Council of Jerusalem

Thursday, September 1, AD 2011

A question arose yesterday in a thread, posed by Michael:

I have a real question. Homosexuality, as a sin an abomination, is mentioned in Leviticus. That book, however, also says:
 – disrespect of parents should be punishable by death
 – sleeping with a woman during her period should make both parties outcasts
 – don’t eat pork
 – shellfish are an abomination

So my question is, why are some of the verses ignored and others so important?

It is a good question and sometimes confuses Catholics and non-Catholics.  The answer to the question is in the very earliest history of the Church.  After the ascension of Jesus, the apostles went about the great task of making “disciples of all the nations”, and Christianity began to spread among Jew and Gentile alike.  The question quickly arose as to whether Gentile converts would have to be circumcised (the males only of course!) and follow all of the Jewish laws regarding ritual purity.  If they were asked to do this, it would mean a complete revolution in their life.  They would no longer be able to even eat a meal with their Gentile relatives and friends.  Like the Jews, the Christians would be a people set apart, cut off from interacting in the simplest ways with non-Jews for fear of violating the hundreds of laws of the Old Testament regarding ritual purity.

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47 Responses to Council of Jerusalem

  • EXCELLENT post, Don! I don’t believe I have ever seen this issue explained more clearly and concisely. This should be a “must read” and a “must link” throughout St. Blog’s.

  • Thank you Jay. The Old Testament laws and their applicability to Christians is an issue that keeps coming up in current debates and Catholics need to know that the answer is a pretty simple one.

  • Jesus and then Paul were asking the Jews to chuck 4,000 years of following the Law and sacred traditions as they understood them. It’s easy to grasp the reluctance of many to adopt the “new covenant” on the mere say-so of a dozen followers of a man claiming to be God. Jesus claimed to fulfill the law, of which the curse was sickness, poverty and death.

    As these things continued after Christ’s death, many understandably could not embrace the new religion. This is the “stumbling block” that remains for Jews to this today and many others including atheists and agnostics.

    Don, your explanation as to why some portions of the OT apply and others do not rests on Paul and the other apostles’ interpretations solely. As Saul he was the chief persecutor of the followers of Jesus, then claimed to be his chief supporter. A 180, which we are to believe was the result of his “vision” on the trip to Damascus. Likewise we are to take at face value Peter’s “vision” about which animals are OK to eat.

    Down through the centuries, men and women have claimed to have “visions,” which they subsequently offer as “proof” of divine instruction to pass along as the “truth.” These would include Joe Smith as well, who launched Mormonism as well as Mohammed and countless other major and minor prophets. Which of these “visions” are valid and which are bogus? It boils down to who one choose to believe and nothing more.

  • If you believe in Christ Joe, you believe in what Saint Peter and Saint Paul taught, and the authority of the magisterium of the Church, since Christ granted to the Church through Saint Peter the power to bind and to loose. Saint Peter and Saint Paul believed in what Christ had taught and the evidence of this is the martyrdoms they embraced.

    I answered the question posed by Michael as to how Catholics determine what Old Testament laws are binding and what are not. The doubt that has eaten away at you for so long is something that only you, with the grace of God, can address for yourself. For all of us the essential question always remains the one posed by Christ to Saint Peter: “Who do you say that I am?”

  • Joe, I don’t think that Donald was offering a proof. He lays out a consistent rule and explains its origins. Nothing wrong with that.

  • For all of us the essential question always remains the one posed by Christ to Saint Peter: “Who do you say that I am?”

    I ask myself that same question every day and every day I come up with the same answer: “I don’t know.”

  • While everything you say about the Council is true, it doesn’t apply to some of the Levitical Laws such as disrespect of parents should be punishable by death or having “Cafeteria Jews” put to death, otherwise most Jews would have been dead by the time of Jesus and the prophets would have no-one to rail against.

    As with Catholicism, Judaism is not a religion of the book. The laws were understood in community and they had a purpose. For instance, the law for parents to kill disrespectful children was not so much a commandment for parents as protection for children since in order to carry out this commandment you needed to go to priestly council to pass judgment. Most parents would not go that far since they love their children, and those who would have, would likely have killed their children anyway. Once at the council, there priests can talk to both parties and achieve reconciliation or use other means such as disowning the child to protect the child. If you look at Jewish historical records you will see that such disrespectful child executions rarely happened, so that pastoral counseling must have worked.

    Protestants have a much harder time with the Council of Jerusalem since they can’t make an Ecumenical Council “God Breathed” since that would mean Catholic doctrine was true, but if they don’t, they can’t abandon Jewish Law since neither Paul nor Peter nor an Ecumenical Council that took the words of Paul or Peter has the authority to repudiate Jewish Law. And even if they could, “since it is in the Bible”, the council merely stated gentiles should follow the Seven Laws of Noah which are binding on gentiles and Jews alike and nothing in the Bible says that we have the freedom to eating of flesh cut from a living animal (more than a few food Christians commonly eat qualify, especially some ham and sea food) or be blissfully unaware of how the food was processed.

  • I’m not sure the following is 100% correct.

    I’ve read that Leviticus distinguishes between two types of laws:
    (1) Laws for the Jewish people
    (2) Laws that prevent “defile the land”

    The first type of laws (like not wearing polyester) apply only to those initiated into the Mosaic covenant.

    The second type of laws, laws prevent the defilement of the land, apply to all peoples, regardless of whether or not they are initiated into the covenant. Lev. 18:26: “The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things” lest “the land become defiled.”

    Here is a list of all the “sins which defile the land,” all the Old Testament laws which non-Jews had to obey, or be “cut off from the community.”
    1. Exod 12.19: Do not eat leaven at Passover
    2. Lev 17.8-9: Only offer sacrifice at the Tabernacle door
    3. Lev 17.10-12, 14: Do not eat blood
    4. Lev 18.26: Do not commit sins listed in 18.6-26 (including homosexuality)
    5. Lev 20.2-3: Do not give children for Molech

    Do these laws which Judaism extended to all people also extend to Christians?

    The Council of Jerusalem, which decided to admit Gentiles to the Church, admitted them to the Church on four conditions (Acts 15:29):
    • Do not eat things polluted by idols (#2 & 5 above)
    • Do not commit porneia (sexual immorality) (#4 above)
    • Do not eat whatever has been strangled (#3 above)
    • Do not eat blood (#3 above)*

    In other words, the only condition which the Apostles laid down for Gentiles to enter the Church was that they keep all the laws which the Jewish Law commanded non-Jews to keep.

  • Jesus and then Paul were asking the Jews to chuck 4,000 years of following the Law

    1,000 years.

  • Art, give or take a millennia or two. Supposedly, Adam and Eve were created around 4,006 B.C., according to Bishop Usher (Oct. 15 if memory serves at around 9 a.m. eastern standard time), and since the Hebrews soon followed, 3,000 years would seem to be in the ballpark. But whatever the number, the original point holds: that for a long time the ancient Jews subscribed to rigid ritual.

