How green is my Tiber: James White’s impassioned plea to Jason Reed to come home from Rome

The Tiber

The Tiber .

A boarding pier and shores dotted with waste in front of Castel Sant’ Angelo at the entrance of “Ships of Rome”, the tourist service on the city’s Tiber. Photo: AFP  Tourist cruises along Rome’s Tiber River have stopped for the first time since they began a decade ago because the waterway is too dirty.

Christianity is about redemption. Protestants  base their knowledge of redemption on the scriptures alone. The Roman Catholic and other Christian movements base their knowledge of redemption on both scripture and tradition. For the Protestant, only the scriptures are God-breathed, whereas for Roman Catholics, revelation is progressive (John Henry Newman). In this article, I examine James White’s response to Jason Reed’s “conversion to Rome” in his podcast “The dividing line, October 17, 2013).”

I responded, says White, to the “conversion testimony” (note how it is a story of conversion not to Christ, but to a system of religion) by former Southern Evangelical Seminary professor Jason Reed today. This is a very important discussion, and it is one I hope will be helpful to those watching the developments at SES in regards to a wave of apostasy to Rome. Very important lessons about how it is not enough to be “non-Catholic” but instead how one must have a passionate, positive commitment to the very heart of the gospel to truly understand the depth of Rome’s errors. I truly believe Reed’s testimony illustrates to the fullest the need for Christians to understand the true necessity of such truths as sola scriptura, sola gratia, and sola fide. Clearly, Reed never had any commitment, or, it seems, by his own testimony, meaningful knowledge, of these truths.”

The following is my transcript of relevant excerpts from White’s Dividing Line podcast. White airs parts of Reed and responds. My interspersed comments and clarifications appear within brackets and in italics.

Reed – if Jesus said it, it’s enough.

White – Yes it is enough, no question about it.

Reed begins his summary statement – “Why did I become a Christian? Because I believe in the scriptures; I believe in the Bible.”

White – So you believe in the scriptures, you believe in the bible, that is why you became a Roman Catholic. You believe what it says in Romans 5, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So you can look back on your justification. Except that Rome teaches that you can lose your justification, and hence peace with God, and you keep getting rejustified in the sacramental process, right? So, is that what you believe? And when it talks about Peter; it says he is our fellow elder and not the head of the church, right? So you believe the Bible. And that’s why you don’t believe those parts of the bible [where it says these things]?

(“How, asks William Symington (1975 -1862) can man he justified with God? This is the most important, by far, of all the questions that can ever awaken human inquiry.” Contrast the Roman Catholic system of justification described by White above with what Symington calls the “Catholic” (the body of true believers) system.”

“The Catholic system, so called because it seems to have been held by the great body of Christians since the days of the apostle’s, is founded on the principle that God is just as well as merciful. It maintains that the pardon of sin is procured by the work of Christ, by which be gave satisfaction to the justice of God on behalf of those to be redeemed. This is what is commonly known by the doctrine of atonement, deemed, in every age of the church, of such transcendent importance as to deserve the most complete and patient discussion.” William Symington, “On the atonement and intercession of Jesus Christ” – free ebook).

Reed – And I believe the church gave us the scripture.

White – The scripture predated the church, right? [Are you talking about] the Old Testament church? But the Old Testament church didn’t have the books that you accepted as canon. I thought God gave the scriptures to the church, Christ speaking to his bride. That’s the problem with Rome; Rome cannot have a dialogue with Christ [within the Bible] because Christ’s voice has now been subsumed under an authority, which is only a monologue. That is why you cannot ever have true Reformation within Roman Catholicism.

Reed – They have the teaching authority. Jesus Christ gave the Catholic church the authority to combat error.

White – Combat error? What if then [it is] she promulgates the error, who corrects her?

Reed – And I believe that Jesus taught us to believe in the eucharist.

