, this horrid institution would once again be reestablished. Stark explains, “when European colonists began to reestablish slavery in the New World, the popes vigorously opposed it. Unfortunately, the popes lacked the power to impose their will—the Spanish had recently sacked Rome and ruled much of Italy.”
Pope Paul III on May 29th, 1537 made a public rejection of the institution by writing in a Papal Bull:
The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.
We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.
The Papal Bull was in accord with prior Bulls from Pope Eugene IV to future ones from Pope Urban VIII who gave “the most outspoken attack on South American slavery.” Unfortunately, Ulrich L. Lehner, a professor at Marquette University and a Catholic, in his attempt to present Catholicism as an ‘enlightned’ to his peers asserts that “while the popes resisted the enslavement of North America, they condoned slavery as an institution. The often-repeated claims that Christianity humanized the institution of slavery because it regarded slaves as persons has been falsified—ancient Roman thinkers, such as Seneca, had brought the innovation.” The problem with this assertion is that it totally ignores the codes of Exodus recognizing the persons of debt slaves in Israel in the Near East within the frameworks of the Old Testament as examined by Trent Horn. It also assumes the tired thesis of the history of religion narrative that 1st century Christians converted themselves from Judaism to Christianity rather than Christianity a development of Judaism after the temple period ended in 70 A.D.
Now, there are a few problems with Lehner’s assessment; first, he lumps all forms of slavery into one institution. The problem with doing this is that as Trent Horn explains by using Hector Avalos’ definition of slavery is that criminals and prisoners of war who also fall under this definition and who retain their basic rights as mentioned above does not represent an intrinsic evil if it benefits the whole of society. Furthermore, it doesn’t address the most common form of slavery in the ancient world—debt slavery, nor does it address the eradication of slavery from Europe presented in Stark’s argument.
Lehner explains that although the Popes by their words condemned New World slavery, they still practiced the institution within the Papal States. He writes, “archival material still exists on the slaves of the Papal States. As state property, these were predominately galley slaves, who were forced to row the ships of the fleet. Some were volunteers who been bribed to enlist, some were criminals who sentence was considered equal to the death penalty, and others captives from wars. The last group comprised the largest number of slaves.” Again, the problem with Lehner here is that it is already assumed ‘slavery’ is intrinsic evil, now he can certainly make the case that both criminals and prisoners of war shouldn’t be forced into labor and they are intrinsic evils, and perhaps this is the consensus view, so he doesn’t feel that he needs to assert any argument. But again, Lehner’s argument rests on a generalization, which Horn’s argument does address the differences between different modes of the institution.
The difficulty with tackling such a topic is that due to the stresses of our contemporary culture with the ramifications of chattel slavery of the pre-Civil War America and the legacy of racism in its aftermath is that the topic becomes an emotive one. Lehner does make good points of Catholics supporting slaves during the period of the slave trade, but ultimately by presenting his evidence passes judgment against the Church as a whole. It may simply be that he also needs to walk a tighter rope in his department at Marquette University, whereas Trent Horn, as a Catholic Apologist and Professor of Moral Theology at Holy Apostles doesn’t feel the need. It’s important to note that if the topic is generalized within the parameter of modern thought and historical figures are moralized within the norms of our modern society, it’s easy to find them guilty. However, if historians, clerics, laymen, and non-believers view the complexities of an era within the framework of historicism and taking into account the historic period and understanding, we’ll be more likely to discover the truth.
 Rodney Stark, Bearing False Witness (West Conshohocken: Templeton Press, 2016), 169.
 Ibid, 73.
 Trent Horn, Hard Sayings (El Cajon: Catholic Answers Press, 2016), 268.
 Ibid, 269.
 Ibid, 270.
 The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), Mt 18:23–35.
 The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), Ge 47:19.
 Horn, 272.
 Stark, 81.
 Ibid, 82
 Ibid, 169.
 Ulrich L. Lehner, The Catholic Enlightenment (New York; Oxford University Press, 2016), 186.
 Ibid, 185.
 Ibid, 186
One aspect of folks that I value is the ability to allow free dialogue, even if it doesn’t seem important, may hinder one’s argument, or a point that tends to lead in a different direction. Of course, I value this because I value the exploring of ideas to reveal truth.
Perfect Chaos is a blog run by Steven Colborne, who believes in God, maybe even the Christian God, but doesn’t believe in Free Will basically because God is in charge of everything existence. Steven posted again today about The Free Will Problem. Naturally, there are analogies that can be given to show when one is in charge they can allow free will etc. However, as I’ve continued to exhibit through Catholic thought, there is ample philosophical evidence within Catholicism that indicates a lack of free will is more or less rubbish.
