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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jehovah's Witnesses and the Pill

I have a special place for Jehovah’s Witnesses in your heart. When you hear stories of witnesses who have left the organization, you find out that they really weren’t free. If they wanted to be counted as a Jehovah’s Witnesses they NEEDED to go door to door.

I think going from door to door to evangelize is great. I have done it myself in the Legion of Mary but that was out of zeal for the Lord, not out of fear that I would be looked down upon.
Besides we are not all called to evangelize the same way, unless you are a Jehovah’s Witness then you are all called upon to evangelize the same way.

Now most people reading to this blog love Jesus and want to follow him, but just don’t know what to say when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door. If there was one thing that everyone could say - what would it be?

Only recently after years of study do I feel confident on only a few topics to carry on a conversation with them. Yet I have noticed a pattern. There have been a couple times when I have met with them for months at a time but after we talked about contraception they discontinued our conversation. Specifically when we talked about the pill and how it can cause an abortion.

Now don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses sort of brag that they are 100% pro-life to the point where they won’t join the army or anything like that, which drives this point home all the more.

So what is it that every Catholic could say when they come to the door.
I would say - listen to their little speal that they give, but then say - Hey I have a question and a challenge for you." I have heard that it is ok for JW’s to contracept and that it is ok for women to take the pill."

They should acknowledge that this is true in one way or another. If not they are lying.
Then say "Did you know that the pill causes abortions, and it says that it does on the package?"
Now what I have just said is news to many Catholics as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses. The package to any sort of contraceptive pill says that it does three things, and one of those three things that it does is "prevents implantation."

This is fancy doctor language that means that after the egg has been fertilized and is now a new human person; The pill will make the conditions of the womb unable to support the new life thus destroying the new person - this is an abortion.

Now JW’s are against abortion, but not against using the pill as a contraceptive - yet the pill can cause an abortion.

What are the results of sharing this information?
The results at the very least should prick the conscience of the JW. They now have information that is in direct contradiction to what they believe. So I would challenge them. I would say to them, "You should tell your elders to make an announcement at your congregation that couples should stop taking the pill because it causes abortions. And then say - come back and tell me how it goes, I would be interested"

Now I can almost guarantee that they will not be back to see you on this topic. Here is the best case scenario: That person writes the Watchtower to inform them the truth behind the pill and those in a leadership position publish this in their Watchtower magazine that they are bound to follow and millions of JW’s change their practice.

They could write but the position stays unchanged, but the individual JW knows that they should change it, this could be a first step in leading them out of the JW’s.
They don’t tell anyone, but they still know and unfortunately might be judged for that knowledge. But we must tell them.

Could you imagine what could happen if every Catholic that answered the door, if they weren’t comfortable speaking about other topics, could ask them about this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baptism for the Dead?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also known as the Mormons have many doctrines in common with Christianity. One particular doctrine that they teach is the baptism for the dead and this is different from every so called Christian denomination.

My experience of this doctrine began when I was at a critical time in my life trying to search out the truth of Christ. I had come across some Mormon missionaries that taught be about baptism for the dead.

I thought right away that this was a strange and unbiblical doctrine. But they insisted that it was in fact from the Bible. They had me read 1 Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
So you can imagine my face when they show this to me in my own Bible. I was a bit devastated, shocked and confused.

What does it mean to Mormons when they say "Baptism for the dead?"
Mormons believe that when you die you will go to a spirit prison where you will be evangelized by Mormon missionaries and there instructed in the Mormon gospel. If you should believe the Mormon Gospel it is still necessary that you experience water baptism. Drawing on 1 Corinthian 15:29 someone here on earth will be baptized for you.

Where do they get names of people who have not yet received Mormon baptism?
Mormons are sort of famous for constructing genealogical records. They are collecting these records for this very reason, so that those in their family tree who have not been baptized Mormon yet are deceased can still enter into heaven. They aren't only looking up their own records. They are looking up all of those who have died so they collect any churches records of the deceased.

So what are we to do with this doctrine and that verse in 1 Corinthians 15?
First we need to read Saint Paul in context - Paul for the most part speaks in the first person and addresses the second person. I Paul am addressing you Corinthians. But a few times he does speak about people in the third person singular and plural. He talks about pagans, rulers, saints, patriarchs, and sinners. Notice again 1 Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
Notice that Paul is neither including himself nor the Corinthians in this practice or he would have said why are WE baptized for the dead, or why are YOU being baptized for the dead. In truth no one know anything about these people, and they very well may have been a break off group from the Corinthians. They were probably afraid that if the dead were not baptized that they would not experience the resurrection to life.

Now there is some mystery to this verse because this practice is found nowhere among the early church fathers or the tradition of the Church.

The Bible and the Catechism are clear that we are given THIS life to choose or reject God. Death seals this decision.

What does the book of Mormon say about this practice?
Nothing. In fact the Book of Mormons doctrines contradict this teaching
Alma 34:35-36 we read: "For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he does seal you his. Therefore, the spirit of the Lord has withdrawn from you and hath no place in you; the power of the devil is over you, and this is the final state of the wicked."