(Aquinas used the Aristotelian terms of “accidents” and “substance” to explain the most important of Catholic doctrines, the “real presence”, which is called transubstantiation. In transubstantiation, the substance of bread and the wine changes into the substance of the body and Spirit of Christ. Although the senses can only detect the “accidents” (taste, texture, smell, sight), the communicant – claims the dogma – is eating the actual flesh and blood of the living Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father. The Catechism of the Council of Trent expands this belief by stating: “In this sacrament are contained not only the true body of Christ, and all the constituents of a true body, such as bones and sinews, but also Christ whole and entire”. Christ whole and entire is contained not only in the body but also in the blood).

White – Jesus actually taught us to follow his disciples who taught the sacrifice once for all finished, not to be re-presented.

Reed – To eat his flesh and drink his blood. There is so much I am leaving out. The Catholic church simply has no rivals. They’ve got the greatest thinkers…the Summa Theologica [Thomas Aquinas]. the greatest music, they’ve got a great culture, beauty, devotion, worship. They (Protestants) have nothing that competes. That’s why I am here [telling why he converted – as White would say – to “Rome.”

(Besides Aquinas, there were other great “Doctors” and “Fathers” of the Church such as St Augustine and St Anselm. As my mother always used to say – in Yiddish – about a place she admired: “The greatest doctors go there (In Yiddish, “Die greste Dokteirim geit dottern”).

White – [repeating Reed] Roman Catholicism, it’s got worship, beauty, and the greatest thinkers. It’s got the Summa Theologica. Long before Thomas these words were penned:

1 Corinthians 1

“18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart. 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

“There were not many wise according to the flesh (worldly standards) sophos, yes, philosophy. Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” I just heard boasting. No rivals, big thinkers, big brains. “So no man may boast before God.” That is why verse 30 says by his doing, by him you are in Christ Jesus, who became our wisdom from God.

(Aquinas’ Summa Theologica/Theologiae covers almost the whole of Catholic theology. He stopped working on it the year before he died in 1274. Now, fellow Protestants, don’t give Protestantism a bad name by saying that Aquinas believed that all he had written was straw. He didn’t say that. This is what he said: “I cannot go on…. All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.” Actually, now that I think more about it, if it was relatively straw, the issue is relative to what? I would think something analogous to what Richard Ganz said about Isaiah’s sense of his radical corruption (“depravity”) when he encountered God’s glory – the Son of God’s glory. Here is Ganz:

The Reformers called this total depravity. I think perhaps it would be clearer to call it radical depravity. It doesn’t mean that we’re as rotten and corrupt as we could be. In fact, everyone in this world could be even more rotten and more corrupt – from the best person to the worst person. It simply means that every part of our being – our moral, our intellectual, our spiritual, our physical, our heart – everything we are, and everything we do has been touched by sin, perverted and corrupted, and thus we are ruined without the grace of God.

That is the way it is with people! They can look good on the outside, they can do good things, but when you encounter Christ, what you realize is, “I am ruined.” When the best person in the world encounters Christ, by FAITH he realizes, “I am ruined.”This is why, when Isaiah sees the sin in himself, he experiences being torn into pieces before God, and he cries out, “Woe is me” (Isaiah 6:5). You have to understand what Isaiah is saying! What he is doing is taking a curse upon himself, and he’s doing it with the most emphatic language that he can use. What he is saying literally is: “Damned me.” And he gives the reason why: “I have beheld God.” This is the holiest man in Israel, and he sees himself as cursed, separated from God, because of one encounter, one glimpse of the holiness and glory of God.” (Richard Ganz, “Why is sin so important?”).

Aquinas was the most brilliant philospher-theologian of his time, yet when he beheld the glory of God, all his sophos wisdom was not merely like straw, but was straw. (See Thomas Aquinas: Philosophy and Education in the Middle ages). 

White continues – It is obvious that Mr Reed had not been introduced to the biblical truths of the reformation. He does not understand the issues of the Gospel. He did not understand the issues historically that separated Rome form all those churches who stood against her; who today no longer stand against her, because they are no longer convinced of what they believe. They have degraded in their commitment foremost the word of God.

