Monday, March 28, 2005

Doctrines about Mary are Biblical

What follows may help you understand the Biblical basis for the Catholic doctrines about Mary.

It's unfortunate that beliefs about Mary have become a source of division among Christians. Many Christians honestly do not understand what Catholics believe about Mary and why. Some deliberately misrepresent Catholic belief, which only serves to further divide Christians. Furthermore, these doctrines are not doctrines of Catholicism alone. Orthdox and Protestant Christians also admit that some if not all of these doctrines are biblically based. The following information I've summarized and pilfered from Catholic and Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs by Alan Schreck

Beliefs about Mary are not the primary focus of the gospels. Catholics believe that there is a hierarchy or order of Christian truths. That is not to imply that one particular truth is less "truthful" than another. But some doctrines derive from others, are said to be implicit, or reasonably follow from others doctrines that are more explicit in the deposit of faith.

Yet, not all Christians truths are equally central to the basic Gospel message. For example, official Catholic teaching has never considered beliefs about Mary as being equal in importance to truths about God--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Truths about Mary are all related to the basic gospel message, though they are not the primary focus of the gospels. This principle has its foundation in the Bible. For example, in all the New Testament letters attributed to Paul, Mary is mentioned only once, and not even by name (Gal 4:4). This certainly does not prove that Paul never spoke about Mary, but it does indicate that the basic gospel could be proclaimed without focusing on Mary.

However, many other New Testament writings do speak about Mary, and Catholics therefore believe that it is important to have a correct understanding of her role in God's plan of salvation. The principle of the hierarchy of truths points out two extremes that must be avoided in Christian teaching about Mary. On the one hand, Marian doctrines must not be presented as equal in importance to the fundamental Christian truths about the nature of God and redemption. Mary must never be exalted to the status of "goddess" deserving the worship and adoration due only to God. On the other hand, Mary's role in God's plan of salvation must not be ignored nor neglected.

The following discussion is summarized and pilfered from material written by Frank Chacon and Jim Burnam of San Juan Catholic Seminars:
(Beginning Apologetics 6: How to Explain & Defend Marian Doctrines)

Mary and Sacred Scripture Typology

The Old Testament prepared the way for the New Testament. Persons and events in the OT prefigured, foreshadowed, anticipated, and symbolized persons and event in the NT. The OT persons and events are called "types" of the NT persons and events they prefigure. A type is a prophetic foreshadowing of its NT counterpart. For example, in Rom 5:14, St. Paul specifically calls Adam a type of Christ. The NT teaches that in the OT persons and events, we are to see doctrines that are made more explicit in the gospel. Thus, to be faithful to the NT, we must appreciate the right typology found in the OT.

There are three major OT types of Mary: Eve, the Ark of the Covenant, and Queen Mother.

Mary as the Second Eve:

The devil, a fallen angel, brought words of death to Eve; the angel Gabriel brought words of life to Mary. Eve, our mother in the flesh, disobeyed God and cooperated greatly in Adam's sin, which caused the fall of the human race. Mary obeyed God and contributed greatly to Christ's redemptive mission of the human race, as his mother and disciple.

OT type in Genesis 3 ... NT counterpart (Luke 1)

Fallen angel elicits Eve's 'no' to God ... Archangel elicits Mary's 'yes' to God
Adam loses grace for all mankind ... Jesus restores grace for all mankind
Eve cooperates in Adam's sin ... Mary cooperates in Jesus' redemption

The early Church Fathers made the obvious connection: Christ is the new Adam (1 Cor 15:45), Mary is the new Eve. After Adam and Eve sinned, Gen 3:15 prophesies a woman and her son who will be at total enmity with the serpent (Satan) and his descendents. The woman's son will crush the serpent's head. Since the man who crushes the serpent's head is obviously Jesus, the woman must be Mary.

The earliest church Fathers, such as St. Justin and St. Irenaeus, were quick to realize this Biblical typology. Although the human race fell through Adam, Eve's role was crucial. Jesus redeemed the human race, but Mary's role was likewise crucial.

The OT describes women (other types of Mary) who crush Israel's enemies (types of Satan). In Judges 4:17-22, Jael drives a tent peg through the skull of Canaanite general Sisera. Judges 5:24 celebrates her: "Blessed among women be Jael." Judges 9:50-55 describes a woman who drops a millstone on the head of tyrannical King Abimelech, fracturing his skull. Judith delivers the Jewish people from the Assyrian army by beheading its commander-in-chief Holofernes with his own sword as he slept (Judith 12-13). Judith's heroism is celebrated with the words, "Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and bless be the Lord God ... who guided your blow at the head of the chief of our enemies" (Judith 13:18). The praise of Jael and Judith anticipate Elizabeth's' praise of Mary in Luke 1:42, "Blessed are you among women." Righteous men also crushed heads in the OT. David (a type of Jesus, who is the son of David) defeated the Philistine champion Goliath and chopped off his head with the giant's own sword (1 Sam 17:41-58).

In the OT, types of both Mary and Jesus (the woman and her seed) are shown crushing types of Satan. Jesus definitively crushed Satan's head on Calvary. Significantly, all four evangelists record that Calvary means "skull-place." Satan thought he had struck Jesus a lethal blow on the cross, but it proved to be a minor wound ("you will strike at his heel"). Satan suffered the mortal wound ("he will strike at your head") as Jesus destroyed our bondage to sin and death.

Who was at Christ's side on Calvary? Mary. What does Jesus call her? "Woman." (in Hebrew woman is 'Eve'). Mary is the New Eve. She is the "woman" of Genesis 3:15, the "woman" of John 2 whose intercession launched Christ's public and miraculous ministry, the "woman" of John 19 at the foot of the cross, and the "woman" of Rev 12 who, with her son Jesus, fights against Satan until the end. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible describes Jesus and Mary together crushing the serpent's head.

Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant

The Ark was the holiest object in the OT religion. It was sacred because it carried the stone tablets of the Law that God gave Moses on Mount Sinai. In Ex 25, God gave meticulous instructions for constructing the Ark. It had to be made incorruptible from acacia wood, plated inside and outside with pure gold. It must be kept free from all impurity and profanation. In 2 Sam 6:6-7, God struck Uzzah dead because he dared to touch the Ark.

From the earliest centuries, Christians saw the OT Ark as a type of Mary. The connection is clear. That Ark carried the written Word of God; Mary carried the living Word. Mary is the living Ark of the living Word. The Ark helps us to see the biblical basis for doctrines like the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, which are not taught explicitly in Sacred Scripture, but which are taught implicitly through typology. Mary, like the OT Ark was made pure (Immaculate Conception), stayed pure (Perpetual Virginity), and kept from corruption (bodily Assumption into heaven).

It is also significant that in Rev, after seeing a vision of the OT Ark, John immediately sees a vision of a woman (Mary), thereby further connecting the OT Ark to the NT Ark--Mary. Far from an invention, the Feast of the Assumption dates back to the early centuries of Christianity. The liturgy of this feast is filled with OT readings which reference ... the OT Ark. This indicates that the early Church understood Mary to be the New Ark.

Moreover, God's chosen people in the OT used the Ark of the Covenant as a guide in their journey into the promised land (Num 10:33; Josh 3:3,6,11,14). Moses and his people also used the OT Ark of the Covenant in their battle against adversity (Josh 3:13-17) and against their enemies (Joshua 6). Likewise, you may find Catholics who place Mary (the new Ark) in a prominent place in their faith journey, turning to her frequently in their fight against evil. In the OT, the actions of Moses and God's people did not prove they worshipped the Ark. Any effects the Ark had in guiding them and battling adversity came only from God. The same is true for Catholics who turn to Mary for her intercession. This practice, while not central to the Gospel message, does not detract from our love of the Lord and is not despised by our Lord. According to Luke's Gospel, Mary's soul magnifies the Lord and all generations will call her blessed.

Mary as the NT Queen Mother

The OT kings clearly prefigured Jesus Christ, the NT King of kings (Rev 19:16). Jesus, in his humanity, descended from King David. Therefore, the kings of Judah, who were from David's line, especially prefigure Jesus' kingship. Luke 1:32 says, "the Lord God will give him [Jesus] the throne of David his father." Interestingly, the wife of the king of Judah was not the queen. The queen was the king's mother. She was known as the Queen Mother. She had great honor and authority in the kingdom (see 1 Kings 2:19-20). The Queen Mother had an official position; she had to be deposed in order to be removed (1 Kings 15:13).

The OT Queen Mother prefigures or foreshadows the NT Queen Mother. Jesus, the NT King of kings, does not have a wife. His mother would be the NT queen. This is exactly what Revelation 12 describes. Mary gives birth to a son who will "rule all nations" (the NT King of kings), and she is the mother of the followers of Jesus (Rev 12:17). She is queen--she is wearing a crown of twelve stars. Rev 12 depicts Mary as the NT Queen Mother. By studying the great honor and dignity queen mothers had in the OT, we can appreciate the profound role God has given Mary, Queen Mother of all Christians.