In this particular blog of Steven’s I gave Augustine’s answer to Steven’s assertions that Free Will doesn’t exist, please refer to his post as well as his essay that he gives a link to in the post. I answered that in accordance with Catholic tradition that Steven fails to properly refute Augustinian Theodicy. More or less Steven doesn’t even address it, which of course the comment is a critique that Steven could use to finely tune his own thoughts on the matter–even for his own side of the argument. Unfortunately, Steven deleted my comment, so I present it here to you, reconstructed.
Augustine’s point is rested in the Confessions Book 7:
Augustine explains his view of Free Will: ” I was absolutely certain when I willed a thing or refused to will it that it was I alone who willed or refused to will. Already I was beginning to see that therein lay the cause of my sin. I saw that what I did against my will was something done to me, rather than something I actually did. I concluded that it was not my fault, but my punishment.”
Augustine explains earlier in Book 7 how this relates to God in a fashion the resembles Anselm’s ontological argument: ”
There has never has been, nor will there be, a soul able to conceive anything better than you, who are the supreme and best good. But since it is of the utmost truth and certainty that the incorruptible is preferable to the corruptible, even as I already preferred it to be, I could now attain in thought to a being better than yourself, my God, if you were not incorruptible. Therefore, where I perceived that the incorruptible must be preferred to the corruptible, there ought I to seek you. There too, ought I to observe where itself is, that is, whence comes that corruption, by which your substance can in no way be violated. For absolutely no corruption defiles our God.”
The glaring problem in a Christian argument against Free Will, or for that matter the argument for God is that for God to be God, He must be a perfect being. Naturally, this fits into Aquinas’ model in the Summa Theologica:
“Now God is the first principle, not material, but in the order of efficient cause, which must be most perfect. For just as matter, as such, is merely potential, an agent, as such, is in the state of actuality. Hence, the first active principle must needs be most actual, and therefore most perfect; for a thing is perfect in proportion to its state of actuality, because we call that perfect which lacks nothing of the mode of its perfection.”
So, as I challenged Steven, for God to be perfect, He must be without corruption or He simply wouldn’t be God. If there is no Free Will, then God would have to be responsible for evil, one would have to assert and defend those evils such as theft, rape, death, any violence, natural disasters would need to be part of God’s perfection and not corruptions in the world to argue that Free Will doesn’t exist because God would be responsible for all of these actions and they could not take away from His perfection.
Sadly, again, Steven deleted my comment which was simply a good nature criticism that I had seen lacking in his essay. As my second response was also deleted after I noticed he deleted my initial comment, I decided to bring my critique to the general readership of the blogosphere.
My parish has its scripture studies usually during the week which is frequented by the retired folks in the parish community. However, as I have a rotating day off during the week, today my day off fell during one of those scripture studies. The scriptural course is one that covers every book of the Bible in a synopsis format more or less picking out important bits or pieces within the text. The topic for today was Exodus and Numbers, as many readers here know, which is a great interest to me.
To be honest, I am a bit disappointed with the lack of catechesis during the study; more or less the study simply focused on the Exodus being a narrative account. It didn’t take into account really any theological or historical exegesis of the scripture. So, I sat there and watched the video, the priest came in for the discussion time; I remained silent. One gentleman finally brought up a particular passage in Numbers 14:18:
18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love,
forgiving iniquity and transgression,
but by no means clearing the guilty,
visiting the iniquity of the parents
upon the children
to the third and the fourth generation.’
The gentleman asked if we sin does God punish our children for our sins. Of course, some gave some decent answers such as our children’s future is affected by our actions in the present, but a good portion of the group took a more eschatological approach that our sins damned, in a manner of speaking, our children. At the point, I was just shaking my head and I finally said, “I think we have to examine Hebrews 10 in which the writer states the Jesus’ sacrifice is the once and for all sacrifice for our sins.”
12 But when Christ[e] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” 13 and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
I was met with blank stares in which I interpreted as skeptical faces.
But since I had the floor at this point, I opened up about the philosophical aspects of Exodus Chapter 3 and the Cosmological arguments connection with the revelation of God’s name and entering the debate of Christianity within the societal interest such as those like Justin Martyr did with Greek philosophy.
After all of this, to make a long story short, a gentleman answered, “I have a far simpler faith than that.” In truth, I envied his sentiment, but at the same time, I knew for myself, as a relatively young man, the sentiment has not been a winning sentiment for my generation and younger for the faith.
I keep thinking to myself, “The faith of a child…The faith of a child…” I fear the secular has made such sentiments foolish to most. In the end, I eventually just said, “I start with the historical claim of the Resurrection and move backward.”
There has been much else to occupy my time this last eighteen months, and, as explained in my last posting here, the press of business in my new vocation has been such that it would have been unfair to my university to have offered it less than 100% of my time. But evenings and week-ends still exist, and as we approach Lent, I want to use some of that time to return to the themes of this blog.
