"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Quick Refutation of an Internet Lie (perpetuated by members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo about Joe Ventilacion vs Dr. J. White debate).

A Quick Refutation of an Internet Lie

I was sent the attached graphic earlier today as I was going to preach on Philippians 2:5-11 at a local Southern Baptist Church here in Rapid City before returning home tomorrow to Phoenix. Here is the English translation that was provided to me:

"The proof that INC won the debate:

After the heated debate between Dr. James White and Joe Ventilacion of INC, Dr James White has made up his mind to study more on teachings and faith of the Iglesia ni Cristo. This is due to the fact that he has by himself witnessed that all the teachings of INC is plainly stated in the Bible.

No wonder that even if the debate was already over, James White, out of his curiosity, continues to ask questions to Joe Ventilacion, because it was his first time to hear these teachings from INC. Most importantly, Dr. White has concluded that there is no Trinity in the Bible and that there is only one God, the Father, which has to be known and worshipped by men."

The picture was taken by an INC member we had chatted with while waiting for Mr. Ventilacion to arrive for the 5pm Q&A session (which was very lightly attended). As I had other things to get to I went straight to JV and asked my question. If we need to, I can provide a full transcript and recording of the conversation. Here is what we discussed:

When I do debates, I attempt to accurately represent the other side by studying their primary source documents. Hence, when I debate Mormons, I have a very large LDS library from which to quote. Same with Jehovah's Witnesses. When I debate Islam, I quote from their primary source documents as well. And when someone wants to represent me fairly, they surely can do so, as my books are available for anyone to read, and the confessions of faith used by my church are public and readily available.

During our debate, JV said I was misrepresenting INC. But he also invited me to do a second debate (we discussed doing this in San Diego next year during this conversation). So I raised one main issue to him. There is a book I would like to obtain. It is titled _Fundamental Beliefs of the Iglesia Ni Christo_ by Eranio G. Manalo. It is their primary ministerial text. And it is secret. They do not allow public distribution of it. And so I was asking for a copy, as that would be the only way to accurately represent INC's positions in a debate. I was told it was only for ministers, and that I would be provided with articles from magazines, but not with the official publication that defines their beliefs. I pointed out that this secretive stance is not only problematic for people who claim to be Christians, but it makes it next to impossible to fairly debate INC. But I was not given the book.

JV and I exchanged numbers and email addresses so we can have contact regarding the possibility of a debate in San Diego (where he is moving). I wrote to JV earlier today to ask him to comment on this falsehood being spread through the Internet, but I have not received a response from him.

Now, the fact is, whoever posted this lie is engaging in CLASSIC cultic behavior. Such a person shows not the slightest concern for truth and is willing to fabricate falsehoods for the service of a false religious system. This is the very essence of the cultic mind.

Once again, everything in the article is an utter fabrication, a lie, *and we possess full documentation of every word spoken in the exchange by which we can prove this.* Only a person who feels a very strong need to do damage control would produce such a dishonest post. And that says a great deal.

By the way, anyone with any information on how we might obtain a copy of the above mentioned book, please contact Alpha and Omega Ministries with that information. We are surely willing to pay for any copy of this work. Thank you!


St. Paul Was a Catholic Priest

By Dr. James Taylor, Convert

Many protestants make the mistake of claiming St. Paul as the first protestant, instead of Martin Luther? Why? Well Paul was not one of the original 12 apostles, and seemed to go around the country planting churches. Some claim that each of these churches was autonomous, with no central authority like Peter, and that is certainly the model of many modern protestant churches. But that is not the correct assumption to make about St. Paul, who is VERY Catholic in his writing. Let's take a look at some his writings to see.

First, St. Paul did get his commission directly from Jesus Christ, on the way to Damascus. St. Paul didn't just stand up on his own one day and decide to become a preacher. Like Peter and the other 11 apostles, Paul was sent forth by Jesus Christ Himself. St. Paul even says in Romans 10:15 that no one can preach unless he is SENT. Sent by whom? Well, either by Jesus Himself, or one with the authority of Jesus Himself, which would be Peter. We know this from John 20:21, where Jesus says to Peter and the other apostles (the Church on earth), "As the Father has sent Me, so I send you." Jesus also gave Peter the Keys to His Kingdom, in a sign of authority, in Matthew 16:19, where Jesus says that whatever Peter and His Church bind on earth, or loose on earth, will be bound and loosed in heaven. In recognition of this, after Paul had spent 3 years in Arabia following his conversion, he went and submitted himself to the chair of Peter, in Galatians 1:18.

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But being sent by Christ to preach to the Gentiles and being submissive to Peter were not the only Catholic things that Paul did. Paul was very keen on oral tradition, something that Catholics today say is just as important as sacred scripture. In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul says to "hold fast to the traditions we taught you, either written or by WORD OF MOUTH. Most protestants today disagree with Paul, saying that all tradition in the Catholic Church is somehow evil.

Paul was also very outspoken on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-21, St. Paul says that the cup of blessing is a participation in the blood of Christ (not "symbolic"), and the breaking of the bread is a participation in the body of Christ (not "symbolic"). He then goes on to compare the Eucharistic sacrifice of Christ with the Jewish sacrifice on the altar, as well as with the pagan sacrifices on the altar. Now either Paul doesn't know how to write properly and is using false comparisons with other altar sacrifices, OR the Eucharist is indeed a true sacrifice on an altar. Why else would Paul compare the Eucharist to other altar sacrifices? Most protestants don't even have an altar in their church (but they do have altar calls!). As if to emphasize his belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, Paul continues talking about it in the very next chapter, 1 Corinthians 11:23-30, where he says that whoever eats and drinks the Eucharist in an unworthy manner is guilty of profaning THE BODY AND THE BLOOD OF JESUS (if it's just a symbol, then this would be impossible.) This is why Catholics who practice artificial contraception or who commit other mortal sins such as looking at porn HAVE TO GO TO CONFESSION FIRST before receiving the Eucharist. Otherwise, they are guilty of yet another mortal sin. Paul goes on to say that anyone who does not discern the Body of Christ in the Eucharist (therefore, NOT A SYMBOL) eats and drinks judgment on himself, and you could get sick and die. This is why non-Catholics are not invited to the Catholic Eucharist, because they do not believe it to be Jesus Himself. Just like in marriage, where the husband and wife become one flesh, in the Eucharist, Jesus becomes one flesh with us. And just like in marriage, there is a preparation before. In marriage, there is the Pre-Cana preparation; with the Eucharist, there is the RCIA preparation.