In Jn 19:27, Jesus said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother." Jesus only spoke seven times from the cross. Here, He is doing more than just making domestic arrangements. The Church has always understood that Jesus was revealing to all of us, represented by John, that Mary is our mother. Jesus' words indicate He is giving an important revelation. Recall the words of John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God" (Jn 1:29). Just as John is indicating something profound about Jesus, so is Jesus about Mary.

Let me finish by reiterating that Biblical truths about Mary are secondary in the hierarchy of truths. We must avoid the extreme of teaching Marian doctrines as equal in importance to the fundamental Christian truths about the nature of God and redemption. Likewise, we must avoid the other extreme of ignoring or neglecting Mary's role in God's plan of salvation.

The Second Vatican Council urged the theologians and preachers of the Catholic Church to avoid these extremes:
This Synod earnestly exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word that in treating of the unique dignity of the Mother of God, they carefully and equally avoid the falsity of exaggeration on the one hand, and the excess of narrowmindedness on the other.... Pursuing the study of the sacred scripture, the holy Fathers, the doctors and the liturgies of the chruch, and under the guidance of the church's teaching authority, let them rightly explain the offices [roles] and priviliges of the Blessed Virgin which are always related to Christ, the source of all truth, sanctity and piety. (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, no. 67)

God bless,


Saturday, March 26, 2005

Ancient Liturgies of the Eucharist

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Is missing Mass on Sunday a mortal sin?

It is a grave sin. Three conditions must be met for a sin to be mortal: 1) grave matter, 2) full advertence, and 3) perfect consent. "Full advertence in sinning is had when we know perfectly well that we are doing a serious evil.... Perfect consent of the will is verified in sinning when we deliberately determine to do a thing although we know that thing to be sinful." (St. Pius X, Catechism of Pius X, Sacrament of Penance).

Any sin can be mortal (damnable) if one has contempt of the Divine will. Catholic theology, however, teaches that imputable acts must be voluntary. To the extent that voluntariness diminishes, imputability also diminishes. Without full advertence of the intellect and perfect consent of the will, the subjective elements of mortal sin are lacking, and such sins are considered venial (not damnable) according to Catholic teaching.

I recommend Dies Domini, John Paul II, 5 July 1998 - Apostolic Letter

The Divine Law of the Old Testament, or the Mosaic Law, is commonly divided into civil, ceremonial, and moral precepts. The moral precepts are immutable Divine law. Thus, "keeping the Sabbath holy," while it may have had civil, ceremonial, and moral aspects to it, only the moral aspects are immutable Divine law.

I have many friends and family who are Sabbatarian Christians (they worship on Saturday and think that those who worship on Sunday are heretics). Their error is that they do not understand the distinction between ceremonial and civil aspects of the OT Law, which no longer apply to Christians according to the authentic governing ecclesiastical authority, and the moral aspects which will always be binding upon Christians.

Furthermore, "Sins that violate the human or the natural law are also included [among sins that may possibly be mortal], for what is contrary to the human or natural law is also contrary to the Divine law, in as much as every just human law is derived from the Divine law, and is not just unless it is in conformity with the Divine law." (Catholic Encyclopedia - Sin).

Pope John Paul II discussed the moral aspects on keeping the Lord's day holy in the apostolic letter above.

Other references that may be useful:
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Moral Aspect of Divine Law

God bless,


Monday, March 21, 2005

Washing of Feet on Holy Thursday

Last year, during Holy Week, there were protests in Atlanta because the bishop selected only men for the rite of washing of feet on Holy Thursday. This is what the Sacramentary prescribes, but it seems in many places, people have become accustomed to disregarding the rubrics, contrary to canon law.

The fathers of the Second Vatican Council clearly stated that " other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, change anything in the liturgy on his own authority" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no. 23). Furthermore, according to Church law the Vatican must confirm liturgical legislation approved by the various national conferences of bishops. "[It is] the prerogative of the Apostolic See to regulate the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, to publish liturgical books and review their vernacular translations, and to be watchful that liturgical regulations are everywhere faithfully observed" [Canon 838.2]. The translations of liturgical books from the official Latin into English (which includes the rubrics for Mass), must also be confirmed by the Apostolic See: "It pertains to Episcopal Conferences to prepare translations of liturgical books, with appropriate adaptations as allowed by the books themselves and, with the prior review of the Holy See, to publish these translations" [Canon 838.3].

The 1988 Vatican instruction on foot washing stated: "The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day [Holy Thursday], represents the service and charity of Christ, who came 'not to be served, but to serve.' This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained." (Congregation for Divine Worship, "Preparing and Celebrating the Paschal Feasts," January 16, 1988., emphasis added)

I pray such attitudes to the Sacred Liturgy don't reappear this Holy Lenten season, and that all within our Holy Church are "watchful that liturgical regulations are everywhere faithfully observed" (Canon 838.2).

The following article gives a good historical summary of the controversy surrounding the washing of feet on Holy Thursday:

Paths to Rome: Washing of feet on Holy Thursday
"For I have given you an example, that you also should do"
By Father Jerry Pokorsky

In 1987, the US Bishops Committe on Liturgy (BCL) had recognized a variance in the rite of footwashing. However, when the BCL stated that "it has become customary...," did they mean to assert that this is an adaptation to the Missale Romanum that has been lawfully approved by the Holy See? And if not, can parishes implement an innovation to the rubrics that have yet to be approved by the Holy See? There have been many innovations to the liturgy that have "become customary" yet were never lawfully approved, and as such are more accurately described as "liturgical abuse" than lawful adaptations. After the BCL's 1987 statement, the Vatican issued a 1988 circular letter, Paschale Solemnitatis, cited above, that reiterated the rite as prescribed in the Sacramentary was that of "washing of the feet of chosen men."

Consequently, the USCCB seems to have recognized that what had "become customary" in the US differed from the rubrics of the Sacramentary with regard to washing of feet on Holy Thursday. So, in 1995, the ICEL drafted and approved the following adaptation to the Missale Romanum, submitting it to the Holy See for approval:
Variation No. 6: ...This variation in the rubric at the washing of the feet proposes that no mention be made of the sex of those whose feet are washed ... the focus of this ritual moment is on Christian love and discipleship. The English rubric translates the Latin viri selecti as "Those who have been chosen". This translation leaves the matter open, does not prejudice the authority of the diocesan bishop, and reflects the present pastoral reality in many places throughout the English-speaking countries in which the feet of women and men are washed. (Segment Six: Holy Week, August 1995, p. 46.)

This variation, however was not approved by the Holy See, and as such, is not a lawful adaptation to the liturgy. On 16 March 2002, Jorge A. Cardinal Medina Estévez, the prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote a letter which officially rejected the ICEL translation of the Missale Romanum stating that apart from the promulgation of the editio typica tertia, "there are additional substantial reasons for which this Congregation is regrettably unable to accord the recognitio to this text in the form in which it was submitted. " One of the principal reasons stated was the ICEL's use of "inclusive language."

The rite should be on the service and charity of Christ, represented by the priest towards the twelve Apostles, represented by twelve "chosen men." According to Paschale Solemnitatis, the rite "represents the service and charity of Christ, who came 'not to be served, but to serve.' " In my opinion, unapproved innovations tend to detract from this focus. If the Church approves of a change to this liturgical rite, so be it. But until then, we ought to follow the Sacramentary.

Pius VI condemned the Jansenist proposition that "the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is ... dangerous and harmful " (Auctorem fidei, 78). This means that approved and universally promulgated ecclesiastical disciplines, such as liturgical norms, can never be harmful or dangerous to the faithful. Unapproved liturgical innovations have no such guarantee from harm to the faith.

Unlike many traditionalist Catholics, I see many benefits to the liturgical renewal of Vatican II. However, I also agree with the following caution given by Pope John Paul II: "Take care, nevertheless, that the norms of the liturgical renewal be everywhere observed; otherwise, regrettable misunderstandings easily arise. Many people accuse the Church and liturgical renewal of that which in reality is not the intention of the Church but rather goes back to individuals who act arbitrarily" (L'Osservatore Romano, February 22, 1988). And "you will have to take care that the established norms are respected, above all in the Eucharistic celebrations, which should never depend on the whim or the special initiatives of individuals or groups who disassociate themselves from the directives given by the Church." (L'Osservatore Romano, October 27, 1988).

And yet, the enigma seems to continue ....

According to the Boston Globe, March 19, 2005, "O'Malley to wash women's feet in rite" by Michael Paulson

"[Archbishop] O'Malley promised to consult with Rome, and yesterday his spokeswoman said the Congregation for Divine Worship, which oversees liturgical practices, had suggested the archbishop make whatever decision he thought was best for Boston.