  • “They were required to fellow the ten commandments” If that is so, then we should be going to church on Saturday, nor could we have statues or pictures of Jesus. The ten commandments were a part of the Old Covenant, as much as the law of kosher was. The laws of God existed before the Old Covenant (see Genesis 26:5), so this isn’t an arguement for antinomism. We do use a form of the ten in cathesis, but it isn’t the ten commandments of the Old Covenant. Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount, went beyond the mere letter of the law, and taught us the intent or the spirit of the law. we are no longer under the letter of the law, which kills, but the spirit of the law which gives life. (IICor 3:6-18)

  • No Stephen, the Ten Commandments, as interpreted by the Church, are still in full force and effect, as the Catechism amply demonstrates:

    “2068 The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the
    justified man is still bound to keep them;28 The Second Vatican Council confirms: “The bishops, successors
    of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to
    every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the
    Commandments.”29”

    Just one of many gifts that the Church has received from God through transmission by our beloved Jewish brethren.

  • Joe, if you don’t mind me saying, you describe your agnosticism like you’re in a dead-end relationship with it. Usually people stay in a dead-end relationship for a reason. So what are you getting out of it?

  • Just a lot of agonizing frustration, Pinky. Not much else. The search goes on.

  • Stephen, I believe your assessment is correct. The council dealt specifically with Jewish identity markers that were being forced upon Gentile converts. It did not deal with ‘the law.’ The coucil had to meet becasue there was a definite transition by the time that’s narrated in the Acts. It was peculiar to that time; this sort of thing could never again arise. Councils can and have been called ever since in various forms for different reasons. But who can say that the Spirit decided the results in each instance? I would never assume that.

  • The Sabbath Day of the Hebrews was Saturday because that is the day God rested. Christians came to have Sunday as Sabbath because that is the day of Christ’s Resurrection. The religious art was/is not worshipped as were idols.

    I look at the history as relayed, Stephen. Jesus, Divine and human, came to live among us and renew our spirits. We were, at the end of the Old Testament, fully involved with legislating the letter of the law with inhumane actions basing these on the Ten Commandments of old. As God saw the need for his people to have guidelines for worthy lives then, He also saw how we lost its meaning through lack of love of Him and one another. We made the laws to be ones that kill. He made them to give life to His people. So, the New Testament.

    In the New Testament, Jesus was born a man to clarify and help us get away from being bogged down with the letters, the way we do. He taught the spirit of the law, loving God and neighbor, which necessarily entails lovingly obeying the Ten Commandments. I think He came as a reminder that that God loves His people beyond our capability of understanding the depth. I don’t agree that He meant that we forget any of His guidance throughout the ages. Jesus also added the neighbor consciousness to determine that we understand Gentiles are also God’s children, who had customs different from those of Hebrews which were not going to make a difference in spiritual salvation.

    Thank you for this post on the Council of Jerusalem. It’s such a clear approach. I was thinking of how to reply to Michael’s question. All I could come up with was unclean: shellfish being bottom feeders (no plumbing then), pork somewhat the same reason (garbage for a diet), the woman unable to conceive at this time would entail pure lust, and the parents being an example of how unlovingly man tweeked God’s law – all evidence of no chastity or raising mind and spirit above the organs below the waist.

  • I suspect that the command against eating meat from strangled animals and consuming blood refers more to some kind of (for lack of a better term) “active participation” in pagan sacrifices or rituals, than it does to simply eating meat or meat products that have not been processed in accordance with specified dietary laws. Otherwise eating blood sausage would still be a mortal sin, I’d think. I believe this is also one of the biblical passages that the Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret as forbidding blood transfusions.

    In any event I have always understood that the command against “porneia” or “immorality” meant that all Old Testament laws defining certain sexual RELATIONSHIPS as immoral carry over into New Testament law and are also binding on Christians — including laws against homosexuality and incest.

    Furthermore, the Greek word “porneia” used here also occurs in the Gospel of Matthew when Christ states that anyone who divorces his wife “except for immorality (porneia)” and marries another commits adultery. Now many Protestants interpret this to mean that Christ allowed divorce if either spouse commits adultery, but the most common and orthodox Catholic reading of this passage that I have heard, is that it probably refers to already married converts from paganism who would never have been allowed to marry under Jewish law because their relationships were considered incestuous or immoral. Those couples were free to dissolve their unions and marry again, but not anyone else.

    However, other sexual purity laws such as the rule against intercourse during menstruation and the accompanying necessity for women to ritually purify themselves every month (google “Laws of Niddah” or “mikvah” if you care to know more about it), do not carry over into Christianity.

  • While everything you say about the Council is true, it doesn’t apply to some of the Levitical Laws such as disrespect of parents should be punishable by death…

    Anil Wang

    That law was the reason why the request of the Prodigal Son was so scandalous to Jesus’ hearers when He spoke the parable of that name.

    By the way, do you have any historical evidence to demonstrate that Judeans normally carried out executions in the name of this law?

  • Don

    you knocked it on the head. keep up the good work.

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  • Really ,this is a lot of stuff. Love and Honor God .Love and Honor your neighbor and the rest of the words are meant to make some people think they know more than they really know.
    Listen to the reports of some of our dedicated priests about the actions in Philadelphia and Kansas City.These dedicated men have to deal with the shame brought on by the pedophile priets and that heirarchy who covered up for them.

    A lot of prayer and love is needed.

  • @ Joe

    You are right, the million dollar question is, who was Jesus? Was he just a crazy man or was he really God made flesh? It is obviously an all or nothing question, but how do we know?

    The way to know can actually be answered by your reference to Joseph Smith. You asked what is the difference between trusting Peter or trusting Joseph Smith?

    Well first we know that Peter was taught by Jesus directly, while Joseph Smith claims to have had a vision from an Angel.

    Second, Peter’s words can be checked against the other 10 Apostles whom were taught directly by Jesus, while we are left to just take Joseph Smith at his word, that he really did see an angle, that the gold tablets really did exist, that he was actually able to translate them, etc.

    The list could actually go on, but you can read if you are interested in seeing the differences.

    So, it seems that if you are going to trust someone, it should be Peter, but that begs the questions, can Peter (or any of the Apostles) be trusted?

    I believe Peter can be trusted exactly because he has 10 other Apostles who say the same thing he did. But was it a conspiracy then, did all the Apostles create a big lie? Well if they did lie, they are both incredibly smart and incredibly stupid. I mean think about it. They were able to convince other people to follow them, even to the point of death, so they must have been really good “liars”. But they also must have been idiots because they didn’t gain anything from their “lies”. Not money, or fame, or women, or anything, except certain death.

    So to me, it seems that they were not lying, and that all of them must have been convinced that Jesus was in fact God. But what do you think?

  • Oops, I tried to put an HTML tag in my message but it didn’t work exactly right. Sorry about that, but you can still click on it and get the article I was trying to reference.

  • Paul also deals with the Jew/Gentile transition in a bit of a different way, I think. Rather than a council, he recommends private conviction. The ‘strong’ are not to pick on the ‘weak’, and neither is to judge or try to change the other in such matters of food, drink, and ceremonial days, etc.