So what about the sacrament of confession? Did Paul ever say anything about this? Well, yes he did, in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Paul says that the ministry of reconciliation (forgiveness of our sins) was given to him by Christ. On behalf of Christ, Paul urges us all to be reconciled with God. Many protestants believe that they can confess their sins directly to God, and not go through a minister, but this philosophy is only to be found in the Old Testament, not the New Testament. For instance, we have St. John the Baptist hearing the people's sins prior to baptism in Mark 1:5, and in John 20:21-23, Jesus gives his priests the power to forgive sins. In James 5:16, he says to confess your sins to one another. And in Acts 19:18, many people came forward confessing their sins and evil practices. Confessing one's sins to a minister of reconciliation is very New Testament. Confessing your sins to God directly is the Old Testament way, and is no longer in force.

Paul also believed in personal mortification, like Catholics do during Lent. In Colossians 1:24, Paul says that he rejoices in his personal sufferings, and completes WHAT IS LACKING IN THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, for the sake of the Church. Now this doesn't mean that Paul thinks that Jesus should have hung on the cross for 4 hours instead of 3 hours. What it means is that we, the Church Militant, in the true imitation of Christ, have to suffer with him, albeit not near as much. Why, because it helps build up the church. It is only through suffering that many people meet Christ. After all, when we are well off and well fed and healthy and living the good life, most people put their confidence in the things of this world, not Christ. By suffering, we come to know Christ as He came to know us - in bodily suffering. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 9:27 that he mortifies his flesh, so that after preaching to us, he himself will not be disqualified. This not only reinforces the self-mortification aspect of Paul's teaching, it also refutes the heretical "once saved, always saved' teaching of protestants.

And speaking of the false "once saved, always saved" theory, Paul directly refutes it in Hebrews 10: 26-29, when he says that if you deliberately sin after being sanctified by grace, then you can expect nothing less than an ordeal of fire, because you have profaned the blood of the covenant (the Holy Eucharist) by which you were sanctified, and outraged the Holy Spirit. That certainly doesn't sound like once saved, always saved, and in fact, backs up St. Peter in 2 Peter 2:20-22.

St. Paul also believes in praying for the dead. He prayed for the dead Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy 1:16-18, asking not only blessings for his household, but for Onesiphorus to receive mercy at the final judgment.

Purgatory? St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:12 -15, that a man's work will be tested with fire on his judgment day. If the man has good works, then he will receive an immediate reward. if it is burned up, then he will eventually be saved, but only through fire. Since people who go to hell are never saved, then this can only be referring to the cleansing fire of purgatory.

St. Paul also didn't preach that the bible alone is his philosophy. Rather, in 1 Timothy 3:15, St. Paul says that the Church is the pillar and bulwark of truth, rather than sacred scripture, which many protestants hold up to be the pillar and bulwark of truth. Catholics agree completely with St. Paul here.

And St. Paul was not only celibate, he recommended celibacy. Many protestants mistakenly believe that celibacy leads to child abuse, which is crazy, because Jesus, St. John the Baptist, and St. Paul were all celibate. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:8-22, that marriage is ok, but IT IS BETTER TO REMAIN UNMARRIED, because then you are trying to please the Lord, not your wife.

St. Paul didn't believe that good works were useless, filthy rags either, like some protestants preach. Rather, he believed that they were the fruit of our faith, like he says in Colossians 1:10 - "We should live a life pleasing to God, bearing fruit in every good work." Paul does condemn the useless works of the law like circumcision, in Romans 3:28. Luther mistranslated this "works of the law" into "good works," which does not agree with other scriptures like James 2:24, where God says that we are justified by works, and not by faith alone. It's sad how so many people today still believe Luther and not James. As if to emphasize his belief that salvation is not a one time decision, but a continuous journey until death, Paul says in Phillipians 2:12 to "WORK (there is that word again) out your salvation with FEAR AND TREMBLING." (This is not the cocky self assuredness that most protestants preach today!).

And finally, what about the Rapture? The rapture is a mistaken protestant belief that Jesus will come in secret, and snatch believers up to heaven, leaving everything else behind, including their clothes. Then there will be a 7 year tribulation, where the rest of us will get a second chance to be saved. This is NOWHERE to be found in scripture. St. Paul mentions the second coming of Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17. But Paul says that the dead will rise first, and that there will be a huge trumpet blast. So this event doesn't appear to be some secret snatching away of believers. Seeing the dead rise first with a huge trumpet blast is nowhere to be found in any of the "Left Behind" series of novels. And since the dead will rise first, we know that this will be the last day of human history. This is confirmed by St. John in John 6:40.

So don't let anyone try to hold St. Paul us as some kind of Protestant. St. Peter says in 2 Peter 3:16 that many of his writings are hard to understand, and many do so to their own destruction. This was true in the first century, in the 16th century when Luther and Calvin got it wrong, and it is still true today with all of the TV preachers preaching health and wealth as the Christian message..


Sunday, April 16, 2017

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE! THE LORD HAS RISEN! ALLELUIAH! ALLELUIAH!


Friday, April 14, 2017

Anong Iglesia ang gumagawa nitong ginagawa ng mga unang mga kristiyano na nagkakatipon araw-araw sa Templo at nagpipira-piraso ng tinapay?

Anong Iglesia ang gumagawa nitong ginagawa ng mga unang mga kristiyano na nagkakatipon araw-araw sa Templo at nagpipira-piraso ng tinapay?

"Araw-araw, sila'y nagkakatipon sa Templo at nagpipira-piraso ng tinapay sa kanilang mga tahanan, na masaya at may malinis na kalooban."(Acts 2:46, Magandang Balita Biblia)

Araw araw ha? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday ay may ginagawang pagsamba at nagpipiraso-piraso ng tinapay.

Sabi ni Jose Ventilacion ng Iglesia ni Cristo sila daw ito, PAANO NANGYARI YAN? 4 times a week lang ang INC ni Manalo sumamba at ang kanilang santa cena ay ginagawa lamang once a year. Malinaw ang sinasabi sa talata na ARAW-ARAW, Nagkakatipon sa Templo (Walang Absent) at Araw-Araw rin sila nagpipira-piraso ng tinapay, ang araw-araw ay hindi once a year. (Mula sa Questions & Answer - Christian Apologetics)


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Not All Images are Idols. Let’s explore Solomon’s Temple, The Tabernacle, Herod’s Temple and the Synagogue in Our Own Time -By Bro Duane

Shared from BRO. DUANE'S BLOG - THE JOURNEY OF A CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST


It is a big sin for Christians to judge their fellowmen. Reading the Bible does not allow us to judge others especially if we have not studied entirely what is written in the Bible.