The Congregation [for Divine Worship] affirmed the liturgical requirement that only the feet of men be washed at the Holy Thursday ritual." However, the Congregation did ''provide for the archbishop to make a pastoral decision."
I'd sure like to see what the response from Congregation for the Divine Worship actually said. If the report above is to be trusted, it seems the CDW is saying, "the rubrics prescribe that ONLY the feet of men be washed, but for pastoral reasons, you don't need to follow the rubrics." (???). In other words, the CDW is saying that the rubrics can be disregarded for "pastoral reasons" on the authority of the diocesene ordinary? Eeeek! That kind of precedence can lead to liturgical chaos, I think.

God bless,


Friday, March 18, 2005

Why Bad Things Happen to a Good God

For one who is struggling to understand why bad things happen in a world created by a good, all-powerful God, I recommend the following book by Rabbi Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. It's not what I believe to be the Catholic answer, but it may help prepare to better understand the Catholic answer. It helped me.

Then I recommend the book by Protestant writer, C.S. Lewis, called The Problem of Pain (C.S. Lewis Classics)

Both of the above books are very short and inexpensive, but very good.

Then I recommend this article from This Rock magazine: "WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO A GOOD GOD (This Rock: May 1998)" by John Dowling.

I think the answer is that LOVE is so amazing, that REJECTION, PAIN, and SORROW are worth risking and enduring. Anyone who has ever been truly in love should be able to understand this.

God bless,


Thursday, March 17, 2005

God sometimes ordered Hebrews to wipe out a city. Was it immoral?

In the OT, one finds several references to God ordering the Hebrews to carry out his will and destroy entire cities, killing everybody, even including women and children.

For example, 1 Samuel 15:3 (NAB): "Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban [herem]. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.'"

The NAB has the following commentary on verse 3:
[3] Under the ban: in such wars of extermination, all things (men, cities, beasts, etc.) were to be blotted out; nothing could be reserved for private use. The interpretation of God's will here attributed to Samuel is in keeping with the abhorrent practices of blood revenge prevalent among pastoral, seminomadic peoples such as the Hebrews had recently been. The slaughter of the innocent has never been in conformity with the will of God.

I find this commentary to be rather poor. While it doesn't say so explicitly, it implies that 1 Sam 15:3 was a false interpretation of God's will incorrectly attributed to Samuel by the sacred writer. If this is the commentator's implication, it is not in keeping with Catholic doctrine and tradition.

In contrast, the Douay-Rheims Catholic translations has:

1 Kings [aka 1 Samuel] 15:3 "Now therefore go, and smite Amalec, and utterly destroy all that he hath: spare him not, nor covet any thing that is his: but slay both man and woman, child and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. "

The Douay-Rheims has the following commentary for verse 3:
3 "Child"... The great Master of life and death (who cuts off one half of all mankind whilst they are children) has been pleased sometimes to ordain that children should be put to the sword, in detestation of the crimes of their parents, and that they might not live to follow the same wicked ways. But without such ordinance of God it is not allowable, in any wars, how just soever, to kill children.

So which commentary is more trustworthy? More in line with the common teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church?

Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman commented upon Saul's sin, in which Ven. Newman clearly implied that Saul contradicted Divine judgment when he failed to destroy the Amalikites precisely as God directed through his prophet, Samuel.
"When sent to inflict a Divine judgment upon the Amalekites, [Saul] spared those whom he was bid slay; their king Agag, the best of the sheep and cattle, and all that was good." (John Henry Newman, Sermon 9, Wilfulness, the Sin of Saul,

The whole account of Samuel and Saul and Saul's fall from grace makes no sense whatsoever unless one accepts that God did indeed direct the utter destruction of the Amalekites.

I've read many different commentaries on this and find that the commentary by Fr. William Most makes most sense and is most in line with Catholic tradition.

From Fr. William Most's commentary on herem (utter destruction of entire nations per the will of God in the OT):

"80. God sometimes ordered Hebrews to wipe out a city: herem. Was it immoral?
[286] No, the adults had sinned mortally; children in it had not, but life is a moment to moment gift: God decided to stop giving it, using Hebrews as a means. Killing is wrong precisely because it is a violation of rights of God, the Lord of life." (Fr. William Most, Addenda: Course information; study questions and answers)

"In cases of herem, total destruction of a city and its people.... God ordered this as a punishment for the sins of adults. In Gen 15:16 God told Abraham He would give the land to him and his seed, but not at once: the sins of the Amorites who then lived there, had not reached their fullness. But in the day of Joshua, the sins had reached fullness, and so punishment of adults was called for. As to innocent children -- we must recall that life is a moment to moment gift. We are not comparable to robots, into which the maker can put a battery and then walk away or even die. The robot runs as long as the battery has power. But with us, each instant is a fresh gift. In Aristotelian terms, it involves rises from potency to actuality, each of which needs the power of the First Cause. Therefore as to infants if God for His own reasons simply decides to stop giving life--He is the Lord of life." (Fr. William Most, COMMENTARY ON EZEKIEL)

"Some are shocked at the severity of the ban (Hebrew herem), a theme found in many places, e.g. in Dt. 7:1-5, where God ordered them to destroy the nations in the land of Canaan, without mercy. Two things are to be noticed. First, God wants them to be free of the temptation - which later experience showed was fatal - of joining in the idolatrous worship of those nations. Second, God is the supreme Lord of life. If He wills to end the lives of any persons, that is His right. And we recall that in Genesis 15:16 God promised to give them the land, but not until after the fourth time-span (Hebrew dor, which can mean either generation or period of time). He said He would wait, because the sins of the Amorites had not yet reached their fullness. For even one mortal sin, a person merits death. If his sins reach their fullness, go the limit, this is all the more fully true. As to the deaths of children: life is a moment to moment gift from God. If He just stops giving, or uses a human instrument to end it, there is nothing wrong." (Fr. William Most, Basic Scripture, Chapter 11: The Books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy)

"Paragraph 97: could they be just who had many wives at once and killed men and sacrificed animals -- polygamy was permitted in OT-- about the ban, herem :God ordered them to wipe out Canaanites to avoid danger of falling into idolatry - they did fall. Further, already in Gen 15:16 God said He would wait till the sins of the Amorites reached their fullness. By now they did. As to children: life is a moment to moment gift. God can stop giving at any point - or use a human agent for the same effect. The wrong of murder is that it violates the rights of the Creator." (Fr. William Most, Commentary on St. Augustine, I. The Confessions)

"Paragraph 346: On the ban (herem): Basically it was death penalty for grave sins. As to children etc. - God's gift of life is moment to moment - He could just stop giving - or use a human agency for the same purpose." (Fr. William Most, Commentary on St. Augustine, II. City of God)

God bless,


Mandatum for Catholic Theology Professors

Catholic canon law states, Can. 812 "Those who teach theological disciplines in any institutes of higher studies whatsoever must have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority."

"The mandatum is fundamentally an acknowledgment by church authority that a Catholic professor of a theological discipline is teaching within the full communion of the Catholic Church ... All Catholics who teach Catholic theological disciplines in a Catholic university are required to have a mandatum." [1]

Some Catholic universities and colleges, including my alma mater, Gonzaga University, are rather secretive as to whether their theology professors are in compliance with Catholic canon law. Many have expressed concern over this, some even withdrawing donation dollars until the situation is reconciled.

The following article gives a partial list of U.S. Catholic Universities who publicly require all Catholic theology professors to have the mandatum or similar oath of fidelity to Catholic doctrine.

Mandatum Schools, National Catholic Register,

[Note: link above expired, see here: ]

It's reasonable to conclude that among those colleges who are less forthright with their mandatum status, not all their theology professors are in compliance with canon law. Consequently, just because the college claims to be Catholic, their professors of theology may have no intention of teaching within the full communion of the Catholic Church.

For the situation at Gonzaga University, see the following article...

Teaching with the Church? Gonzaga Won't Say by Tim Drake [link expired]

See here: Mandatum Cover-Up? by Tim Drake

God bless,


Other References:

Catholic ordination of women priests?

Some Catholics hold the opinion that the Catholic Church's current prohibition of priestly ordination of women is merely an eccesiastical discipline that may change in the near future. I've read this view from works written by Catholic priests. When I was a sponsor in RCIA, I heard the Catholic deacon imply this to the RCIA group. Other Catholics I've known have asserted to me that this is not an infallible dogma of the Catholic faith, so therefore women may one day be allowed to become Catholic priests. They say that a priest told them this, so it must be true.

I want to quote from a priest, who I believe speaks with more Catholic authority on the matter:

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II, 22 May 1994 - Apostolic Letter
"... the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.... Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." (4)

In terms of Catholic dogmatic theology, this is a dogma that is part of what is called fides catholica ('Catholic faith'). It is infallible and immutable by virtue of the constant and universal teaching of the magisterium, called the Ordinary Universal Magisterium. It is Catholic dogma which is immutable, not merely a discipline or a changeable doctrine of the Church. I'm astonished every time a Catholic deacon or priest asserts, even after the pope's definitive declaration above, that this may change in the future. Such claims by the clergy shows that our seminaries aren't doing a very good job teaching dogmatic theology, specifically with regard to what the words "definitively held by all the Church's faithful" means.