So even the Book of Mormon says that death puts an end to choosing God and warns against procrastinating.What does our faith teach? If we aren’t baptized is it a guarantee that we will burn in hell like buckets of Chicken?
No Romans 2:14-16 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

While God gave us the sacraments and we are in fact bound to follow them and a regular means of grace. God himself is not bound by them and can save whomever he so chooses.

Acts 10:44-48 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, "Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"The Hour" of Jesus

In the Gospel of John we see Jesus talking about a mysterious hour - my hour has not come - the hour is coming - etc. There are several senses hidden in "the hour" that Jesus speaks of. The first is the historical sense. Jesus speaks about an hour of persecution and death.

John 7:30 So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.
John 8:20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

We see at the beginning of Passion week a change in His language. Jesus speaks about the arrival of that hour and it is pregnant with images of is death.
John 12:23-27 ... "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 ¶ "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
John 16:32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.
Jesus also says that his disciples will suffer during this hour.
John 16:21-22 When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Jesus also speaks of an hour that each of the apostles will experience, where they will share in the sufferings of Christ.
John 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.

At the same time, Christ's hour is also associated with the Mass - which is a representation of the Sacrifice at Calvary.This is where Jesus' hour language gets mysterious and beautiful.
John 2:3-4 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 4 And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
- Jesus is saying here that there is an hour coming when he will be expected to provide wine, and he links this to the cross by talking about His hour.

John 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.
- Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well here links a certain hour with worship - which is what we are doing at the Mass. It happens not just on the mountains in Judah and Samaria, but all over the world.

John 5:25 ¶ "Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
- When do we hear the voice of the Son of God, but especially at Mass.

There is one final fulfillment of this Hour and that is at the end of time.
John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

And this also fulfills more perfectly what Jesus says earlier when he tells the Samaritan woman:
John 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father….true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.
- And we see Our Lady telling Him that they have no more wine…There is a great feast at the end of time and a great marriage spoken of where those who are chosen will marry Christ and receive the best wine then.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gene in the BIble

Genealogies in the Bible can be places where we scratch our heads and wonder "why in the world would God inspire anyone to write down a list of names?" When we do some digging, of course, we find that even a list of names can have a message for us.

In the OT, there are many genealogies. The two that I want to focus on today are the ones mentioned in Matthew and in Luke.

What strikes most people is that they are different.

Matthew’s and Luke’s seem to be two different genealogies which have lead scholars to conclude that Matthew is writing Joseph’s genealogy and that Luke is writing Mary’s genealogy.
Another difference is that Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham and ends with Joseph. Luke begins his genealogy with Joseph and ends with Adam. Each one of them has reasons for doing this if you study the rest of their Gospels. Matthew is trying to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenants and has also come to restore and fulfill the Kingdom of David. Luke, on the other hand, is trying to show that Jesus came for all of the descendants of Adam, which are the Jews and the non-Jews alike.

Another difference and something that is very significant is the number of people mentioned in their genealogies.

Luke lists 77 people which seems very significant when we consider the number 7. The earth was created in seven days and God rested on the seventh day. The word 7 is related to the Hebrew word for oath. Literally, when you were taking an oath you would "7" yourself. But another number is significant and that is the number 70. We see after the time of Noah that there were 70 nations that were his descendants. So 70 may represent all of the nations in the world.

I am speculating that when Luke mentions 77 people in this genealogy that he is reminding the readers that God the Father, who is the Father of every nation through Adam, is going to swear an oath once more, not just for the Jews but for all of the nations. This covenant oath that will be sworn will restore our sonship with God just like Adam had.

Then we read in Exodus chapter 1 verse 5, where Moses tells us that the descendants of Israel that came into the land of Egypt were 70. So the nation of Israel is embodying what happened to all the nations. All of the nations have been made slaves to sin and need liberating. But God is going to do with this one nation what he plans to do with all of the nations, that is - free them all from the bondage of sin so that they can come to the mountain of God and worship him.

Matthew has his genealogy broken down into three parts each containing 14 people with a grand total of 42 people.
From the time of Abraham to David - 14 generations
From David to the Babylonian deportation - 14 generations
From Babylonian deportation to Jesus - 14 generations

Now there is in the Hebrew language great significance concerning the number 14. Each Hebrew letter also represents a number and when you take the name of King David, DVD, and you replace his name with numbers and then add it up it equals the number 14. David appears 14th in the genealogy. So Matthew is trying to stress that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic line of kings.

But their total number of 42 is also significant.

We look in the OT and see that Israel had made 42 encampments during that wandering in the desert before they crossed into the promised land of Canaan. Similarly, I think Matthew is saying that 42 generations have passed while we wander here on the earth and now Jesus has come and just like the Jesus of the OT - Joshua, he will lead us into the true promised land of Heaven.

We also see that the woman of Revelation 12, which represents our Lady but also the church, flees from the devil for 1260 days into the wilderness. 1260 days is 42 months. So this is similar to what happened in OT times of wondering in the wilderness, but this time it is with the church. In a certain sense, we are wandering around in the wilderness while we travel to the promised land of Heaven.