  • Joel, I think Peter has much more cred than Joe Smith given he was a contemporary of Jesus and the apostles, according to the New Testament. Whether Peter or anyone “lied,” I cannot say, but just because many followed him and died as martyrs is not persuasive in and of itself. More than 900 people followed Peoples Temper leader Jim Jones to the grave in Jonestown in 1978.

    What is more convincing, however, is the undeniable magnetism of Christ. i would be willing to admit that Jesus of Nazareth is the most compelling person in all of history and his mark on humanity supersedes all others. I think about him every day. He has said, “come to me all ye who are weary and I will give you rest.” Although I do not pray much any more, that is the one hope I cling to: that I may have rest either in this life or the next.

    Thanks for your kind words.

  • I think what is convincing is that Christianity has lasted as a very significant world religion, and has since grown too. Also, it’s profoundly impacted and shaped cultures right up till the present. I don’t see those kinds of results happen so dynamically in the case of other religions. A few come close, perhaps, but don’t reach the extent Christianity does.

  • Am I right to believe, then, that the prohibitions in Leviticus concerning homosexual practices carry forward to the New Testament?
    That seems to be the case as from what I read and what one priest told me homosexuals found guilty of abominations were being executed right up into the 18th century.
    Please understand that I’m not advocating here for queers to be put to death but rather to genuinely understand what’s going on.
    Patrick Madrid says that Jesus Himself did away with the laws of Leviticus, at least concerning homosexuals, when He said “let him without sin cast the first stone” but how does Jesus’ retort reconcile with my second paragraph if in fact it’s true?

  • If you don’t remove me from moderation I will no longer offer my comments here.

  • Yes they do Michael, especially since Saint Paul repeats the condemnation of homosexual conduct. The Church has always condemned it, as did virtually all Christian churches until the day before yesterday in historical terms.

    Romans of course legislated against sex between free born men as early as the Lex Scantinia, in 225 BC so the Christian attitude against homosexual sex was not sui generis in the ancient world.

    Jesus extended mercy to the woman caught in adultery and saved her from the equivalent of a lynch mob. The act of Jesus in giving mercy to the woman caught in adultery has never been considered as voiding the laws of Leviticus regarding homosexual conduct. Judging from the article linked below by Patrick Madrid I’d say that you have misinterpreted what he wrote. If you would care to link to the article where he made the statement you refer to, I would be happy to look at it.

    http://www.thebostonpilot.com/articleprint.asp?id=7081

  • Pat,

    It was needed in a prior posting.

    You’re back off moderation.

  • Donald, I still have Madrid’s email where he told me exactly what I said he said, so I’m not misrepresenting anything.
    He might’ve changed his tune since he said that to me, but what he said is what he said (I have it in writing) and I find it unfortunate that you would jump to the conclusion that he didn’t say what he said and then ever so subtly put my integrity on the line by saying I misrepresented him.
    That said your reply leaves me even more in the dark as to why the punishment of death for homosexual abominations no longer applies and when it was lifted and by whom.
    I’d be so grateful to get answers to those queries.

  • No Michael what I said was that what you said Madrid wrote appears to contradict what he wrote in the article I linked to and therefore I assumed that you must have misinterpreted what he wrote. Post what he said to you in the e-mail and I will look at it. I will go farther than that. If there is a contradiction I will send off an e-mail to Mr. Madrid asking him to comment. I do not know how I can be fairer than that.

    In regard to homosexual conduct the penalties were always in the hands of the state and not the Church. The death penalty for all sorts of offenses was much more common in the Eighteenth Century than in either the Nineteenth or the Twentieth centuries.

  • Looking at that article I linked to by Madrid, I see this paragraph:

    “In the Old Covenant, homosexual activity was punishable by death: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). Thankfully, in the New Covenant, that punishment no longer applies, but the Church reminds us of the much worse eternal punishment that awaits those (whether homosexual or heterosexual) who refuse to repent and turn from their sins.”

    If he is saying that Christians did not use the punishment of stoning, he is correct. I think there is nothing in that stating that the condemnation of Leviticus as to the conduct was not still in full force and effect, but that death by stoning was no longer required as a penalty. If your point Michael was Madrid stating that the penalty was no longer as set forth in Leviticus then what you are stating is correct. Of course the secular authorities were free to assess any penalty they wished to under the criminal law.

  • Donald moving on from Madrid what I am getting at is this.
    If Iran or any Muslim country for that matter were to put a queer to death for an abomination, in your opinion would Catholics and Christians, generally, be justified, perhaps even compelled to support what Iran did using Leviticus as their grounds since, as you confirm, Leviticus carries forward into the New Testament?

  • In thinking about the original post more, it dawned on me that Jesus himself laid the ground work for the Apostles to teach what they taught at the council of Jerusalem.

    Matthew 15:11 “Not what goes into the mouth defile a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” See verses 10-20 also.

    So this is good reason to reconsider the defilement laws of the Old Testament. But does that mean that the New Covenant was entirely replaced by the Old? Did Jesus ever say that homosexuality is not wrong? Not in so many words, but he did say this:

    Matthew 19:4-6 “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

    This clearly reaffirms that God created male and female, who are intended to be together. Also, if anyone is interested in what it means for the “two to become one” I would recommend the book “The Good News About Sex & Marriage” by Christopher West.

    @ Michael: Your questions regarding when crimes punishable by death were lifted, was clearly in John 8:7, “”Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” So if there were people still stoning homosexuals, they were wrong to do it. But can you be specific? Was there ever a Church document put out that said to stone homosexuals? When and where are you talking about when you say “right up until the 18th century”? The more information you can give, the better the answer you will get 🙂

  • “perhaps even compelled to support what Iran did using Leviticus as their grounds since, as you confirm, Leviticus carries forward into the New Testament?”

    No. Christians agreeing that particular conduct is sinful does not require support for a secular punishment of that sin. That has never been taught by the Church.

  • Plato: “Opinion is not truth.”

    T. Shaw: “Opinion is not reality; but you have a right to stick your fingers in your ears and feverishly stamp your feet.”

    Here is a list of the “sins which defile the land,” the Old Testament laws and were enforced for non-Jews, or they were “cut off from the community.”
    1. Exod 12.19: Do not eat leaven at Passover
    2. Lev 17.8-9: Only offer sacrifice at the Tabernacle door
    3. Lev 17.10-12, 14: Do not eat blood
    4. Lev 18.26: Do not commit sins listed in 18.6-26 (including homosexuality)
    5. Lev 20.2-3: Do not sacrifice children for Molech

    The Council of Jerusalem decided to admit Gentiles to the Church on condition (Acts 15:29):
    • Do not eat things polluted by idols (#2 & 5 above)
    • Do not commit porneia (sexual immorality) (#4 above)
    • Do not eat whatever has been strangled (#3 above)
    • Do not eat blood (#3 above)

  • Wonderful commentary. I always look at the Council of Jerusalem as a fulfillment of Matthew 16 and 18 and John 20. Peter and the Apostles where given the authority to bind and loose. In the Counsel of Jerusalem two fishermen and ex Pharisee overturned Law given to us by God through Abraham and Moses. The only way they could do that was if they were given authority by God. What ever they bind is bound, what ever they loose is loosed. The Church is the hand of God in the Church Militant, if they say do it you better do it, if they say you don’t have to do it then you shouldn’t do it. It seams pretty simple to me. It all comes down to authority, those that follow this teaching are Catholic those that go against this teaching are Protestant no matter how they actually refer to themselves.

