Saturday, April 30, 2005

Sola Scriptura -- a slogan, not a reality

From a discussion on Sola Scriptura, JohnDee stated:
I am a protestant, but I don't believe in scripture alone, and most of the rest of us don't either. If the rest of the protestants believed in scripture alone, we wouldn't have all of those (annoying) TV preachers giving their half cents' worth. They have to get their ideas from somewhere (maybe the Holy Spirit, but I seriously doubt it), and most of them claim that God gives it to them directly, without consulting the Word to verify that they have the Truth. When I listen to some of the loco-weed inspired fluff-n-stuff that they preach, I begin [to]doubt that they have spoken with God for a looooong time. My point here is that even though Protestants claim to believe in scripture alone, in reality, they don't, and never did. We still listen to man and his interpretation (rightly or wrongly) of God's Word and even of simple every day events. (

I agree. Sola Scriptura is a slogan, not a reality. Protestants follow their "school of thought" or "extra-biblical helps" while they typically deny they do so. It's rather absurd. Here's a quote from the preface of the KJV bible, given to my wife by her Protestant family...

"For convenience in Bible study, the reader is referred to the major classifications of Bible Study Helps found in this special edition of THE OPEN BIBLE. ... In the case of the enlarging scope of archaeological study, constantly bringing new and helpful light on the past, some interpretations of these ancient times may be subject to adjustment. Some references in these study helps are items which can only be supplied from traditional sources. The reader will want to keep this in mind as well. In no instance, however, has the emerging light from these extra-Biblical sources ever done violence to or disturbed the central message of the eternal Word of God. These helps only serve to illuminate and make the brilliant gems of truth even brighter. (THE OPEN BIBLE, It is Written Heritage Edition, Authorized KJV, Thomas Nelson, Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1975)

Extra-biblical helps which "only serve to illuminate and make the brilliant gems of truth even brighter?" Hmmmm...isn't that what Catholics claim of Sacred Tradition, the judgments of the Councils, the Creeds, canon law, the teachings of the popes and Magisterium? It's seems our Protestant brethren "pick and choose" which of the so-called extra-biblical "helps" illuminate and which "helps" they reject and polemically label "traditions of men."

God bless,


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Do Catholics believe that Jesus is their Lord and Savior?

A Protestant asked: "Are catholics born again?"


She also asked: "Do they belive that only being saved thru Jesus will you get into heaven???"


The same Protestant said: "I ask these things because I only heard Jesus name mentioned twice each mass. That was during confession and doing the Trinity. So i am curious. Hmmm."

Perhaps you weren’t paying all that close attention. ;)

Let me go through the Order of the Mass and count the times Jesus' name is mentioned, then also count the times Jesus is referred to by the many other names we find in Scripture and apostolic tradition …

The Entrance Procession: during the entrance procession we all sing a hymn ---some even on key. ;) This hymn can be one of many hymns from the hymnal. However, one my parish often sings is called “Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever.” In the refrain, “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and forever”, I count his name twice. In the rest of the song I see “savior,” “son of God,” “O radiant light,” “O sun divine” “alpha” “omega” “friend” “image of light sublime” “ever living Lord” “source of light” “compassionate one” “friend of the oppressed” … and some of these are repeated during the hymn. That brings the count to 7 without counting repetition in just the entrance hymn alone.

The Greeting. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son (that’s 8), and of the Holy Spirit.” “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (that’s 9) and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”

The Penitential Rite. Most often sung in the ancient Greek at my parish: “Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, Kyrie Eleison” which means “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy Lord have Mercy” (that’s 10, 11, and 12).

The Gloria. Also sung in my parish. In it Christ is referred to as “Lord” “heavenly king” “Jesus Christ” “only son of the Father” “Lamb of God” “Holy One” “Most High” (that’s up to 18, not counting repetition)

Opening Prayer. This prayer varies, selecting one randomly from my missal (from the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time): “Lord, guide the course of world events and give your Church the joy and peace of seving it in freedom. We ask this though our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reighs with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (that’s up to 19)

The First Reading from Scripture. This typically comes from the Old Testament. No mention of Jesus there, however certainly pre-figured and prophesied.