I’ve heard considerably more compelling arguments than what I heard in Mr Reed’s testimony. If you are one of those let me talk to you directly. When I rise in the morning I don’t fear the wrath of God. Why? Because I never thought about it, because I take it for granted? No. I do not fear the wrath of God because I know what has been done in my behalf will avail before that holy God each and very day. And I don’t have to say, ‘I have to get to Jesus today. I need to go and get in the car where Jesus is and get some more grace, get a little more propitiation because you see I approached what supposed to be the sacrifice of Christ just the day before yesterday. And the priest said hoc est corpus meam, this is my body. But according to Rome I can do that 10 times, 100 times, 1000 times, 10000 times, 25000 times in my life and still die in fear. I could die in mortal sin, not avail myself of the sacramental forgiveness and still go to hell. Same sacrifice allegedly. So I have to get in the car and go and visit Jesus again because I am not perfected by his one sacrifice. I have to go stand in front of an alter christus, another Christ [a priest]. He has to sacramentally bring Christ down from heaven and render him present, body, blood, soul and divinity upon the Roman altar, and this is how I am to somehow improve my relationship with God.

The reason, continues White, why I could never become a Roman catholic is because I am absolutely dependent upon the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, the perfect righteousness of another. I have nothing else to give. I know God is holy and if I do not have the righteousness of Jesus Christ, nothing else will avail. But you see Rome cannot give me the righteousness of Jesus Christ; it has no finished sacrifice, it has no finished work. You see the whole argument, Mr Reed and those of you who are planning of going across the Tiber river, if you’ve never read it, let me introduce it to you. The whole argument of the book of Hebrews is that the one-time finished sacrifice of Jesus Christ, perfects those for whom it is made. That is therefore is nothing to go back to. And one of the main arguments that the writer [of Hebrews] uses is that in the repetitive sacrifice of the old covenant there is a reminder of sin. You see, the high priest when he would go into the holiest place with the warm bowl of blood would see that he had been there before, that the blood was still dried upon the place of mercy, and that was a reminder that this blood of a goat, a bull is not going ever to cleanse anybody.

It was, adds White, pointing to something greater. The fact that it had to be repeated over and over again meant that it was imperfect and that is why there is only one sacrifice of Christ. It’s not re-presented so that you’re never perfected. It’s one time, singular, finished done. It is finished Jesus said. And what’s really really interesting is that when the writer to the Hebrews speaks of that repetitive sacrifice, there is a yearly anamnesis of sins, a reminder. A repetitive sacrifice, which is what you are limited to in Rome. The mass is an anamnesis of sin, because if you have to come back, you are not perfected. So all it does is remind you of the continuing presence of sin. But that word [anamnesis] is used elsewhere in the New Testament, and I’m so thankful that it is. Because that is the word that is used when Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” in anamnesis of me. Christians have a new covenant, and that covenant has a single perfecting sacrifice. And so you see I don’t have a reminder of my sins; I have a reminder of my sin bearer, and that is why I have peace with God. Now if that was not taught to you in seminary or in your churches, I’m sorry. But you can’t blame your seminary or your churches because you [don’t] possess the word of God.

I could never, says White, go to Rome because Rome has nothing to offer but a treadmill of penances, sacraments, and never being able to know have you done everything that’s necessary to attain justification. In the words of the Word of God, I have justification, not because of who I am, but because of who Jesus Christ is…if these words meant something to you, you could never go there, because anyone who has actually, truly bowed the knee to Jesus Christ and understands [their] absolute dependence upon him can never give that up, can never trade that in. I pray for Mr Reed. By his own testimony, he never understood what the issues where. I hope these words will be taken the the way they were intended. (This ends White’s impassioned plea).

