Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Priestess? Puleeeeze!

What is it about Church teaching and authority that women such as Jane Via do not understand? This is not an issue of female oppression...

New York Times - A Place at the Altar

"For an analogy in the secular sphere you might imagine that I could get a friend to swear me in as governor of New York," said Cardinal Avery Dulles, a professor at Fordham University in New York City. "Would that make me governor?"

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Very Busy Weekend

Saturday's move went smoothly and we are now living amidst an endless mess of boxes to be unpacked. It's quite an overwhelming task and, once again, this move proved just how big of a pack rat I am. The move took just about six hours and several trips to my new third floor apartment. But before any of that, I had to sign the papers.

When I arrived to sign the papers, I was informed that they were giving me another unit. This news was quite upsetting considering I had verified I'd be moving into that unit before I spent hours on the phone last week, working to have all my utilities switched over at just the right time. I was not too happy about this but what choice did I have? SO, because I refuse to sign papers before I actually SEE the unit, they hand me a key and send me on my way to take a look. I locate the building and climb the stairs to the third floor and when I arrive, I find there is furniture on the balcony... Free furniture? So, I give a little knock because I'm a bit nervous at this point... no response. Put the key in the door, give it a little turn and open it to find a coat hanging on the wall and more furniture! Close the door! Lock the door! Run down the stairs!

I returned to the office and told the girl, "Well, that unit is occupied! What is wrong with the unit I was supposed to move into?" She said, "Well, I don't know but I can't find they key anyway." (I had seen the key sitting on the desk when I came into the office.) I said, "I saw the key sitting right here when first came in." She located the key and freed me to check out the apartment. Everything in the apartment was fine except for some carpet damage that would have to be taken care of but which could be handled after I moved in. SO, I signed the papers for the original apartment and proceeded to move in.

Sunday, the day of the baptism, Clay woke up vomiting... I got all three kids ready anyway and after a lot of rushing around through my maze of boxes and newspaper, Damion, the kids, and I made our way to the church (barf-bags in hand). Clay decided he wasn't up for being baptized the way he was feeling and I definitely couldn't blame him, so I talked to Father Bob about rescheduling when he returned from Lourdes. No problem. Clay missed the whole baptism while he took a snooze in the pew!

But, despite the rough start, I was very pleased because my parents showed up! I'm not sure what got them there but I didn't care. It was wonderful that they came to share this day with the kids and that's all that mattered. My brother-in-law, a former Catholic, also attended. This is just as big as my parents showing up! In addition, Damion's dad came too! We also had a few from my work, some from my RCIA class and some other old friends. I'm truly blessed to know so many wonderful people and to have them share the special event with us. Thank you, also, to all those who were there in prayer!

Christian and Trinity are now baptized! Despite the oil in their hair, I couldn't bring myself to have them shower last night. I love the smell of the chrism oil and wanted it to linger on them today in remembrance.

After the baptism, I decided it was best to get Clay back home and in bed so we weren't able to celebrate properly. Perhaps, after Clay's baptism, we'll celebrate all three!

Until then, I'll be wading through boxes and newspaper...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tiny Miracles

What a roller coaster ride our family is on! Sunday, my aunt was taking a turn for the worst... But by the following day, her kidneys showed no signs of failure and her heartbeat had returned to normal. The doctors decided to have her on the respirator only part time because when she's overly exhausted, she has a more difficult time breathing on her own. She's gone up to six hours without it. When she is on it, the respirator gives her only 4 breaths per minute and the rest is all her doing.

On Wednesday, a physical therapist went in to assess her. After being helped to a position in which she was sitting on the side of the bed, my aunt was able to sit on her own without falling over. At one point, she started to fall back a little and the physical therapist told her to move her shoulders forward and my aunt did so and brought herself back into an upright position. She did everything the therapist asked her to do, moving her left leg, right leg, touching her chin, etc.

My aunt's friends have quite the sense of humor. At one point, my aunt was asked a question and they said, "If the answer to this question is 'yes', flip me off!" And so, my aunt flipped her off. She definitely hasn't lost her sense of humor!