According to Dr. Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma,

1. The highest degree of [theological] certainty appertains to the immediately revealed truths. The belief due to them is based on the authority of God Revealing (fides divina), and if the Church, through its teaching, vouches for the fact that a truth is contained in Revelation, one's certainty is then also based on the authority of the Infallible Teaching Authority of the Church (fides catholica). If Truths are defined by a solemn judgment of faith (definition) of the Pope or of a General Council, they are "de fide definita."

2. Catholic truths or Church doctrines, on which the infallible Teaching Authority of the Church has finally decided, are to be accepted with a faith which is based on the sole authority of the Church (fides ecclesiastica). These truths are as infallibly certain as dogmas proper.

Some Catholic theologians had some honest doubt as to what Pope John Paul II meant by his definitive declaration in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994), so they sent a dubium (a request for clarification) to the Holy See. In 1996, the Holy See responded to this clarification request with the following responsum ad dubium:

Responsum ad Dubium (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1996)

Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.

Responsum: In the affirmative.

This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the Feast of the Apostles SS. Simon and Jude, October 28, 1995.

+ Joseph Card. RatzingerPrefect
+ Tarcisio BertoneArchbishop Emeritus
of VercelliSecretary

If you ever hear a Catholic, whether layperson, deacon, or priest tell you that the Church may one day ordain women into the priesthood, please correct them, as they they are in conflict with infallible Catholic dogma according to the pope.

God bless,


Other references:
Letter Concerning the CDF Reply (Joseph Ratzinger, 1996)
Inter Insignores Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, 1976

Perspicuity of Scripture?

Many of my Protestant friends and family claim that by merely reading Sacred Scripture, even the unlearned can come the to same truth. They call this the "perspicuity" of Scripture.

The Protestant Westminister Confession of Faith states:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture ...

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them....

The essential truths of Scripture, what is "necessary to be known," they say, are so clearly propounded in Scripture that the learned or unlearned may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them by merely reading Scripture alone.

Yet, Calvinists see the essential truths of their TULIP theology in Scripture, whereas Arminians refute the Calvinist theology as error. The Unitarians reject the doctrine of the Trinity using Scripture alone. The Universalists say that all will be saved, each and everyone of God's creatures, to include Satan and his demons, using Scripture alone. Several Protestant "scholars" have rejected the Nicene Creed's insistence that Jesus is "eternally begotten of the Father" because of their learned exegesis of Scripture, where as other Sola Scriptura Protestants insist that the eternal Sonship of Christ is an essential truth of Scripture.

So much for perspicuity.

Many Protestants seem to think their own personal exegesis is infallible, although they don't use the word infallible. They only act as though they are infallible --this is de facto infallibility. They seem to think that anyone can exegete Scripture and come to the same infallible understanding of authorial intent. If they don't agree with another as to what Scripture says, well, the other is simply using "eisegesis" or the interpretation of the Bible by reading into it one's own ideas. Rather than simply understanding that exegetes disagree, they thrust out the word "eisegesis" to all those they disagree with.

Let's look at an example of Protestant exegesis, called the Jesus Seminar. These Jesus Seminar PhD's have passed and often teach the exegesis coursework at Protestant seminaries and universities. These Protestant "scholars" claim the following: "the scholarship represented by the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar is the kind that has come to prevail in all the great universities of the world."

Have you read their conclusions? They've concluded that Jesus is dead and likely to have been eaten by dogs, and that the resurrection and all miracles are just parables. They contend, "We now know the nature miracles of Christ (walking on water, multiplying loaves and fishes, etc.) are not to be taken as literal events. They are instead parables told in dramatic form by the evangelist to make a spiritual point about Jesus."

I hope to never pass such an exegesis course.

G.K. Chesteron's words are aptly applied to the commentary of the Protestant PhD's who call themselves the Jesus Seminar...
"Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators."

Robert Funk, the founder of the Jesus Seminar may sound like some kind of wacko, but in Protestant circles, he's holds rather scholarly credentials . He was Fulbright Senior Scholar, University of Tübingen, Germany, 1966–1967, and Guggenheim Fellow, 1966–1967. He holds an A.B., Butler University; M.A., Butler University; B.D., Christian Theological Seminary; and a Ph.D., Vanderbilt University.

For those who are unfamiliar with the University of Tübingen, where Robert Funk was hailed as a scholar, it is the birthplace of modern Protestant exegesis called the "historical critical method." Now, the method is not bad in and of itself. However, when the method is utilized without the guidance of the apostolical men of the Catholic magisterium, it is like a ship without a compass. Chances are, the one using it will soon be lost.

Liberal Catholic exegetes who also rely heavily upon the historical-critical method, like Fr. Raymon Brown, represent a school of Catholic opinions as to the interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

The difference between this Catholic school and the Protestant school is this: Catholic exegetes (liberal and conservative) offer their opinion to the Magisterium for their authentic interpretation. Protestant exegetes offer their opinion as though it was already de facto infallible dogma.

Many Catholic theologians are certainly using historical critical exegesis (a methodology invented by Protestants, and so rightly called Protestant exegesis). Fr. Brown, for example, was a graduate of the Protestant Union Theological Seminary, and so has placed much emphasis on the Protestant historical critical method. However, he did not insist upon exegesis alone as many Protestants do.

Can this Protestant "exegesis alone" approach be trusted? I don't believe so, not without the guidance of the Magisterium. The problem with Protestantism is that they reject the guidance of the Magisterium so ALL THEY HAVE is the speculative opinions of the historical critical exegesis. Their practice of "exegesis alone" falls well short of being a certain method of understanding Scripture, as the history of Protestantism proves. The historical critical exegesis so relied upon by Protestantism produces so many wildly variant conclusions that it cannot be of any trustworthy value.

Even such liberal Catholic exegetes as Fr. Raymond Brown admit that this method of exegesis can only help us to discern what might have been the "literal" sense (authorial intent) of Scripture. The "literal" sense is not the only sense of Scripture, although it is the only sense that this exegetical method seems to speculate upon.

Fr. Brown admits of a critical meaning of the Bible that goes beyond the literal sense:
[A] writing, once composed, has a life of its own, and so the literal sense of the author's intent cannot absolutely control the meaning." (Brown, R., The Critical Meaning of the Bible, 33)
Clearly St. Paul did not use the literal sense when he described Adam as a type of Christ. He instead sanctioned a "typological" sense. Historical critical exegesis of the Book of Genesis alone would never have drawn this conclusion. This is what Fr. Brown calls the canonical sense, that is, the sense of Scripture after it had been canonized by the Church, when taking all of the canon into consideration.

Brown admits that "it is extremely difficult to be sure that a Mary/Eve parallelism was the literal sense (author's intent) in the accounts of the mother of Jesus in John 2 and 19 and of the woman who gives birth to the messianic child in Revelation 12. But ... when John and Revelation are put in the same canon, a catalytic action may occur, so that the two women are brought together and the parallelism to Eve become more probable." (ibid, 31-32)

Fr. Brown also described a larger sense that includes spiritual and theological aspects that go beyond the literal sense, but have been accepted by Christian thought. As liberal as Fr. Brown was, he asserted the legitimacy of the beyond-the-literal sense. In other words, Fr. Brown asserted that what the Bible meant according to exegetical opinion, is not equivalent to what the Bible authentically means.

Fr. Brown held to this view: "The foremost and greatest endeavor of the interpreters should be to discern and define that sense of the biblical words which is called literal ... so that the mind of the author may be made abundantly clear" (ibid., 24, from Pope Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu). Fr. Brown also held to this view: "The task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, where authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." (ibid., from Dei Verbum)

"Knowing clearly the 1st century situation," asserts Fr. Brown, "need not lead one to deny the validity of subsequent development" (ibid., 36). What many advocates of the historical critical method seem to think is that through their "science" of Biblical criticism, they can "clearly" know the 1st century situation with reliable accuracy. I disagree.

Fr. Brown states, "For me the principle that the teaching office of the Church can authentically interpret the Bible is more important now than ever before, granted the diversity and contrariety among Biblical authors uncovered by historical criticism."

While I agree with Fr. Browns insistence on the importance of the Church to authentically interpret the Bible, I believe the "diversity and contrariety" that he speaks of lies not as much within the Bible as within the wildly variant opinions of "scientific" exegetes using the historical critical method.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Unity of Command ... not just a good idea, but biblically established

On the Does the Bible have errors in it? blog, Wray Davis wrote the following comment:

... the concept that God has selected a single man to be his ultimate voice after Christ ascended - I don't see any biblical reason to support such a belief.

Let me tell you why I believe the Bible supports sacerdotal unity, that is, the notion that God selected a single man to be his voice, to be the Vicar of Christ.

