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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bill Nye and "Can We Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies?"

Bill Nye, "The Science Guy" posted a video on Youtube defending abortion.

Firstly, in response to the title "Stop telling women what to do with their bodies!" "It's a private matter!"--I think it's important to offer a parallel.  Prior to the 1960's, it was totally legal for a man to beat his wife in the privacy of his home, provided that he didn't leave a mark on her. In other words, the paradigm was:   "Stop telling men what they can do in the privacy of their own home!"

Of course, no morally sane person believes that a man can do whatever he wants in his own home, if it harms another human being.

Similarly, no morally sane person ought to believe that a woman can do whatever she wants with her own body, if it harms another human being.

Nye also states:

"I mean it’s hard not to get frustrated with this everybody. And I know nobody likes abortion, okay. But you can’t tell somebody what to do. I mean she has rights over this, especially if she doesn’t like the guy that got her pregnant. She doesn’t want anything to do with your genes; get over it, especially if she were raped and all this."

This prompts the question, "Why doesn't anybody like abortion?"

If it's nothing more than the extraction of a tissue from the body, why does nobody like abortion?

I never hear anyone say, "Nobody likes appendectomies!"
We simply view it as a necessary surgical procedure to remove an unwanted, diseased tissue.

The reason "nobody likes abortion" is because we all inherently understand that it's a human person that's being extracted.  Not a piece of tissue.

I think any time we're in a discussion with someone who is pro-choice and concedes, "Nobody likes abortion.  It should be safe, legal and rare"...we ought to ask why it is that nobody likes it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Do not add to this book" and Sola Scriptura

So one of the major divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism is that Catholicism rejects Sola Scriptura, or the idea that all of our (theological) beliefs must come from Scripture alone. 

Except, ironically, this belief in Sola Scriptura isn't found in the Sola Scriptura is a self-refuting principle.

There are some folks who will cite this verse in Revelation to prove Sola Sciptura:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;--Revelation 22:18

That is, the Bible is complete--and "adding to" the Bible, like the Catholic Church has done, with her papal encyclicals, Church councils, infallible teachings, is condemned in the above verse.

Catholic response:
 if we take the above words from Revelation literally, and no one can add to that book, Revelation, then we wouldn't have the New Testament in its entirety.  
Revelation, even if it was placed at the end of the Bible, wasn't written last. All of the books written AFTER Revelation would then be considered "adding to" that book.  

Historians record Revelation to be written about 90 AD.  The Gospel of John, the epistles of John, Jude, Timothy, were all believed to have been written after that...that is, were ADDED after the inspired writing of Revelation.

Also, the Catholic Church hasn't "added to" anything.  The entirety of the kerygma, the gospel message, the good news, was given, once for all (Jude 1:3), to the Church.  In other words, the Catholic faith was whole and entire before a single word of the New Testament was ever put to writ. The Church received this good news 2000 years ago, and has proclaimed it for 2000 years.  Some of this good news was written down (Sacred Scripture) and some of it has been proclaimed orally (Sacred Tradition).  Papal encyclicals and other magisterial documents are NOT adding to the Faith--they are in-depth clarifications, insights and illuminations on what has already been professed.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Catholicism, Parenting, Branding and Brainwashing

So I saw this meme on Facebook recently:

Image result for we are all born atheist

IOW:  it's a cruel and abusive form of parenting to brand your child with a religious identity.
Just like no parent should tell a child, "No! You don't like latkes! Your favorite food is fish!" parent should tell a child, "You are a Christian!" That's a form of brainwashing, according to this meme.  Let him decide what religion he favors.

Catholic response: if religion were merely another opinion, or preference, or taste, OF COURSE we should let our children form their own thoughts!  It's absurd for a parent to dictate what her child's favorite color is, or if he wants ketchup with his fries, or whether she thinks modern dance is weird or beautiful (it's weird.  Definitely. *;) winking ).