My uncle was trying to get my aunt to open her eyes the other day and she brought her hand up to her brow as if trying to push her eyelids open.

SO, my uncle requested a second opinion from the head of neurology at the hospital. The doctor initially came in with this attitude and said, "Look, we've already told you what to expect... Haven't the doctors already explained everything to you already?" My uncle explained that my aunt was doing things that the doctors said she would NEVER do. The doctor's response was, "Yes, well, family members often SEE things that aren't really happening because they want to believe their loved one is going to get better." My uncle said, "Yes, but it's NOT just family. It's friends, nurses, and even the physical therapist!"

So, the doctor decided to actually take a look at MY AUNT, instead of a picture of her brain. My uncle said the doctor was very surprised to see that my aunt's personality and ability to understand remained in tact... her ability to communicate with nods and squeezes was also surprising to him, not to mention the amount of movement upon request she is able to carry out. Then he put a light in her eyes and expressed that he was seeing what he did not expect to see. He then ordered another MRI. My uncle wants her transferred to a rehab facility but the insurance, at this point, has turned it down because her diagnosis is "brain dead". People with no brain function don't need therapy. Hopefully, the new MRI and the evidence that she is not completely brain dead, will allow the doctors to change the diagnosis so that she can get the rehab she needs to improve even more.

My uncle told me yesterday that each success, while it brings him joy, also makes him realize how much more difficult it would be to lose her after all this... or to decide to "let her go". That phrase was a bit scary to me... I hope he never takes away any normal means of caring for her and I hope he never consideres euthanasia.

A HUGE thank you to all of you who have prayed and who continue to pray! Your prayers are being heard!


On a completely different note, I sent a Catholic Answers tract on infant baptism to my parents and urged them to attend my kids' baptism. I pray their hearts are open... and I pray they will set aside their opinions for the sake of the kids.

We're all getting excited about the baptism but have a HUGE day of moving ahead of us tomorrow. Hopefully, that will go as smoothly as possible...

Eventually, I'd like to get back to some normal blogging!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not so good...

My aunt was taken off her respirator on Friday and has been breathing on her own. This is another big step in recovery...

However, I received word yesterday that her system is shutting down. Her kidneys are failing and every fourth heartbeat is irregular. The doctors did another scan and believe that if she "recovered", she may only have the mentality of a 2-year-old.

This is very sad news for us... At the same time, one must wonder if it isn't more merciful if her body does, in fact, fail and allow her to move on. My hope is to have a few moments alone with her if this is the case.

May God's will be done and may He bring peace to the family regardless of the outcome.

Friday, June 15, 2007

She Opened Her Eyes!

Wednesday, I was able to bless my aunt with Holy Water from Lourdes... I want to thank those who provided this water for me, directly and indirectly. It meant a lot to me to be able to do this. It was difficult to find an appropriate moment to do so with all the people that are in and out of the room. I hope to go over today. May God grant me another such moment.

Yesterday, they gave my aunt a tracheotomy. The tubes down her throat were causing a lot of gag reflex and making her very uncomfortable and the tape used to keep the tubes in her mouth was causing severe chapping (or an allergic reaction). I'm sure she's relieved to have those tubes out of her mouth. She was able to smile yesterday and she opened her eyes half way for 3-4 minutes. This is a tremendous step... one which the doctors told us not to expect.

Praise be to God!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My Aunt / Baptism of the Kids

My aunt is improving little by little every day. The last two days, she's been working hard to open her eyes. She is able to open them about 1/8 of an inch. She is easily worn out with us all talking with her, asking her questions, etc. She responds with nods and shakes of the head, hand squeezing and frowns. Sometimes it seems she is trying to smile. Sometimes, she cries.

It's difficult to see her lying there in such a state... knowing she can hear and understand but has such a limited ability to communicate... trapped in a broken body.

Please continue saying prayers for our family. We are really feeling them and they have given a lot of peace and strength we may not otherwise have.

