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Thursday, December 15, 2011

When Did The Millenium Begin?

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When it comes to Bible interpretation, we have a lot in common with most non-Catholics. Yet there are those verses that are defining of our position to the exclusion to any other interpretation that do divide us. One such set of verses is in the Book of Revelation.

Today we are talking about the Millennium, which means 1000 years.

Revelation 20:1-3 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The controversy is how we interpret those verses, when do they occur and are they literal?

There are two points here that I would like to raise.

#1 what is meant by 1000 years?
#2 When is Satan bound?

#1 what is meant by 1000 years? I think we must first keep in mind that the book of Revelation is highly symbolic. Next we see the number 1000 used in symbolic ways.

Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Do we ask the question, “Which thousand hills is that exactly?” No, because God owns all the cattle on all the hills. Here in the Psalm, 1000 just means – a lot. We believe that is means the same thing here in Rev 20:3

#2 When is Satan bound? Obviously Satan is bound at the beginning of the 1000 years, but do other scriptures talk about when this happens – They do:

Matthew 12:28-29 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
Luke 13:16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
John 12:31-33 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Here is my reasoning at least. Satan had the power to bind people. Jesus came and loosed those that Satan had bound (Luke 3:16). By the work of Jesus binding the Satan - the strong man (Matt 12:29) - Jesus was showing that this was evidence that the Kingdom of God had in fact come.
Just to reiterate; with the first coming of Christ we see Jesus’ kingdom inaugurated and at the same, Satan is cast out and bound.

There is another topic addressed in Revelation 20 that points us again to a first century fulfillment of the beginning of the 1000 years.

Revelation 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, … and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
So what is the first resurrection? When does that happen?
Notice first that it says that the saints reign with Christ for 1000. Now listen to St. Paul

Ephesians 2:5-6 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus…

- St. Paul here uses the past tense and links us reigning with Christ with his resurrection.
Here in Rev 20 St. John tells us that those who are a part of the first resurrection are priests, and they reign with Christ for the thousand years.

My question here “when is the first resurrection?”

Scripture suggests that the first resurrection is at our Baptism.

Romans 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Ephesians 2:1, 5-6 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,
Ephesians 5:14 For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you."
Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Colossians 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
To pick up a point from earlier. Jesus associates the binding of Satan with the coming of the Kingdom (Luke 3:16, Mat 12:29). Further confirmation that the kingdom was established in Christ’s first coming is as follows:
Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Luke 9:27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;

In conclusion, seeing as how the kingdom was established with Jesus’ first coming the next logical question to ask then is- where is it? We believe that the Catholic Church is this Kingdom.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The 10 Plagues and the gods of Egypt

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The 10 plagues that God used to bring Israel out of Egypt have always captured our imagination. Why did God send those plagues and what was their significance?
Here was the situation: Moses flees Egypt because he murdered an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite. Some people found out about this and he fled to Median. While there, he sees the burning bush where God speaks to him and tells him “the plan”.
Exodus 3:12 And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain."
So the whole purpose of the Exodus is to bring the people out to Mt. Sinai to worship God. Yet there is a two-fold problem. Naturally, pharaoh doesn’t want to lose his 500,000 slaves and more surprisingly, the slaves don’t want to go either. Not only is Israel stuck in Egypt, but Egypt is stuck in Israel. Israel, as we will come to see, has adopted for themselves the false gods of Egypt.
The “gods” that the Egyptians were worshipping are none other than fallen angels.
Acts 7:41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. And God turned, and gave them up to serve the host of heaven,

Exodus 12:12 - against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments-- I am the LORD.
These demons were worshipped under many forms: cattle, sheep, frogs, water, etc.
God intends to bring them out into the desert and reveal Himself to them so they can finally break away from these false gods and serve the true God.
They can’t do this in Egypt because how they would intend to worship God would offend the Egyptians.
Exodus 8:25-26 And Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God within the land." But Moses said, "It is not right to do so, for we shall sacrifice to the LORD our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us?
What they are sacrificing are the animals that represent the false gods of the Egyptians. It is like renouncing your addiction to television by throwing it in the trash and beating it with a baseball bat. It will be good medicine for you but your housemate will get upset. So they need to go outside of Egypt to perform this sacrifice.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t go as smoothly as we would all hope.
God gives Moses three amazing signs to convince Pharaoh that this message is from God and should be obeyed. Staff to snake. Leperous hand. Pour water on the ground and it becomes blood.
So Moses returns and tells the Pharaoh to let the people go to worship.