As a military guy, I know this priniciple as "unity of command." Unit cohesion and unity of purpose quickly fails without unity of command, especially in times of battle. And make no mistake, the Church has always been in battle with the forces that would attempt to destroy her.

The Catholic Church more appropriately calls this "sacerdotal unity." It essentially means that there will be one pastor in charge of the Church. It is not only a good idea for unit cohesion and unity of purpose in times of battle, but this pastoral or sacerdotal unity is precisely how Christ built his Church. Catholics see no biblical reason to presume that Christ's Church is no longer hierarchically under one pastor as it was in the 1st century.

There are many types within the OT that foreshadow truths expounded within the NT. For example, Paul calls Adam a "type" of Christ. This is called the typological sense of the OT. The Davidic Kingship, for example, is a type of Christ's Kingship, and the Davidic Kingdom foreshadows the Kingdom of God under the eternal King, Jesus Christ.

Let's look at some types that give us clues as to how Christ set up his kingdom on earth.

The family is the smallest unit established by God. It is led by one guy, the Father.

The extended family, for example that of Noah, was led by one patriarch, Noah.

The tribe is led by one guy, for example, the tribe of Abraham is led by Abraham.

The nation is led by one guy. A OT example is that of the nation of Israel, led by the one guy, Moses. It is interesting to note that when Korah attempted to rebel against this Divinely established construct, asserting that everyone in the nation was holy and that they ought to be able to go to God withing having to use Moses as mediator, God disagreed. You can read more about his rebellion in Numbers ch. 16.

The kingdom is led by one guy, the King. An OT example is that of King David. Now, let's take a closer look at this Davidic kingdom. The kindgom had many ministers. Yet, there was just one guy, the one who held the keys of the kingdom who was the chief minister, given the authority to speak on behalf of the king, to be the ONE GUY to lead all the other ministers, the PRIME MINISTER. Again, unity of command is presented as Scriptural in the governance of every unit, from those as small as the family to those as large as the kingdom, to even include the body of ministers for that kindgom, led by one guy, the chief minister.

Are these not OT types for the NT Kingdom? According to Catholicism and even many well-respected Protestant bible scholars, the answer is yes. Jesus placed one guy to be his chief apostle, giving him the keys of the kingdom and the power to bind and loose on earth that which will be bound and loosed in heaven. Many Protestant scholars rightly conclude that Peter was the chief apostle of the NT Church. However, they fail to take the next step and draw the necessary conclusion as to how the universal Church ought to be governed--by one chief minister--the successor of Peter.

Protestant bible scholar F. F. Bruce, writes:

"And what about the 'keys of the kingdom' ? The keys of a royal or noble establishment were entrusted to the chief steward or majordomo; he carried them on his shoulder in earlier times, and there they served as a badge of the authority entrusted to him. About 700 B.C. an oracle from God announced that this authority in the royal palace in Jerusalem was to be conferred on a man called Eliakim ....(Isaiah 22:22). So in the new community which Jesus was about
to build, Peter would be, so to speak, chief steward
." (Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus [Intervarsity, 1983], 143-144, as cited in Butler/Dahlgren/Hess, page
Protestant M. Eugene Boring (Disciples of Christ), commenting on the "keys of the kingdom of heaven," "binding" and "loosing" from Matthew 16:19:

"The 'kingdom of heaven' is represented by authoritative teaching, the
promulgation of authoritative Halakha that lets heaven's power rule in earthly things...Peter's role as holder of the keys is fulfilled now, on earth, as chief teacher of the church....The keeper of the keys has authority within the house as administrator and teacher (cf. Isa 22:20-25, which may have influenced Matthew here). The language of binding and loosing is rabbinic terminology for authoritative teaching, for having the authority to interpret the Torah and
apply it to particular cases, declaring what is permitted and what is not permitted. Jesus, who has taught with authority (7:29) and has given his authority to his disciples (10:1, 8), here gives the primary disciple [Peter] the authority to teach in his name -- to make authoritative decisions pertaining to Christian life as he applies the teaching of Jesus to concrete situations in the life of the church.
" (Boring in The New Interpreter's Bible [Abingdon Press, 1995], volume 8, page 346)
Protestant Francis Wright Beare (Presbyterian/Reformed):

"The 'keys' are probably not to be understood as entrance keys, as if to suggest that Peter is authorized to admit or to refuse admission, but rather to the bundle of keys carried by the chief steward, for the opening of rooms and storechambers within the house -- symbols of responsibilities to be exercised within the house of God (cf. Mt 24:45, etc.). 'Bind' and 'loose" are technical terms of the rabbinic vocabulary, denoting the authoritative declaration that an action or course of conduct is permitted or forbidden by the Law of Moses." (Beare in The Gospel According to Matthew [Harper and Row, 1981], page 355-356)
Protestant Eduard Schweizer (Presbyterian/Reformed) --

"In Jewish interpretation, the key of David refers to the teachers of the Law (exiled in Babylon); according to Matthew 23:13, the 'keys of the Kingdom of heaven' are in the hands of the teachers of the Law. A contrast is here drawn between them and Peter. He is thus not the gatekeeper of heaven, but the steward of the Kingdom of heaven upon earth. His function is described in more detail as 'binding and loosing' ....the saying must from the very outset have referred to an authority like that of the teachers of the Law. In this context, 'binding" and 'loosing' refer to the magisterium to declare a commandment binding or not binding....For Matthew, however, there is only one correct interpretation of the Law, that of Jesus. This is accessible to the community through the tradition of Peter...Probably we are dealing here mostly with teaching authority, and always with the understanding that God must ratify what Petrine tradition declares permitted or forbidden in the community." (Schweizer in The Good News according to Matthew [John Knox Press, 1975], page 343)
Protestant R.T. France (Anglican/Protestant Evangelical) --

"The terms [binding and loosing] thus refer to a teaching function, and more specifically one of making halakhic pronouncements [i.e. relative to laws not written down in the Jewish Scriptures but based on an oral interpretation of them] which are to be 'binding' on the people of God. In that case Peter's 'power of the keys' declared in [Matthew] 16:19 is not so much that of the doorkeeper... but that of the steward (as in Is. 22:22, generally regarded as the Old Testament background to the metaphor of keys here), whose keys of office enable him to regulate the affairs of the household." (R.T. France, as cited in Jesus, Peter, and the Keys by Butler/Dahlgren/Hess, page 54)
Protestants William F. Albright and C.S. Mann, commenting on Matthew 16:19:

"Isaiah 22:15ff undoubtedly lies behind this saying. The keys are the symbol of authority, and Roland de Vaux [Ancient Israel, tr. by John McHugh, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1961] rightly sees here the same authority as that vested in the vizier, the master of the house, the chamberlain, of the royal household in ancient Israel. Eliakim is described as having the same authority in Isaiah; it was Hilkiah's position until he was ousted, and Jotham as regent is also described as 'over the household' [2 Kings 15:5]....It is of considerable importance that in other contexts, when the disciplinary affairs of the community are being discussed [cf. Matt 18:18; John 20:23] the symbol of the keys is absent, since the sayings apply in those instances to a wider circle....The role of Peter as steward of the Kingdom is further explained as being the exercise of administrative authority, as was the case of the OT chamberlain who held the 'keys.' The clauses 'on earth,' 'in heaven', have reference to the permanent character of the steward's work." (Albright/Mann, The Anchor Bible: Matthew, page 196-197)
The Evangelical New Bible Commentary states on Isaiah 22:

"Eliakim stands in strong contrast to Shebna, over whom he seems to have been promoted when they reappear in 36:3...Godward he is called my servant (20)...manward he will be a father to his community (21)...The key...of David (22) comes in this context of accountability. A key was a substantial object, tucked in the girdle or slung over the shoulder; but the opening words of v. 22...emphasize the God-given responsibility that went with it, to be used in the king's interests. The 'shutting' and 'opening' means the power to make decisions which no one under the king could override. This is the background of the commission to Peter (cf. Mt 16:19) and to the church (cf. Mt 18:18).... Ultimate authority, however, is claimed, in these terms, for Christ himself (cf. Rev 3:7-8)." (NBC [Intervarsity, 1994], page 647)
Joachim Jeremias in an extended passage from Kittel's Greek standard:

