The mainstream media refuses to cover this story because it shows abortion for what it is; infanticide, or baby murder. The story at the following link is indeed graphic. Swallow it, folks, this is what abortion has wrought.
Category Archives: Catholicism
There’s a lot going on within Christianity today. God seems to be working overtime shaking things up, denying anyone a status-quo , making sure believers know what they believe and why. It has much to do with our relationship with each other as believers. I honestly believe that one of the things becoming clearer and clearer to me is that internal politics, hierarchy, and egotism have no part to play in Christianity amongst believers.
As always, definitions first, and thank-you to Dictionary.com. Politics: 1) the science or art of political government. The politics I’m talking about here are formal politics; the control and manipulation in a hierarchical setting of the individual members of an organization. Hierarchy: 1) any system of persons or things ranked one above another. Notice in this definition that the emphasis is on a ranking “one above another.” Egotism: 1) excessive and objectionable reference to oneself in conversation or writing; conceit; boastfulness. 2) selfishness; self-centeredness; egoism.
I hope, dear reader, that you are starting to get a sense of my point. The idea of hierarchy is addressed several times in scripture. The apostles themselves were not originally above jockeying for position, fighting amongst themselves to see who was the preeminent disciple. Jesus made His point even more clear by stooping physically to wash the feet of his friends and disciples. There is no “above” position in the body of Christ, besides Christ being the head of the church, and also the foundation. We are to serve one another even while we, as individuals, are called to certain positions. We are indeed called to different things; preachers, teachers, evangelists, deacons, elders, etc… but these things are organic to the body, not hierarchical in nature…I should say, “these things SHOULD be organically understood, not hierarchical.”
Listen to Peter: 1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Christ is clearly the cornerstone, and we are all stones of the same house, we are all a holy priesthood. One has to watch, in any church, a hierarchical structure that places one “type” of believer over another, whether it be a protestant church such as Lutheran, UMC, etc… or the Roman church system with the Pope, cardinals, etc… that are over, and “ordained” above the other believers in Christ. The actual, biblical positions mentioned in scripture are ones of servitude, even the “teaching” positions. Even “servants” are not “below” other members, but rather we are all on the same level and should lean on one another and rely on each other.
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Notice the context of these passages; they are about Spiritual gifts; the emphasis is on the fact that we are all part of the body of Christ, each important. When there is emphasis on position, the emphasis is on the gift, NOT the person. Again, notice it talks of coveting the best gifts, not coveting the position. Why? Because the better gifts serve the whole body. Formal hierarchy, such as we see in secular circles that have invaded church consciousness, separates the “leaders” from the rest of the people. Hence, formal hierarchy breeds politics, and a quest for power within whatever system is set up.
Egotism is also rampant in the church amongst leaders and members both. There is this odd emphasis on certain “famous” individuals instead of on the message. Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and the like are the focus of news stories, books, TV shows, etc… The Pope gets the attention in the Roman church. There is a centering on the self. What kind of floors me is the fact that we still have people struggling to make a name for themselves by finding the next gimmick or the next new marketing tool…there is nothing new under the sun. Pastors out there desire not just to teach the flock the Truth from scripture, but a truth that no one has ever discovered, something they can pat themselves on the back about. Also, there is a horrible trend of the leadership totally abandoning humility, and also self-awareness. It can become easy for the leadership to play the “I’m a better Christian” game.
There is just as much egotism amongst the congregants of many churches. Legalism, backstabbing, gossiping, judgmentalism, etc… springs from pride. Our call is to love God and love one another; in fact Christ is clear that when the world sees these things they will know we are HIS disciples. If we have not love, we are clanging symbols. Love doesn’t boast, it isn’t proud or self-serving. Love serves others, and focuses on God. If Christ is to be our ultimate role model, isn’t that what we see most in Him? Love God, Love our neighbors. Servant-hood. Brotherhood. Egotism picks at people, it constantly says, “I could do better than so-and-so” with pride and very little action, if any.