No one commands the Pharaoh, though. It is at this point that he says that the Israelites can make the same amount of bricks without straw. So this gets the Israelites mad at Moses. So at this point everyone is against Moses, both Pharaoh and Israelites.
When Moses does get a chance to prove that this command was from God, he throws his staff on the ground and it turns into a snake.
Exodus 7:11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.
Huh, wonder who gave them that power?
Next, Moses turns the water into blood, but the Pharaoh’s magicians can do that as well.
Then God, through Moses, has frogs cover the land, and again Pharaoh’s magicians can repeat this miracle.
Finally, though, God has gnats come as a plague and cover the land.

Exodus 8:18-19 And the magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God."
Even the Pharaoh’s magicians recognize a more powerful God, even though Pharaoh doesn’t.

Let’s see which of these plagues were against specific false gods:

The Plagues of Egypt                      The Gods of Egypt

1. Nile turned to Blood                    1. Hapi, god of the Nile, fertility

2. Frogs                                          2. Heket, frog goddess of fruitfulness

3. Gnats                                          3. Kepher, beetle god; symbol of sun

4. Flies

5. Cattle                                          5. Amon, Hathor, etc.(male and female cow-gods)

6. Boils                                           6. Sekhmet, goddess of healing

7. Hail (kills remainder of crops)      7. Nut, sky-goddess fails

8. Locusts                                        8. Serapia, protector from locusts

9. Darkness                                     9. Re the Sun god

The 10th plague was against all the first born sons
With the 10th plague, Israel does make a sacrifice inside of Egypt and that was a sacrifice of sheep, which the Egyptians did apparently worship.
The Israelites are instructed to slaughter the lamb and put the blood on the door. This had a two-fold effect, it would protect their homes from the angel of death, but it also stained the door and labeled which households sacrificed the gods of the Egyptians.

The 10th plague was so devastating that it was a bit of time before the Egyptians probably noticed that a ton of sheep were missing and that they had been sacrificed by the Israelites.
This would be probably one of the factors why, though desiring to go back to Egypt, Israel couldn’t and stuck with Moses instead.
Israel would constantly struggle with false god worship throughout their 40 years in the wilderness and beyond. Since we too have been freed from false gods through the blood of Christ, we too should persevere in faith lest we not make it to the promised land like a lot of them didn’t.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jesus as the New Adam in the Gospel of Mark

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It is clear that 3 of the 4 Gospel writers link Jesus to Genesis. The most famous is John who begins his Gospel in the same words as Genesis “In the beginning” and continues on with a 7-day creation story. You have to hunt a little, but the creation week is there. Luke has the genealogy of Jesus and traces His line all the way back to Adam, who he calls “the son of God.” Matthew opens his Gospel with a genealogy that traces Jesus as far back as Abraham, who lives from Genesis 11- 25.

Mark surprised me though. It seemed clear to me that there is no direct reference between the Gospel of Mark and Genesis. I wasn’t looking for one. I had read Genesis and Mark several times especially the beginning chapters of each book and nothing jumped from the page as being obvious, until this past week.

Mark is portraying Jesus as a New Adam, come to conquer where Adam failed and restore this weary world so lost and damaged by sin.

Starting into verse one Mark says, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Two things here began raising my suspicions about a Genesis connection. First the opening words “The beginning”, Genesis opens, “In the beginning”. Is a guy allowed to say the words ‘the beginning’ and not refer to Genesis? Sure. Now the second thing is how Mark calls Jesus the “Son of God.” While on the surface, we might all be thinking, yes, what’s the big connection to Genesis? Genesis and St. Luke tell us that Adam was a son of God. Not in the same way of course.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” We see this same phrase again in Genesis 5:3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

So reading Genesis 5 can help us interpret Genesis 1, when it says that Adam and Eve were made in God’s image and likeness. It means that God is fathering children, and that Adam is God’s son. Besides that, St. Luke tells us in his Genealogy of Jesus that Jesus came from Luke 3:38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Mark continues this Genesis theme at Jesus’ baptism. In Mark 1:10-11 And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased."