On another note, the baptism of my children has finally been scheduled. It is set for June 24, 2007 at 1:00 pm. I'd like to have a BBQ or something afterwards but I'm not sure I can swing the cost... I have to figure something out soon, however, because it's just 11 days away! The kids and I are really excited about it... Please pray that my parents will be open to come. They will truly be missing out if they choose not to attend.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Debate: Sola Scriptura - Part 2

My new responses are in blue. Russell's words are in black and he quotes me in red.

I want to thank you for responding to my comments. Although I will disagree with you on some things, I look forward to friendly dialogue with you. Again, I appreciate the chance to clarify some misunderstandings that Catholics have with Sola Scriptura, Bible interpretation, etc.

You had said:

"But, it doesn't make sense to have an infallible book without an infallible authority to interpret it."

OK, let's follow through on that logic. So what happens when you receive an infallible interpretation by the Catholic Church? You, being fallible, still have to interpret that infallible data. You see, at SOME point, the fallible has to be able to interpret that which is infallible. Otherwise, it is an infinite regress: "A" is infallible, and therefore needs to be interpreted by infallible "B". But since "B" is also infallible, we (again) need to use an infallible source to interpret "B", so we must press into service infallible "C", etc., etc.

Not necessarily. The main point I was making here is that, if we allow each individual to interpret Scripture on our own, what we have is a mess of people interpreting everything very differently. We all go around interpreting Scripture on our own authority, claiming our interpretation is better than the next guy's. Did God truly leave us with no authority to interpret Scripture? Are we all just supposed to figure it out ourselves? Is truth relative, based on our interpretation and our experience?

Take for example our own Constitution and law. What would happen if each individual were free to interpret the Constitution as he saw fit? What would happen if there were no hierarchy in place, with checks and balances, to ensure that the Constitution was properly interpreted so that we all maintained our proper rights and freedoms? We both know that without the established government, our society would be a chaotic mess.

Scripture tells us that we need an authority to help us understand what is meant in Scripture. Take, for example, the Ethiopian eunuch.

Acts 8:26-31 (NIV)
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Notice here that the eunuch was an educated man. He was an important official in charge of the treasury of a queen. Despite his education, he could not understand what he was reading without someone to explain it to him.

Then, look at 2 Peter 3:15-16:

Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Scripture tells us that Paul's letters contain things hard to understand. I don't think it's prudent to think that we, as individuals, are not ignorant of Scripture in at least some way. And I also think that ignorance of Scripture is quite apparent due to the many, many different interpretations which everyone claims to be the "correct" one. How do we know what interpretation is correct and which is a distortion?

You said:

"If the Bible is infallible, but there's no infallible authority, how do we know which interpretation is accurate?"

Amber, one does not have to be infallible to be accurate.

Catholics often present this false dichotomy: Either, 1) an interpretation is infallible, or 2) it must be wrong. The middle ground seems to be ignored.

I've never heard a Catholic present this... but there is some truth to this. I don't think you're seeing this the right way. When we read Scripture there is only one truth. You can't apply different or opposing truths to one passage. So, either something is interpreted correctly or it is wrong. But, in some way you're right... not everything has to be interpreted "infallibly" to be correct... and the Catholic Church makes no such claim. But, if fallible interpretations were correct, we wouldn't have churches all teaching something different. Truth is not relative.

It is certainly possible for a person to read a particular Bible passage and get it right without the help of the Catholic Church (or any denomination). I'm not saying that all Scripture is equally clear to everyone, but the main things are clear enough for us to understand, and to use as a foundation upon which the "harder" things can be understood. And we have examples in the Bible where the COMMON people were able (and expected) to understand Scripture (Acts 17:11-12; Luke 16:27-29; Mark 13:14). Remember Jesus' words, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:9)

I don't entirely disagree with this... Catholics are encouraged to read the Bible and to apply new understandings to Scripture based on our walk with God. But, what about passages that are difficult to understand, such as what the Ethiopian eunuch encountered and what Paul writes (as quoted above)? What about aspects of Scripture that deal with doctrine? Where doctrine is concerned, there is only one truth. Christians are not to be divided over doctrine and are to be in unity with one another. We do not find this in Christianity today. Doctrines differ from one church to the next, so how are we to KNOW which church has it right and which does not?