The Psalms. Normally sung at my parish. Again, as this is from the Old Testament, there’s no mention of Jesus directly.

The Second Reading from Scripture. Lot’s of mention of Jesus Christ in this reading as it comes typically from one of the non-Gospel New Testament Readings. Let’s just make an estimate of 5 for the second reading. (that’s up to 24 times)

The Gospel Acclamation. Also sung as “Alleluia Alleluia” followed by a the cantor singing a something like “Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases,” and finishing with “Alleluia Alleluia” refrain. Typically Christ is mentioned at least once here (that’s up to 25 times).

The Gospel Reading. Introduces with “The Lord be with you” and also including a “Glory to you, Lord” (that’s up to 26 times). Then the reading of the Gospel, where I would guess another 5 times Christ is typically mentioned. (that’s up to 31 times)

Homily. This is where the priest speaks about how the above Scripture readings are applicable in our lives today. I’d estimate about 20 times where Christ is mentioned. (that’s up to 51 times).

The Profession of Faith (The Nicene Creed) Here he is referred to as “Jesus Christ” “Son of God” “Eternally Begotten of the Father” “Light from Light” “God from God” “Lord” (that’s up to 57 without repetition)

General Intercession. In this part of the mass, we offer prayers for those in need. After each prayer we say “Lord, hear our prayer” (that’s 58 times without repetition)

Before the preparation of the gifts, a tithe is collected. During which we sing another hymn, which typically mentions the name of Jesus about 5 times (that’s 63 times not counting repetition).

Preparation of the Altar and Gifts. We blessed the Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine. God the Father is mentioned, but not God the Son.

Prayer Over the Gifts. At the end of this prayer, we say “we ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (that’s 64 times)

Eucharistic Prayer. There are several variation of this prayer, in a typical prayer Jesus is called “beloved Son” “Jesus Christ” “the Word through whom you made the Universe” “the Savior You sent to redeem us” “Holy Lord” “Hosanna in the Highest” with quite a few repetitions. (that’s 70 times not counting repetitions)

The Lord’s Prayer. After the Lord’s Prayer, we pray the Doxology: “Deliver us Lord from every evil and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy, keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for our Savior Jesus Christ. For the Kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.” (that’s 71 times)

The Sign of Peace. “Lord Jesus Christ (that’s 72) you said to your apostles, I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live forever and ever” “The peace of the Lord (that’s 73) be with you always …”

Communion. The consecrated bread is broken and the Body and Blood of Christ are raised while we say the “Lamb of God”: “Lamb of God (that’s 74), you take away the sins of the world, happy are those who are called to this supper” then “Lord (that’s 75), I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”

During the Eucharistic celebration we typically sing two more hymns. Depending on the hymn the number of times Jesus is mentioned varies, however, 10 more times in these two hymns is a fair estimate. (that’s 85 times)

Prayer after communion. The prayer after communion is typically short, ending in “… we ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (that’s 86 times).

Concluding Rite. “The Lord (that’s 87) be with you” and “May Almighty God bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son (that’s 88) and of the Holy Spirit” and “The Mass is ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord (that’s 89)”

Typically we sing a concluding hymn with an estimated mention of Jesus of about 5 more times without repetition. That makes a total of 94 times the name of the Jesus is mentioned in one way or another. The Mass takes about 60 minutes. So, during the Catholic Mass, we proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior one to two times every minute.

Contrast this with the number of times Mary is mentioned in one way or another. Twice. Once during the Nicene Creed and once during the Eucharistic prayer when we pray “Father, in your mercy grant also to us , your children, to enter into our heavenly inheritance in the company of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and your apostles and saints.”

It seems quite clear to me as a Catholic who my Lord and Savior is. ;)

God bless,


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Can saints hear our prayers?

The Apostle St. John, being "in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev 1:10) conversed with those assembled in heaven just as Catholics and Orthodox and even Protestants converse with the angels and saints today, as a very apostolic practice.

St. John, one Sunday on Patmos, spoke to angels (Rev 1:2), and Jesus (Rev 1:17-18), and to the elders (Rev 5:5) and to the souls of the martyrs (Rev 6:9). We can be certain from St. John's testimony that the creatures in heaven are not dead, but are surely living creatures. We can also be certain that the angels and heavenly elders alive in heaven offer to God the prayers of the holy ones (Rev 5:8; 8:3).