I decided to review the original text in Hebrew and Greek to fully understand the Word of God since many English versions were not translated correctly from the original text.

In my 16 years of defending Christianity, I often see people who introduce themselves as Christians judging fellow Christians particularly our Catholic friends.

The reason is they have images in their chapels and homes.

Many Christians use Deuteronomy 5:7 to conclude that all images are idols.

Personally, I am not in favor of treating images as god since this is idolatry. Yet, we will find out that not all images can be called idols if we study the Bible well.

Here is one of the oldest manuscripts of Deuteronomy and if we study closely verse 7.


The Hebrew word “Elohim Acherim” refers to other gods.

Normal word order in Hebrew is for adjective to follow verb, like often in Greek, the opposite of English. Thus, “other gods” is the proper English way to translate Elohim Acherim.

The Hebrew word “Pesel” is in Verse 8 and refers to idols.


These are the verses used by our brothers about “IDOLS” so we can read the Hebrew Word Pesel.


In Deuteronomy 5: 9, there is the Hebrew word, tishtachave and here is the meaning of the related word in Hebrew word which is tishtachave.

He will bow down to worship – yishtachave
I will bow down to worship – ‘eshtachave
You will bow down to worship – tishtachavoo
They will bow down to worship – yishtachavoo
Bow Down to Worship (command, singular) – hishtachavi
Bow Down to Worship (command, plural) – hishtachavoo

She (3f sing.) will bow down to worship ” tishtachave” is the same form as You (2m sing.) will bow down to worship tishtachave Also, the context is the ten commandments: you/thou shall not.

We will discover not all images are idols.

Let us find out what can be seen inside Solomon’s temple.

King Solomon built the temple in the Bible in 960 BC. To understand its purpose, we must know that God made the world and created the rules. It was destroyed by Babylonians in 586 BC.

The temple was located on the eastern hill. It is north of the City of David where we can find the Dome of the Rock today. The temple mount was significantly smaller. Solomon made it bigger. Herod also added to the present size of the platform. It is known as Haram esh-Sharif. This is “the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite”. (2 Samuel 24:18), “Mouth Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3:1), and possibly the “Zion of the Psalms. The term belonged to the city of David.

The Temple was envisioned as the tabernacle rectangular, with a porch or vestibule facing east, a nave an inner sanctuary or Holy of Holies.

Here is the image of Solomon’s temple. We can see the images clearly.


The holiest place housed the Ark of the Covenant and two winged figures (cherubim). These were made from olive wood coated with gold stretching from wall to wall. Similar doors separated the nave from the covered entrance. Only priests were allowed to enter the Holy Place every day.

The Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies) was God’s throne room which is the meeting place. This was between the two cherubim on the mercy seat above the Ark of the Covenant. The high priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat on the day of atonement for the sins of the people.

We can also see the illustration in the Bible clearly.

“for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord.All this, in writing at the Lord’s direction, he made clear to me—the plan of all the works.”(1 Chronicles 28:18-19, NRSV)

We can read The Ark of the Covenant in Exodus 25:18-20.

“You shall make two cherubim of gold; you shall make them of hammered work, at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other; of one piece with the mercy seat you shall make the cherubim at its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings. They shall face one to another; the faces of the cherubim shall be turned toward the mercy seat.”(Exodus 25:18-20, NRSV)

The Ark of the Covenant was the place where God talked to Moses Exodus 25:22. It was made from acacia wood and covered with gold.


The tabernacle (the “tent of meeting”) housed the Ark. The ark was the first furniture built after God ordered Moses to build the tabernacle Exodus 25:10-22.

The ark was to be the main focus of the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle as well as the temple Exodus 40:1-21.

The Ark was placed in the most holy place and separated by a thick veil Exodus 26:31-33.

According to scholars, when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem (586 BC) and plundered the temple, the ark could have been taken by Nebuchadnezzar and destroyed, or hidden by Levites.

Here is the Tabernacle

The tabernacle was a transferable “tent of meeting” that God commanded Moses to build Exodus 25:1-2, 25:8-9. God wanted to live with the Israelites. He had fellowship with them and communicated with them.

“There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat,from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.”(Exodus 25:22, NRSV)


The tabernacle was the place that God dwelt with his people for 4000 years. This was from the exodus until the time of King Solomon when the temple was constructed.

The tabernacle was at the heart of the Israelite camp. The 12 tribes of Israel encamped around it. The figures in the boxes refer to the number of males (20 years and above) in each tribe numbers 1-3.

Here is Herod’s Temple

Scholars pointed at the illustration of Herod’s temple.
 

Here is the illustration of Herod’s temple and other details when Jesus was still on Earth.


It is different from Solomon’s Temple.

It started in 20 BC. Herod’s new structure was 15 stories high and followed floor dimensions of the former temples in the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.

According to the Book written by Bruce Metzger, The Oxford Guide to People and Places of the Bible in page 308.

Within this holy place, there were increasingly sacred areas; the court of the women at the east, the court of the priest, then the temple (naos). This area was separated from the women’s court, being 15 steps higher, and could be entered through the nicanor gate. Only the priests could enter the temple, and only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, and that only on the day of atonement.

The whole structure was destroyed by the Romans in Ad 70.

Are there images in Herod’s temple like what we see in Solomon’s Temple?

According to the Babylonian Talmud.

“There were no cherubim in the temple of Herod, but the walls were painted with figures of them (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 54a).”

For our information, the Talmud is the anthology of the historic rabbis “discussing” or “debating” what the Torah means. The Talmud’s two elements are Mishnah (Hebrew: משנה, c. 200 CE), which is a written account of Rabbinic Judaism’s Oral Torah (Talmud means “instruction” in Hebrew)

Are There Images in the Synagogue?

Synagogue comes from the Greek term that means “house of assembly.” In Hebrew, the word used is “beit k’nesset.” It means house of assembly. English-speaking people do not translate it or use the Hebrew. They use an anglicized Greek word, synagogue.

According to a respected and famous Jewish scholar, Professor Lawrence Schiffman (leading scholar of ancient Judaism):

“Some synagogues have two lions above the ark and one of the interpretations of this imagery is that it represents the cherubim. There are certainly no sculpted images in synagogues.”

We can see inside the synagogue two images of lions in the upper part.


Professor Schiffman also said:

This is similar and look at the section above the ark curtain, where two lions face each other with a crown symbolizing the Torah beteen them.

Jews are more intelligent than us when it comes to the Old Testament because they know very well Hebrew.