"...the key of David is now (3:7) the key which Christ has in His hands as the promised shoot of David. This is the key to God's eternal palace. The meaning of the description is that Christ has unlimited sovereignty over the future world. He alone controls grace and judgment. He decides irrevocably whether a man will have access to the salvation of the last age or whether it will be witheld from him...Materially, then, the keys of the kingdom of God are not different from the key of David...This is confirmed by the fact that in Mt. 16:19, as in Rev. 3:7, Jesus is the One who controls them. But in what sense is the power of the keys given to Peter? ....the handing over of the keys is not just future. It is regarded as taking place now... There are numerous instances to show that in biblical and later Jewish usage handing over the keys implies full authorisation. He who has the keys has full authority. Thus, when Eliakim is given the keys of the palace he is appointed the royal steward (Is. 22:22, cf. 15). When Jesus is said to hold the keys of death and Hades (Rev. 1:18) or the key of David (3:7), this means that He is, not the doorkeeper, but the Lord of the world of the dead and the palace of God...Hence handing over the keys implies appointment to full authority. He who has the keys has on the one side control, e.g., over the council chamber or treasury, cf. Mt. 13:52, and on the other the power to allow or forbid entry, cf. Rev. 3:7...Mt. 23:13 leads us a step further. This passage is particularly important for an understanding of Mt. 16:19 because it is the only one in the NT which presupposes an image not found elsewhere, namely, that of the keys of the kingdom (royal dominion) of God...Mt. 23:13 shows us that the scribes of the time of Jesus claimed to possess the power of the keys in respect of this kingdom...They exercised this by declaring the will of God in Holy Scripture in the form of preaching, teaching and judging. Thereby they opened up for the congregation a way into this acting as spiritual leaders of the congregation....As Lord of the Messianic community He thus transferred the keys of God's royal dominion, i.e. the full authority of proclamation, to Peter...In Rabb. lit. binding and loosing are almost always used in respect of halahkic decisions...The scribe binds (declares to be forbidden) and looses (declares to be permitted)...In Mt. 16:19, then, we are to regard the authority to bind and to loose as judicial. It is the authority to pronounce judgment on unbelievers and to promise forgiveness to believers." (Jeremias from Kittel/Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume 3, page 748-751)
So from my study of Scripture and ancient Christianity, Christ did indeed place one guy in charge, his chief apostle or "steward of the Kingdom of heaven upon earth." Catholics understand this guy to have been Peter, and Catholics continue in union with the chair of Peter to this day. Such champions of orthodoxy as St. Athanasius and the other bishops at the synod of Sardica, writing a letter to the pope, described the See of Peter as the "head" of the Church. Later, the schismatic Greek Church would re-interpret this to mean something other than jurisdictional authority. Yet, the bishops of the ecumenical council of Chalcedon well before such re-interpretations affirmed in a letter to Pope Leo I, that they believe him to be the successor of Peter, given "custody of the vine by the Savior." They submitted the canons to him for ratification--a clear sign of jurisdicational primacy over the entire Church. Catholics have no reason to conclude this biblical ecclesiastical governance was in any way revised by Christ after Peter's death.

God bless,


Find rest for your soul in the ancient paths

An anonymous commenter on my “Does the Bible have errors in it? ” blog said the following:

"There is no discourse and no canon that is not inherently up for revision."

I would argue that those that would take this view, really seek to invent their own new religion. I simply wish they would be more honest about it instead of marketing what they revise, what they in fact create anew, as though it were the historic religion that came before it. It seems any clownish raving is packaged up and called “Christian” now-a-days.

Even Martin Luther seemed to lament over the wildly variant doctrines that were born of his Sola Scriptura movement:

"There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams." (Martin Luther, as cited in Ray, S., Faith of Our Fathers)
In another place Luther laments again ...

"Since the downfall of Popery and the cessation of excommunications and spiritual penalties, the people have learned to despise the word of God. They no longer care for the churches; they have ceased to fear and honor God...After throwing off the yoke of the Pope, everyone wishes to live as he pleases. [They say] 'we will spend the day like Lutherans. Drunkenness has come upon us like a deluge.' If God had not closed my eyes, and if I had foreseen these scandals, I would never have begun to teach the gospel." (WL 6, 920)

Luther confesses...
"I confess... that I am more negligent than I was under the Pope and there is now nowhere such an amount of earnestness under the Gospel, as was formerly seen among monks and priests." (WL 9. 1311)

In a letter to Zwingli, Luther writes...

"If the world last long it will be again necessary, on account of the different interpretations of Scripture which now exist, that to preserve the unity of faith we should receive the Councils and decrees and fly to them for refuge." (Contra Zuingli et Oecol. cited in "Sola Scriptura: A Blueprint For Anarchy" by Patrick Madrid)
What I see in Protesant revisionism is people, under the guise of sola scriptura, taking an existing religion--Christianity--and redefining into something it had never been before. That tends to make the word "Christianity" more and more meaningless over time. When the word "Christianity" is used today, one wonders if they mean Unitarian Christianity or Trinitarian Christianity, Mormon Christianity or the Unity School of Christianity (reincarnationalists and eastern mysticism), Lutheran or Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican, or one of the more than 33,000+ denominations that claim to be Christian, yet believe and worship differently and often refuse to fellowship with the Church across the street that also calls themselves Christian.

There are three main divisions of Christianity: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. Endless revision and the tendency to re-package one's one own private ravings or “gnosis” and market them as though it was "Christianity" is a characteristic of Protestantism, and is precisely why there are 33,000+ denominations within this "sola scriptura" branch, all claiming that the perspicuous Bible is best understood within their denomination.

According to Protestant author J. Leslie Dunstan:

Protestantism is one of the three main divisions of the universal Christian Church, which together with the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches make up one world-wide religion. Protestantism is the most recent of the developments within Christianity, having a relatively short history of slightly more than four centuries; the other two branches of the faith have histories going back to the earliest days of the Christian era. Moreover, compared to the unity which characterizes those other branches, Protestantism is divided within itself among hundreds of separate organizations, some of which deny all relationship to others. The many denominations and sects have differing beliefs and carry on a variety of practices, which give them the appearance of being distinct from one another." (Protestantism, by J. Leslie Dunstan, (New York:
George Braziller, 1962), p. 9)
As for me, I cannot help but believe that it is the ancient path of Christianity where I find rest for my soul.

Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jer 6:16)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Infallible, not inspired

On the blog "Does the Bible have errors in it? " Wray Davis said in a comment to me...

"To me, however, relying on single source of inspiration (the papal seat) as the authority on orthodoxy seems worrisome"
Firstly, the pope is not a source of Divine inspiration, only the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are. Nor is the pope's teachings understood to be inspired or revealed by God. That's a Mormon thing, not a Catholic thing.

The pope is simply our pastor. By virtue of the office he holds, an office that has existed since St. Peter, he speaks with the highest level of authority on doctrinal matters apart from a direct revelation of our Lord Christ Jesus Himself. The successor of Peter has no superior in matters religious, according to Catholic ecclesiology. But he is simply a man, as sinful and error-prone as other men. Yet, in accord with Heb 13:17, by virture of the office he holds, all Catholics are obliged to submit to him in matters within his scope of authority, that is, matters religious to include faith, morals, and ecclesiastical discipline.

As a member of the military, I know this principle as "unity of command." In the Catholic Church, it's more appropriately called "pastoral" or "sacerdotal unity." There's "sacerdotal unity" in the Catholic Church because this is how Christ built his Church. Unity of command is not just a good idea, but it's the Biblical governance of the Church.

Accurding to Heb 13:17 (New American Bible, states, "Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you."

The popes will certainly have to give an account for their leadership, and some may even find themselves damned to hell, but my role seems clear from Scripture: obey in such a way that my lawful pastors may lead with joy and not with sorrow.

Now, Catholicism does indeed teach that Christ will always keep the Church from teaching erroneous doctrines as formal dogma which all the faithful infallibly and immutably owe their assent of faith. The Catholic Church is likened to an ark and the pope is the captain of the ark. Both the captain and crew are sinful and error prone, but nothing is impossible with the grace of God. Although the ark is navigating through rough waters, being tossed here and there by the human sinfulness of the captain and crew, no matter how much the captain and crew might attempt to take the ark permanently off course by their sinfulness, we believe Jesus Christ will never allow the captain and crew of the ark to defectably and immutably diverge the ark from its true Divinely intended destination. In other words, the Church may stumble, but Christ is always holding her hand such that she will never fall.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

How to choose a truly Catholic College

Here's an article by Jim Burnham on how to choose a truly Catholic College. For those who are unaware, many colleges calling themselves Catholic are notorious for promoting very non-Catholic teachings and policies.

How to choose a truly Catholic College by Jim Burnam

The link above is no longer working... try this address:

Since links tend to have a shelf-life, here's the article...


How to Choose a Truly Catholic College
by Jim Burnham

You’ve just finished twelve dedicated years of homeschooling your child. He’s chomping at the bit to leave home for college and you’re ready to let him go. But where?

Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions your family can make. Your child’s college experience will often determine his future occupation, marriage partner, and general world view.

Everyone has heard the story of Suzy Catholic who attends Secular University, finds the Catholic Newman Center boring, joins the interdenominational Bible study group like Campus Crusade, and in one year or two abandons her Catholic faith for some brand of "Bible only" Christianity. So sending your child to a Catholic college is the solution, right? Well, let me tell you another quick story.

At Progressive Catholic College, Johnny takes several required courses in religion. His teachers are respected Catholic theologians with many impressive degrees. From these trustworthy sources, Johnny learns that the Bible is merely a collection of myths; that the Gospel miracles are "second century additions;" and that Jesus’ Resurrection from the tomb was only spiritual. Johnny discovers that it is acceptable to disagree with the Church’s teachings on pre-marital sex, contraception, abortion, and sterilization. He is taught that only his conscience can judge the morality of his actions.