Again Jesus’ Sonship is being proclaimed and a vision of the Holy Spirit like a dove descends upon Him. Adam receives God’s Spirit as well.

Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Jesus already had the Holy Spirit, yet this was done to show us what would happen at our own baptism. Also at our baptism, like with Jesus, the heavens were opened. So at our own baptism the heavens are opened to us, which were at one time closed beginning with Adam.

Look what happens next to Jesus in Mark. Just like after Adam’s creation with the wild animals, He was then tempted by the devil, and then God drove him out of the garden. So now Jesus. Mark 1:12, 13 And immediately the Spirit drove him out into the desert. And he was in the desert forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by Satan; and he was with beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

After Jesus successfully defeats the devil’s temptations, Jesus begins proclaiming the Good News that finally the Kingdom of God is once again at hand.

Jesus then goes into a synagogue on the Sabbath, that 7th day of the week, when our first parents fell to the temptation of the devil. Jesus casts out a demon out of a man, and then continues on that same day to Simon Peters’ house where his mother-in-law is in bed sick. He then heals this woman on the Sabbath. I think that the man with the demon and the sick woman represent a kind of healing for the old Adam and Eve.

Mark continues to tell us strange but important details. He says Mark 1:32 And when it was evening, after sunset,

Why even mention when this is taking place? What is significant about sunset? To the Jews, it means the beginnings of a new day. This day is Sunday, the first day of the week. The day Jesus would rise from the dead and begin a new creation beginning with Himself and then extending to the rest of humanity.

Mark says this Mark 1:32 And when it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all that were ill and that were possessed with devils.

This is the story of the whole world, ill and possessed with devils. Jesus comes as a new beginning, one filled with hope.

Mark concludes chapter 1 of his Gospel with the story of a leper. Now a leper was not allowed to enter into the towns and had to cry out to near-by people that he had leprosy. The leper had to stay out of the towns. Jesus, on the other hand, had been going from town to town to proclaim the Gospel.

They meet, the leper asks to be healed, and Jesus heals him on the spot.

The leper in his joy proclaims Jesus in all of the towns. Jesus is then too popular to openly enter a town least He be crushed. He must stay in the country.

Jesus and the leper switch roles. The leper had to stay away from the towns, but now healed, goes from town to town to proclaim Jesus. Jesus, on the other hand, was going town to town to proclaim the Gospel, had to now stay in the country. When Jesus healed the leper, Jesus did not get leprosy, but He got the effects of it in that He had to stay out of the towns.

This is what happens to Jesus on the Cross, that new tree of life, where the New Adam lays down His life for His Bride, the Church. He does not sin, but receives the effects of sin, namely suffering and death.

Mark proclaims a New Adam and a new creation in the beginning of his Gospel.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Luke 15:1-10 - The 'Lost' Chapter of the Bible

Today we are going to examine the popular parables given in Luke chapter 15.

Luke 15:1-10 Now all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.  And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."  And He told them this parable, saying,
      "What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?  "And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  "And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'  "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
        "Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 "And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!' "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

The Situation
     Now the scribes and Pharisees don’t have it completely wrong. We really shouldn’t be hanging out with some sinners because they can tempt us to sin as well. If you are married and there is a co-worker flirting with you, you probably shouldn’t be hanging out with that person because they might tempt you to sin. Yet these tax-collectors and sinners are gathered to hear what Jesus has to say about the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. The scribes and Pharisees were grumbling because they were looking down at those sinners from pride. They were looking down upon those sinners as if they themselves had conquered sin. In general though it is good to kind of hang out with sinners so we can attract them to the truth of Jesus. IN doing this we will be imitating Jesus which is what we want to do in all things.
The Parables in General
     Jesus, to instruct both groups – the tax-collectors and sinners, as well as the scribes and Pharisees – tells the following parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. In both stories there are two parties; the thing lost and the one searching for them.

     The things that are lost represent the sinners and tax-collectors, and Jesus is trying to tell this group. “Hey, God will go through great lengths to find you and bring you home and there is going to be so much rejoicing you won’t believe it. Angels and the whole of heaven is going to rejoice, just respond to the grace God is giving you, turn around and get on the path to God.”