If Deuteronomy 5:8 and Exodus 20:4 really forbid keeping images, even the Jews failed to obey this since they put images of lions inside their synagogue. Yet, they know the meaning of the Hebrew words: Elohim Acherim, Pesel and Tishtachave which we can read in Deuteronomy 5:7-9 and Exodus 20:3-5.

As a Christian, is my analysis correct that not all images are idols?

In our studies, it is very clear that some non-catholic pastors and their followers who were not able to study the Scriptures very well say all images are idols.

If we study closely, 2 noted scholars proved that not all images are idols.

1. Gleason Archer

Who is Gleason Archer?

Gleason Leonard Archer Jr. (May 22, 1916 – April 27, 2004) was a biblical scholar, theologian, educator and author. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleason_Archer_Jr.)

He is not a Catholic.

Gleason Archer wrote this in his book.


The explanation of Archer is like that of Catholics who say not all images are idols since God ordered the creation of images.


2. Norman Geisler

Who is Norman Geisler?

Norman L. Geisler is an evangelical scholar, Christian apologist, and the author/coauthor of over fifty Christian books defending the Christian faith by means of logic, evidence, and philosophy. He has also authored many scholarly articles on a wide range of theological and philosophical topics. (https://www.theopedia.com/norman-geisler)

Norman Geisler is not a Catholic.


This is what Norman Geisler said in his book.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A prayer for the new martyrs of the Palm Sunday massacre in Egypt

Source: Aleteia

O New Martyrs, slain at worship as we enter into our holiest days, you now number among the ancient holy ones. Before the throne of the Almighty, we beg you to keep us particularly in your prayers. Once again we are focused on the mysterious geography where humanity first came into being, and then into contact with the Reality of the One God — the lands where all will someday finally be revealed.

Today, we ponder why it is that our attention is continually turned to this region in gasping sorrow, all due to a malevolent force as old as Eden. We know that Christ Jesus is the Victor over death, and the Victor over evil, but we acknowledge that the victories come only by way of His Cross. O New Martyrs, you and the people of your region share in that Cross and we, in spirit, share it with you. In the presence of the Perfect Wisdom — the Holy, Mighty One who imparts all that is True, teach us to pray the words that will bring peace, if peace is possible, or to pray the words of pure worship, contrition and trust, if it is not.

Pray that we may learn how to become the peace we seek.

Pray that we may put aside all that is irrelevant to the moment and, looking forever to the East, prepare our spirits for the engagements into which we may be called, whether we live amid these places of ancient roads and portals, or in the most modern of dwellings.

Mary, the God-bearer, pray for us,
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us,
Saint John the Forerunner, pray for us,
Saint Charbel Makhlouf, pray for us,
Saints Mariam Baouardy and Marie-Alphonsine of Palestine, pray for us,
Blessed Charles de Foucauld, pray for us,

All Holy Men and Women, pray for us.
Amen, Amen.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Allen Hunt: A Methodist Mega-Church Pastor Turned Catholic

Published by Win One for God at March 7, 2017

Allen is a former Methodist mega-church pastor and currently hosts a daily talk radio show (the Allen Hunt Show) which is heard on 150 mainstream stations around the country each week with a half million listeners. Allen is also a husband and father of two daughters.

I never saw it coming.

For fifteen years, my ministry as a Methodist pastor blossomed from one ministry to another, culminating in my dream job. I became the senior pastor of a mega-church, the most well-attended Methodist congregation in the South, and one of the largest in the country. Somewhere between four and five thousand people worshiped there each Sunday. Eight thousand gathered there for Christmas and Easter services. The church sponsored one of just two K-12 Methodist schools in the nation, had a full pregnancy resource center, a counseling center, a child care ministry, and maintained partnerships with vital missions on every continent around the globe.

How did my transition occur? Not in a single moment of great revelation, but slowly, through a series of experiences. More like a mosaic of God-encounters. Or better yet, like a journey on a boat that begins in the Atlantic Ocean, without a real plan or destination. One day you wake up, look around and realize that you’re somewhere in the Pacific. You’re not sure when you crossed from one ocean to the other, but you know you’re there, and there’s no going back.

Often, I was leading that wonderful mega-church, and deep inside I began to feel a longing to be a part of what I was convinced was God’s One Church. Over time that longing grew until I could deny it no more.

My journey culminated on Sunday, January 6, 2008, the feast of the Epiphany. On that day, I, the former pastor of a mega-church just twenty miles away, stood before the congregation at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta’s oldest Catholic church.

I was no longer the very public and well-respected Methodist minister. I would not welcome the congregation, deliver the homily, or stand outside and greet members as they left, but instead would be just like any other lay person there.

But then, finally, the moment came.

I walked to the front, and the priest gently placed the Body of Christ in the palm of my hand for the very first time.

And I began to weep.

Tears slowly streamed down my face as the years of journey climaxed in the enveloping presence of the Holy Spirit.

God’s Instrument

God used my friendship with a priest whom I met in graduate school to introduce me to the treasures of the Catholic Church. Through Father Steven, a Dominican friar, I came to see the six hidden treasures of the Catholic Church, treasures so powerful that they changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. I call them hidden treasures because they are so often over-looked or misunderstood or taken for granted.

At times, God uses friendships in remarkable ways. We listen to real friends. To strangers, we often turn a deaf ear or a cold shoulder. But to real friends, we will listen, even when listening stretches us in new ways. I do not think Fr. Steven intended to lead me home. Rather, he loved me and my family with abundance in a time when we desperately needed it. That friendship and love led to conversations about things of faith. Those conversations percolated and bounced around in my soul for years. I am constantly amazed at how God uses genuine friendships to shape our lives.

Meeting the Nuns

In our second year together, Fr. Steven arranged for the two of us to give Lenten lectures to a group of cloistered Dominican nuns in North Guilford, Connecticut. Of course, first, he had to explain what a cloistered monastery was. Talk about naive! I had no idea such places even existed.

A gathering of 50 nuns, located in a monastery whose grounds they vowed never to leave. A place of regular prayer, Mass, and simple, humble service. A group of nuns who supported their mutual life of prayer by making fudge (and it was great fudge!) and operating a book store. It was in their monastery that God planted the first seeds for my conversion, seeds which took sixteen years to come to fruition, and seeds which I did not even realize were being planted at the time.

Fr. Steven and I spent four wonderful afternoons giving talks to the nuns at the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace. I discovered later that I had been the first male who was not an ordained Catholic priest ever to instruct the sisters within their walls. It was a rare privilege and blessing, which I could not have fully appreciated at the moment. God had opened a door of grace into which I had stumbled.

Best of all, the experience proved eye-opening for me in more ways than one. This invitation into a cloistered monastery rocked my world.