We can know if an interpretation is correct by first looking at the immediate context, then the overall context (i.e., how it fits in with all of Scripture), and by using good old common sense. These, along with a prayerful and humble attitude, and an honest and good heart (Luke 8:15) will go a long way in correct interpretation of Scripture.

If it were really this simple, why do Protestants even go to seminary to study Scripture? I agree this might be a good rule for trying to understand Scripture. But if you do this while ignoring other factors surrounding what is written, like history, culture, and early understandings of these passages, it is not always clear what is to be believed and practiced. While some Scripture may be simple to understand, some simply is not in and of itself. As an example, I've encountered MANY Protestants who accept Romans 3:28 and ignore (or grossly twist) James 2:24. They don't try to understand them TOGETHER in their overall context because it doesn't fit in with their doctrine of sola fide. Catholic theology allows for both passages to be taken into account for an overall understanding, while Protestant theology does not. If this is how the Bible is supposed to be understood, then why don't more Protestants put this into practice?

You said:

"Also, there is nothing that does NOT suggest infallibility but we do know that we were promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into ALL truth."

Yes, we were promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth. But that does not imply infallibility. This simply means that God will give us all the truth we need to live for Him. That says nothing of church leaders possessing some special immunity from error in official (ex-cathedra) statements. No person (or group) has ALL the truth in an absolute sense.

Is the Holy Spirit not infallible? If it is true that no person or group has ALL the truth, then what is the point of being a Christian at all? Are you saying that God gave us a faith in which we cannot know ALL the truth? Pardon me, but this is simply nonsense. (More about the authority of church/leadership below)

Matthew 16:18-19 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Would Jesus establish a Church with the keys to the kingdom of heaven and the authority to bind and loose without some measure of infallibility? If the gates of hell are not going to prevail against it, it seems to me that some sort of protection or immunity from teaching error would be in place to ensure that false doctrines did not sneak into the Church. This is a pretty strong case for something infallible outside of Scripture...

I had said in my last e-mail that the church is to hold up, support, preach and proclaim the truth, and that truth is Scripture. And you responded:

"Can you tell me where in the Bible this passage says that this truth is Scripture? How do you know that this "truth" is Scripture?"

Amber, what is it that we are supposed to preach? Jesus said to the Father, "Thy Word is truth." (John 17:17) What else is there which is available to us today that is inspired / God-breathed, but Scripture (II Timothy 3:16-17)?

Interesting... so the passage SHOULD have said, " should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of Scripture." I see no indication at all that this passage should be interpreted this way and I believe it's a stretch to do so. By what authority are you able to say that this is the correct interpretation of this Scripture... that truth = Scripture? I'm much more apt to accept that truth=God's Word... but I don't believe God's word is limited to the Bible alone.

By your definition, the word "Scripture" should replace the word truth.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (He is the way and the Scriptures and the life?)

John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (The Scriptures will set us free?)

John 18:37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (He came to testify to the Scriptures?)

These passages do not make sense interpreted this way. Wouldn't you agree?

But, let's just say for a moment that Scripture IS the meaning applied to 1 Timothy 3:15. It does not negate the fact that the church is the upholder and defense of "scripture". The church! And it again brings me to say, which church? If they all teach something different and they all claim to have the correct interpretation, how do I know what is true and what is not? If I want to know whether or not we should baptize babies, an issue that Scripture does not address explicitly, how do I find out when no one can agree? Where can I look in order to find an answer?

You also said:

"And let's not forget that the entire canon was not decided at the time this was written. So, by your definition, we can only assume that the OT is that truth."

The fact that the canon was not yet fully developed does not negate the fact the the New Testament is certainly also part of God's inspired revelation for the church.

Indeed... but it has to be understood in light of the passage we're talking about that it was only the OT they would be referring to, since the NT did not exist as it does today. They may not have even anticipated any Scripture in the future at that time. The point being, applying the word Scripture in place of "truth" does not make for a logical interpretation.

You said:

I also think it's important to remember that there was no Bible until the late 4th century and that, without Tradition, you wouldn't have a Bible. How would you know that Mark wrote Mark, if not for Tradition? How would you know which books should be considered inspired and which should not, if not for Tradition?