     The one searching for them is of course God, but God’s usual method for searching for sinners isn’t be knocking people down and blinding them like he did with St. Paul, but by working through other people like scribes and Pharisees. These are the one who are suppose to be searching for those who are lost and bring them back. And when they bring them back it is to be with a spirit of rejoicing. Jesus is trying to tell this group “Hey, You have been blessed with brains and high social status, you should be seeking out people like these sinners to bring them back to God.”

     The problem is that they aren’t rejoicing with Jesus when he is bring back sinners to God. Yet in the parable Jesus says that the shepherd and woman called her friends and neighbors to rejoice with them. If they refuse to rejoice with them, then it is implied that they aren’t friends and neighbors of the shepherd or the woman. Meaning they aren’t friends of God.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
     I found some beautiful interpretations of these parables.

     Cornelius Lapide points out this: in Verse 5 when it says - "And when the shepherd has found the sheep, he lays it on his shoulders”

     Isaiah the prophet says this: Isaiah 53:4 “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried”

     So Lapide links the shepherd bearing the sheep with Christ bearing our sins. The shepherd bearing the sheep to bring it back to the fold, and Christ bearing our sins to bring us back to heaven.

     Lapide continues: Hence Gregory of Nyssa, writes …"When the shepherd had found the sheep, he did not punish it, he did not drive it to the fold, but placing it on his shoulder, and carrying it gently, he reunited it with the flock." Oh how wondrous is the meekness, clemency, and love of Christ our Lord!

     The beauty of this is so true – think of the simplicity of both baptism and confession to restore our relationship with God. There is no gauntlet that we must run through or some herculean task that must be accomplished on our part. Jesus does all the real work on the cross and then gently call us back to him.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
     A possible insight into this parable could be that the coin which has on it a royal image of not only an earthly king, but also the image of God. This image has been lost under the dirt of sin and the darkness of this world. The woman brings a light into the house that is – God becomes incarnate in the world to illumine it and sweep it clean of sin until the image is recovered. Once the image is found rejoicing commences with the friends and neighbors – the saints and angels in heavenly places.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting a Better Senses of Scriptures

As Catholics we are encouraged to read the Bible daily, both publically in Mass and privately. We don’t read the Bible like we do every other book and I don’t just mean reading it as a Holy Book. God had put inside of the Bible different layers which make the Bible a much later book than it already is.

This is called the senses of Scripture. The Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about this in paragraphs 115-118

115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."

117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism.

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction".

3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.

118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.

Beginning with the literal sense.

The literal sense of scripture is just a fancy title for how we read every piece of literature. We read the literature as the author intended. Some authors write poems, and we should read them and interpret them as poems. Other authors write history and they should be read as history. Parables are just that – parables. Mystical visions probably shouldn’t be read as history, they should be read as mystical visions. This is the literal sense, what did the author intend, and all the other senses of scripture should be based on the literal.

Next is the allegorical.

That is right St. Paul gives us an example of this in Galatians 4:22-31 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. …Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what does the scripture say? "Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

So St. Paul is saying that these real women who really lived on a deeper level represent two whole groups of people. Reading the OT with Christ in mind makes the Bible twice as thick and infinitely more beautiful.

What does the Bible say about the moral sense?

The moral sense really asks – what does this have to do with me? Again St. Paul gives us an answer:

1 Corinthians 10:1-11 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same supernatural food and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to dance." We must not indulge in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come.

So St. Paul is saying – see how they messed up – don’t do that. The opposite is true as well with being virtuous and holy.

Finally how about the anagogical sense?

The anagogical sense says – what does this have to do with heaven?

Jerusalem, the city is seen in Scripture as a figure for heaven.

Psalm 122:1-9 I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem, built as a city which is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they prosper who love you! Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers!" For my brethren and companions' sake I will say, "Peace be within you!" For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

So while the original readers are praising the city of Jerusalem, we sing the Psalm to sing of our Heavenly Jerusalem.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church Fathers

(Yes, you should!)

When Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door, we can get tempted to respond with either rudeness for interrupting our afternoon, hiding and on occasion the charitable chat. Usually though the chats can turn toward the subject of the center of our Faith: the Most Holy Trinity.