However, would it be absurd for a parent to say: 
-no, you cannot declare that 5 is more than 60
-you shouldn't believe that white people are smarter than everyone else
-yes, a girl can be a pilot 
-no, you cannot run around this restaurant like you're in a park.  Sit here at this table and eat your dinner quietly
-no, you cannot decide that you don't want your MMR vaccination

Certainly not!  In fact, parents SHOULD be saying those things to their children.  

It's a peculiar double standard that atheists typically demonstrate when it comes to religion.  Most atheists accept and extol the truths of science.  They don't see the truths professed in the scientific world as "dogmas", nor do they see it as a form of brainwashing to tell their children:  "70% of the Earth's surface is covered in water".

No atheistic parent would tell her son:  "Yes, Damien, you can form your own opinion about whether $1 is equal to 100 pennies or equal to 50 pennies.  It's up to you!"

Yet, curiously, any truths of a religious nature are relegated to the arena of brainwashing and forcing one's opinion upon our children.

One has to wonder why this hypocrisy is permitted in their minds....

Finally, it should be noted that the meme itself seems to contradict its own message.  For is it not a form of brainwashing to tell people, "Let your children form their own damn opinions"?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mary's Sinlessness and the Atonement

So the question has been posed: if Mary was sinless for her entire life, that is, entirely perfect, then wouldn't she have been able to atone for our sins by dying on the cross?  She, too, would have been the "perfect sacrifice".

A Protestant presented her argument this way:  Had Mary been sinless throughout her life, she could have bore the sin of the world and would have been the perfect sacrifice and Jesus Christ could have stayed where He was and He wouldn't have had to humble Himself into deepest humiliation and anguish to die on the cross for our sins. If Mary had been sinless she would have been the one to fulfill the Law by keeping it perfectly.

Quick response:  Jesus' death on the cross atoned for the sins of the world not because he was sinless, but because he was GOD.

Only an infinite being can offer atonement infinitely for the sins of humankind.

Mary and the "Until" Wars

Every December Catholics will hear this objection:  Catholics say Mary was Ever-Virgin.  Yet the Bible says that Joseph didn't engage in marital relations with Mary UNTIL Jesus was born.

He had no relations with her until she bore a son,* and he named him Jesus--Matthew 1:25

Catholic response:  the above verse is important because it declares that Jesus is divine--it asserts that it is the Holy Spirit, not Joseph, who is responsible for Jesus' conception.

That's the point of the verse.  It's not a statement about the marital intimacy of Joseph and Mary.

It wants to proclaim:  Jesus is God!
Not:  Joseph and Mary were abstinent until a certain point of their marriage.

We read the Scriptures through the lens of the faith which gave us these Scriptures (that is, the Catholic Church), and understand the culture, the language, the intent of the inspired author.

And in Biblical times, the word "until" did not necessarily indicate anything which occurred subsequent to the statement. It was only an assertion about what happened prior.

To wit: "Saul’s daughter Michal was childless UNTIL the day she died"--2 Samuel 6:23
Clearly, the inspired writer is not saying that Michal had a baby AFTER she died!

"For he must reign UNTIL he has put all his enemies under his feet"--1 Corinthians 15:25
Of course the Bible isn't claiming that Jesus will stop reigning AFTER he has conquered his enemies!

Thus, the teaching on Mary's Perpetual Virginity is NOT contrary to Scripture.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

If Jesus was the "firstborn" of Mary, wouldn't that indicate that there's at least a second born?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

This Sunday our 2nd reading proclaims:

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent. Colossians 1

And the Gospel of Matthew, which we hear at Christmas Vigils, proclaims:

And he knew her not until she brought forth her firstborn son.

(note:  "until" in Biblical language does not indicate subsequent actions.  See 2 Sam 6:23, 1 Cor 15:25 and 1 Tim 4:13 for examples of "until" meaning only "up to a certain point".)