For Catholics, Tradition is essential for understanding Scripture and vice versa. We believe that the entire Word of God is the sole rule of faith. This includes, but is not limited to Scripture alone.

John 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

What the Catholic Church calls "Tradition" covers a very wide range of teachings, practices, historical events, interpretations, and doctrinal developments throughout history. Because of this, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what this Tradition is. It is a very loose and vague term that can mean almost anything. To apply infallibility to such an entity is dangerous (I'm assuming that you believe that "Tradition" is an INFALLIBLE part of the Catholic rule of faith - correct me if I am wrong).

This is not and accurate understanding of Tradition. Tradition is the teachings of the apostles which were passed on through their preaching. These teachings overlap and do not contradict Scripture. It is the part of the Word of God, which was not written but which early Christians used to practice their faith (before the Bible came to be). Most of this, however, is found in written form today. There is nothing vague about it when its meaning and purpose are properly understood. It's important to remember that the Bible is a book of the Church and not that we are a church of the Bible. The Gospel was not only handed down in writing, but orally as well. We see evidence of this even in Scripture:

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (The devoted themselves to the Scriptures?)

1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. (Hold firmly to the Scriptures?)

2 Thess 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. (Hmmm.... by word of mouth or by letter... both appear to be of importance)

2 Thess 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. (According to the Scriptures?)

2 Tim 2:2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (The things written in Scripture?)

1 Cor 15:1-2 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (Hold fast to the Scriptures?)

These traditions passed on by the apostles are what are know as Tradition and these apostolic teachings are considered infallible, since they were also inspired by the Holy Spirit and protected in order to lead Christians into all truth. It seems quite logical to me to examine Scripture in light of what the earliest Christians believed, practiced and taught since they were receiving these things from the apostles and those who learned from the apostles... I believe that even Scripture makes it clear that we are to stand firm and hold to something outside of Scripture itself.

John 14:16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;

We were promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever, to guide the Church into all truth. Am I to believe that the Catholic Church got it wrong for 1500 years only to be corrected by Martin Luther? Then the Holy Spirit didn't do his job and Christ didn't protect his church as promised in Matthew 16:18!

Concerning the canon and how we know which books are inspired, yes, there were some in the early church who correctly recognized (not determined) the inspiration of certain books. And we are thankful for that. But that does not mean that they were infallible.

This causes me to wonder... by what authority were they able to recognize this? How do we know they didn't leave something out? How were they able to come to a decision that allowed them to discern this, especially being fallible? Were they guided by the Holy Spirit or was it by their own authority? Is the Holy Spirit infallible? I very much believe that they were guided by the infallible Holy Spirit, who enabled them to make an infallible recognition of what was inspired and what was not. They were not infallible, in and of themselves... apart from the Holy Spirit... the Holy Spirit led them to an infallible decision. This is what Catholics believe... not that the individual or group, of themselves, is infallible... but that the Holy Spirit guides them to teach infallibly to the Church on matters of faith and morals. There is a huge amount of checks and balances and everything is tested against Scripture and Tradition (what early Christians taught, practiced and believed). It's not as if they can just throw out anything into the wind and claim it to be infallible.

Concerning the verse in John, above, and the fact that we don't have every single thing that Jesus did, written down; that does not disprove Sola Scriptura. This is another common mis-representation that Catholics very often use. Sola Scriptura does not mean that Scripture is an encyclopedia of every religious detail, or of every thing that Jesus or the Father ever spoke. Once again, Sola Scriptura simply means that Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith for the church today.

Doesn't it? Matthew 4:4 says, "But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" If all of God's word is not written down in Scripture, but we are to live on EVERY WORD, then how do we know what EVERY WORD is?

Where does the Bible itself make the claim to be the sole infallible rule of faith for the church today? (Please give Book, Chapter and Verse.) If it is, and God wants us to follow this "rule", then don't you think he would have ensured that the Bible told us this? And why, then, are we told that the early church devoted themselves to the apostles teachings rather than to the Scriptures?