What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about the Trinity?

They don’t believe in a Triune God, Three persons that share one nature. The say that there is one person – Jehovah God and no other. They believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel and the Holy Spirit is not even a person at all. They say he is like electricity or as they describe him – God’s active force.

Usually when someone ventures onto this conversation with them, they receive the JW publication – Should you believe in the Trinity? This publication is jam packed with arguments against the Trinity which would take several hours to take apart but one group that they try to rope into this is the Early Church Fathers. – Big Mistake.

How do the Jehovah’s Witnesses use the Church Fathers in their publication?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses on page 7 of their publication – ‘Should you believe in the Trinity?’ – quote 6 church fathers: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Origen. They conclude the quotes of the church fathers which this line – “Thus, the testimony of the Bible and of history makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical times and for several centuries thereafter.”

Well let’s test that quote as far as the church fathers are concerned?

Right off the bat I looked up the word “Trinity” in each one of these church fathers cited and right away I found that 4 of the 6 church fathers used the word “ Trinity” in a positive light. They are Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Origen.

So even before getting into one quote from this magazine, the reader should know that at least 67% of those quoted are misquoted.

Let’s get into some details here – how do they quote Justin Martyr?

Here is what they say Justin Martyr said –

Justin calls the prehuman Jesus a created angel who is “other than the God who made all things” – He said that Jesus was inferior to God and “ never did anything except what the Creator…willed him to do and say.”

So does St. Justin Martyr call Jesus an angel? Yes he does, which when I saw some quotes were shocking for about 2 seconds until I read the context.

This is from the Dialogue with Trypho:

“Moreover, I consider it necessary to repeat to you the words which narrate how He who is both Angel and God and Lord, and who appeared as a man to Abraham, and who wrestled in human form with Jacob, was seen by him when he fled from his brother Esau.”

"Have you perceived, sirs, that this very God whom Moses speaks of as an Angel that talked to him in the flame of fire, declares to Moses that He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob?"

St. Justin is saying that the prehuman Jesus was not an angel, but only appeared as one, and not only that he is the very God of the Old Testament . All of this JW’s would disagree with.

What about Irenaeus how do the JW’s quote him?

They say:

…”the prehuman Jesus had a separate existence from God and was inferior to him. He showed that Jesus was not equal to the “one true and only God” who is “supreme over all, and besides whom there is no other.”

I could not find this chopped up quote anywhere but what I did find is this:

"For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, … and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who announced through the prophets the dispensations and the comings, and the birth from a Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Christ Jesus our Lord, and his coming from heaven in the glory of the Father to reestablish all things; and the raising up again of all flesh of all humanity, in order that to Jesus Christ our Lord and God and Savior and King, in accord with the approval of the invisible Father, every knee shall bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth . . . " (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).
So with even a minimal amount of work, we can show the Jehovah’s Witness at the door that not only was pretty much the entirety of page 7 in error in the brochure – Should you believe in the Trinity? – but also that the early church did believe in the Trinity even before the word was used to describe God. This is not just poor scholarship on those in charge of the JW’s, but deceitful.

IF you live around the Greater Cincinnati area and you would like help answering Jehovah's Witnesses, I am available to give a talk to a parish or group. Please contact me through email -

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When Sons Try To Become Daddys

This is an interesting Bible tidbit about sons and their mothers and what they shouldn't do with them. We will try to keep this cryptic for the children listening to the program. So Dan what does the Bible say about sons who try to become the daddy's of the family.
The whole point of doing such a terrible thing was to gain control of the family, so it was a move to gain power. Whoever has the Mommy IS the Daddy and therefore has the power over the family.
The first time that this happens is probably right after the flood with Noah and his son Ham.
This is Genesis 9:20-24 Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard.

And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.

But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father's nakedness.

When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.

So he said, "Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers."
So why is Canaan, the son of Ham cursed? Why not Ham himself? possibly because Canaan was the result of what just took place. Now it appears as though it is Noah who is been seen here in Genesis, but look at
Leviticus 18:1-3 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

"Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'I am the LORD your God.

'You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. 'None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the LORD.