In fact, by the power of God, St. John somehow heard every created thing in heaven and on earth without having to be omnipresent like God (Rev 5:13 - "And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea"). It seems one doesn't need to be omnipresent when God is the vine between the branches and can, by his almighty power, allow any of his creatures, even a mere human like St. John, to hear what all of God's creation is saying.

Likewise, it seems from St. John's testimony that those living angels, creatures, elders, and souls in heaven were quite aware, as was St. John, of what was happening all over the world. This all occurring prior to the Final Judgment. There doesn't seem to have been any such thing as soul-sleep according to St. John's testimony. Not only were living son's of Israel in heaven (Rev 7:4-8), but there was a "great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Rev 7:9-10).

Like the Psalmist (Ps. 103:20-21, Ps. 148:1-2), St. John doesn't seem to believe that directly conversing with the angels and heavenly hosts is somehow heretical or impossible. Neither do Catholics.

God bless,


Are Ecclesiastical Disciplines Infallible?

Another Catholic wrote...
"People are confused about the limits of the Church's infallibility. It is really simple: They are only infallible in matters of faith and morals. NOT DISIPLINE."

On the contrary, Catholic theology teaches that ecclesiastical disciplines of the Church ARE infallible, but in an negative and indirect manner. Observe...

The Church has condemned the proposition that the Church can establish an ecclesiastical discipline that is "useless ... burdensome ... harmful ... dangerous."

Furthermore, according to the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia article CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Ecclesiastical Discipline, the author calls the thesis that ecclesiastical disciplines are "indirectly infallible" as being held "unanimously" by Catholic theologians, and, rightly understood, is "undeniable." This was the traditional Catholic view under papacy of St. Pius X.

In the 18th century, Pius VI’s condemnation reads as follows:

The prescription of the synod [of Pistoia] ... it adds, "in this itself (discipline) there is to be distinguished what is necessary or useful to retain the faithful in spirit, from that which is useless or too burdensome for the liberty of the sons of the new Covenant to endure, but more so, from that which is dangerous or harmful, namely, leading to superstituion and materialism"; in so far as by the generality of the words it includes and submits to a prescribed examination even the discipline established and approved by the Church, as if the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome for Christian liberty to endure, but which is even dangerous and harmful and leading to superstition and materialism,--false, rash, scandalous, dangerous, offensive to pious ears, injurious to the Church and to the Spirit of God by whom it is guided, at least erroneous.

(Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, 78, cited in Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, translated by Roy F. Deferari from the 13th ed. Of Henry Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, 1954, Loreto Publications, 2nd printing, 2004, pg. 393)]

Similarly, Pope Gregory XVI wrote:
“…[they] state categorically that there are many things in the discipline of the Church ... [which] are harmful for the growth and prosperity of the Catholic religion.... While these men were shamefully straying in their thoughts, they proposed to fall upon the errors condemned by the Church in proposition 78 of the constitution Auctorem fidei (published by Our predecessor, Pius VI on August 28, 1794). ... do they not try to make the Church human by taking away from the infallible and divine authority, by which divine will it is governed? And does it not produce the same effect to think that the present discipline of the Church rests on failures, obscurities, and other inconveniences of this kind? And to feign that this discipline contains many things which are not useless but which are against the safety of the Catholic religion? Why is it that private individuals appropriate for themselves the right which is proper only for the pope (Encyclical Quo Graviora, October 4, 1833).

The Council of Trent declared:
“If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments and outward signs, which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than the services of piety: let him be anathema.” (Session XXII, canon 7, Denz. 954.).

Furthermore, Pope Pius IX wrote:
“It would beyond any doubt be blameworthy and entirely contrary to the respect with which the laws of the Church should be received by a senseless aberration to find fault with the discipline which she has established, and which includes the administration of holy things, the regulation of morals, and the laws of the Church and her ministers; or to speak of this discipline as opposed to certain principles of the natural law, or to present it as defective, imperfect, and subject to civil authority.” (Mirari Vos, August 15, 1832.)
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 66 (1943):“
"Certainly the loving Mother is spotless in the Sacraments, by which she gives inviolate; in her sacred laws imposed on all; in the evangelical counsels which she recommends; in those heavenly gifts and extraordinary graces through which, with inexhaustible fecundity, she generates hosts of martyrs, virgins and confessors.”