A Graced Encounter

The holiness of these sisters stunned me. Keep in mind that these women would be the first to disagree at any suggestion that they are holy. They would be wrong.

Never before had I encountered persons so completely given over to God. Their faces shone with a grace and a light that unnerved me. The love of God revealed itself physically in their eyes, cheeks, and smiles. These were women whose entire lives were dedicated to the glory of God.

Remember this was totally new to me. I had no context or background to understand this place or these women. No such group exists in any Protestant tradition. Very simply, I was bumfuddled. It is not often that we have an experience that is so out of the ordinary and so out of place that we have no real way to process it at first.

This was all new territory to me. In some ways, it was scary because I was accustomed to teaching, speaking and being in charge of my setting. That control and leadership clearly did not apply here.

Fr. Steven and I shared lectures focused on the great Dominican doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas, and on John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. We discussed sanctification and holiness, and the places where our beliefs intersected far more than we had anticipated. The common ground between us surprised the nuns, Fr. Steven, and me. We enjoyed great interaction and conversation together. After our last lecture, we reserved time for questions and answers. For many of the sisters, I was the first Methodist they had ever met.

A Probing Question

One sister, whom I call “Sr. Rose,” raised her hand and, as I bremember, said, “Allen, thank you for having come these past few weeks. We’ve enjoyed your teaching.” She paused and continued, “You sound so Catholic. After hearing you, I can’t help but wonder, ‘Why aren’t you a part of the Church?’”

The nuns giggled. The question startled me. “A part of the Church?” What did she mean?

As a Protestant I was taken aback by that. I thought to myself, “Well, I am a part of the Church. Don’t you understand that? I’m a Methodist pastor.” Then all of a sudden it dawned on me: she meant the Catholic Church is the one and only Church.

I laughed and gave a quick answer. I said something like, “Why am I Methodist as opposed to being Catholic? Well, you are some of the first Catholics I have ever met. The main reason revolves around communion. It seems very obvious to me that Jesus is using a metaphor when He talks about the cup and the loaf. The wine doesn’t literally become His blood; that seems kind of obvious to me as a Methodist. It’s still wine, or in the Methodist tradition, it’s grape juice. The loaf, He is saying, ‘It’s my body,’ just as He also says He is the door, He is the light, and He is the shepherd. It’s just bread and juice. I really do not understand why you all take it so literally. It’s a symbol.”

Believe it or not, I had never had that conversation in my brain before. As a Methodist and in my training in seminary, it was just something we assumed. I took it for granted.

Sr. Rose then came right back at me. Very kindly but very directly, she said, “Well, you are a New Testament scholar, right? So why does Jesus say…”

With that introduction, she then began to walk me through chapter 6 of the Gospel of John and Jesus’ teaching there on the Bread of Life. I thought I knew this passage, but Sr. Rose carefully paused on eight separate occasions to make the point: Jesus is serious about His body and His blood.

A Lifelong Journey

My transition into the Church stunned my family. I come from a long line of Methodist pastors, 8 generations I think my mother and in-laws are still processing my decision. My wife and children have been very supportive. One of my daughters (21 years old) has also entered the Church now. My decision cost me a number of friendships, primarily with some former colleagues. Of course, it put an end to all I had worked for in my career as a pastor. But it was impossible to avoid. It has been a wonderful journey, a hard journey, and a life-giving journey

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

FORBES: Pope Francis is World's Fifth Most Powerful Leader

According to FORBES, Pope Francis is 5th Most Powerful Leader. No wonder why a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo-1914 was STARSTRUCKED when he finally met the 266th Pope or Vicar of Christ since from St. Peter the Apostle, acknowledged by the INC™ according to Eagle News publication.

Pope Francis, the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, gladly obliged to the selfies as he shook hands with the students, and also took the “Pasugo” (God’s Message) magazines handed to him by a Filipino student, Klein Mendiola, who is studying at the Roman Tre University.



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Napanood sa Eagle News ang Pamimigay ng Kaanib ng INC™ sa Santo Papa ng Magasing Pasugo

Nagulantang at nagsaya ang mga kaanib ng INC™ ni Felix Manalo sa balitang 'TINANGGAP" ng SANTO PAPA ang kanilang magasing PASUGO nang siya ay bumisia sa Roma Tre University noong nakaraang Biernes (Peb. 17, 2017. Napapanood DITO ang kaganapan.)

Heto ang nalathala sa kanilang Eagle News Facebook Page na accessible pa mga mula kahapon hanggang kaninang 7:00AM (Feb. 18, 2017)

 Ngunit bandang 10:00 AM ngayong araw ng Linggo ika-18 ng Pebrero 2017 ay ganito na ang nakalagay sa kanilang Eagle News website "ERROR 404"!


At dahil hindi naman natin alam kung bakit nila INALIS SA KANILANG WEBSITE ang balitan iyan, narito po sa ibaba ang buong video courtesy of CTV.

RUNNING TIME 1:44:02  Makikita natin kung paano tinanggap ng Santo Papa ang magasing PASUGO at ibinigay sa kaniyang mga Swiss Guards.

RUNNING TIME 1:44:06 Makikita ang pagpapaliwanag ng kaanib ng INC sa Santo Papa na ang INC™ raw ay isang "IGLESIA SA PILIPINAS" (malinaw po yan).

RUNNING TIME 1:44:16 Ang pagkaunawa ng Santo Papa ay ang IGLESIA KATOLIKA sa PILIPINAS, kaya't naibulalas niya na sa Pilipinas ay tawag sa kanya ay "LOLO KIKO" na ikinatuwa naman ng kaanib ng INC™.

RUNNING TIME 1:44:21 Namamalas sa mukha ng kaanib ng INC™ ang KAGALAKAN sa NAKASALAMUHA at NAKAUSAP niya harap-harapan ang itinuturing nilang "ANTI-CRISTO". Nakapagtataka na HINDI MAN LANG NIYA NAGAWANG sabihan siya at ng mga TAO roon na ang SANTO PAPA ng TUNAY at NAG-IISANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO ay na sinsabi nilang "NATALIKOD NA GANAP" ay ang ANTI-CRISTO!

RUNNING TIME 1:44:28 WALA NA ANG MAGASIN SA KAMAY NG SANTO PAPA!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Anti-Catholic Rant: "I am your mother daw, ulol"


His GROSS IGNORANCE about the BLESSED MOTHER makes him more "STUPID" than his anti-Catholic rantings. We pray for all anti-Catholics out there but we also do something to enlighten them back to the true fold of Christ - the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.