It would seem that the Bible does state that Jesus is the firstborn, thus there were second born children of Mary.  That is, Scripture attests to the fact that Mary was NOT ever-virgin and had other children.  

It does indeed seem reasonable to assume, if I introduce my child as "Here is my firstborn", that I have other children.  Otherwise, wouldn't I just say, "Here is my only child"?

The Catholic response: (source)

"This is another case where our modern understanding of terms interferes with understanding what the Bible meant at the time it was written. In biblical times, the term firstborn had great importance. The firstborn was to be consecrated to the Lord (Ex. 13:2); the parents were to redeem every firstborn son (Ex. 34:20). They weren’t supposed to wait until they had a second child to redeem the firstborn, and so the first son born to a woman was called the firstborn regardless of whether or not she had other children later on.

Exodus 13:1-2 provides an example of the understanding the ancient Israelites had regarding the term firstborn: "The Lord said to Moses, ‘Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and beast, is mine.’"

The "firstborn" were not given the designation because there was a "second-born." They were called "firstborn" at birth. That is, Jesus being "firstborn" does not require that more siblings be born after him. The firstborn was "he who opened the womb."

OBJECTOR: I still don’t see why the Church requires Catholics to believe that Mary remained a virgin instead of allowing them to have their own opinions. Does it really matter if Mary had other children?

CATHOLIC: Actually, it does matter. Every doctrine about Mary tells us something about Christ or something about ourselves or the Church."  source

That is, the teaching on Mary, Ever-Virgin, tells us about the sovereign divinity and numinous quality of that which she carried in her womb--the Word of God made Flesh.  She did not carry just a holy teacher, a man who would be a great healer and miracle worker, butGod Incarnate.  

Again, can you imagine the womb which held God Incarnate later carrying anything else?  

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

Friday, September 16, 2016

The "One Mediator" Objection to Catholicism

If you've ever been in a discussion with non-Catholic Christians about what they object to in Catholicism, chances are this verse will come up:  

There is also one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,--1 Timothy 2

Criticism is raised that Catholics ignore the above verse when they 1) seek forgiveness through a priest 2) pray to saints.

We respond:  as the above verse is part of our 2nd reading this Sunday, clearly we don't "ignore" this verse.  We will proclaim it loudly and proudly this Sunday at all Roman Catholic churches throughout the world!

However, is it true that we don't really adhere to it?  Doesn't the fact that Jesus is our One Mediator mean that we
don't need to go to a priest to confess our sins, nor pray to dead saints in heaven?

I think the Catholic response is:  we always give a hearty "amen!" to everything the inspired writers profess.  The verse, however, just doesn't mean what some Protestants think it means.

Jesus is, indeed, our One Mediator, but ALL OF US are also mediators in and through our union with Jesus' One Mediatorship.

It's the ever present Catholic Both/And here at work.  Jesus is indeed our One Mediator, AND we are mediators.

A mediator is simply someone who "gets in the middle":

-Christ "got in the middle" of humanity and God.  

-We "get in the middle" of an unbeliever and God when we present God's word to him through evangelization.  

-The Church "gets in the middle" of its flock and God when it offers worship services.  

-A pastor "gets in the middle" of his congregation and God when he preaches a sermon.

-Protestants ask folks to "get in the middle" when they send out an email for their church's Prayer Chain, asking every church member to "get in the middle" of the hospitalized loved one and God.

So no Protestant should object to Christians mediating for others, and that would include a priest, mediating our reconciliation with God through the Sacrament of Confession, and saints, mediating our prayer requests through novenas, intercessory prayers to them, devotions to their holy lives.

In fact, all Christians are called to mediate the Grace of God to the world!  And the human mediator par excellence is Mary, the Mother of God, who mediated to us the Divine Word Made Flesh through her cooperation with the Incarnation!

Short Video: 
Apologist Trent Horn -Isn't Christ the only mediator between God and man?