Also, according to P. Hermann, Institutiones Theologiae Dogmaticae (4th ed., Rome: Della Pace, 1908), vol. 1, p. 258:

The Church is infallible in her general discipline. By the term general discipline is understood the laws and practices which belong to the external ordering of the whole Church. Such things would be those which concern either external worship, such as liturgy and rubrics, or the administration of the sacraments. . . .“If she [the Church] were able to prescribe or command or tolerate in her discipline something against faith and morals, or something which tended to the detriment of the Church or to the harm of the faithful, she would turn away from her divine mission, which would be impossible.

I also refer you to the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia article mentioned above, under the heading "DISCIPLINARY INFALLIBILITY".

Here's an excerpt...
[Disciplinary Infallibility] has, however, found a place in all recent treatises on the Church (De Ecclesiâ}. The authors of these treatises decide unanimously in favour of a negative and indirect rather than a positive and direct infallibility, inasmuch as in her general discipline, i. e. the common laws imposed on all the faithful, the Church can prescribe nothing that would be contrary to the natural or the Divine law, nor prohibit anything that the natural or the Divine law would exact. If well understood this thesis is undeniable; it amounts to saying that the Church does not and cannot impose practical directions contradictory of her own teaching.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bind and Loose and the Keys of the Kingdom

Some commentary by Protestant bible scholars ...

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)
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)
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)
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)

William F. Albright and C.S. Mann are quite certain when they comment 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)
Evangelical scholar F.F. Bruce comments --

"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 41)
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)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Long Live Pope Benedict XVI!!!

Urbi et orbi blessing:

Dear brothers and sisters,

After our great Pope, John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in God's vineyard.

I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers.
In the joy of the resurrected Lord, trustful of his permanent help, we go ahead, sure that God will help. And Mary, his most beloved Mother, stands on our side.

Thank you.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Upon this Rock ... is the rock of Matt 16:18 Peter?

Twelve Quotations from Ten Protestant Biblical Scholars

William Hendriksen, member of the Reformed Christian Church, Professor of New Testament Literature at Calvin Seminary

The meaning is, “You are Peter, that is Rock, and upon this rock, that is, on you, Peter I will build my church.” Our Lord, speaking Aramaic, probably said, “And I say to you, you are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my church.” Jesus, then, is promising Peter that he is going to build his church on him! I accept this view.

[New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), page 647JPK page 14]

Gerhard Maierleading, conservative evangelical Lutheran theologian

Nowadays a broad consensus has emerged which — in accordance with the words of the text — applies the promise to Peter as a person. On this point liberal (H. J. Holtzmann, E. Schweiger) and conservative (Cullmann, Flew) theologians agree, as well as representatives of Roman Catholic exegesis.

[“The Church in the Gospel of Matthew: Hermeneutical Analysis of the Current Debate,” Biblical Interpretation and Church Text and Context (Flemington Markets, NSW: Paternoster Press, 1984), page 58, JPK pages 16-17]

Donald A. Carson III, Baptist and Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Seminary (two quotations from different works)

Although it is true that petros and petra can mean “stone” and “rock” respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry. Moreover the underlying Aramaic is in this case unquestionable; and most probably kepha was used in both clauses (“you are kepha” and “on this kepha”), since the word was used both for a name and for a “rock”. The Peshitta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses. The Greek makes the distinction between petros and petra simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine petra could not very well serve as a masculine name.

[The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 8 (Matthew, Mark, Luke)(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), page 368JPK pages 17-18]

The word Peter petros, meaning “rock” (Gk 4377), is masculine, and in Jesus’ follow-up statement he uses the feminine word petra (Gk 4376). On the basis of this change, many have attempted to avoid identifying Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his church. Yet if it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretations, it is doubtful whether many would have taken “rock” to be anything or anyone other than Peter.

[Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary — New Testament, vol. 2(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), page 78JPK page 18]

John Peter Lange, German Protestant scholar

The Saviour, no doubt, used in both clauses the Aramaic word kepha (hence the Greek Kephas applied to Simon, John i.42; comp. 1 Cor. i.12; iii.22; ix.5; Gal. ii.9), which means rock and is used both as a proper and a common noun.... The proper translation then would be: “Thou art Rock, and upon this rock”, etc.

[Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: The Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 8(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), page 293, JPK page 19]

John A. Broadus, Baptist author (two quotations from the same work)

Many insist on the distinction between the two Greek words, thou art Petros and on this petra, holding that if the rock had meant Peter, either petros or petra would have been used both times, and that petros signifies a separate stone or fragment broken off, while petra is the massive rock. But this distinction is almost entirely confined to poetry, the common prose word instead of petros being lithos; nor is the distinction uniformly observed.

But the main answer here is that our Lord undoubtedly spoke Aramaic, which has no known means of making such a distinction [between feminine petra and masculine petros in Greek]. The Peshitta (Western Aramaic) renders, “Thou are kipho, and on this kipho”. The Eastern Aramaic, spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ, must necessarily have said in like manner, “Thou are kepha, and on this kepha”.... Beza called attention to the fact that it is so likewise in French: “Thou art Pierre, and on this pierre”; and Nicholson suggests that we could say, “Thou art Piers (old English for Peter), and on this pier.”

[Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew(Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1886), pages 355-356JPK page 20]

J. Knox Chamblin, Presbyterian and New Testament Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary

By the words “this rock” Jesus means not himself, nor his teaching, nor God the Father, nor Peter’s confession, but Peter himself. The phrase is immediately preceded by a direct and emphatic reference to Peter. As Jesus identifies himself as the Builder, the rock on which he builds is most naturally understood as someone (or something) other than Jesus himself. The demonstrative this, whether denoting what is physically close to Jesus or what is literally close in Matthew, more naturally refers to Peter (v. 18) than to the more remote confession (v. 16). The link between the clauses of verse 18 is made yet stronger by the play on words, “You are Peter (Gk. Petros), and on this rock (Gk. petra) I will build my church”. As an apostle, Peter utters the confession of verse 16; as a confessor he receives the designation this rock from Jesus.

[“Matthew”Evangelical Commentary on the Bible(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1989), page 742JPK page 30]

Craig L. Blomberg, Baptist and Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

Acknowledging Jesus as The Christ illustrates the appropriateness of Simon's nickname “Peter” (Petros = rock). This is not the first time Simon has been called Peter (cf. John 1:42), but it is certainly the most famous. Jesus’ declaration, “You are Peter”, parallels Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ”, as if to say, “Since you can tell me who I am, I will tell you who you are.” The expression “this rock” almost certainly refers to Peter, following immediately after his name, just as the words following “the Christ” in v. 16 applied to Jesus. The play on words in the Greek between Peter’s name (Petros) and the word “rock” (petra) makes sense only if Peter is the rock and if Jesus is about to explain the significance of this identification.

[The New American Commentary: Matthew, vol. 22(Nashville: Broadman, 1992), pages 251-252, JPK pages 31-32]

David Hill, Presbyterian minister and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield, England

On this rock I will build my church: the word-play goes back to Aramaic tradition. It is on Peter himself, the confessor of his Messiahship, that Jesus will build the Church. The disciple becomes, as it were, the foundation stone of the community. Attempts to interpret the “rock” as something other than Peter in person (e.g., his faith, the truth revealed to him) are due to Protestant bias, and introduce to the statement a degree of subtlety which is highly unlikely.

["The Gospel of Matthew,” The New Century Bible Commentary (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972), page 261, JPK page 34]

Suzanne de Dietrich, Presbyterian theologian

The play on words in verse 18 indicates the Aramaic origin of the passage. The new name contains a promise. “Simon”, the fluctuating, impulsive disciple, will, by the grace of God, be the “rock” on which God will build the new community.