In the last moments of his podcast White says that he doubts whether Reed had read writers such as William Whitaker. White probably has in mind Whitaker’s “A disputation on Holy Scripture: Against the Papists, especially Bellarmine” (1849) – free ebook).  Here are a few excerpts from Whitaker:

1. Indeed, when I compare our side with the papists, I easily perceive the great truth of Christ’s saying, that ” the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

2. “We maintain that the mysteries of the faith should be concealed from no one, and allege, in proof, those words of Christ, ” What ye hear in the ear, that proclaim ye upon the house-tops.” Bellarmine, (Lib, iv. c. 12) has recourse to a strange and hitherto, I think, unheard of interpretation ;— that is, says he, if need so require. He gives the allegation no other reply whatever; and how proper and apposite an answer this is, I am content that others should determine….In the same way, when we maintain that the mysteries of the faith should be concealed from no one, and allege, in proof, those words of Christ, ” What ye hear in the ear, that proclaim ye upon the house-tops;” Bellarmine, (Lib, iv. c. 12) has recourse to a strange and hitherto, I think, unheard of interpretation ;— that is, says he, if need so require. He gives the allegation no other reply whatever; and how proper and apposite an answer this is, I am content that others should determine.”

3. “I perceive that the utility, or rather the necessity [of this discourse] , is threefold. In the first place, we have to treat not of the opinions of philosophers, which one may either be ignorant I perceive that the utility, or rather the necessity, is three-fold. In the first place, we have to treat not of the opinions of philosophers, which one may either be ignorant of, or refute with commendation,—not of the forms of the lawyers, in which one may err without damage,—not of the institutions of physicians, of the nature and cure of diseases, wherein only our bodily health is concerned,—not of any slight or trivial matters ; —but here the matter of our dispute is certain controversies of religion, and those of the last importance, in which whosoever errs is deceived to the eternal destruction of his soul. In a word, we have to speak of the sacred scriptures, of the nature of the church, of the sacraments, of righteousness, of Christ, of the fundamentals of the faith; all which are of that nature, that if one be shaken, nothing can remain sound in the whole fabric of religion. If what these men teach be true, we are in a miserable condition; we are involved in infinite errors of the grossest kind, and cannot possibly be saved. But if, as I am fully persuaded and convinced, it is they who are in error, they cannot deny that they are justly condemned if they still persist in their errors. For if one heresy be sufficient to entail destruction, what hope can be cherished for those who defend so many heresies with such obstinate pertinacity ? Therefore either they must perish, or we. It is impossible that we can both be safe, where our assertions and belief are so contradictory. Since this is so, it behooves us all to bestow great pains and diligence in acquiring a thorough knowledge of these matters, where error is attended with such perils. Besides, there is another reason which renders the handling of these controversies at the present time not only useful, but even necessary. The papists, who are our adversaries, have long since performed this task; they have done that which we are now only beginning to do. And although they can never get the better of us in argument, they have nevertheless got before us in time.”

What made Thomas Aquinas describe his writings as straw. The same reason why Paul “counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung/refuse, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Christ’s substance is not concealed under the accidents of the senses but is found in mystical (deep spiritual) union with Him. Oh that I may be “found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:9-11).

Related post: (onedaringjew) My conversion to Roman Catholicism and why I left

Mary, mother and God: What have they done to the mother of my Lord?

One of the reasons why Mary, the mother of Jesus, has such an exalted position in the Roman Catholic Church is that she is called “Mary full of grace.” Here is an explanation of this term from Catholic Answers:

“The Fathers of the Church taught that Mary received a number of distinctive blessings in order to make her a more fitting mother for Christ and the prototypical Christian (follower of Christ). These blessings included her role as the New Eve (corresponding to Christ’s role as the New Adam), her Immaculate Conception, her spiritual motherhood of all Christians, and her Assumption into heaven. These gifts were given to her by God’s grace. She did not earn them, but she possessed them nonetheless. The key to understanding all these graces is Mary’s role as the New Eve, which the Fathers proclaimed so forcefully. Because she is the New Eve, she, like the New Adam, was born immaculate, just as the First Adam and Eve were created immaculate. Because she is the New Eve, she is mother of the New Humanity (Christians), just as the first Eve was the mother of humanity. And, because she is the New Eve, she shares the fate of the New Adam. Whereas the First Adam and Eve died and went to dust, the New Adam and Eve were lifted up physically into heaven.” (See Mary highly favoured, mother of the son of God)

In Luke’s Gospel, the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and says:

Luke 1:28 The angel went to her (Mary) and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Jerome translated the Greek charitoō (highly favoured) as “full of grace.” This Vulgate mistranslation of the Greek is one of the buttresses of the Roman Catholic doctrines about Mary; doctrines such as she was conceived without sin (the Immaculate Conception) and was taken up bodily (assumed) into Heaven (the Assumption).