At its best it has offered a voice not heard elsewhere. It has been too reactionary for the liberals, and not reactionary enough for the reactionaries. I don’t take that as a sign that the positions taken here are, therefore, in some way ‘right’, but simply that they are a voice worth the speaking.
There is much to be gloomy about. I do not suffer from what has been called ‘Trump derangement syndrome”, which is common in the circles in which I usually move. I am a fan neither of the man, nor his style, nor, in so far as he has them and I understand them (both great caveats) of his policies; but nor do I see him as a species of anti-Christ for those who need one. If he is anything, he is a symptom of a political system where the insiders had long given the impression that they regarded the mass of the population as ‘deplorable’; Mrs Clinton simply said what had, until then, been unsaid. I take rather a similar view on Brexit. Give the electorate the impression you regard them as uneducated idiots and then give them the chance to vote in a way that allows them to give you a kicking, and then express surprise. It could only happen in a democracy where the ties that bind are already loosening.
That is my main worry. Whatever it is fashionable to believe, the basic values on which Western Civilization were founded we Christian ones; explicitly so. We believe in the value of each individual not because of some abstract theory of “rights” – that came later – but because each individual is a child of God; it is that sense, and that sense alone in which we are “equal”. It is that sense alone which matters. It matters because it means we never can, nor should, instrumentalise the human person. Whether it is turning people into cogs in a machine in work-setting, or killing the unborn or the elderly for being “useless”, Christianity rightly rejects such an approach to the human person. The princes of this world, under any system of government or economic system, have a tendency to do this, and one of the great gifts of Christianity is to have rebuked them for it. It is unclear who will do this in the absence of a Christian presence.
There is a deep irony in a leading Catholic Churchman appearing to tell us that China is an exemplar of Catholic Social teaching. One of my colleagues has said all that needs to be said on this egregious nonsense here. To use his words:
Catholic social teaching demands freedom of conscience, freedom of association and the protection of life from conception until natural death. These are not optional extras and nor are they part of the moral teaching of the Church outside its social teaching. These aspects of the Church’s social teaching are fundamental because they have an impact on education, healthcare and the whole structure of political and civil society as well as on economic and social relationships.
That is true of Christian social teaching; there is nothing in that with which Archbishop William Temple and Anglicans of his hue would have disagreed.
We live in a world where on all sides these freedoms are being questioned in the name of identity politics. The idea, once risible, that one should be able to call for another to be silenced because they offended you, is now commonplace. For some of us, this was where we feared that laws prohibiting certain types of speech might lead. There is no satisfaction in having been proven right.
In a Society where people have been schooled to think that truth is relative, it is only natural that individual feeling should have become elevated into the standard by which to judge others. There is not truth, except that all truth is relative, says modern man and (naturally) woman. But for the Christian that cannot be true. There is a Truth, and it is a person, not a concept. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Light, and we cannot (though we often do) relativise that.
We are all sinners. We are all children of God. We are all fallen. In Him all can rise. The old Adam (and if you must, Eve) is rampant in us all. We all of us do not what we will, but what we often do not will. For this there is but one remedy: Christ Jesus. He reaches out to each of us where we are. each of us comes to Him as we have the Grace so to do.
As the clouds lower over us, amidst th’encircling gloom, as the Blessed John Henry put it, we have but on Kindly Light. Let us pray that He illuminates our hearts, mind and spirit, in the Lent that approaches.
I apologize due to the upcoming American holiday of Veteran’s Day; there will be no podcast for I was mandated for overtime work this morning. However, I will like to post the introduction of the First Letter of John. In prayer, this morning, I was reading it in a form of Lectio Divina, something called to me to do so, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how beautiful this letter is to the faithful.
The First Letter of John
1 ¶* That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2 the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship† with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 ¶ And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.
God Is Light
5 ¶ This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness‡ at all. 6 ¶ If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; 7 ¶ but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 ¶ If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Christ Is Our Advocate
2 ¶ My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 ¶ and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 ¶ And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.§ 4 ¶ He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 ¶ but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 ¶ he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
A New Commandment
7 ¶ Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 ¶ Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. 10 ¶ He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. 13 ¶ I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the Evil One. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the Evil One.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.
1.The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 1 Jn 1:1–2:17.
The Didache serves as a good catechism in addressing particular questions about God’s commandments. For example, What does “Thou Shall not Kill” actually mean when God commands the Hebrews to kill the Canaanites? What does “Thou Shall not commit Adultery” mean to the unmarried? 
The Didache addresses both of these topics:
Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not corrupt boys, do not fornicate (have relations outside of marriage); do not steal; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.