[The Layman’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, vol. 16(Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1961), page 93, JPK page 34]

Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary

The natural reading of the passage, despite the necessary shift from Petros to petra required by the word play in the Greek (but not the Aramaic, where the same word kepha occurs in both places), is that it is Peter who is the rock upon which the church is to be built.... The frequent attempts that have been made, largely in the past, to deny this in favor of the view that the confession itself is the rock... seem to be largely motivated by Protestant prejudice against a passage that is used by the Roman Catholics to justify the papacy.

[Matthew 14-28Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 33b(Dallas: Word Books, 1995), page 470, JPK pages 36-37]

Source: , citing Jesus, Peter & the Keys: a Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy, by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, and David Hess, © 1996 by the authors, ISBN # 1-882972-54-6.

God bless,


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The battle cry of dissent ... "But that's not infallible!!!"

I have heard countless times by those who profess to be Catholic yet dissent with Catholic teaching, that they are not bound by this or that Catholic doctrine, decree, judgment, or ecclesiastical discipline, because "it's not infallible." I don't know why they think this is a convincing argument. It seems they are unfamiliar with Catholic teaching on the matter. Observe,

Law abiding Catholics are not allowed to dissent from Catholic doctrine, judgements, decrees, or norm of ecclesiastical discipline, infallible or not.

Hebrews 13:17:
"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."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 892:
892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

Code of Canon Law:
"Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff OR the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it."

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 25

"In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking."

Pius XII, Humani Generis, 20
"Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me"
St. Pius X:

"If one loves the Pope, one does not stop to ask the precise limits to which this duty of obedience extends… one does not seek to restrict the domain within which he can or should make his wishes felt; one does not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of others, however learned they may be, who differ from him. For however great their learning, they must be lacking in holiness, for there can be no holiness in dissension from the Pope." (Pope St. Pius X, allocution of 18 November, 1912, AAS vol. 4 (1912), 693-695. Selection from p. 695)

"We do now declare and expressly order, that all are bound by the duty of conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Pontifical Commission, both those which have thus far been published and those which will hereafter be proclaimed, just as to the decrees of the Sacred Congregations which pertain to doctrine and have been approved by the Pontiff" (From Motu proprio of Pope Pius X, Praestantis Scripturae, Nov 18, 1907, Denzinger 2113)

Pius IX:
"we cannot pass over in silence the boldness of those who "not enduring sound doctrine" [II Tim 4:3], contend that "without sin and with no loss of Catholic profession, one can withold assent and obedience to those judgements and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to relate to the general good of the Church and it rights and discipline, provided it does not touch dogmas of faith or morals." There is no one who does not see and understand clearly and openly how opposed this is to the Catholic dogma of the plenary power divinely bestowed on the Roman Pontiff by Christ the Lord Himself of feeding, ruling, and governing the universal Church." (Pius IX, Encyclical Quanta Cura (1864), Denzinger 1698)
First Vatican Council, Session 4 (18 July 1870):
Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.

Letter of the Holy Office, approved and promulgated by Pius XII (August 8, 1949), against the dissent and disobedience of Fr. Leonard Feeney from the Archdiocese of Boston:

the same Sacred Congregation is convinced that the unfortunate [Feeneyism] controversy arose from the fact that the [doctrinal matters were] not correctly understood and weighed, and that the same controversy was rendered more bitter by serious disturbance of discipline arising from the fact that some of the associates of the [Feeneyist movement] refused reverence and obedience to legitimate authorities....

... dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church.

... no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

... that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.

... this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God. ... the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are actually incorporated into the Church as members, and those who are united to the Church only by desire. ... those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church, he mentions those who "are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire," and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation... But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith...

... Hence, one cannot understand how the [Feeneyists] can consistently claim to be a Catholic school and wish to be accounted such, and yet not conform to the prescriptions of ... the Code of Canon Law, and continue to exist as a source of discord and rebellion against ecclesiastical authority and as a source of the disturbance of many consciences.

Furthermore, it is beyond understanding how a member of a religious Institute ... presents himself as a "Defender of the Faith," and at the same time does not hesitate to attack the catechetical instruction proposed by lawful authorities, and has not even feared to incur grave sanctions threatened by the sacred canons because of his serious violations of his duties as a religious, a priest, and an ordinary member of the Church....