'You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness.
So Moses is saying - Hey - when you get to Canaan, don't do what they do there - In Canaan the sons try to become the daddys - this is wrong.

Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob Israel tries to become the daddy when in

Genesis 35:22 And it came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard of it.
Something you should know is that Bilhah was Rachel's maid. And Rachel was Israel's favorite wife.
And when it came time for Reuben to get the Blessing of the firstborn, he is refused - Here is what Jacob Israel says:
Genesis 49:3-4 "Reuben, you are my first-born; My might and the beginning of my strength, Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. "Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, Because you went up to your father's bed; Then you defiled it-- he went up to my couch.

1 Kings 2 we have a scene where Adonijah, who is a son of King David, comes to Bathsheba (the mother of the new king Solomon) and asks her to ask King Solomon for him for the hand of Abishag in marriage.
So this sounds simple enough - Adonijah wants to marry Abishag. But there is more here about Abishag that you must know. Let me back up a bit.
1 Kings 1:1-4 Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm.

So his servants said to him, "Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king, and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may keep warm."

So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.

And the girl was very beautiful; and she became the king's nurse and served him, but the king did not cohabit with her.
So Abishag, while she was not a mother, was someone laying down with Adonijah's Dad, King David.
Now Adonijah is asking for her hand in marriage. He asks Bathsheba, who asks King Solomon. Now with this background information in mind - look at King Solomons response
1 Kings 2:21-24 So she said, "Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as a wife."

And King Solomon answered and said to his mother, "And why are you asking Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him also the kingdom-- for he is my older brother-- Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying, "May God do so to me and more also, if Adonijah has not spoken this word against his own life.

"Now therefore, as the LORD lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house as He promised, surely Adonijah will be put to death today."
So Solomon sees through Adonijah's request and has him put to death for trying to usurp his power.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The 7 Sacrament and the Cross

Today we are going to talk about the Sacraments and the Cross.

I have just finished listening to an awesome CD set by Brant Pitre on Sacramental Theology and while he is totally speculating, he links the seven last words of Christ on the Cross to the seven Sacraments.
Let's begin with the sacraments of initiation, where does he speak about Baptism?
Dr. Pitre points out that in Baptism we are born again into the family of God. Where God is our Father we participate in the sonship of Christ and Mary becomes our Mother. So when from the cross St. John records

John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Jesus here is giving his mother to the disciple whom he loved. Now while tradition tells us that this was John, a deeper reading of this tells us that this is all of Christ disciples, namely us. And when do we become his disciples except in our Baptism.
What about confirmation?

Luke 23:46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last.
So we see it is first on the cross that he gives up his Spirit and it will be this same Spirit that Jesus breathes on the apostles in John 20 when it says Jesus breathed on them and said recieve the Holy Spirit. And on the whole church at pentacost.

Finally the Eucharist?

When Jesus

John 19:28  Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up to His mouth.
Jesus at this point is finishing the passover and now Eucharistic meal that he began the night before. Evidence of this is what they put the wine on, a branch of hyssop. I did a word search on my computer it is used 12 times in the Bible beginning with the first passover, but 11 of those 12 times that it uses this word is always in the context of a sacrifice.
So certainly when Jesus says - I thirst - it is some reference to the Eucharist.
I did a word search on "thirst" (Except for Matthew 5:6 - hunger and thirst for righteousness) Jesus uses it in the context of the Sammaritan woman in John 4 in John 6 with the Eucharist and at the cross and think of the cross when you read this:

John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
So where are the sacraments of healing, confession and anointing of the sick?

Well confession is very clear Luke 23:38-43 - One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Jesus hears the confession of the "good thief." And what a better absolution than saying that the thief would be with with him in paradise.

How about the anointing of the sick?

Listen to what the Catechism says about the anointing of the sick in reference to the Cross.

CCC Jesus did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the "sin of the world,"of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion. [440, 307]
This is so clear when Christ says in Mark 15:34 "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He is quoting psalm 22 here which while it does end in triumph, it is certainly a psalm of suffering.

What about the priesthood?

In every culture the role of the priest is to intercede for the people, and we see even on the cross, Jesus is interceding for those crucifying him right then, as well as us with our sins.

Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.