You said:

Can you imagine learning to be a doctor from a book alone without someone showing you what is meant by the book? Without someone in a place of authority, who can define the words and show you what all the tools are or how to use those tools?

I agree that there is teaching authority in the church. But the church derives its authority from those very Scriptures. That's what every church leader should be studying in order for him to grow, and to equip others, as well, so they too, can all go out and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I must disagree here. The Bible came from the church. If you took the Bible and tried to put together a church based solely on what was written, you wouldn't be able to do it. Much of the NT is a collection of letters of correction for the newly forming church. Can you build a church in the full likeness that God would have desired based on letters of correction? Apply this concept elsewhere. Could we build a smooth, fully functioning company if we compiled all the memos of corrective action and a few memos of praise? No way! The Bible did not form the church. The church formed the Bible.

The church derives it's authority from God, not from Scripture... but Scripture makes the Church's authority clear to us.

Matt 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Jesus takes his authority and sends the apostles to make disciples, baptize and teach, saying he would be with them always, to the end of the age... Does this say, "I am with you until all the apostles die?" No, so the apostle's authority (from Christ) clearly had to have been passed on to the end of the age...

John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also 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, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

Again, we see that Jesus sends them, just as He was sent and even gave them the authority to forgive and retain sins!

Luke 10:16 The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me."

Matthew 18:17-18 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Here, Christ tells us to listen to the church and gives the church the authority to bind and loose... None of these passages tell us that authority comes from Scripture. The authority comes from God himself and is given to the apostles to be passed on, just as it was given to Christ.

In summary, the idea that all Christians should look only to the Bible as the infallible rule of faith, allows for the acceptance of contradictory doctrines and breaks up the unity of the body of Christ. Each church or individual claims to know the truth based on their own, non-authoritative, fallible interpretation of Scripture. Does God want this? Did he really leave us all to figure it out on our own and to disagree on doctrines? Should we ignore what the early Christians believed, practiced and taught and believe that they all got it wrong only be to corrected 1500 years later by looking at the Bible ALONE? The bible is inerrant... the inspired Word of God... but left without anything outside of itself to aid in interpretation leads to division and chaos...

OK, Amber, I'll step aside now and let you respond. Thanks again for the interaction on these vital topics.

I'm sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner but a tragedy in the family has not allowed me a lot of free time. May I recommend a book? It's called By What Authority? by Mark Shea. It's a wonderful examination of this topic. We all want to believe only the truth that God wants us to believe. No Christian I've ever met wants a faith based on partial truth. I don't believe God left us to figure it all out on our own. I believe there is ONE truth and that God wants us to know that truth in all its fullness. Doctrinal truth is no more relative than the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Doctrine DOES matter. So we must ask ourselves. What is true? Where can I find it? The Bible says it's found in the church... this church must be the one started by the apostles. It must be thinking in one mind and thought about all doctrines and from 2000 years ago to present:

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Phil 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel

May we seek God in ALL truth, even if it means He takes us where we least expect. Always say YES to Jesus... Hold to ALL of Christ's teachings and we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free!

I appreciate this discussion with you and thank you for your thoughts...

Peace be with you!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's a Miracle!

Things are looking up with my aunt. Yesterday, when my sister and I were visiting with her, the nurse came in to get the excess water out of her mouth. When the nurse put that sucker up to her, my aunt tried to swat it away and lifted her head off the pillow. She was moving quite a bit more than the day before... head, arms, legs, feet and even fingers!

Then, last night my cousin was holding her hand. She told her mom she was going to leave for a few and that she'd be back and my aunt squeezed and wouldn't let go! A bit later, my cousin was holding her hand and she said, "Mom, squeeze my hand." And my aunt squeezed her hand! Then my cousin said, "Move your feet." My aunt moved her feet!

So, she CAN hear and understand us and she can move. These are all VERY good signs. Even the nurse was optimistic and excited by these huge improvements.

Please continue in your prayers. The Lord is listening. I promised Him, if my aunt ever came out of this, that I would tell her all about him. Please pray that her heart will be ready to hear about Jesus.