In The Little Office of the Virgin Mary, “Mary occupies a place in the Church which is highest after Christ and yet very close to us, for you chose her to give the world that very Life which renews all things, Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord. And so we praise you, Mary, virgin and mother. After the Savior himself, you alone are all holy, free from the stain of sin, gifted by God from the first instant of your conception with a unique holiness.” (Italics added).

Contrast  “After the Savior himself, you alone are all holy, free from the stain of sin, gifted by God from the first instant of your conception with a unique holiness” with the “Seraphic doctor” of the Roman Catholic Church,  Saint Bonaventure’s “Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary” in which he substitutes Mary for him who is her creator and Lord. (See biography of Bonaventure).

 Psalm 1:1

Bonaventure’s psalter – Blessed is the man, O Virgin Mary, who loves thy name; thy grace will comfort his soul.

Bible – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,

Psalm 3:1a

Bonaventure (Mary replaces the Lord)  – O Lady, why are they multiplied who afflict me?

Bible – O Lord, how many are my foes!

Psalm 4:1a

Bonaventure (Mary usurps God’s throne) – When I called upon thee, thou didst hear me, O Lady: and from thy throne on high thou hast deigned to be mindful of me.

Bible – Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!   You have given me relief when I was in distress.

Psalm 25:1

Bonaventure (Mary as merciful  Judge) – Judge me, O Lady, for I have departed from my innocence: but because I have hoped in thee I shall not become weak. Enkindle my heart with the fire of thy love: and with the girdle of chastity bind my reins. For thy mercy and thy clemency are before my eyes: and I was delighted in the voice of thy praise.

Bible – In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

Psalm 30

Bonaventure – In thee, O Lady, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: receive me in thy grace. Thou art my strength and my refuge: my consolation and my protection. To thee, O Lady, have I cried, when my heart was in anguish: and thou hast heard me from the heights of the eternal hills. Thou shalt draw me out of the snares which they hid for me: for thou art my helper. Into thy hands, O Lady, I commend my spirit: my whole life and my last day.

Bible – 1. I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;  you spared me from going down to the pit. 4.  Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;     praise his holy name.

Bonaventure was canonised (made a saint) on 14 April 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V. Who is the more guilty for Bonaventure’s misventure into idolatry, exalting the mother of the Messiah above her creator, Bonaventure or the (office of the) pope?  “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God… And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time (2 Thessalonians 2:4, 6).

Related source

Greg Price. Astonishing Unbelief and Idolatry (From Nazareth to the Roman Catholic Antichrist) – mp3

Mary Co-redemptrix in the face of God’s terrible majesty

“Nothing is more natural, nothing more desirable than to seek a refuge in the protection and in the loyalty of her to whom we may confess our designs and our actions, our innocence and our repentance, our torments and our joys, our prayers and our desires – all our affairs.”

Pope Leo XIII “Octobri Menses” – Encyclical on the Rosary (22 September, 1891)

I would think it more desirable to confess and repent to Jesus, the Lord of Lord and King of Kings.

“With her suffering and dying Son, Mary endured suffering and almost death. She gave up her mother’s rights over her Son to procure the salvation of mankind, and, to appease the divine justice, she, as much as she could, immolated her Son, so that one can truly affirm that together with Christ she has redeemed the human race.”

Pope Benedict XV, Inter Sodalicia, March 22 1918.