It is significant here that they are casting lots for his garments, because in another place it mentions that he was wearing a seamless garment, which is what a priest would wear when he is offering sacrifice. This further points to Jesus's priestly role on the Cross.
Finally Marriage, where do we see marriage at the cross?

I can't get into it right now but, some scholars have called the cross a wedding bed. We see Christ dying ( or a biblical euphemism is falling asleep) and then from his side is brought forth like Adam, his bride the church through the water and the blood.

Listen to these verses:

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 19:30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished";

The Greek here brings out a better paralell. In John 13 it says that he loved them to the end and then John 19 really says that it is ended. The greek word for end/ or finish is teleos.

In Latin Jesus says - it is consumated. Think what things we consumate - our marrages on our wedding night. It is here when we see Jesus's corps is at deaths door we should think of his marital words - "This is My Body"

Again this was taken from Dr. Brant Pitre's CD set

Sacramental Theology which can be purchaced here:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

7 Sacraments Foreshadowed in the Garden of Eden

Today we are talking about the 7 Sacraments and how they are foreshadowed in the Garden of Eden. Let’s begin with the Sacraments of Initiation.

Baptism is seen in the very beginning

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.

We see this imagery again in the very Baptism of our Lord Jesus

Mark 1:9-10 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;

So we see that the Spirit moving over the waters of creation are also at the new creation of the Baptismal waters.

Confirmation in the Garden of Eden

In Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

God here gives to Adam the breath of life, which not only gives his body life but his soul life as well. It is when they sin that this spirit of God would be taken from our first parents.

But we see Christ (God in the flesh), who had just conquered death come to the apostles on Easter as recorded in

John 20:21-23 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Finally there is peace Matt, because the forgiveness of sins has been given to men here. This is like a mini Penecost, The Holy Spirit would later fall on the entire church on its birthday.

Where do we see the Eucharist?

Certainly in the Tree of Life. Look what God does in Genesis 3:22 now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" --

Keep these words in mind - eat and live forever, eat and live forever.

Listen not to Jesus in John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."

Jesus himself is practically quoting Genesis 3:22 here there is no question about it.

Is confession in Eden?

After the fall there is a kind of confession without a real admission of guilt. They play the blame game, so it is sloppy to say the least, but present none the less.

Marriage is most certainly prefigured.

Marriage was the hardest sacrament to find in my study (said with great sarcasm). Yes obviously our first parents were married.


The priesthood was tougher to find in Eden, until you study it in Hebrew. Then it is pretty clear in

Genesis 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

I know what you are thinking, and no you didn't miss it. When God puts man in the garden to till it and keep it. The Hebrew says that he is to Work the garden and guard it.

This doesn't sound like a big deal until you do a Bible study on these two words and then they always show up in the context of worship. Some examples

Numbers 3:7 "And they shall perform the duties for him and for the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle.

Numbers 18:7 "But you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything concerning the altar and inside the veil, and you are to perform service. I am giving you the priesthood as a bestowed service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death."

Our priests do this as well. They are to guard the teachings handed on from the apostles and work the Liturgy. Liturgy literally means the work of the people.

Finally the anointing of the sick.

It must be remembered that this sacrament is the sacrament of those who are suffering. All suffering had its beginnings in the beginning with the fall of our first parents. With sin came suffering. The pains of birth and the thorns of the field. Also that we are headed toward the dust of the earth in death.
But Christ, who compares his Passion to a woman in labor pains in John 16:21 and he wears a crown of thorns, grabs hold of the pains and sufferings of sin and reorders them toward healing and salvation.
So much so that Peter can say in 1 Peter 4:1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.

So while not explicitly in the Garden of Eden but foreshadowed.

I got this Bible tidbit from an awesome Bible study by Dr. Brant Pitre on the seven sacraments. Sacramental Theology. This will take you both deep into theology and scripture.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

5 Reasons We Can't Go By The Bible Alone - & 3 Questions for Thought

Our Protestant brothers and sisters for the last 500 have said that all we need as an authority is the Bible. They reject Sacred Tradition and the teaching authority of the Magisterium. Instead they have been replaced by man's traditions (such as "saved by faith alone" 1517 A.D. and "the rapture" 1830's) and self appointed authority.

But here are (at least) 5 reasons why we can’t go by the Bible alone.