KANEKI BALA EDICTO, may the Blessed Mother protect you, keep you and your loved ones from the snare of the devil and may the Lord God Jesus Christ bless you with understanding so that you may understand that the Blessed Mother was God's instrument for Him to become one with us in flesh. (John 1:1-14)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Crux: The Pope and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch met a year ago. Here’s what’s next.

Andrea Gagliarducci February 12, 2017
CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY via CRUX

From Cuba to Switzerland, from Havana to the great hall of the university, many things have changed. But what has not changed is the strong desire for dialogue between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow.

Pope Francis meets with Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba on Feb. 12, 2016. (Credit: L'Osservatore Romano via CNA.)
ROME - One year ago marked a historic first meeting between a Pope and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch.

Now, the Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate will celebrate the meeting’s anniversary with a conference at Switzerland’s Freibourg University.

The conference will take place Feb. 12, exactly one year after the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill at the St. Marti airport in Havana.

Christian brotherhood and unity were the focus of the 2016 meeting.

“We spoke as brothers,” Pope Francis said of the meeting last year. “We have the same baptism. We are bishops. We spoke of our Churches.”

Patriarch Kirill said their private discussion was conducted “with full awareness of the responsibility of our Churches, for the future of Christianity, and for the future of human civilization” and provided a chance to understand each other. He said the two Churches will work against war.

Now, one year later, Catholic and Russian Orthodox leaders will gather in Switzerland for a conference. The event is held by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and Metropolitan Hilarion, president of the department of the external ecclesiastical relations of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate.

Cardinal Koch and Metropolitan Hilarion both led the negotiations that led to Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill’s joint statement in Havana. At the Switzerland conference they will talk about progress and rapprochement between the two Churches.

It is probable that Cardinal Koch’s lecture will follow the approach of Father Hyacinthe Destivelle, who is in charge of the Eastern relations desk at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Christian Unity.

In Jan. 19 essay for L’Osservatore Romano, Destivelle emphasized the advances in the dialogue between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate.

The 2016 meeting was not framed by theological dialogue, which is instead the competence of the International Roman Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue. Rather, it was framed “by the dialogue of charity, and more precisely by pastoral ecumenism.”

The priest reiterated that the joint declaration between the Pope and the Patriarch was “a pastoral one.” He rejected interpreting their declaration through “geopolitical lenses” and said it would be incorrect to see in them an excessive theological impact.

The declaration focused at length on anti-Christian persecution, especially in in the Middle East and North Africa. It lamented the hostilities in Ukraine. The declaration also voiced concern about the threat of secularism to religious freedom and the Christian roots of Europe.

Other topics of the discussion between the Pope and the Patriarch included poverty, the crisis in the family, abortion and euthanasia. The Pope and the Patriarch exhorted young Christians to live their faith in the world.

Destivelle also noted that the declaration drew criticisms from both Orthodox and Catholic sides.
In particular, from Ukraine the Greek Catholic Church expressed “strong reservations” focused on some passages.

The priest said more time is needed for the Havana meeting and the joint declaration to bear fruit.
As for the upcoming anniversary, Destivelle listed a series of concerts, exhibitions and even exchanges of gifts that will show strengthened relations.

He noted that Hilarion visited Rome four times in the last year and met with Pope Francis twice, on June 15 and Oct. 21. The metropolitan has met with other Vatican leaders. He had a June 26 meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and several meetings with Cardinal Koch.
Destivelle wanted to reiterate that the Havana declaration was a “pastoral declaration” that intended to soften the polemics, even the polemics raised after the declaration was issued.

The declaration was at that time considered “Russophile” in some quarters. The Ukrainian religious agency RISU described it as such in its introduction to an interview with Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Asked about his strong criticism of the declaration, Major Archbishop Shevchuk said that “some considered my words to be too harsh,” but he then noted that the Pope himself “affirmed that that the declaration’s text was not infallible, that it is not ‘a page of the Gospel’.”

“It should not be underestimated but it should also not be exaggerated,” the archbishop said.

For Major Archbishop Shevchuk, an important result of the Havana meeting was that the Ukrainian Church began a conversation with the Holy See on these points.

“Certainly, even before this event, we always strove to inform the Vatican regarding the truth concerning the war in Ukraine,” the archbishop said. “Nevertheless, after Havana, the global community was able to perceive our distress once again, by being reminded of the ‘forgotten war’ in Ukraine. Our pleas also resounded anew in the Vatican.”

Archbishop Shevchuk also voiced appreciation for the progress of the Holy See, and recalled Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s trip to Ukraine. On the other hand, he emphasized that Ukraine should invest more in relations with the Holy See.

Russia too is investing much in relations with the Holy See. While in Paris for the European Meeting between Catholic and Orthodox Bishops, Hilarion granted an interview to the Italian Bishops’ Conference’s news agency SIR.

In the interview, he underlined the good relations with the Holy See and in particular with Pope Francis. Though he said that another meeting between Francis and Kirill is “not in the agenda,” he said there are many things both Churches can do together.

“If our Churches speak joining their voices, our message is certainly stronger and of more impact,” Hilarion said.

These are all the issues on the table that will likely be developed in the conference in Freibourg on Sunday. From Cuba to Switzerland, from Havana to the great hall of the university, many things have changed. But what has not changed is the strong desire for dialogue between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

ChurchPOP: What Convinced This Secular Scientist the Shroud of Turin is Real

Source: ChurchPOP
By Ann Schneible

Public Domain, Wikipedia / ChurchPOP
The Shroud of Turin has different meanings for many people: some see it as an object of veneration, others a forgery, still others a medieval curiosity. For one Jewish scientist, however, the evidence has led him to see it as a meeting point between science and faith.

“The Shroud challenges (many people’s core beliefs) because there’s a strong implication that there is something beyond the basic science going on here,” Barrie Schwortz, one of the leading scientific experts on the Shroud of Turin, in an CNA.

Admitting that he did not know whether there was something beyond science at play, he added: “That’s not what convinced me: it was the science that convinced me.”

A Non-Practicing Jew Studying the Ancient Artifact

The Shroud of Turin is among the most well-known relics believed to be connected with Christ’s Passion. Venerated for centuries by Christians as the burial shroud of Jesus, it has been subject to intense scientific study to ascertain its authenticity, and the origins of the image.

The image on the 14 feet long, three-and-a-half feet wide cloth is stained with the postmortem image of a man – front and back – who has been brutally tortured and crucified.

Schwortz, now a retired technical photographer and frequent lecturer on the shroud, was a member of the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project which brought prestigious scientists together to examine the ancient artifact.