  • Thank you, Tito. I’m aware that there are a variety of ways to view the council, what its import is for the church down through the ages. I don’t think it’s correct to view all councils as binding, since the test for me is whether it squares with scripture. If it squares with Scripture, then I consider it Spirit-inspired. It’s an application of the Bible within a particular context in that case.

  • I was not going to reply back to this, because I know it does not relate to the original post, but it is all I have been thinking about.

    Joe said: Joel, I think Peter has much more cred than Joe Smith given he was a contemporary of Jesus and the apostles, according to the New Testament. Whether Peter or anyone “lied,” I cannot say, but just because many followed him and died as martyrs is not persuasive in and of itself. More than 900 people followed Peoples Temper leader Jim Jones to the grave in Jonestown in 1978.

    I agree that Peter has more credibility than Joe Smith. I think we can know whether Peter or the Apostles were lying (at least with as much certainty as anything else we can know). But your comparing the followers of Jim Jones to the followers of the Apostles is not exactly the same. Those people apparently committed suicide (although who knows how many really knew what they were drinking?) while the Apostles and their followers were killed by other people. This is significant because all the Apostles or their followers had to do was recant their beliefs and they would have been spared. This is a crucial difference when we take into consideration what I was saying before, about did the Apostles lie about Jesus’ resurrection or did they tell the truth. Why would all 12 Apostles and Paul lie about Jesus being resurrected? What did they have to gain? I can see why someone like Joe Smith would lie, he had lots to gain (money, power, polygamy). Or Jim Jones can be explained with a simple: he was crazy and found other crazy (or easily convinced) people to follow him.

    But then could Jesus have been crazy and have found 12 crazy people to follow him? Well we have to ask ourselves, did Jesus rise from the dead? Either yes, which means he is God, or no. If no, then those 12 crazy Apostles decided to lie about the resurrection. Then we are to believe that all 12 crazy Apostles (and Paul came along a bit later) all worked together and were able to create what has to be the greatest conspiracy of all time. I mean think about it. All it would have taken to destroy the “lie”, would have been for just 1 of the Apostles to spill the beans. Yet we have no record of this happening. Why would Paul have done his ‘180’ and converted to Christianity? He had a great life and yet we are to believe that he “threw” it all away for a lie, but to gain what?

    So for me (I was once agnostic when it came to God, but it was thinking about this stuff that got me started down the proverbial rabbit hole) it is exactly because the Apostles had nothing to gain and they all remained united in their beliefs even to the point of death, that I can be sure that Jesus rose from the dead. (There are other things to further support the belief that the Apostles were not all lying: Peter having the title of First Apostle and the special place he has [why did no one else fight him for this], the unity of all the early church’s [they were all considered One Church, but how easy it would have been for say Thomas to go out and create his own church] etc.).

    What is more convincing, however, is the undeniable magnetism of Christ. i would be willing to admit that Jesus of Nazareth is the most compelling person in all of history and his mark on humanity supersedes all others.

    I am not sure exactly how “magnetic” Christ was? Obviously people sought him out, but it seems to me that it was more because of the miracles that he was performing. Obviously we view him as a great teacher, but many viewed his teachings as heretical and blasphemous. Read John Chapter 6, first he feeds the five thousand, but the next day he taught them about the Eucharist and said that to be saved they had to eat his flesh. John 6:66 says, “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer walked with him.”

    But what really sets Jesus apart from all other “prophets” or “great teachers” is the claim that he rose from the dead which would mean that he is God made flesh. Once I had accepted that, then I could move forward with understanding the Scripture. Otherwise, a person just thinks Jesus was a great teacher, then the Bible is really confusing and actually doesn’t make sense. The Early Church fathers used to say, “Either Jesus was God or he was a crazy man.”

  • Joel, I’ve heard the “either crazy or God” argument before, used I think by CS Lewis. But there’s a lot of in-between. Maybe Jesus truly believed he was the Son of God, a self-delusion alluded to in “The Passover Plot.” Perhaps, egged on by his followers, he reluctantly assumed the role. There are some ambiguous passages in the NT: “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” “The father is greater than I.”, etc.

    If the Apostles stuck with him to the end, willing to be martyred, they would hardly be the first to follow their leader to the grave, as I mentioned before. The Japanese samurai did it routinely, as did countless soldiers in battle. What did the apostles have to “gain”? Who knows? Maybe the assurance of an after-life from their master was enough, maybe they were just resigned to their fate. Renouncing Jesus likely would not have gotten them off the hook. Peter was going to be crucified one way or another for defying Roman authorities.

    I don’t rule out returning to the fold some day; but at this juncture I have too many burning questions, too many problems and issues with God to submit. Not the least of which is the age-old “problem of evil,” which has always been a huge hurdle for many wanting to believe. The failure of prayer is another. I have seen the righteous pray constantly for others, only to see their prayers unanswered. Innocents die, the wicked live on. Life is not fair. God is the author of life. God is not fair. That is my thinking. I can’t change it until I understand.

  • Joe, numerous theodicies have of course been written and nothing new can be said on the matter. Here’s my take based on my reading of the Bible: God created a perfect world. We became wayward. He calls us back to Himself but we continue to have a certain amount of free-will. As it’s exercised, this free-will is often used sinfully, which affects ourselves and others. The Lord deals with that on a higher level. But he doesn’t intervene so far as to eliminate that free-will with the entirety of results which follow. If He did, there would be grave problems for us philosophically. For example, are we not creatures endowed wtih choice-making ability? Does not God love us and wish us to respond in kind? If the answer to either or both those questions is negative, we are then faced with an even more difficult quandary.

  • Joe, please forgive this following. I’m just getting concerned about you.

    “What did the apostles have to “gain”? Who knows? Maybe the assurance of an after-life from their master was enough, maybe they were just resigned to their fate. Renouncing Jesus likely would not have gotten them off the hook.”

    The Holy Spirit on Pentecost visited them in the Upper Room, a visit that became the Catholic Church’s birthday. I wish for you such a visit – being sort of worried about your spiritual state of affairs.
    That old problem, Satan, is part of this vale of tears until the last day when Jesus comes back as promised. Our part is to strive to reach the fairness of God in eternity through virtues taught by Jesus, in the Gospels. Life isn’t fair, prayer lets God know us, we can’t tell Him what to do; but, I have to think that nothing we do without trying know Him is a waste of the time we have here. Please just don’t judge God as not fair, and shoot for understanding. You can get past your judgment.

  • Joe, I can see you have thought about this and are continuing to struggle, which is good.

    I would say though that the main point to consider is: did Jesus rise from the dead? If that question can be answered, then so many more will follow like domino’s.

    If he did, then obviously he is God. Which then answers the question as to why the Apostles would stay true to their beliefs.

