Friday, October 26, 2007

Stephen K. Ray on 'Faith Alone'

In his book, Crossing the Tiber, best selling Catholic author Stephen K. Ray addresses all the false dichotomies, that should have no place in our thinking, regarding being saved (e.g. Are we saved by faith or by baptism? Are we saved by believing or by the Spirit?). I’ve provided the text below to share some of Ray’s thoughts on the concept ‘faith alone.’

“Evangelicalism finds its roots in the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) had developed two ‘sola’ doctrines that advanced new ideas. One of Luther’s new ideas was sola fide, which meant that salvation was attained by ‘faith alone’. In other words, Christ completed the work of atonement, and the Judge of the universe makes a legal declaration that those who simply believe and ‘accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior’ will be eternally justified. All sins, past, present, and future, are automatically removed, and one has eternal security, no matter how he lives his life subsequent to the act of ‘believing.’

Martin Luther, in translating the Book of Romans into the German language, inserted the word “alone’ to explain the word ‘faith’ (e.g. Rom 3:28; 5:1) where the Greek original did not call for it. The pivotal text was Romans 3:28. The inclusion of the word ‘alone’ radically altered the meaning of the text and Paul’s thought. Calvin said the whole of the Reformation would stand or fall on that verse and the newly devised interpretation. Interestingly, the only time the phrase “faith alone” is used in the New Testament is in James 2:24: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

So how does one receive salvation, justification, new birth, and eternal life? Stephen Ray has listed the following, . .
By believing in Christ (Jn 3:16; Acts 16:31)?
By repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Pet 3:9)?
By baptism (Jn 3:5; 1 Pet 3:21; Titus 3:5)?
By the work of the Spirit (Jn 3:5; 2 Cor 3:6)?
By declaring with our mouths (Lk 12:8; Rom 10:9)?
By coming to a knowledge of the truth ( I tim 2:4; Heb 10:26)?
By works (Rom 2:6,7; James 2:24)?
By grace (Acts 15:11; Eph 2:8)?
By his blood (Rom 5:9; Heb 9:22)?
By his righteousness (Rom 4;17; 2 pet I:I)?
By his Cross (Eph 2:16; Col 2:14)?

Can we cut any one of these out of the list and proclaimit alone as the means of salvation? Can we be saved without faith? Without God’s grace? Without repentance? Without baptism? Without the Spirit? These are all involved and necessary; not one of them can be dismissed as a means of obtaining eternal life. Neither can one be emphasized to the exclusion of another. They are all involved in salvation and entry into the Church. The Catholic Church does not divide these various elements of salvation up, overemphasizing some while ignoring others; rather, she holds them all in their fullness.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hahn and Pitre Speaking in San Diego

Dr. Scott Hahn and Dr. Brant Pitre are coming to San Diego! Two of my favorite Catholic Theologians will be speaking in San Diego on November 16, 2007. Melissa and I are looking forward to this one! Please visit Michael Barber's Blog for more information.

On the previous post I've provided a preview of Dr. Pitre's talk on 'The Origin of the Bible" (Part 2)

Take a look. .

The Origin of the Bible Preview, part 2, by Dr. Brant Pitre


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dr. Scott Hahn: 'Binding and Loosing'

Catholics are often asked tough questions about our Catholic faith and its relationship to the Bible. In his book, “Lord Have Mercy,” Dr. Scott Hahn “reveals the living, scriptural heart of the Church’s teachings on penance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.” I’ve provided the text below to present an understanding of the ancient Jewish priestly terms of ‘binding and loosing,’ and to show how Jesus, by transferring authority to the apostles, brings this old office into its fulfillment.

“. . It is a mark of the believer, then, to put faith in Christ’s power to forgive sins. Moreover, we must recognize He has chosen to exercise that power in a particular way. On the day He rose from the dead, Jesus appeared to His disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” Then He did something curious. He shared with them – the first priests of the New Covenant – His own life and His own power. “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’” (Jn 20:22-23)

“He was establishing them as priests, to administer a sacrament, but also as judges, to pronounce judgment upon the actions of believers. He thus gave them a power exceeding what had formerly belonged to the priests of Israel. The rabbis referred to this ancient priestly power in terms of “binding and loosing,” and Jesus used those very words to describe what He was giving to His disciples. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 18:18) For the rabbis, to bind or loose meant to judge someone to be in communion with the chosen people, or cut off form that group’s life and worship. According to the rabbis, the priests had the power to reconcile and to excommunicate. . . Before the apostles could exercise this power over souls, they would need to hear sins confessed aloud (or denounced publicly). Otherwise, they could not know what to ‘bind or loose.’”