Roman Catholics – who believe in revelation outside scripture – have no problem reconciling Mary as coreedemer (with the Christ) with:

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”

Alas, for me, the arrogation to Mary as coreedemer is a flagrant denial of God’s “terrible majesty” נֹורָא הֹוד Norah Hod (Job 37:22).

Atheism without works is dead, says Pope Francis: Who cares?

The Saint Francis prayer is well known:

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there’s doubt, true faith in
Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console ….

Francis is famous for his loving kindness. It lies at the heart of Judaism, going back to Adam himself. The Jewish view is that as long as Adam was alive, God wanted to have an interaction with him. He knew that Adam had the capacity to sin, God knew it was going to happen. That was part of Adam’s struggle. That’s what God wanted. So after Adam made a mistake, God demanded him to love kindness. To love kindness, that’s a state of being that we have constantly to grow into. Adam could certainly have loved kindness more than He did. (Sin in Adam and his descendants).

According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the road to salvation is festooned with acts of loving kindness. It may be, said the Rebbe, your one tiny act of kindness that may bring Messiah (Moshiach). Here is a short interview between a reporter and the Lubatvicher Rebbe Schneerson (1992; two years before his death):

Reporter:”Rebbe can you tell us the message for the whole world about the Moshiach.

Rebbe: “Moshiach is ready to come now, we all must only do something additional in the realm of goodness and kindness. At least a little more and Moshiach will come immediately.” (See video here).

There is a second Francis, Francis the First, the new pope, who has much in common with Judaism, if not with the real Saint Francis: it’s all about loving kindness, says Pope Francis; salvation is all about loving kindness – good works. Justification (reconciliation with God) says Pope Francis, is no longer about faith AND good works, but solely about works – opera solum (if my Latin is any good). You can be an atheist, says Pope Francis, on condition that you’re good and kind. Well that is what I read on the internet, so it must be true. ”

“LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – The Holy Father is full of surprises, born of true and faithful humility. On Wednesday he declared that all people, not just Catholics, are redeemed through Jesus, even atheists. However, he did emphasize there was a catch. Those people must still do good. In fact, it is in doing good that they are led to the One who is the Source of all that is good. In essence he simply restated the hope of the Church that all come to know God, through His Son Jesus Christ.”

The Vatican, it seems is alarmed, at best; no wonder, for Pope Francis is indeed, if not in deed, trashing Trent. Here is Trent:

Session 6, Chapter 8

“[I)t is most truly said that faith without works is dead and of no profit, and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity [love].”

Here is how Pope Francis would rework Trent for the good atheist:

“It is most truly said that an atheist without works is dead and will remain dead….unless he worketh by love.”

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like menstrual rags. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.”

(Isaiah 64:6–7)

Pilate asked Jesus: “What is truth.” According to modern Catholicism, since Vatican II, who cares? THE question for the Pope and swathes of Roman Catholics is: “Did you feed me, did you clothe me, did you bind up my wounds.” In other words, “Who cares?”

The night of the senses and the sense of God in Augustine of Hippo

As far as the senses and the sense of God are concerned, I think Augustine of Hippo had it just right; Augustine’s “Confessions,” Book 10:

“But what is it that I love in loving thee? Not physical beauty, nor the splendor of time, nor the radiance of the light–so pleasant to our eyes–nor the sweet melodies of the various kinds of songs, nor the fragrant smell of flowers and ointments and spices; not manna and honey, not the limbs embraced in physical love–it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet it is true that I love a certain kind of light and sound and fragrance and food and embrace in loving my God, who is the light and sound and fragrance and food and embracement of my inner man– where that light shines into my soul which no place can contain, where time does not snatch away the lovely sound, where no breeze disperses the sweet fragrance, where no eating diminishes the food there provided, and where there is an embrace that no satiety comes to sunder. This is what I love when I love my God.”