This is by NO means a call to a social gospel, or a call for churches not to have pastors or church boards; it is a call to view it all a little bit different. How much momentum is lost by all the gossip, infighting, playing politics, and competition in our churches? Isn’t that a sad thing? Supporting one another, learning together, praying for one another in sincerity (not fake one-upsmanship), focusing on the word and on God, worshiping together, studying together, eating together… If anyone here thinks I’m putting myself above all this; I’m not, I need to hear this type of thing and to read scripturally accurate articles and sermons about such too. I do believe we’ve been given a lot to think about by what is happening across Christendom, so let’s think about it, pray about it, pray for one another, search scripture, and discuss it with kindness and humility!
1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. 7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
I’m going to go into a pretty deep subject here, and it is always good to define terms and look to scripture before discussion. The main themes in this article are sacramentalism, faith, and grace.
What is sacramentalism? First, an attempt at a neutral, secular, definition: Dictionary.com gives these two definitions for “sacramentalism:” 1) a belief in or emphasis on the importance and efficacy of the sacraments for achieving salvation and conferring grace. 2) emphasis on the importance of sacramental objects and ritual actions. Sacramentalism, in church terms, is usually defined also by example. Those denominations that practice and believe in sacramentalism have various sacraments that are used within their churches. Examples include baptism, communion, marriage, confession/penance, confirmation, ordination, last rites, foot washing, etc… etc… Sacramentalism, as defined in the earliest tradition is indeed a vehicle for grace; a “special” way of receiving the grace of God through action.
Faith. I won’t spend too much time here on faith, as I’ve defined it previously in another article here: What is Faith? The important points that pertain to this current conversation is that it is by grace we are saved through faith. Faith is trusting with great confidence, not just a head belief, but an actual trusting with confidence. Of course, when Christians talk about faith, we mean faith in God.
Grace. I’ve also defined and discussed grace in a previous article here: What is Grace? Grace is unmerited or unearned favor. Again grace is God’s to bestow. God’s grace is a marvelous thing, and we should desire it in our lives, in fact, God’s grace is necessary for salvation, and for forgiveness. It should be no wonder that the topics of sacramentalism, grace, and faith are so important in Christendom, and rightfully so.
The main area of debate surrounds the idea of the sacraments as vehicles of God’s grace. Do the “sacraments” literally convey God’s grace to us in a special, or mysterious way that is unattainable any other way? Do the sacraments contribute to our salvation? What does scripture reveal to us about these things? (I’m not debating whether these actions are good or bad; obviously the ones called for in scripture serve their purpose and are a good thing.)
Well, there are no references to “sacraments” or sacramentalism in scripture. I mean that in the sense that those words never appear there. Now, of course baptism is mentioned, and taking the bread and wine, foot washing, marriage, etc… However, go to a search engine and do a search on “grace.” Grace is not seen in connection with these acts. When these acts are described, grace isn’t connected to them. Grace and faith, on the other hand are clearly connected by the writers of scripture and these are both rooted in and spring from Christ. Bear with me:
John 1:16-17 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Romans 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
What’s my point? There are certain denominations, such as the Roman catholic church, the United Methodist church, and others, that still, in the face of scriptures on grace, insist that grace is tied into the sacraments, instead of being unmerited favor from God. Notice that, in the case of salvation, that we are saved by grace through faith, not a sacrament. That instantly defeats any notion put forth that we must be baptized in water in order to be saved. Also, note that the common benediction when you look up grace scripture, like in Ephesians 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. There’s no jumping through hoops, no need of an intercessor or mediator between you and God; we’ve already got one: Jesus Christ.