Therefore, let them who in grave peril are ranged against the Church seriously bear in mind that after "Rome has spoken" they cannot be excused even by reasons of good faith. Certainly, their bond and duty of obedience toward the Church is much graver than that of those who as yet are related to the Church "only by an unconscious desire." Let them realize that they are children of the Church, lovingly nourished by her with the milk of doctrine and the sacraments, and hence, having heard the clear voice of their Mother, they cannot be excused from culpable ignorance, and therefore to them apply without any restriction that principle: submission to the Catholic Church and to the Sovereign Pontiff is required as necessary for salvation."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

33,000+ denominations of Protestantism

I was at the library one day researching something, and I saw the much talked about Protestant reference, the World Christian Encyclopedia by David B. Barrett, George T. Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson (2001 edition). I thought I'd see for myself what it says. This is what I found ...David Barrett, et al, does indeed refer to "over 33,000 denominations in 238 countries." (Table 1-5, Vol 1, pg 16). This refers to his unique definition of a "Christian denomination", but does not include small ones (congregations of a couple hundred or less), which would dramatically increase this number beyond all imagination.

Barrett states there are 242 total Roman Catholic denominations (year 2000 numbers). So I looked into what he believed these denominations were. Barrett breaks down his encyclopedic reference by country. So I looked up how many Roman Catholic denominations are within the U.S. according to Barrett. Much to my surprise, Barrett shows ONLY ONE Roman Catholic denomination for the Unites States. So I wondered where the heck the 242 denominations were? I looked in Barrett's reference for Britain, and again he listed ONLY ONE Roman Catholic denomination. I thought surely that of the 238 countries within his encyclopedic reference there must be a country that had more than ONE Roman Catholic denomination. There wasn't. I could not find one country listed by Barrett that had more than ONE Roman Catholic denomination. So, what does Barrett mean when he states there are 242 Roman Catholic denominations?

It seems Barrett is counting each country as it's own Catholic denomination. So, for Barrett, the Roman Catholic Church of the USA is a different denomination than the Roman Catholic Church of Canada. I don't know how he got 242 denomination from 238 countries listed, however.

Some numbers from Barrett's ...

1970: 26,350
1995: 33,820

Under U.S. Country Table 2, of the 6,222 US denominations, there's only ONE Roman Catholic denomination listed, there's 60 Orthodox denominations. Barrett labels the rest of the denominations: Protestant, Anglican, Independent, & Marginal. The more commonly accepted classification of Christianity used even by Protestant scholars, such as Leslie Dunstan in his book Protestantism, Christianity consists of: 1) Catholic, 2) Orthodox, & 3) Protestant.

So, using this more commonly understood classification ...

# of US Denominations
Catholic 1
Orthodox 60
Protestant 6,161

Remember, the above numbers are derived using Protestant sources only. Barrett differs from other Protestants such as Dunstan as to what constitutes a Protestant denomination. What Dunstan would call Protestant, Barrett describes as:

Barrett's classification:
Protestant 660
Anglican 1
Independent 5,100
Marginal 400

That's just for the U.S. Yet, there's but ONE Catholic denomination in the U.S., either by Dunstan or Barrett's standard.

Another way of looking at it is not to use Barrett's fuzzy understanding of denominations at all. What does Webster call a denomination? Let's see ... Webster calls a 'denomination' a "a religious organization uniting local congregations in a single legal and administrative body." The category called "Protestantism," since it does not actually "unite" any local congregation into a "single legal and administrative body," is more accurately a grouping of denominations rather than a denomination, according to Webster's definition.

How does one know if their "denomination" is of the Protestant kind?

You might be a Protestant if ...

1) You believe the Bible consists of only 66 books
2) You believe authority rests with Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura)
3) You believe justification is by Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

How many of the "denominations" listed by Barrett fall into this category? I'm betting over 33,000. Let's look at it this way, of the 33,820 that Barrett classifies, which ones refute the pillars of Protestantism shown above ...

1) Catholic Church
2) Oriental Orthodox. (5th century schism).
3) Eastern Orthodox (11th century schism).

Any others? Perhaps I've missed a few. Even if you break apart the Orthodox Churches into separate Patriarchates (Bishops), that doesn't reduce the BIG number of 33,820 by very much, does it?