Freed from his medieval notions about sex, and enlightened about the true value of the Gospels, Johnny begins to relish all the enticements offered by the world, the flesh, and the devil. He takes up drinking and womanizing. Between his religion courses and his midnight trysts. Johnny hasn’t even noticed that his faith has been utterly destroyed.

Unfortunately, Suzy and Johnny are not alone. Thousands of Catholic students lose their faith every year in colleges and universities across this country. Even more distressing is the fact that this occurs at supposedly Catholic institutions. No longer can Catholic parents send their children to the nearest Catholic college, trusting that their faith will be preserved. In some cases, sending your children to a nominally Catholic college is the quickest way to destroy their faith.

How can parents provide a college education that will also preserve and nourish faith? Parents have a grave obligation to find a college that is authentically Catholic: an institution that teaches the Catholic faith without distortion, lives the faith without compromise, and nourishes the Catholic faith without apology. Unfortunately, this eliminates most so-called Catholic institutions.

If you look at a college directory, you will find dozens of schools bearing the name Catholic, but only a handful of these are authentically Catholic. At the end of this article I have listed four colleges known for their orthodoxy and academic excellence. This list is not comprehensive, but it should give committed Catholic parents a place to begin.

I suggest that every parent who has children who might want to attend college take the following practical steps:

(1) Make a commitment to protect your child’s faith, no matter what the cost or sacrifice. After all, what does it profit your child to gain the whole world, if he loses his soul in the process? (See Mt. 16:26.)

(2) Write to all the colleges below, requesting information about their programs.

(3) Visit as many as you can, perhaps incorporating them into family vacations.

(4) Interview several teachers and ask whether the school follows the Magisterium of the Church and provides solid spiritual formation. Obtain the names of several graduates. Call them to get a feel for what kind of person this program helps to shape. Just as you wouldn’t undergo major surgery without a second opinion, don’t accept whatever a glossy brochure tells you about a college. Get some second opinions; do some digging.

(5) Make a decision based on two criteria: (i) how this college will promote your child’s faith; and (ii) how it will foster his academic achievement. Do not let extraneous factors like tuition and distance determine your decision. Remember that any sacrifice and extra cost will pay rich dividends in the lives of your children.

Jim Burnham is a Catholic evangelist. He is the author of "Beginning Apologetics," a how-to manual for defending the Catholic faith.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Why Gnosticism is unconvincing

As for the authentic interpretation of Christ's teachings contra later revisionist claims, like Gnosticism, let me give you a C.S. Lewis analogy...

C.S. Lewis wrote many works. Let's say that hypothetically, he didn't pen these texts himself, but instead he delivered them orally and lectured on it to his friends and family. He gave his own "historical-criticism" of his own lectures, described the public events that influenced him, described in detail what his source information was, what other teachings influenced him, and what his overall intention was. In other words, he taught the content of his teachings as well as all the background information in order to rightly understand the true authorial intent of his teachings.

Then let's say C.S. Lewis asked his friends and family to teach others what he taught them, building up the community of "Lewisians" in every nation.

Let's also say the original Lewisians, those who were eyewitnesses to Lewis' teachings, penned the teachings of C.S. Lewis in the language of their day, in several books decades after Lewis' death. Yet, in each book, the author tailored Lewis' teachings to their specific audience for better understanding, synthesized some things, reordered some others, maybe even placing some things within a different context, using varying literary genres here and there, but the writers (in some miraculous way) never diverged from faithfully preserving the inerrant sense, the truth of what C.S. Lewis taught to them directly. They certainly were not intending to write everything Lewis ever uttered, as this would be rather impractical and unnecessary, as the Lewisians intended to continue their authoritative oral teachings for many other audiences, tailoring it to their needs as well. Nor did they intend to merely echo a biographical history of their interactions with Lewis, nor to echo the "science" of Lewis, but were intent upon teaching the truth that Lewis taught, in order to fulfill Lewis' charge to teach Lewisianism to all nations. Morevover, they distributed their written Lewisian works penned by the original Lewisians to various audiences, because they also found them useful in authentically describing Lewis' teachings to other audiences. This was useful, but not intended as a self-study text. The Lewisians intended that these texts never be interpreted apart from their Lewisian interpretation of these texts.

During the lifetime of the original apostle's of Lewis, that is, those that were the eyewitnesses to C.S. Lewis' teaching, Lewisian teachings were faithfully handed on both in oral and written form and the Lewisian community grew larger and larger all throughout the world despite severe persecution. All other false claims to Lewisian teaching were obviously specious, as such claims did not come from the eyewitnesses, so they were easily found unconvincing. The authenticity of Lewisian teaching was dependent upon the authority of those Lewis charged with continuing his teaching. If Lewisian teaching did not come from the real Lewisians, that historic group of folks who knew Lewis, then it was rejected as being non-authentically from C.S. Lewis. One could tell the real Lewisians, because these first eyewitnesses were well known, historically speaking. Yet, during this time, others who never really new Lewis personally, began to join the Lewisian group, trained directly by the original Lewisian apostles, by the direct eyewitnesses of C.S. Lewis, these new disciples of Lewis helped the Lewisians spread Lewis' teachings through the community.

Fast forward decades later, many of the original Lewisians have died, and the bulk of the Lewisian effort was taught by those who learned Lewisianism from the eyewitnesses of C.S. Lewis. Again, there popped up divergent claims as to what Lewis taught. These claims were specious, and easily identified as such because the real Lewisians could trace their teachings as that which was taught through the preceding decades by the Lewisians. The real Lewisians, although they did not know Lewis personally, could point to the eyewitnesses whom they did know and learned from. These Lewisians were charged by the original eyewitnesses to continue their mission, to teach authentic Lewisian truth to all the nations. Also, at least one or two of the original eyewitnesses that were still living, and they could vouch for true orthodox Lewisian doctrine as opposed to novel claims that were heterodox.

Now, I've read somewhere about a study of how legends develop. The study showed that it takes about 100 years or more before legends can develop about an influential person. This is because such legends must wait until all the eyewitnesses and perhaps even those who knew the eyewitnesses are dead before fanciful notions about a person could have any hope of being believed. Otherwise, the eyewitnesses could simply debunk such fanciful notions, and the legend never takes root.

I bring up this point to emphasize that in my hypothetical history of Lewisianism, the evidence of history shows that the Lewisian "Bible" was written within this 100-year time span, and as such, can be confidently regarded as non-legendary.

Now in our scenario, let's fast forward about 100 years or more, when all the eyewitnesses of Lewis, his apostles, have been dead for decades, and many of those that personally knew the Lewisian apostles and were taught by them are also dead. Yet some, although very few, are still alive.

At this time, legends begin to develop about C.S. Lewis and his teachings. A guy we'll call Marcion began to question the authenticity of the Lewisian Bible. He rejected many biblical books as spurious and re-wrote some others as he saw fit. Many other people wrote Gnostic books at this time, which they claimed to have come from the "secret doctrines" passed onto them by the apostles of Lewis.

The true Lewisians are beginning to have greater difficulty refuting these legends and contary claims about Lewis, which attempt to distort historic Lewisianism. It's more difficult because the memory of the historic Lewis is fading, except within the true community of Lewisianism. Almost all Lewisians never met Lewis, but relied solely upon what the apostles of Lewis, now dead, said about Lewis and his teachings. But still, even at this time the most compelling argument refuting skeptics and Gnostics came from those few folks who actually were known to have been taught directly by the eyewitnesses to Lewis. Those who were persecuted and continued to be persecuted by their faithfulness to Lewisian teachings, many even martyred. The eyewitnesses to the apostles were in communion with a certain authentic "school of thought" about Lewisianism, and this school of thought prevailed despite the contrary doctrines of Marcion or the "secret doctrines" now revealed by the Gnostics.

This apostolic Lewisian community were taught by the eyewitnesses themselves, and where given like authority to teach others. They did not have to merely rely upon the authentic writings of the apostles, many of which were being interpreted rather heretically. Nor did they have any doubt about the heretical nature of the "secret doctrines" of the Gnostic legends. The authentic Lewisian community were taught by the guys who wrote the Lewisian Bible, so they knew the true context and interpretation of these books, all other claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Furthermore, the true community of Lewisians at this time could confidently trace their lineage to the eyewitnesses with little difficulty, as this was still recent history that was well-documented. It was clear to any reasonable seeker of Lewisian teachings that the very recent historical evidence discounted the novel claims of the revisionists and the Gnostic legend-makers. The true Lewisian teaching continued to come authentically and authoritatively from those who had historic succession from the apostles of Lewis. The of authenticity of Lewis' teaching continued to be guaranteed by this historic succession, and for anyone who looked, the true Lewisian teaching could be plainly seen either explicitly or implicitly taught in the preceding century, by the apostolical men taught by the apostles. The Gnostics had to pretend that their doctrines were handed on secretly from Lewis, as it was quite evident that in no other decade prior were their doctrines taught by Lewisianism. Because of Marcion's unique Bible and the Gnostic writings that they were attempting to pass off as authentic, the Lewisian community began to draw up lists of the true Lewisian Bible. Some of those lists varied from community to community, but they all rejected the Gnostic and Marcionite writings. The varying lists became rather evident within the Lewisian community, so the community met in council and declared a canon of the Lewisian Bible to be used by the universal Lewisian community. This canon became accepted throughout the Lewisian community throughout the world, immediately in some places, and more slowly in others. Gnostic claims grew more and more unconvincing compared to the evidence of history, and Gnosticism slowly faded from Lewisian history. As Gnosticism faded, the need for a standardized canon in every location became less important.