    If he didn’t, then the Apostles lied about it. These 12 men must have had some reason for lying. What that reason would be, completely escapes me. The Apostles would have realized that their leader was dead. Their two options would have been to go home or pretend Jesus came back to life. Amazingly then, all 12 decided to take option number 2 and lie. Then even more amazingly they all continued to lie right up until their deaths. Who would do that? What are the chances that even one of them would not have said the heck with this, I am going home? And then their was Paul, who joins their ranks, but not like we would expect. He was doing quite well for himself, but he apparently threw it all away and joined the Christians. Why? I could understand if Paul had been given something (money, power, etc) but he had nothing. He was put in jail numerous times and was obviously going to be killed eventually. Are we to believe that he lied about Jesus blinding him on the road to Damascus?

    I know I can’t prove any of this to be 100% true, but when I consider the most likely scenario, 12 crazy apostles that lied just doesn’t seem plausible. So this leaves me with the first choice, that Jesus did rise from the dead.

    I am glad that you have engaged with me in this conversation because it helps me to grow in my faith when I have to explain what I believe and why. A lot of the atheists and agnostics I try to talk to just brush religion off as fairy tales that shouldn’t even be discussed because they feel as though nothing can really be proven. I obviously feel the opposite. I think that Christ and his Apostles can be proven in as much as we can weigh the different scenarios and believe the most likely one from the evidence. The final step is having faith, but it really becomes the same faith we have that the sun will rise tomorrow or faith in “what goes up, must come down”.

  • Joe Green,

    The apostles were not soldiers looking to take other lives with them like Muslim “martyrs” do.

    The apostles willingly went to their death peacefully and forgiving their persecutors.

    THAT is huge.

    Using your line of logic, can you convince 12 of your closest friends to die for a lie?

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David, Nathan and Freedom

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

In the Mass Readings last Sunday, for the reading from the Old Testament we had Nathan the Prophet denouncing King David for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite after Bathsheba became pregnant with his child.  It is a familiar tale for us, and the familiarity conceals from us just how remarkable it is and how important for us it is, not just in a religious sense but also in our secular lives.

A forgotten masterpiece from Hollywood, King David (1951), helps remind us of the importance of the two great sins of David and their aftermath.  David is well-portrayed by Gregory Peck.  No longer the shepherd boy, he is now an increasingly world-weary King.  God who was close to him in his youth now seems distant.   Rita Hayworth gives a solid performance as Bathsheba, David’s partner in sin.  The best performance of the film is by Raymond Massey as Nathan.  Each word he utters is with complete conviction as he reveals the word of God to those too deafened by sin to hear it.  In the video clip above we see this when David attempts to argue that the soldier who died when he touched the Ark of the Covenant may have died of natural causes.  “All causes are of God”, Nathan responds without hesitation.  He warns David that he has been neglecting his duties and that the people are discontent.

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4 Responses to David, Nathan and Freedom

  • Today is Flag Day and the 235th anniversary of the United States Army.

    Pray for our gallant troops!

    Pray for Victory and Peace!

    God bless America!

  • The essence of this story of David and Nathan was captured by a French priest, Fr. Louis Evely, several years ago in his inspiring book “That Man is You”. Anyone who is interested in deepening their understanding of Christ’s message and/or increasing their insight of the Word of God should try to find a copy of this heart awakening read. You’ll never want to part with it because it opens ones eyes to the light of truth like no other.

    It has been out of print for some time but well worth a search for this treasure.

  • This Old Testament reading is an important one in the field of Catholic Apologetics.

    Most if not all protestants deny that the priest has the authority to forgive sin in the sacrament of Penance; that a priest is not needed, we can go straight to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.

    However, in this passage of scripture, we see Nathan being given the authority by God to forgive David his heinous sin, and the penance is the death of his son born to Bathsheba from their illicit union.

    This is a clear scriptural precedent for confession of sins to a priest. Of course, the protestants have other arguments, but they will not deny the scripture.

  • Good post. My comment is here:

    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/2010/06/caesar-is-accountable-to-god-not-vice.html

    My point of view may be a bit different. And no, I am not a troglodyte. I simply despise and loathe liberalism and progressivism.

The Construct of Rebellion

Monday, January 11, AD 2010

In 2010 the Catholic Church in particular and Christianity in general are under attack because age old truths are being abandoned for the Dictatorship of Relativism. One might ask; how did we get here? It didn’t happen overnight; as a matter of fact many of those doing the rebelling actually think they are doing us all a favor.  Centuries and millennium evolved into a construct of rebellion where self appointed leaders who thought knew better than the Church and society itself tried to change all that was sacred and holy into something, they but most importantly their friends in the intelligentsia, could accept. Too many cooks in the kitchen can be bad for your acquired culinary tastes, but when truth is watered down it is something entirely different and far more serious. In this instance, we are talking about souls, not taste buds.  If this is so then how could the thesis of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism be true? The answer is simple because the world is getting closer and closer to the precipice. Some may chose to jump but thankfully more will chose to come back from ledge into the world of reality and when they do they will see the many positive developments happening in the Church. One’s own mortality has a way of causing self preservation.

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55 Responses to The Construct of Rebellion

  • Well said, Dave. Thank God for Mary’s heel crushing the head of the serpent that is rebellion, or the whole place would have turned into one boring, childish, real-life version of “Wayne’s World.” It’s no wonder so many folks despise her as she has done what they ought to be doing.

  • What is the evidence for The Porsche?

  • My compliments for a well argued post. I am unaware of the O’Brien site or books, but I cannot disagree with any of your assessment nor your conclusions. I have been making a similar argument via my Canadian blog (http://www.frtimmoyle.blogspot.com) trying to point out the logical contradiction of modern day relativism – a contradiction that exists because moderns no longer possess a knowledge or sense of the role of the church in times past. I offer the following taken from one of my posts written when the European court ordered the removal of the crucifix from Italian classrooms:


    Where I freely admit that the governing authority of any school should be able to either choose or not to present this symbol of Christian/Catholic faith, it is entirely another thing to deny the right to express their faith/convictions/belief in the public square. The principle that is expressed as “separation of church and state” also implicitly includes the freedom to express those values that we believe are the path which leads to the betterment of all humanity.??Read the story, and ask yourself whether the secular argument that leads to this European suppression of the freedom of speech of believers is any different from the agenda that marks the direction of North American society today.??This story is proof positive of the price of failing to argue in defence of the principles which are the accumulated human reasoning that stretches back to the earliest days of recorded history. Whether the moral principles of our modern civilization evolved as the refinement of simply human wisdom, or whether it is a still imperfect vision of God’s will, they have brought Western civilization to the point where we are today. The “rights” that are now so suddenly being tossed aside in the last twenty-five years are the foundations upon which the right itself is rooted. The poisoned fruit of the civilizational tree now endangers the root from which it sprang. ??Freedom of expression of faith in the public square must be respected; it is the essential corollary of the freedoms of thought and speech. I pray that leaders of our faith, our Bishops, would look to the European (or Québécois for that matter) social experiment and heed the need to “teach”, in every forum possible, the wisdom and teaching of our Church: to educate those raised in the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” generation (the first generation of essentially uncatechized “C & E” Catholics (i.e., “Christmas and Easter”) who now have moved into society’s corridors of power) of the wisdom of these first principles before they use the levers of power to shape the debate. ??Freedom of life… Freedom of belief… Freedom of speech: these are the Bishops’ menu of first principles to defend in full. Let’s pray that they fashion sumptuous salad of arguments, no matter how appealing the dessert table secularism seems to offer. ??Society needs strong bones to grow and prosper. We eat of the poisoned fruit at our own peril.