#1 The idea that we can go by the Bible alone – Isn’t Biblical.
#2 Scripture doesn’t teach which books belong in it.
#3 For all historical purposes it couldn’t have worked.
#4 No one in the first 1400 years of the church taught that we can go by the Bible alone.
#5 For all practical purposes it doesn’t work.

I chose these 5 because I thought they were the best of all the arguments and you can remember them on one hand. The first two are biblical the second two are historical and the last one you can remember on your thumb is practical.

#1 The idea that "we can go by the Bible alone" – isn’t Biblical.
If you are going to go by the Bible alone you had better find some Biblical ground for teaching that or you don’t have a leg to stand on. Now of course folks who go by the Bible alone feel as though they have found some verses that support their view point but upon further investigation, they are taken out of context or just made to say something they aren’t saying.

Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.
Amen – this verse as well as all the verses in the Bible are true and inspired by the Holy Spirit. But is this verse teaching me – you only need to follow and obey the written word of God? no.

Didn’t Jesus teach us to go by the Bible alone in Matthew chapter 4 when he said three times to the devil – it is written, it is written, it is written. He appealed to scripture alone to refute the devil.
Again Amen – In THIS particular he did refer to scripture, but other times he referred to himself as an authority outside of scripture – He told the demons – I rebuke you. And we need to come back to the question – is he teaching us here - you only need to follow and obey the written word of God? no.

Here is the most popular verse referred to. St. Paul tells Timothy -
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Amen – I have no problem with this verse. But the context is problematic for this kind of interpretation. If we look at the context and back up one verse to verse 2 Timothy 3:15 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Wait a second – St. Timothy knew these sacred writings – these scriptures from childhood. This reference to scripture isn’t concerning the New Testament, this is concerning the Old Testament.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
St. Paul here is in context referring to the Old Testament which points us to Jesus.

#2 Scripture doesn’t teach which books belong in it.
The Bible doesn’t have an inspired table of contents anywhere. There is no inspired list of books – these are the books which make up the Bible. So to find out which books belong in the Bible we have to go outside of the Bible to the teaching authority of the Church and tradition to see which books are in fact inspired.

#3 For all historical purposes it couldn’t have worked.
Where the apostles to go by the Bible alone, because they were the ones who wrote the New Testament and they took their time doing it also. You would think that if they knew about this going by the Bible alone doctrine that they would have been more systematic in their writings. Instead they assume that their readers have already heard the Gospel and they are referring to specific problems in these early communities. Also the Bible as we know it today wasn’t formally canonized until 381 at the Council of Rome – No – Constantine was not there.

#4 No one in the first 1400 years of the church taught that we can go by the Bible alone.
Church history is unaware of this doctrine of going by the Bible alone for the first 1400 years of her existence. Sounds like a relatively new doctrine.

#5 For all practical purposes it doesn’t work.
In brief this doctrine teaches that any believer who is a true believer in Jesus Christ and is filled with the Holy Spirit, can understand easily what the Bible teaches. They themselves are the interpreter guided by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately many people are confused and don’t follow the Holy Spirit as closely as I myself do who alone holds the true interpretation.
- So we see that this doctrine leads to nothing but division and more division. Too many competing interpretations.

I have a 3 question solution that we as Catholics can use to focus our friends and neighbors attention.

#1 Do you believe the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit? – they should say – yes. This is good because we do too. Reaffirm this and add that it is 100% infallible.

#2 So the Holy Spirit inspired the books to be written – do we need the same Holy Spirit to recognize which books are inspired? Do we need the Holy Spirit to recognize which books belong in the Bible?
- They will say yes – ADD, good because it is a historical fact that in 381 A.D. the Catholic Church at the Council of Rome was the one to put the Bible together. So they at that time MUST have had the Holy Spirit to recognize which books were inspired.

#3 Now since it took the Holy Spirit to write the Bible. It took the Holy Spirit to lead the early Church to pick out those inspired books. Certainly we need the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible. Since you trust that the Holy Spirit was leading the Church to choose the right books, why not trust that the Holy Spirit was leading the Church to choose the correct interpretation?

IN BRIEF – The Holy Spirit inspired the writing.
The Holy Spirit guides the choosing.
The Holy Spirit guards the interpretation.

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