[1] John 20: 22-23

[2] Matthew 18:18

[3] Dr. Scott Hahn. 'Lord Have Mercy' Published by Doubleday. Pg. 29-30

Friday, October 5, 2007

Our First 12 Weeks of Life

A big thanks to Marie and Joanne Richardson for presenting this to all of us. For it is true of every human life!

WEEK 1: Conception; I was smaller than a grain of sugar, but the instructions are present for all that i was to become.
WEEK 2: I attached and burrowed securely into the wall of my mother's womb.
WEEK 3: My blood vessels and sex cells formed. The foundations of my brain, spinal chord and nervous system were laid.
WEEK 4: My heart began to beat, and my eyes, ears and lungs began to form.
WEEK 5: My tiny arms and legs appeared, as well as my face. my blood became separate from my mom's.
WEEK 6: My tiny fingers and toes developed and my brain was divided into three parts for emotion and language, hearing, and seeing.
WEEK 7: Buds of my milk teeth appeared and 99% of my muscles were present. And my brain activity was detectable.
WEEK 8: I began to move spontaneously, and my body was by then well proportioned and about the size of a thumb. All of my organs were present, but immature. My skull, elbows, and knees were forming.
WEEK 9 : If prodded, my eyelids would close, you were able to tell that i was a girl and my muscular movement began.
WEEK 10: My fingerprints began to form and my nerve and muscle connections tripled. My eyelids were temporarily fused together to protect my delicate developing eyes.
WEEK 11: I began to "practice" breathing and facial expressions, even smiling.
WEEK 12: I was about three inches in length and weighed 2 oz. and had fine hair on my face. i was able to swallow and i could feel and respond to skin stimulation.

Stephen K. Ray Responds to the Belief by the 'Bible Alone'

Catholic Author Stephen Ray responds in a letter to a man strictly defining his belief by the Bible alone. .

“In a recent letter to a man who said it was just “me and the Bible”, I wrote the following challenge: “You say you have not time to read other books, only the Bible. You say when you read the Bible it is just you and the Holy Spirit. Very cozy, but are you correct? No. Little do you realize – maybe because you don’t read and study widely – that even in your intimate moments with the Bible and the Holy Spirit, you are utterly dependent on the Church. Deny it though you may, it stands irrefutable. Between you and the Bible is the Church! If you were given the original inspired writings from the pen of the apostles, the original autographs of the New Testament, you wouldn’t have a clue as to what they said. Your first problem would be the fact that the hundreds of writings before you are in an ancient foreign language. Can you read minuscule Greek and Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic? You forget that the Bible did not just drop into bookstores prepackaged in English and leather. Even if you did know Hebrew or Greek, it wouldn’t have been the Holy Spirit who taught you, but a man, a Catholic scholar, no doubt.
“Of the hundreds of documents before you, would you have known which were inspired and which were not? Would you be adequate for the task of discernment? No, again you are dependant upon the Church and her bishops. Next, how did that nice Bible get into your hands so you can enthrone it in your heart? It got there through the agency of the Church! More precisely, from Catholic monks. Who translated it meticulously by hand in candlelight? Who copied it into the many languages of the world? The Catholic Church preserved and protected the Bible, with a scribe’s loyalty and dedication, so that it would make it through the darkness brought on by the barbarian hordes from the north. How many of these Fathers and their flocks gave their lives to preserve the Bible so you can read it today? And what if you were in another country? Would you be able to read, since the vast majority of people have always been illiterate? Before the printing press, would you have been able to afford the three years’ wages to buy your own personal copy? And if you couldn’t have your own copy, or were illiterate, how would you have known the Scriptures? From the Church, right? Right. The Church would have read it to you during Mass.
“Do you read the Bible with an unbiased purity of mind, or are you influenced by certain doctrinal presuppositions, and where did they come from? So, there you sit reading your Bible and thinking it is only you and the Holy Spirit, but there is much more involved, brother, and it would behoove you to remove your head from the sand and acknowledge the Catholic Church that gave you the book. You sit with translators and traditions on your right and on your left. The less you know of history, the original languages, the culture of the biblical times, the traditions of the Jews, the teaching of the Fathers, the formulations of the creeds and councils, etc. ., the more vulnerable you are to misunderstanding, deception, oversimplification, unnecessary complication, and heresy.”

[1] Stephen K. Ray. Crossing the Tiber. Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church. Publisher: Ignatius. Pgs. 62-63