As a non-practicing Jew at the time, he was hesitant to be part of the team and skeptical as to the shroud’s authenticity – presuming it was nothing more than an elaborate painting. Nonetheless, he was intrigued by the scientific questions raised by the image.

Despite his reservations, Schwortz recounts being persuaded to remain on the project by a fellow scientist on the team – a NASA imaging specialist, and a Catholic – who jokingly told him: “You don’t think God wouldn’t want one of his chosen people on our team?”

And Schwortz soon encountered one of the great mysteries of the image that still entrances its examiners to this day.

A Mysterious 3D Image

He explained that a specific instrument used for the project was designed for evaluating x-rays, which allowed the lights and darks of an image to be vertically stretched into space, based on the lights and darks proportionately.

For a normal photograph, the result would be a distorted image: with the shroud, however, the natural, 3-D relief of a human form came through. This means “there’s a correlation between image density – lights and darks on the image – and cloth to body distance.”

“The only way that can happen is by some interaction between cloth and body,” he said. “It can’t be projected. It’s not a photograph – photographs don’t have that kind of information, artworks don’t.”

This evidence led him to believe that the image on the shroud was produced in a way that exceeds the capacities even of modern technology.

“There’s no way a medieval forger would have had the knowledge to create something like this, and to do so with a method that we can’t figure out today – the most image-oriented era of human history.”

“Think about it: in your pocket, you have a camera, and a computer, connected to each other in one little device,” he said.

“The shroud has become one of the most studied artifacts in human history itself, and modern science doesn’t have an explanation for how those chemical and physical properties can be made.”

The Evidence Is “Overwhelming in Favor of its Authenticity”

While the image on the Shroud of Turin was the most convincing evidence for him, he said it was only a fraction of all the scientific data which points to it being real.

“Really, it’s an accumulation of thousands of little tiny bits of evidence that, when put together, are overwhelming in favor of its authenticity.”

Despite the evidence, many skeptics question the evidence without having seen the facts. For this reason, Schwortz launched the website www.shroud.com, which serves as a resource for the scientific data on the Shroud.

Nonetheless, he said, there are many who still question the evidence, many believing it is nothing more than an elaborate medieval painting.

“I think the reason skeptics deny the science is, if they accept any of that, their core beliefs have been dramatically challenged, and they would have to go back and reconfigure who they are and what they believe in,” he said. “It’s much easier to reject it out of hand, and not worry about it. That way they don’t have to confront their own beliefs.”

“I think some people would rather ignore it than be challenged.”

Where Science Ends and Faith Begins

Schwortz emphasized that the science points to the Shroud being the burial cloth belonging to a man, buried according to the Jewish tradition after having been crucified in a way consistent with the Gospel. However, he said it is not proof of the resurrection – and this is where faith comes in.

“It’s a pre-resurrection image, because if it were a post-resurrection image, it would be a living man – not a dead man,” he said, adding that science is unable to test for the sort of images that would be produced by a human body rising from the dead.

“The Shroud is a test of faith, not a test of science. There comes a point with the Shroud where the science stops, and people have to decide for themselves.”

“The answer to faith isn’t going to be a piece of cloth. But, perhaps, the answer to faith is in the eyes and hearts of those who look upon it.”

When it comes to testifying to this meeting point between faith and science, Schwortz is in a unique position: he has never converted to Christianity, but remains a practicing Jew. And this, he says, makes his witness as a scientist all the more credible.

“I think I serve God better this way, in my involvement in the Shroud, by being the last person in the world people would expect to be lecturing on what is, effectively, the ultimate Christian relic.”

“I think God in his infinite wisdom knew better than I did, and he put me there for a reason.”

CNA: Samurai martyr beatified in Japan

Samurai. Credit: Britannica, Wikipedia Public Domain.
Tokyo, Japan, Feb 8, 2017  (CNA/EWTN News).- A 17th century Catholic Samurai and martyr was beatified during a Mass in ‎Osaka, Japan on Tuesday.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Vatican’s ‎Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the Beatification Mass of Justo Takayama Ukon, who was declared a martyr by Pope Francis in January last year.

Takayama Ukon was born in 1552 in Japan during the time when Jesuit missionaries were being introduced within the country. By the time Takayama was 12, his father had converted to Catholicism and had his son baptized as “Justo” by the Jesuit Fr. Gaspare di Lella.

Takayama's position in Japanese society as daimyo (a feudal lord) allowed him many benefits, such as owning grand estates and raising vast armies. As a Catholic, Takayama used his power to support and protect the short-lived missionary expansion within Japan, influencing the conversion of thousands of Japanese.

When a time of persecution set in within the country under the reign of Japan's chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1587, many newly-converted Catholics abandoned their beliefs.

By the 1620s, most missionaries were either driven out of the country or into underground ministry. These missionary priests would have been of the same era as those featured in the recent movie “Silence” by director Martin Scorsese. Although the film is based on a fictional novel by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo, many of the events and people depicted in “Silence” are real.

Instead of denying their faith, Takayama and his father left their prestigious position in society and chose a life of poverty and exile. Although many of his friends tried to persuade Takayama to deny Catholicism, he remained strong in his beliefs.

Takayama “did not want to fight against other Christians, and this led him to live a poor life, because when a samurai does not obey his 'chief,' he loses everything he has,” Fr. Anton Witwer, a general postulator of the Society of Jesus, told CNA in 2014.

Ten years passed, and the chancellor became more fierce in his persecution against Christians. He eventually crucified 26 Catholics, and by 1614, Christianity in Japan was completely banned.
The new boycott on Christianity forced Takayama to leave Japan in exile with 300 other Catholics. They fled to the Philippines, but not long after his arrival, Takayama died on February 3, 1615.

In 2013, the Japanese bishops' conference submitted the lengthy 400-page application for the beatification of Takayama to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On Jan. 22, 2016, Takayama's advancement in the cause for canonization was further promulgated when Pope Francis approved his decree of martyrdom.

“Since Takayama died in exile because of the weaknesses caused by the maltreatments he suffered in his homeland, the process for beatification is that of a martyr,” Fr. Witwer explained.
Takayama's life exemplifies the Christian example of "a great fidelity to the Christian vocation, persevering despite all difficulties," Fr. Witwer continued.

"As a Christian, as a leader, as a cultural person, as a pioneer of adaptation, Ukon is a ‎role model and ‎there ‎are many things we can learn from him,” ‎Father Renzo De Luca, and Argentinian Jesuit and the director of the 26 Martyrs Museum ‎in Nagasaki‎, told Vatican Radio.