    Fr. Tim

  • Excellent commentary, Fr. Tim, which very much reflects why us California voters are now being put on trial for having the temerity to vote for changing the Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

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  • Lest one begin to think that this is all new, I quote St. Basil to the western bishops in the 4th Century:

    “The dogmas of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set to nought; the discoveries of innovators hold sway in the churches; men have learned to be speculatists instead of theologians… The aged sorrow comparing what is with what was; more pitiable the young as not knowing what they are deprived of”. [Ep.90]

  • Thank you Dave for letting history teach us, at least some will repeat the errors and call for a “king” to rule and guide or other idols instead of our Lord and Savior. Your recent Times article was excellent also.

  • Dave, you’ll be thrilled to know that Spirit Daily posted this today in its second most prominent spot.

  • Thank you for writing this. Thank you for mentioning the Blessed Mother crushing the devils head.I attend morning mass and pray the daily rosary for conversions and repentence(for many years) and within the last month have had 3 people say they want to come back to the church and I have been taking them to Sunday mass with me. One has already talked with the priest.The other I am taking to a Catholic healing service. The 3rd is actually an unchurched person who accepts what I am teaching him and wants to talk to the parish priest. When the Blessed Mother said she will give graces of conversion and repentance when you say the rosary, she means it. Thank you.

  • Great article !! Truer words were never spoken. We need to hear more of the truth to stir all Catholics
    into reality and into standing up for the Church and our rights.

  • There are 3 essentials ingredients in the Church that keep any soul on the correct road. The Eucharist. Confession and the Rosary. Stay faithful to these and you and your household will be saved. The world is passing away and we are passing through it to something that we can not even begin to understand. Show mercy to all those who are in darkness.

  • As a simple un-educated mother of seven I read the whole article Construct of Rebellion, and thought it was most informative and full of truth.
    However, what it was lacking was the matter of placing some blame on the church itself for the departing of so many Catholics from their true faith during the 2000 years of excistance.
    I asked should the church not have been more alert and listened to the complaints from the faithful on some liturgical customs and for the lack of education in the full deep meaning of scripture and the bible, also the lack of explaination the dogmatic reasons for truth?
    Even the fathers of the church were weak at times and had to also endure the evil one.
    Now we have at least been assured through the workings of the wonderful Popes we have had with John Paul and Benedict that the church will always remain. Both of them have used the media and every other medium to prove that the Catholic church is the only true one to embrace all of the world’s people.

  • as one person commented I echo: Confession, Mass, the Eelfucharist….and let the world blow its up and fall into hell…..or let it REPENT FAST.

    sanctuaryhouse.tumblr.com…….. CALL IT UP…

  • In Worcester, Massachusetts, a Diocese is coming unglued because it embraced dissent and New Age occultism. Visit: http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.com

  • I am wondering which diocese in Worcester Roger is talking about.Eileen George gives monthly

  • teachings there and she is veryorthodox andoutstanding catholic

  • The same diocese which hosts a “Commission for Women” which has New Age links. The same diocese where numerous children have been sexually abused. The same diocese where a Holy Cross professor (and ex priest) promotes homosexuality and is “married” to another man. I could go on but you wouldn’t accept the facts.

  • How does Eileen George feel about the College of the Holy Cross sponsoring Planned Parenthood on its campus? How about the Newman Center at Fitchburg State College promoting homosexuality as a simple variant of normal sexuality as well as homosexual “marriage”? Is she concerned that the Diocesan Commission for Women has links to Joyce Rupp? Read what Donna Steichen and other orthodox Catholics have had to say about Rupp.

    With all due respect for Eileen George, the Diocese of Worcester is losing many of the faithful (75 of 120 parishes are in economic crisis by the Diocese’s own admission) for a reason.

  • Holy Cross has engaged in homosexual agitprop:
    http://hccns.org/articles/news/081115_homosexual-promotion.htm

    Sorry Martha, Eileen George’s presence in the Worcester Diocese doesn’t justify that.

  • While I agree with your basic outline, there are two things that bother me with what you wrote: 1) The many grammatical and typing errors. Sorry, but when people have a good idea and they’re trying to communicate it, it helps to do so with correct punctuation and without typos.

    2) Whether or not people believe what Michael Brown wrote in his book or posts on his site is no indication of their adherence to the truth or lack thereof and no one should take it as such. Mr. Brown may be a Pulitzer-nominated journalist, but that doesn’t mean everything he writes is of the same quality as his work on Love Canal. Mr. Brown is not the sum total of the Catholic Faith. That comes to us from the apostles and their successors.

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  • Thomas, while you may claim to be an excellent grammarian, you might want to brush up on your reading skills. Where did I say or insinuate that Michael Brown is the sum total of the Catholic faith?

  • “Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.” A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.

  • “…self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church…” It’s the authority of the Church that’s being rebelled against. Not Michael Brown.

    Thomas, are you simply here in an attempt to wear down the author of this article?

  • No, John, I’m not. I made two observations about what I consider to be an otherwise well-constructed argument – grammar and saying that not liking Michael Brown’s book is part of the construct of rebellion.

  • No Thomas, you wrote: “A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.”

    No one said that Michael Brown is the authority being rebelled against. Instead, the author of the article wrote about, “..self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church..” That’s the Church. Not Michael Brown.

    You are engaging in dishonesty.

  • On the contrary, John. The author writes (with my edits): “However, the pull of being accepted by the world is tough even for self-professed, orthodox-minded Catholics. For example, the secular scholarly world rolls its eyes and snickers at modern day miracles and apparitions. One of the most popular Catholic websites, Spirit Daily, is one such site that makes mention of both. However, mention you read this site and you are bound to be looked at with suspicion even in the world of orthodox-minded Catholicism…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.”

    Hence my statement that in order to rebel, one must have something authoritative against which to rebel. Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.

  • This kind of dialogue appears to be feeding the egos of the individuals. Are we working for our own glory or God’s. I think the best road to travel is the one of Humilty and Love. Why not focus on ourselves individually and see where we are on the road of repentance and reconciliation.

    Better still why don’t we focus on Christian Unity and do positive things, – let us do the will of the Father and not our own, let us take this opportunity to love one another and at least celebrate Easter on the same date every year. At least the rest of the world will see that we are united on the essence of our faith; the death and resurection of Jesus Christ.
    It is only through unity that we will have :
    Peace, Love and Reconciliation
    Mary Joanne
    onedate.org

  • I don’t appreciate your unfair criticism Mary. I was merely attempting to defend what the author wrote. Hiw words are being twisted. There is no peace without truth Mary. It is the truth which sets us free (John 8:32), not falsehood.