In Christ, grace is ours and we already have direct access to the throne of grace. When Christ died for us the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom giving us direct access to God. God gives us grace, and it is connected with faith in Christ. All these churches peddling the idea that sacraments convey grace, or are used as a vehicle for grace, are muddying the waters with something not to be found in scripture. What leaps to mind, as my brother pointed out, is the quote by Kirk in one of the Star Trek movies; “What does God need with a Starship?” God does not need a vehicle to convey Grace; God Himself is that vehicle. For those in Christ, a huge victory was won when we could go directly to the throne of grace with no need of any vehicle, and salvation is by grace through faith.
Notice too, that one of the early apostasies was that one of the vehicles of grace is sinning. Romans 5:20 listed above speaks to that. Should we sin in order to get more of God’s grace; of course not! How many times do we also need to be told that grace doesn’t come through works? Grace, remember, is unmerited favor. Those that believe in the sacraments are actually advocating grace comes through action, instead of faith, which is completely contradicted by scripture. Now, am I saying that we should not take communion or be baptized? Not at all. If you want to call these “symbols” of faith, I’m all for it. The term “ordinances” is often used to show that particular churches do NOT see these actions as sacramental, but rather acts that show forth the faith that is already there. In the case of communion, it is clear in scripture that we are doing the act in remembrance and are showing forth Christ by performing the act.
In the near future I hope to write more articles touching upon these things, and bringing some of this to light that believers sitting in different denominational pews may not realize their denominations are pushing and preaching. These things also are connected with church “hierarchy” which, if defined by things like “ordination,” can split the body of Christ into those supposedly gifted in some way above and beyond the rest of us when it comes to administering the “sacraments.” It also has implications for the oft repeated phrase; Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. The idea of “sacraments” makes Christianity into religion once more, and constrains our relationship with God, which is a no-no. More to come…
Don’t get excited…I’m not planning on doing that in this article, so all you people who’d love get some dirt on me, just settle down. ;) What I want to do is take this passage from James and flip the focus of it a bit.
At one of the churches I attend, the pastors have been teaching on “the one-anothers,” which I would like to go more into in future article (all the scriptures that exhort us to love one another, prefer one another, support one another, etc… look them up, there are a lot). The sermon today was about accountability and how it isn’t limited to a list of sins we have committed that we have to sit down and confess to some priest. That is the fist part I’d like to point out in this passage, we are to talk to one another, back and forth, between fellow believers about our struggles and successes, not to some person who is set apart from us. Every believer is a priest in Christ, and we are all called to be an ear to our brothers and sisters.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
The focus of sermons on this passage tend to zero in on the “confessee,” the one doing the confessing. Today’s sermon was no different, and it was a good one. However, I’d like to switch the focus to the “confessor,” the one listening. I am a licensed counselor and I can tell you the important stuff that we “learn” as we move toward licensure is already available to everyone…in the Bible. Listen to one another, love one another, weep when your brother or sister weeps, REJOICE when they rejoice, pray for each other (NOT in the way that ‘I’ll pray for you‘ gets better translated into, ‘I think you are a piece of dirt, so I’ll “pray” for you.‘ But, real genuine prayer)…
The attitude of the confessor is just as important, or perhaps even more so, as that of the confessee. The person listening to another person’s problems should be mindful of the situation, of the respect and trust it takes for one human being to confide in another. If you should be so honored with someone’s confession, as a brother or sister in Christ, give the other person the respect of at least really listening to what they say. Don’t think that you have to solve their problem, but do really listen to what they have to say.
Give a crap. There’s a novel idea. Think on that.
Half of helping a person bear their burden is simply to listen to what they are going through, and let them know that they are not alone. Most people don’t need a sermon preached to them while they are going through tough times, save the platitudes, but a word of empathy and encouragement will not be out of place. Pray for the person, if they like that kind of thing pray with them, but you can even pray for them when you are alone. If you are hesitant about the “righteous man” part of that passage, don’t worry; as long as you are in Christ, you are righteous because of the righteousness you’ve been given, not because of your own works.