Why the Jesuit, Pope Francis I will still be around a month from now; unlike smiling Pope John Paul I

I was very cross when I started reading one of the books on my Puritan Hard Drive – I popped a few hundred dollars across the Atlantic and voila, my second PHD – “The American Text-book of popery” (George Bourne, 1848), because the second page of the prefatory “Address to Protestants” was missing. Here is the first page – on the Jesuits:

“The ominous controversy which the Papal priesthood have recently excited in New York and Philadelphia, combined with their mischievous exactions concerning the entire exclusion of the Holy Bible, and Christianity, with all ancient and modern history, from our Common Schools, imperiously demand an authentic exposure of the nature and extent of that universal supremacy and jurisdiction which the Roman Pontiff and his vassals of the Papal hierarchy usurp, as their jure divino inseparable prerogative. Moreover, they are a self-evident testimony, visible among ourselves that the cardinal motive alleged by Pope Clement XIV for the suppression of the Jesuits was righteous and replete with philanthropy. In his ” Bulla,” he denounced that entire confederacy of monks and nuns, as a pestiferous band of conspirators, in bad reputation. ” Universum” enacted that Pontiff, ”pene orbem pervaserunt molestissima contentiones de Societatis doctrina” — “The most direful contentions are diffused throughout nearly the whole world by the doctrines of that society.” Wherefore, by his alleged infallible authority, he abolished the order; solemnly affirming in his pontifical anathema, that the society of the Jesuits could not any longer be tolerated, as…”

it, they, a, or what? Yep reading sure is a guessing game. What to do? came to the rescue. Here is the second page: 

“their existence is totally destructive of the peace and welfare of mankind.They poisoned him (the Pope) during the celebration of mass, as the reward for his noble act!”

So you see why Pope Francis I, the first Jesuit Pope, will certainly see out the next month or two, at least; more than  smiling young Pope John Paul I (1912-1978).

John Paul I

John Paul I

Peter; forgive sins? Perish the thought

(This is a follow-on from The Roman Catholic Church’s dogma of binding and loosing sin)

The Roman Catholic dogma of “Confession,” as with all its dogmas, is based on the mother of all dogmas, the infallibility of Peter, whom they claim to be their first pope, and its sister dogma, the “Apostolic succession.” The Roman Catholic Church authorises its priests to forgive/absolve sins. In this regard, John 20:23 is one of the RCC’s texts: “If YOU forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if YOU withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

The Roman Catholic interpretation is that these were all or some of the 11 APOSTLES. Let us back up to verse John 20:19:

[19] On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the DISCIPLES were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” [20] When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. [21] Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

The RCC position is based on the view that these disciples were the Apostles only. But why should this be so? Because this power resides in the Apostolic succession through Peter. So, to have disciples who are not Apostles in the room (in John 20:19-23 above) would not be good for the RCC.

I turn to Luke 24, the episode when two disciples meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus and to what happened when they returned to Jerusalem to tell other disciples what they had seen and heard:

33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven AND THOSE WHO WERE WITH THEM GATHERED TOGETHER, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread…44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

So, in the room with Jesus were the 11 Apostles as well as OTHER disciples. The upshot: the idea that “disciples” in John 20:19-23 meant more than just Apostles is extremely cogent.

To return to John 20:23, the passage can only mean this: “Now, says S Lewis Johnson, notice the force of the perfect passive. So, what does this mean then?

“Whosoever sins ye forgive, they shall have been forgiven to them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they shall have been retained.” Well, when it’s all put together, the statement is simply this; the church has not been given the authority to forgive sins. She has been given the authority to proclaim forgiveness to the believing and judgment to the unbelieving. And as long as the church is faithful to the word of God, her pronouncements do simply reveal what has already been determined in heaven. In other words, God has set forth the conditions by which forgiveness, and by which no forgiveness may take place. And therefore, the decisions that count are made in heaven, not upon the earth.” (S L Johnson, Basic doctrine, “The forgiveness of sins”).

The Apostle Peter, leader of the twelve, was without doubt Primus inter pares, first among equals. Peter, however, never ever said anything at all like “Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti” (I absolve/forgive you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” What does Peter say to Simon the sorcerer? “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 20:8).

Peter; forgive sins? Perish the thought, but hopefully not those who entertain the thought.