  • The author wrote, “…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics…”

    What the author is saying is that because some rebel against the Church’s authority, they even reject or disregard Our Lady’s appearances to mankind. Our Lady always leads people to Jesus her Son and His Church. The author is not saying. or suggesting in any way, that Michael Brown is some sort of ersatz Magisterium of the Church or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    To suggest otherwise is to engage in dishonesty.

  • Thomas, you are demonstrating the pedantic nature of the “lawyerly” arguments for Relativism. Argue all the brush strokes away and soon the painting itself will no longer exist for you.

  • “Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.”

    I agree. I read Spirit Daily, probably more than I should, and I always come away from the site with confusion, not peace.

    What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval. I certainly believe Mary has and still does appear in the world, but there are so many alleged apparitions, and many of them contradict each other.

    I certainly don’t believe they should all be thrown out, but they need to be examined. Michael Brown is always going on about today’s Church “throwing out the mystical”, but I don’t believe that’s a fair claim. Why is it so “bad” to discern these apparitions, and if something about one doesn’t make sense, discard it? Why did God give us intellects if He doesn’t want us to use them?

    Michael Brown may be well-intentioned, but the net result of reading his site is confusion.

  • Elizabeth writes “What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval.”

    Elizabeth, calumny is a sin. I would refer you to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say in that regard. Mr. Brown has said – repeatedly – that we MUST accept the Church’s final decision on ANY apparition site. And this includes Medjugorje. For you to imply that Mr. Brown is someow failing to discern the authenticity of an apparition site or that he does not accept the Church’s ultimate authority is preposterous.

    Gaudium et Spes (specifically No. 28) forbids judging a person’s interior dispositions. I suggest you meditate very carefully on that teaching.

  • In Fides et Ratio, No. 16, Pope John Paul II teaches us that, “The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. Faith intervenes not to abolish reason’s autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.”

    Faith and reason are described by His Holiness in this important Encyclical Letter as two lungs. Imagine how difficult it is to breathe properly with only one lung!

    Michael Brown is all for discernment of private revelation. But, along with St. Paul, he believes that we shouldn’t despise prophecy. Understand the difference?

  • peter santos: You accuse Elizabeth of sin because she expresses concerns about a Catholic writer and speaker. You accuse her of “judging a person’s interior dispositions”, and then lecture her on how she should meditate on Church documents.

    Elizabeth states that, in her opinion, Michael Brown relies heavily on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. This is not judging Mr. Brown’s “interior dispositions”, but simply stating fact. On Spirit Daily, Mr. Brown mentions the “1990 prophecy” VERY frequently, and is quick to defend Medjugorje. Yes, he does state clearly that we should accept the final decisions of the Church on these matters. But, that does not negate what Elizabeth wrote.

    It seems to me that because you disagree with Elizabeth YOU assume evil motives on HER part. She says nothing in her post that would constitute the “sin” you claim she has committed. YOU are the one who has accused someone of sin because of a post. Elizabeth makes no such accusation.

    As an aside, I follow Spirit Daily and have for about 4 years now. I enjoy reading both the links and Mr. Brown’s own articles. Much discernment is needed in digesting these writings, clearly, as Mr. Brown’s opinions do not constitute official Church teaching. Stating that plain fact is NOT a sin, Peter.

  • For Elizabeth to assert that Michael Brown believes all apparitions or private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval,” is calumnious. It’s a lie. He has written against certain private revelations which were obviously false. The rest he commends to the Church.

    Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.

  • For Elizabeth (and anyone else who falsely accuses Michael Brown of accepting all apparitions), I submit the following words of Mr. Brown himself from 2005:

    Discerning Apparitions A Difficult Process

    [Q & A by Michael H. Brown]

    In the past twenty years there has been an explosion of alleged apparitions, locutions, stigmatics, and healers. Which are real and which are not?

    I would never attempt such a list, because I don’t have the authority to do so. We simply go by what the Church has decided, unless there is not yet a decision, in which case we try to exercise discernment.

    How do you tell if an apparition is real?

    This is one of the hardest questions in the world to answer. The process of what we call “discernment” is intensely complex. It’s also very personal. There is no formula. Some apparitions miss certain criteria and yet bear signs of authenticity while others seem to fill most standards but have problems at their very root. In the end, only through prayer and fasting can we get a true inkling. It is the spirit — not the mind — that discerns.

    You mean a “gut feeling”?

    No. I mean a feeling in the depths of the spirit after a period of fasting. When we fast, we are more sensitive to evil. We are more likely to know if it is present. This is very important.

    But aren’t there some tips to discernment?

    In the Bible it says that “by their fruits you will know them,” and so this is certainly one major facet. But we have to be careful about what we consider “fruits.” I have seen many cases in which people adhering to what turned out to be a deceptive circumstance had a great first impression, or even found the visit a major step in their return to the faith, to their conversion. God can take good from evil. He can draw with crooked lines. It is for that reason that we must be careful in speaking negatively about a circumstance, even if there are indications of problems; we don’t want to discourage those who have had good experiences.

    Are there often problems?

    Most claims of apparitions, visions, or locutions are a mix — in other words, there are parts that seem inspired, parts that come from the person’s subconscious, and parts that may be from a source that is deceptive or demonic. All of us are in touch with God and those who feel they have a special “line” of communication may in some cases have such a special gift, although too frequently this leads to ego, and ego leads to a person putting his or her own spin on what they think they have been “told.” This is very common, and why so many predictions do not materialize: The prophecy was not a direct communication but filtered through the ideas, preconceptions, and feelings of a person. It is the demonic component that of course concerns us the most. A demonic influence can cause not only spiritual trickery but also deep discouragement, division, and illness.

    Is divisiveness a standard of discernment?

    Certainly, it’s one. Now, remember that even with the authentic apparitions like Fatima or Lourdes or Medjugorje, which the Pope discerned as worthy of devotion (in recently publicized private letters), there is resistance. There is spiritual warfare. And that can lead to division. There will be some division. But that division usually is far outweighed by good fruits such as conversion. If division is the main effect, or if there is constant, lasting rancor, and a lack of peace, then there is a problem with the apparitions. We can also say to watch out for pride among the seers, attempts at self-promotion, and the spawning of a cult-like following. Cults in the bad sense of that term are a bad fruit (there are also holy cults, when proclaimed as such by Rome). Those who begin to exclude others because they don’t believe in a certain apparition are not in tune with the Holy Spirit, Who tells us through the Church that we don’t have to accept a private revelation. Meanwhile, we must watch for prophecies that are too gloomy and dark, that give messages of tremendous specificity, that ramble on at great length, and that contain messages threatening people who don’t believe in the particular revelation. There are some messages that have denounced anyone who won’t help purvey a private revelation. As soon as I see that, I know there is deception.

    What about those that mention the anti-christ?