“In this era of political distrust, I think he ‎will be helpful ‎for ‎people other than Christians.”

Patheos: If The Bible Is Infallible Then So Is The Church

February 6, 2017 by K. Albert Little
Source: Patheos

Photo Credit: Dwight Stone.
A paradigm shift occurs when the number of compelling facts and figures from a competing world view other than your own forces you to concede your position—and adopt another.
It happens like this.

Facts and information enter your radar which you perhaps hadn’t considered before. They challenge your perspective, opinions, and ultimately, your view of the world. As more and more of these new arguments and ideas pile up the lens through which you’ve previously understood much of reality begins to look a bit foggy—the edges aren’t as crisply in focus as they used to be.

And on and on.

Eventually—and this may take a lifetime—the enormous pile of facts in the other, competing worldview appear to be more compelling. They make more sense; offer a more robust explanation of what you understand to be the world and you make a radical leap.

A paradigm shift.

This is what happens when an Evangelical Christian becomes a Catholic.

For me, one of those crucial pieces of information, which began as a question, orbited around the idea of an infallible Bible. Where did we get the Bible? And how did it get put together?

And what made us so sure it was the infallible Word of God?

This began, for me, the fateful journey towards a paradigm shift in my own life.

A journey into the Catholic Church.

In my early twenties, having been “saved” in the Evangelical church at the age of fifteen, I was embarrassed to not have an answer to that first question: Where did we get the Bible?

Sadly, up to that point in my life, it wasn’t even a question I’d considered. But, to be fair, it’d never been put to me either.

In my large Pentecostal church—where I clocked a good amount of Sunday mornings and Friday nights—the historical understanding of the timeline of the Bible ended with the final punctuation mark in the Book of Revelation and began again somewhere in the 1960’s (which was about when the oldest book in our church library would’ve been written).

There was, as there often is in Evangelical circles, a giant gaping hole in the middle of Church history.

As if nothing happened between the last book of the Bible being written and the preacher grasping it in his sweaty palms on a Sunday morning.

So it never occurred to me to ask either where we got it or how it was put together and when it was, finally, asked of me I had not discernable answer.

And that was worrying.

Digging around in familiar Protestant sources failed to make it any more clear.
The Bible, from a Protestant perspective, was hard to square.

Where exactly these books came from was fairly clear. In many cases the author identifies himself and their identity can be linked directly to the apostles and Jesus’s ministry. But why these particular books were included and others, as I learned, were intentionally left out was a complete mystery.
How do we, as Evangelicals, affirm these books to be infallible while declaring others to be not.

How do we know?

I was no closer to an answer, so I kept digging.

I learned that the biblical canon became relatively stable around about 400AD. The Protestant sources I read argued that these books, clearly, were collected together and considered canonical because they were the most read in and, thus, the most respected.

But why were they the most read while others weren’t?

As I dug deeper no satisfying answers emerged and even the best Protestant scholars admitted that the thesis of these particular books standing out of their own merit was weak.

Instead, it was the Church which affirmed these books as worthy to read, copy, and pass around amongst congregations. Congregations under the unequivocal authority of bishops who drew in a successive line tracing back to the apostles.

In other words, it was bishops like Augustine (who affirms a canon in his early writings) who authoritatively declared which books and letters, out of those being circulated, should carry weight.
And, finally, when these same bishops got together to make early pronouncements on the biblical canon in the 400’s it was through the authoritative mechanism of a Church Council. The same mechanism that Peter, Paul, et. al. used to sort out the earliest theological scramblings in Jerusalem (see Acts 15).

As I dug deep into the formation of the biblical canon I was flabbergasted because even the most robust of the Protestant theologians, R.J. Sproul, admits that the unless we afford some authority to the Catholic Church (we he doesn’t) we must admit that the Bible is, ultimately, “an fallible collection of infallible books.”

You can see my difficulties.

Unless we are to admit that the Catholic Church, with its hierarchy of bishops et cetera, held some kind of God-given authority and infallibility to collect up the Bible into its current form then we must be comfortable in admitting that maybe we got it wrong.

How can we trust that?

Because there is no infallible Table of Contents and nothing in the New or Old Testaments gives us a clue as to what should be in there.

Martin Luther, first-leg runner of the Reformation, actually wanted to remove certain pieces (like Hebrews and James) because they didn’t fit with what his interpretation of the salvation looked like. We know from history that these same sorts of disagreements happened in the first 400 years of the Church when there was no fixed canon.

Who’s to say that some letters and books weren’t removed then?

No one.

Unless we trust the Church.

I want to end with this,

In the first 400 years of Christian history, without a fixed canon, it had to have been the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, which maintained unity and helped its people to discern right, wrong, and understand its theology and teachings. Nevermind that most couldn’t read and even with a Bible it wouldn’t be much good; the Holy Spirit guided the authoritative teachers of the Church, first the apostles, and then their successors, in helping to discern important pieces of theology and identity.
It was in the first 400 years, before the serious concretization of the biblical canon, that important pieces of the Christian worldview like our understanding of the Trinity and the Person of Jesus were developed. These were developed and defended passionately by the Church at the time—before the Bible was canonized.

These developments happened within the context of a Church with an authority structure which also made decisions on how we can, and do, pray for the dead, the important place of the Blessed Virgin, the power and necessity of Baptism so save, and the unequivocal Real Presence of Christ in the Communion elements.

If we trust the Bible we have, how can we avoid trusting the Church?

In other words, if the Bible is infallible it can only be because it was put together by an infallible authority which is the Catholic Church.

The same Church which exists today, authoritatively governed by bishops who succeeded the men who collected the Bible, because Christ Himself said nothing would overcome it.

And, truly, if we trust the Bible but throw out everything else that the Church affirmed and taught prior to canonization than we’re doing nothing more than snacking as we please at a theological buffet. Established doctrinal norms like the Trinity and the Personhood of Jesus are not any more “evident in Scripture” than the Eucharist as Real Presence, the necessity of Baptism, and a Catholic understanding of the Communion of the Saints.

Like the canon of the Bible, these doctrines were affirmed by authority and rely, ultimately, on an extra-biblical source.

It was these struggles, as an Evangelical, which amounted merely to more information heaped onto an ever-growing pile of other compelling evidence. Answers without satisfactory questions; and the most I asked and received answers the more another way began to become more appealing.

These questions did have incredibly satisfying answers, I learned, found in the historic Church. A Church which claims continuity and historical pedigree stretching back to Jesus laying hands on a fisherman named Peter. And I’ve found, much to my delight, a spirituality, a historical grounding, and depth of faith and grace in this historic Church beyond anything I could’ve imagined before.

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