Also, last night's good news gave me the opportunity to talk to my cousin about the power of prayer. I was able to give the glory to God for the recovery we've seen in my aunt. My cousin didn't say much in response, but it's a seed... one she will be able to think over for a while.

Praise God!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Update on my aunt

Fr. Serpa said a Mass for my aunt and our family yesterday. I cannot begin to express my thanks to all those who are praying for us...

On the first day, my aunt was making few movements beyond the twitching of her eyelids. On the second day, we could see her legs and arms move a bit but it appeared to be just nerves and muscle tensing. Yesterday, her movements were even larger and more broad and seemed to react to stimulation around her.

My cousin put a bunch of her favorite songs on an MP3 player and put it on her ears. My sister and cousin were whispering in the room, to allow her some rest when they noticed my aunt raised her eyebrows a couple of times. A song she really likes had just begun.

Another time they noticed her leg had slid off the side of the bed. They put it back up and a few minutes later, it was hanging off the side again.

Then, they went to wipe a bit of drool from her mouth and she moved her head away!

The doctors are still saying it's just nerve and muscle reaction but we're all being a bit more optimistic because those behaviors seem to have purpose! It's very possible she may never improve beyond that, but it's also possible that a miracle may happen! It's amazing how much more movement we're seeing from her in just three days. We have no idea whether or not she can hear us but it sure seems as if she can and so we continue to talk to her and remain hopeful.

Today, the kids and I will be recorded, adding to those family and friends who already have been. My cousin will then put our recordings on an MP3 player so my aunt can hear all our voices even when we're not there. This whole ordeal has been strengthening for our family and a wonderful opportunity to show Christ's love to the members who do not have faith.

It's made me realize just how little time we have to reach out with the truth of Christ to those around us. I often think, "when the time is right" or "maybe tomorrow"... but there may not be a tomorrow and they may never hear the truth if we don't say something. They may reject it, but at least they had the chance to hear it! We have to be bolder: speak more, act more, love more. For tomorrow, they may be gone.

I know my aunt has "heard it all before" but I believe, if she comes out of this, she may decide to accept a whole new way of looking at it. I pray that the will of God will be done here... and that He will hold her in his hands regardless of the outcome.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Life Update

My aunt is not doing well. According to the doctors, she has lost all brain function except that which helps her to breath. She is currently on a respirator but they believe she MAY be able to breathe on her own. If she came out of this, she would have a very long and very difficult road ahead of her. Right now, we're just waiting to see if anything changes in the next couple of days.

It's very difficult to see her lying there so helpless with all those tubes and needles everywhere. We don't know if she can hear us but we're all talking to her anyway... It's a very difficult time for our family but specifically for my uncle and cousins.

Your continued prayers are appreciated.

On a lighter note, my son, Christian, has a party at school today celebrating his completion of Kindergarten. I'm looking forward to being there and having something to take my mind off things for a while. I'm so proud of him. He's done so well this year and is so smart.

I have been delayed in responding to Russell because of my family issues but I'm working on it and will be posting it after I send it to him. I'm also quite busy adjusting to the upcoming changes that occur when summer hits... changes in finances, childcare arrangements, etc. In the midst of everything I'm trying to change parishes, schedule my kids' baptism, sign them up for CRE, and find out about getting involved in CRE... all while trying to pack and plan my move on June 23 and get a variance so my kids don't have to change schools.

Wish I could blog more but I have too many thoughts and not enough time!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Please Say a Prayer

Please say a prayer for my family. My aunt (dad's brother's wife) was taken to ICU early this morning. She suffered a stroke on both sides of her brain and has been completely unresponsive all day. Her lungs and heart have not been affected but if she comes out of this, she will have a long recovery ahead of her. The next 72 hours are critical and the doctors are unable to tell us much more until that time period is over and the swelling around her brain comes down.

They are not a family of faith so I humbly ask that people pray on their behalf, for healing, peace, comfort and conversion of heart toward God in the process of this tragedy.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Debate: Sola Scriptura

I am having a friendly discussion via email with a man named Russell regarding Sola Scriptura. His initial email is posted below in black and my response to him is in red. I have since received a response, which will be my next post, followed by my response to him, which I am currently working on.