Some would say, "well that number is completely inflated" based upon Barrett's fuzzy definition of "denomination." On the contrary, I would say that it is a MUCH LARGER NUMBER of denominations using Webster's definition of "denomination."

Even within the Catholic Church, the most diverse forms of Catholicism, the Latin and Eastern Rite, share the same government, the same "religious organization uniting local congregations in a single legal and administrative body." In other words, Canon Law for the Eastern Rite and Canon Law for the Latin Rite come from the same single government, chaired by the same Vicar.

In the US, the next largest so-called "denomination" after the Catholic Church is referred to as "Baptist" according to Is this a single denomination by Webster's use of the word??? Can the Baptist denomination rightly be called a "religious organization uniting local congregations in a single legal and administrative body?" I don't believe so.

I suspect the label 'Baptist' is yet another grouping of denominations like the word "Protestant", since according to one Baptist scholar, every "local Baptist parish church is a law unto itself. Its relations with other Baptists churches, its compliance with recommendations from national church headquarters, its acceptance of any resolutions formulated at regional , national, or international conventions--all these are entirely voluntary on the part of the parish church." (Religions of America, Leo Rosten, ed.)

If it is true that every Baptist parish is a law unto itself, then isn't every individual Baptist parish, according to Webster, it's own legal and administrative body, its own denomination? I wonder how many Baptist parishes are in the world? I know there are too many to easily count here in Colorado Springs.

Are there any major denominations within Protestantism, for example Lutheranism, which can be correctly called a denomination by Webster's usage? If so, I'm not familiar with it. Missouri Synod Lutherans want nothing to do with the Lutherans of the World Lutheran Federation, for example. Therefore, I believe 33,000 is a tragically low estimate of Protestant denominations IN THIS COUNTRY (U.S.) let alone in the world.

Why is this even relevant to a Christian seeking to find a denomination to call his or her own? Because if someone is seeking to unite themselves with the ONE Church of Christ, they ought to look for the ONE which is the same single, historically apostolic Church throughout the world. If one is to judge how well the epistemological principle of Sola Scriptura has united Christians or rather divided them, then the ever-growing divisions of Protestant denominations might be something one ought to consider.

God bless,


Monday, April 11, 2005

Will Pope John Paul II Be Styled "the Great"?

I think this 2003 This Rock magazine article is worth a read ...

Will Pope John Paul II Be Styled "the Great"?
By Fr. Brian W. Harrison

God bless,



This was too good not to blog...

From Catholic Answers Forum ( Scott Waddell said:

It is amazing how people think it is perfectly acceptable to torture the body with bone-snaping plastic surgery, starvation diets, etc. in the name of the gods of youth and beauty, but freak out if someone performs corporal mortification (which is normatively not supposed to permanently damage the body.) for spiritual purification.

How very true.

God bless,


Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ordination of women priests--Part II

In an earlier blog, I presented the evidence that the Catholic Church considered the prohibition of women priestly ordination as infallible immutable dogma of faith, not merely a changeable discipline dependent upon cultural considerations. See more here:

Catholic ordination of women priests

In discussion with other Catholics, while they may realize that the Catholic Church holds to the above position, they don't understand why. They seem convinced that Jesus was a conformist, that he chose men only because he was conforming to the cultural views. I don't find the "Jesus was a conformist" argument very convincing, however. If Jesus wanted women priests, he would not have conformed to his culture. He simply would have chosen women to be among his priests. He didn't conform when it came to dining with harlots and tax collectors, so I see no reason why he would conform in the area of a male-only priesthood. It seems more likely that there were real theological reasons for Him to have established a male-only priesthood.

For those who want to understand the theology behind a male-only priesthood, I recommend the following article by Micheal Novak. In his article, Mr. Novak discusses the possible theological reasons underpinning the male-only priesthood established by Christ.

Women, Ordination, and Angels
by Michael Novak

Here's a link to another relevant article by Protestant author C.S. Lewis,

Priestesses in the Church?
by C.S. Lewis

God bless,


Saturday, April 09, 2005

May John Paul II rest in peace, in the arms of the Blessed Mother and in the glory of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.