Marcellino D’Ambrosio, in his book on the Church Fathers, explains that this is earliest known documentation in Christian literature that murder in accordance with the fifth commandment includes abortion. The document also references a code for sexual relations. Modernity attempts to profess that its views on human sexuality are new and progressive, but this could not be farther from the truth as explained by the Didache’s explanation on the sixth commandment for “In the Greco-Roman society of the time, religion had little to do with sexual morality. Adventuresome sexual exploration was the fashion.”
One of the most interesting facts that we find in the Didache is the instruction of Baptism. When I was a teenager, there was a church that would have bonfires after every football game and most of the high school kids would go to eat free pizza and roast marshmallows. After awhile, the youth minister of this particular church began to attempt to convert us to his faith. It got to the point that this particular youth minister began to tell us Catholics, and other mainstream Protestants, that we were not immersed when we baptized like Jesus in the Jordan River then our baptism was not valid.
So why do we believe our Baptism to be valid? Again, I cannot stress this enough, studying the early Christians allows us to defend our faith. First off, scripture doesn’t necessarily say that Jesus was immersed, it says that “he went up immediately from the water,” “And when he came up out of the water,” So imagine yourself on a riverbank, you have go down a hill to get into the river and to get out of the river you “went up” from it, or you come “up out of the water.” Now, it’s very possible, and even probable that Jesus was immersed, but just because the Gospel records a particular event doesn’t mean it’s a formula. In fact, the only formula for baptism in the Gospel is given at the end of the Gospel of Matthew:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
Now, this could just be my particular interpretations of these particular text, I would imagine the youth minister in Mt. Sterling would tell me that these are Catholic apologist proof texts. So, I ask, what were the early Christian understanding of baptism.
The Didache reads:
“Baptize in running water, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (note that the only no negotiable is based on scripture) If you do not have running water, baptize in some other (form of water). If you cannot in cold, then in warm, If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
The early Christians only understood two necessities: #1 The Scriptural Formula and #2 Water. Different variables of water were allowed, and sprinkling was also allowed by early Christians.
Please read the other posts in this series:
 Didache 2:2 Some argue that abortion was allowed in Judaism; however, we must also keep in mind that Divorce was allowed in Judaism as referenced in Mt. 19, but Christ explains the reasoning why Divorce displeases God. Regardless of Judaic arguments for or against abortion, our faith asserts that the Church has been given the authority to teach God’s will.
 D’Ambrosio, 13.
 Mt. 3:16
 Mk. 1:10
 Mt. 28:19
 Didache 7:2
Christianity has a content. Its most important content is that Christ died and rose again from the dead to redeem us; if we do not believe this, then, as Paul said, our faith is in vain. There are clever theologians who have constructed whole edifices of scholarship providing explanations of the things modern intellectuals find uncomfortable about Christianity; but such attempts raise questions about the content of our belief.
The Resurrection either happened or it didn’t. Anyone who thinks that the first Christians were channelling their spiritual experience of Christ needs to re-read the account of St Thomas and his doubts. The NT goes out of its way to make clear that the resurrection was a physical reality. It does so because clearly there were those at the time who denied it and sought more philosophical explanations; it is not by such that we are saved.
The world has always had trouble with Jesus. It had it whilst he was Incarnate in the flesh in this life, and, just when it thought it had disposed of him by crucifixion, he came back and has given it trouble ever since. He tells us things we do not want to hear: we are sinners; we need to repent; if we don’t we shall go to hell. All of this makes us uncomfortable. There are three reactions to this: the orthodox Christian one – that we should indeed repent and mend our ways and follow him; the other is that we decline to believe any of this Bronze-age nonsense; the third, and in many ways more worrying one, is to explain it all away as being not what most Christians have believed for most of history.
It is most worrying because of the impulse behind it. People want to have Jesus, but on their terms. They want a Jesus fit for North Oxford or Islington salons; they want a Jesus who would be at home in the senior common room; they don’t want to be laughed at by their sophisticated friends; they want a Jesus worthy of them. In this, they play God. God created us in his image; these men recreate God in their own, and in worshipping him, they are actually worshipping themselves. But they do more. They tend to make other people feel insecure. This is not what the Apostles did. Christianity is either something that we can all grasp, or it is nothing; whatever these sophisticated philosophical explanations might be, they have a tendency to empty Christianity of its content.
I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Three in One and One in Three. I do not believe in the prime mover, the secondary mover and the inspiration, or any other set of variants on the opening of the Creed. I believe Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. I do not believe that the Apostles had some kind of collective group-think; I don’t, because they didn’t. What I do not believe in is the superior wisdom of modern man, the church of good fellowship without Christ, or the life of the philosophy to come.
If Jesus did not rise, physically rise, then the whole of Christianity is a bad joke and should be discarded.
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