I recently read your post on Dr. Francis Beckwith's blog (concerning his reversion to Catholicism). You had said, "And if the Bible is the sole rule of faith for Christians, why does He tell us that the CHURCH is the pillar and foundation of the truth (I Tim. 3:15)?"

First of all, it is a misrepresentation of Sola Scriptura to say that the Bible is the SOLE rule of faith. Sola Scriptura means that the Bible is the sole INFALLIBLE rule of faith for the church today.

We both agree that the Bible is inerrant. We both agree that the Bible is a rule of faith. But, it doesn't make sense to have an infallible book without an infallible authority to interpret it. The Bible is not an easily understood, easy to interpret book. If it were, we wouldn't have all the division we have in Christianity today. Catholics believe that the Bible, in order to be properly understood, must have an infallible authority to interpret Scripture accurately. To say that the Bible is the sole infallible rule of faith is self-refuting.

Also, I Tim. 3:15 does not negate the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The context of this passage is the OBLIGATION and RESPONSIBILITY of church leaders. There is absolutely nothing in the context to suggest infallibility. Paul does not tell Timothy, "Hey Timothy, just kick back and relax, and don't worry about what you teach, since we leaders are promised infallibility." No, there would be no need for solemn admonitions to church leaders if freedom from error was guaranteed to them.

If the Bible is infallible, but there's no infallible authority, how do we know which interpretation is accurate? Also, there is nothing that does NOT suggest infallibility but we do know that we were promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into ALL truth. We're told that the Church upholds that truth. It's possible that you may not be understanding what the Catholic Church means by infallibility. The Catholic Church doesn't claim that EVERYTHING that is said is infallible. Church leaders are not guaranteed a freedom from error in all matters at all times...

Also, verse 15 calls the church the "household of God". If infallibility is implied in this verse, then it would prove too much. A "household" is more than just LEADERS. In this context, if the "household" (which is the CHURCH) is infallible, then EVERYONE in that household is infallible. And I don't think you would want to say that.

I don't want to say that indeed... but I believe you're reading into this passage something that isn't there. The Church must collectively make infallible declarations... as a whole. It is not saying that each individual is infallible.

And another thing. A "pillar" is a support which holds something ELSE up. This pillar (the church) is not the truth, but it has the RESPONSIBILITY to hold up, support, preach, and proclaim the truth. And that truth is Scripture.

Can you tell me where in the Bible this passage says that this truth is Scripture? How do you know that this "truth" is Scripture? And let's not forget that the entire canon was not decided at the time this was written. So, by your definition, we can only assume that the OT is that truth.

I also think it's important to remember that there was no Bible until the late 4th century and that, without Tradition, you wouldn't have a Bible. How would you know that Mark wrote Mark, if not for Tradition? How would you know which books should be considered inspired and which should not, if not for Tradition?

For Catholics, Tradition is essential for understanding Scripture and vice versa. We believe that the entire Word of God is the sole rule of faith. This includes, but is not limited to Scripture alone.

John 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Can you imagine learning to be a doctor from a book alone without someone showing you what is meant by the book? Without someone in a place of authority, who can define the words and show you what all the tools are or how to use those tools?

We are not a church of the book. The book is FOR the church.... and if there is no one able to interpret it, all that's left is division.

Amber, I would love to have some dialogue with you on this if you have the time. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I'm looking forward to your response.

No problem. I enjoy some positive dialogue about these things. Believe me when I say that I used to think just like you... The problem I saw was a severe lack of unity within Christianity... each church interpreting the same Scripture in completely different ways when there is only ONE truth. Christ calls us to NOT be divided over doctrines and to think in like mind in unity. I just about left Christianity altogether. But I decided to start reading early church writings to find out how Christians practiced and what they believed before we all got to be so divided. Doesn't it make sense to pay attention to what Christianity was in the early church? After all, Christ promised to protect his church (Mt 16:18) and that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth... Today, truth is too relative. We need to seek the ONE truth that Christ calls us to.