People in today’s society are used to superficial social interaction. A sort of hit-and-run approach to listening to someone else. Our own minds go in a thousand different directions at once. You want to know the key to being a good confessor? Listening. Hearing and absorbing what the other person is really saying. We are also told not to be judgmental. If someone is telling you about something they’ve done wrong, it isn’t up to us to judge them; how arrogant. We believers are all one family, we are all part of the body of Christ, and there is no room for arrogance and feelings of superiority.
My thought for the day can be summed up thus; LISTEN to one another. (I dunno…I kind of like the “Give a crap” line from before…)
I felt compelled to make a post about the latest episode of Lost, Ab Aeterno, mainly because of the religious content; there’s SPOILERS ahead. In this eppy, we get to see Richard’s backstory, and his run in with a Catholic priest. It highlighted several things that are worth commenting on, theologically speaking, and this just gives the chance:
1) God can and does forgive people for murder. In the show, the priest refuses forgiveness on the grounds that Richard doesn’t have time to perform acts of penance. This is especially emphasized since it was “murder” that Richard had committed; folks, one sin is just as heinous as the next.
2) Forgiveness does not hinge on works, but rather faithing on the finished work of Christ. The priest made it abundantly clear that his refusal to forgive Richard was again based on the fact that Richard did not have time to commit acts of penance.
3) We are instructed to forgive others as God has forgiven us. The priest showcased the attitude that Christ despised; an open-hearted individual truly seeking forgiveness turned away by someone who would fully expect to be forgiven if the roles were reversed…and more importantly, if the priest had been a believer, he was already forgiven, so we should also forgive.
4) We do not have to go through a mere human being to receive forgiveness, in fact we are instructed that Christ is the mediator betwixt God and man; we go through Christ directly to the Father. Poor Richard (in the fictional show, of course), is left thinking that another mere man can refuse to forgive sin, and hence he remains unforgiven. Only God can forgive, and Christ died so we could go directly to Him. Once we faithe on Christ, all our sins are paid for.
5) As previously posted on my site; the Devil is not in Hell at present, and He’s not “in charge” like some king of Hades. Several references in the show hinted at the fact that the Devil was in charge of Hell.
That’s enough for now…
I was just reading a RC question and answer forum, and a question about prayer to “saints” came up; Does one have to pray out loud for the saints in Heaven to hear them? Good question, and one which I hope shows the person is really thinking through this praying to anyone other than God situation. The way the RC presents prayer to the dead, they (the dead saints) would have to be omniscient in order to explain how they could hear unspoken prayer.
The priest that answered the question underscored this with his reply; yes, the dead saints can hear your thoughts, no need to pray aloud. Hmmmm….. this whole thing just once again backs up the point; we should only be praying to God, He is the omniscient one, He is the one that we abide in and who abides in us. Christ is our mediator, and the Holy Spirit is our intercessor; we don’t not require the intercession of any of our dead fellow saints (all believers are saints). There is no scriptural evidence that the dead saints can hear our thoughts.
Folks, direct all your prayers to the Lord, not to any fellow creature.
I have more to write on my Romans passages, but I was reading in Matthew last night, and came across another example of the Lord using a food parable to get His point across in a similar manner that He was attempting to do in John 6. Of course, John 6 is the often referred to chapter in John when someone is trying to promote the idea of transubstantiation. You can read my post on that chapter, and transubstantiation here: John 6 and Transubstantiation (pt. 1).
Let’s look in Matthew;
Matthew 16:5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
First notice that the apostles tried to take Christ literally. He’s talking about bread and leaven…He must be referring to the literal, right? Nope. Next notice that Jesus does not correct them outright; He makes them get to the conclusion on their own. He gives them the non-sinful equivalent of an eye roll. They do eventually catch on to the truth themselves; Jesus was being metaphorical.
I also note that when He brought used the idea of bread and leaven here, that He was speaking about doctrine. That further supports that idea that He was also speaking of doctrine, or partaking of the the words of life, in John 6, not His literal body.