    We have to weigh these with special caution. In my discernment there is truth to the coming of a personage of evil, and certainly major events, but we have to be cautious about believing that the coming scenario will exactly fit the scenarios spawned by those who have speculated on specific end-times schedules. Are we in the end times? We are at the end of an era. It is a very, very important time. It is not the end of the world. What is about to happen will fit the general prophetic pulse we have heard now for nearly 25 years (since the onset of Medjugorje, which caused an explosion in private revelation), but it will occur in ways we don’t specifically anticipate and that make sense (the feeling of, “oh, yeah, of course”) only in retrospect.

    What percent of seers are authentic?

    It’s impossible to say. What we can say is that very, very few are corporeal apparitions at the level of a Lourdes or Fatima. “Corporeal” is to see the Blessed Mother as a full-bodied, multi-dimensional apparition similar to the way we see another person: with eyes wide open. Some who claim this are imagining it, are projecting a “vision,” and a vision can be authentic, but it is not at the level of an apparition.

    How prevalent is actual demonism in alleged revelations?

    It is not uncommon. That is one way to put it. This is the fast lane of mysticism, which is one reason the Church is cautious. I might add that I am always perplexed by why a local bishop usually uses the term, “no evidence of the supernatural,” to dismiss a troublesome apparition. Often, there is plenty of evidence of the supernatural, but it’s supernaturality that is coming from the wrong source. At the same time, and overall, private revelation is of great benefit and as in Jesus’ time, among the Pharisees and Sadducees, it is sorely neglected by the official Church.

    Is the U.S. Church more closed and skeptical toward apparitions and phenomena like weeping statues than other nations?

    Yes, due to our scientific bent, much more skeptical.

    Why do you believe in Medjugorje?

    I have been there I think seven times, and I didn’t believe in it the first few hours I was there. I thought it was collective hysteria. Then I started to see phenomena myself — a lot of it — and tremendous, tremendous fruit, whereby virtually everyone who was going there was experiencing a deepening of faith or outright conversion unlike any other religious encounter with which I was familiar, just really profound and in most cases lasting. I had never seen people touched on such a massive scale. Dozens of millions have been affected in a way that can be compared only with older sites such as Lourdes or with trips to the Holy Land. Medjugorje leaves a feeling of peace and well-being and conversion.

    Whereas a false apparition?

    Another way of discerning a false apparition or a false anything is that it tends to drain you. It takes your energy. This is a hidden means of discernment: it takes more than it gives. It is temporary. This is often a good way to evaluate any situation, although like everything else in this field, there are exceptions (no foolproof means of discernment). We are very open to mysticism — it is crucial to our time and to any time — but we urge folks not to become involved in new such claims unless they are fasting and staying close to the New Testament. Daily reading of the Bible puts us in the correct frame of mind and is probably the best way to discern an apparition.

    06/27/05

    As for his acceptance of Medjugorje, there is nothing against faith there. A decision has not been made regarding that alleged apparition site. Mr. Brown has already said that he will ACCEPT THE CHURCH’S DECISION.

    Elizabeth is engaging in calumny. She should make this right.

  • I don’t understand where you’re coming from. How can you be so bold as to assume I’m in a state of mortal sin? Isn’t that up to God to judge? Not you?

    What exactly IS the “1990 prophecy”? Has it undergone Church scrutiny? Has it been submitted to any Church authorities for discernment and/or approval? I have been reading Spirit Daily for about 5 or 6 years. This is what I meant by an unapproved private revelation. There is no source and no mention of it ever being submitted to the Church.

    Medjugorje is different. It hasn’t been formally approved by the Church, but the Church is more than aware of it, so to speak. Not so with the 1990 prophecy.

    There is good on his site (his articles on Maria Esperanza, but much that leaves me, and others I’m sure, scratching their heads. There is a lot of stuff from his “mailbag” that makes me wonder. How much of this is real, and how much of it is coming from people’s overwrought imaginations? He needs to be more careful when presenting these viewpoints and some sites he links to. It’s all very confusing and doesn’t help the average person on their spiritual journey. That is all.

  • Elizabeth, Peter never said you are in “a state of mortal sin.” Your dishonesty is showing again. He wrote, “Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.”

    You falsely accused Mr. Brown of accepting ALL private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval.” This is – objectively speaking – calumnious. But rather than acknowledging that your post was false and unjust, you now assume a defensive posture and accuse Peter of judging your soul.

    When will your dishonesty cease? You are behaving very poorly.

  • I know what I wrote. I don’t appreciate Elizabeth’s false accusation against me.

  • This is the time I will ever read or visit this site. I’ve been accused of being a poor reader, of trying to wear down an author after a mere two posts, being dishonest, being egotistical, twisting words which were clearly written, and of being a relativist. Elizabeth comes along and gives her opinion that Michael Brown relies too heavily on Marian apparitions and personal revelation and she’s accused of calumny. There is no engagement of ideas here, only personal animus. The impression one is left with is that if one does not agree with everything written at this site, then that one is necessarily part of the construct of rebellion. Not exactly the best impression to leave with anyone.

  • Sorry, meant to say “This is the last time I will ever read or visit this site.”

  • Thomas, you’re not here to participate in a “dialogue.” Like Elizabeth, you’re here to level false accusations. Read Peter’s post of Michael Brown’s article from 2005. He does not accept all private revelation uncritically. Nor has anyone (including himself) held up Mr. Brown as “the authority” on all private revelation.

    As Christians, let us refrain from such falsehoods.

  • I will never cease to be amazed how the internet has the capacity to take a solid, well formed argument for the faith, and transform it into this demonstration of the classic “my father can beat up your father” form of analysis (or in this case, “my Mary can beat up your Mary” such as this thread has morphed into.

    Will wonders ever cease.

    Yes indeed, a great illustration of how the the internet is a wonderful tool for the faith… or is it that the internet is the place to witness the faith of tools?

  • Apparently Fr. Moyle has no problem with calumny. Maybe he should brush up on his Catechism. If this thread has “morphed” into something unproductive, it is because of unfair allegations and misinterpretations.

    Asinine comment Father. With all due respect for your priestly office. Asinine.

  • “Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2479).

    I would exhort those who visit this thread to read Michael Brown’s 2005 article on discerning private revelation and hold Elizabeth’s false accusations up to the light of truth.

  • I agree with you Peter. Where was Father Tim when Elizabeth was leveling a false accusation against Michael Brown? He chides you for exposing Elizabeth’s false accusation against Michael Brown and showing it for what it is and describes it as a “my father can beat up your father form of analysis.”

    Father is a disappointment.

  • I am closing this thread.

    In the future please stay on the topic at hand.

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Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 2)

Monday, June 15, AD 2009

Here I continue with the slow build-up of an authentic Catholic worldview on the true nature of the Political Community- as outlined by the authoritative Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Chapter 8). This second paragraph contains more of the Old Testament outlook on Kingship, with the earthly kings of Israel finding their deepest fulfillment in Christ the King. But there is more to be said about the political community and responsibilities of citizen(s) and ruler(s). We will see the development in the social doctrine as we go forward through the Compendium’s teachings. We cannot point to one specific epoch in the history of the Church and the Chosen People, and make final assertions about things- we must look closely at how the current doctrines of the Church have developed, so we can see the consistent core principles. Here goes with paragraph 378:

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