A century or two later, other groups began to teach contrary to what was historically understood to be Lewisianism. A guy named Arius, while holding to the authentic canon of the Lewisian Bible, began teaching a novel interpretation of that Bible that was contrary to historical Lewisianism. The Lewisians in other geographic communities didn't teach anything like what Arius was teaching. The guy just seemed to make it up. The person in charge of the Lewisian community where Arius lived refuted Arius' teachings as heretical. But Arius was clever and politically well-connected. He didn't use the Gnostic method of pretending to have secret doctrines passed to him, but instead said that the Lewisian Bible taught what he was teaching, and that we ought to go by the Lewisian Bible alone, as it is the only source that can be trusted as authentically apostolic. Then, a great defender of orthodox Lewisianism, a guy named Athanasius, refuted Arius by describing the orthodox sense of the passages of the Lewisian Bible that Arius was citing. Arius and his growing number of followers remained unconvinced by Athanasius' argument and continued to teach contrary to historical Lewisianism, despite being told not to by Arius' Lewisian leadership. Arius went elsewhere to attempt to convince other Lewisian leaders of his view, and many were persuaded to favor Arius' interpretation. Finally, the leaders of all the Lewisian communities gathered together to resolve the dispute. They decided in favor of Athanasius, because it was this teaching that was found through the past centuries to have been at the orthodox sense believed by the fathers of Lewisianism. The Arians did not like the nonBiblical word to describe the orthodox sense, and continued to linger for centuries until they too faded from the common teaching of Lewisianism.

So, in the final analysis, it was historic Lewisianism that prevailed. The historic succession of teachers from the apostles was the surest norm of orthodody. The frequency of Lewisian teaching and the authority of its teachers came to be fundamental as to what the true doctrines of Lewis was. It was not sufficient to show that an interpretation of the Lewisian Bible may be plausible, as Arius had done, but it was fundamentally important to show that the interpretation of Lewisianism was in accord with past interpretations. That a current doctrine was either an implicit or explicit part of the common teachings of Lewisianism since apostolic times. And the final arbiter of what was to be considered Lewisianism rested with the decision making teaching authority of the historic Lewisian governing hierarchy, not any private interpretation of the Lewisian Bible.

For centuries, the Arian example would be repeated over and over again, as well as Gnostic claims. Yet, the true teachings of Lewisianism prevailed. It was only this true universal Lewisian community that could point to the historical succession of their teaching authority since apostolic times. It was only this community that could provide convincing evidence from history, from historic Lewisianism that their doctrines were at least implicitly taught, but most often explicitly taught by the early fathers of Lewisiansim.

In modern times, an "authority of experts" of modern Lewisian theology asks that we give up what the Lewisian community commonly believed for the past 2000 years and adhere instead to their novel theories, based solely upon their new-fangled interpretation of the Lewisian Bible alone and/or a novel revision of Lewisian history. Yet, orthodox Lewisians continued to prevail despite 2000 years of heretical attacks, adhering to the same understanding of Lewisian authority and epistemology that has been a part of historic Lewisianism from the very start.

Whose testimony about C.S. Lewis would be more convincing? Who would you believe? Those who depart from historical Lewisianism, having no traceable lineage of successorship from the original Lewisian community, but relying upon "secret gnosis" theories to account for the lack of historical evidence to their novel doctrines? Or those who maintained the authentic Lewisian governing hierarchy, holding fast to Lewis' teachings presented publically in every age, in every region, adhering to the Lewisian notion of authority and epistemology shown in the evidence of history since apostolic times?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Is Mel Gibson Catholic?

Some have insisted that Mel Gibson is Catholic. Others say he is not. Here's some evidence that suggests that his affiliation with the Catholic Church is at best, schismatic...

Mel Gibson is quoted by an Australian newspaper as saying: "I agree with everyone who says the Vatican is a wolf in sheep's clothing." ("Mel Gibson's only daughter opts to be a nun," Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Sep 2002).

Furthermore, as reported by the Associated Press: "Gibson is building a traditionalist church on a 9,300-square-foot complex in Malibu, Calif., for about 70 members, the Times said. He is serving as the director, chief executive officer and sole benefactor of the church, which intends to conduct its Sunday Mass entirely in Latin. The property was purchased by a church group called Holy Family." (Associated Press, 9 Mar 2003, "Report: Mel Gibson is building church for his Catholic Movement", The Mercury News)

CBS News reports "Actor Mel Gibson is the person behind a 9,300-square-foot, Mission-style Catholic church complex in Malibu, Calif., that is not affiliated with any diocese." ("Mel Gibson gets religion", CBS, 10 Mar 2003)

Cardinal Roger Mahony from the Diocese of Los Angeles stated regarding Gibson's Church: "I know nothing about the Church in Malibu. It is certainly not in communion with the Universal Catholic Church nor the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I have never met Mr. Gibson, and he does not participate in any parish of this Archdiocese. He, apparently, has chosen to live apart from the communion of the Catholic Church. I pray for him." ( Feb 20, 2004).

Thursday, March 03, 2005

C.S. Lewis on Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism

One of the most popular Protestant authors, C.S. Lewis, refuting the novel claims of modern biblical scholars, stated:

"The undermining of the old orthodoxy has been mainly the work of divines engaged in New Testament criticism. The authority of experts in that discipline is the authority in deference to whom we are asked to give up a huge mass of beliefs shared in common by the early church..."

(C.S. Lewis, "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism," Chapter 31, McDowell, J., The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1999, pg. 574)

C.S. Lewis goes on to explain why he is skeptical of this new "authority of experts." With all due respect to the late C.S. Lewis, I would say the same thing with regard to my skepticism of the authority of the self-proclaimed biblical experts which emerged from the Reformation. They too are an "authority of experts ... in deference to whom we are asked to give up a huge mass of beliefs shared in common by the early church..."

With regard to modern biblical criticism, C.S. Lewis rightly compares the reliability of biblical criticism to the reliability of those who attempted to review and theorize about his own literary works. C.S. Lewis wrote many works of science fiction, children's stories, as well as scholarly works. Reviewers would often attempt to apply literary criticism to his works, to reconstruct his authorial intent, and in C.S. Lewis' view, what "he can say with certainty" follows:

"I have watched with some care similar imaginary histories both of my own books and of books by friends whose real history I knew. Reviewers, both friendly and hostile, will dash you off such histories with great confidence; will tell you what public events had directed the author's mind to this or that, what other authors had influenced him, what his overall intention was, what sort of audience he principally addressed, why--and when--he did everything.

... My impression is that in the whole of my experience not one of these guesses has on any one point been right; that the method shows a record of 100 percent failure. You would expect that by mere chance they would hit as often as they miss. But it is my impression that they do no such thing. I can't remember a single hit.... What I think I can say with certainty is that they are usually wrong....

Now this surely ought to give us pause. The reconstruction of the history of a text, when the text is ancient, sounds very convincing. But one is afterall sailing by dead reckoning; the results cannot be checked by fact. In order to decide how reliable the method is, what more could you ask for than to be shown an instance where the same method is at work and we have facts to check it by? Well, that is what I have done. And we find that when this check is available, the results are either always, or else nearly always wrong.

... While I respect the learning of the great biblical critics, I am not yet persuaded that their judgment is equally to be respected. But secondly, consider with what overwhelming advantages the mere reviewers start. They reconstruct the history of a book written by someone whose mother-tongue is the same as theirs; a contemporary, educated like themselves, living in something like the same mental and spiritual climate. That have everything to help them.

The superiority in judgment and diligence that you are going to attribute to the biblical critics will have to be almost superhuman if it is to offset the fact that they are everywhere faced with customs, language, race characteristics, a religious background, habits of composition, and basic assumptions, which no scholarship will ever enable any man now alive to know as surely and intimately and distinctively as the reviewer can know mine. And for the very same reason, remember, the biblical critics, whatever reconstructions they devise, can never be crudely proved wrong. St. Mark is dead. When they meet St. Peter, there will be more pressing matters to
discuss." (ibid., 578-579)