Zuckerberg, Go With What’s True

Today’s Wall Street Journal features an opinion article by Sander Tideman (“Can Mark Zuckerberg Find Enlightenment?”) urging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take up Buddhism, evidently because it would help him in business. Zuckerberg is said to be waivering in his faith in atheism.

If Mr. Zuckerberg adopts Buddhism then he’ll feel right at home as an atheist. Theravada Buddhism teaches the doctrine of nonsoul. It teaches there is no God, no Creator. Rather than immortality, the Buddhist aspires to the extinction of existence – because according to that religion, life is nothing more than suffering.

Separately, the article promotes the fallacy that one should choose a religion based on what one likes – or in this case, what’s good for business. Instead, one should choose a religion based on which religion is true. There’s good evidence for the authenticity of the Gospels and divinity of Christ. There’s no evidence that Buddhism is true or that the Buddha was divine. In fact the Buddha allegedly even claimed he wasn’t a prophet or a god.

In the end, you want to go with the religion that’s true, not with the one that’s most pleasing to you. Otherwise you may come to regret that decision in the hereafter.

Jesus Was No Class Warrior

There’s a set of Christians who rail against income inequality and who are leery of the rich. Such attitudes end up harming the poor and inflaming the envious.

Pope Francis is one such Christian. He desires “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state.” That’s code for higher taxes on the rich.

The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, said to be a key confidante of Pope Francis, recently invited presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to the Academy. It’s safe to assume the Pope approves of the invitation. By extension it’s safe to assume the Pope is a fan of Sanders and of his plans for confiscatory tax rates on the rich.

Poverty and inequality in America have expanded under Obama’s watch, as perverse outcomes so typical of big-government solutions took effect. Sanders as president would exacerbate that.

A disproportionate number of Catholic priests of the Jesuit order, to which Pope Francis belongs, excessively fixate on income inequality. Recently the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “The Challenge of Easter” by Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America magazine. The article makes good points including attesting to the authenticity of the Gospels and divinity of Jesus Christ.

The Pope and priests such as Father Martin are well-meaning people, and one should have enormous respect for anyone who takes a lifetime vow of poverty and celibacy in devotion to God. However such Catholics are all too prone to not detecting wolves in sheeps’ clothing (to borrow a metaphor from the Gospel), namely clumsy government policies that make the poor even worse off.

Father Martin’s in his article suggests economic inequality was a primary concern of Jesus. He asks, “How could He … not have been grieved by the glaring disparities in wealth?”

He writes that Jesus preached against “gross material inequalities”, and rendered “judgment against the excesses of the wealthy.” But this is actually nowhere in the Gospels.

While Jesus championed giving to the poor, He never called for taking from the rich. One is free will. The other is coercion.

Jesus did teach that it’s harder to get to heaven if you’re wealthy. This is because attachment to material possessions detracts from the greatest commandment – loving God with all of your heart, mind and soul. Wealth also can puff up one’s pride, leading a wealthy person to think he or she is superior to others due to wealth and status. God abhors pride and loves humility, which must be one reason why He chose to become man as a poor carpenter.

A wealthy person likely can still get to heaven but he or she has to work extra hard devoting time and energy to worshiping and proclaiming the glory of God, donating substantial sums to the less fortunate and to the Church, avoiding acquiring status symbols for the sake of status, and forgoing certain comforts and pleasures with the aim of being “poor in spirit”.

Even when a wealthy person doesn’t carry out the above virtues, one should never look upon that person negatively because, as it’s taught in the Gospels, never judge others.

Nowhere did Jesus imply the wealthy harm the poor or create other social ills – except perhaps tax collectors, who were known for taking more from people than warranted. And that was based on wealth coercion. Most wealthy people at least in this day in age get rich through wealth creation.

Perhaps one reason Jesus did not fixate on economic inequality is because it is not necessarily an evil. If the poor get richer as the rich richer, everyone is better off materially. The only ones who are not better off are the envious. Jesus as well as St. Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, warned against the sin of envy.

If the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, that’s typically not the rich’s fault. It may be because of worsening skill levels among the poor (e.g. due to declining educational standards or immigration from low-skill countries), or because of misguided government attempts to help the poor that actually harm the poor, such as a too-high minimum wage that prices the unskilled out of jobs and creates a vast underclass.

Wealth inequality is only a social evil when the rich get that way due to wealth coercion – usually carried out in collusion with the government – as opposed to wealth creation.

A few days ago the Washington Post reported that in America, the poor have higher life expectancies in cities where inequality is highest, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

Pope Francis and Father Martin: in light of this fact, are you sure you still want to whip up passions against inequality?

In reality what you’re doing is whipping up envy and resentment.

 

(Originally published in Newsmax.com)

Scientists Are Almost Sounding Religious

There’s an anti-religion website called Disbeliefnet, evidently created by comedian Bill Maher, which trumpets the motto, “You won’t believe what people believe.”

He’s right. People buy into a lot of outlandish and fantastical stuff that defy common sense and the laws of nature – in a word, miracles. Such propositions are so foreign to our five senses that it’s no wonder that so many academics and other highly educated people have no tolerance for them.

Here’s a sampling of bizarre, other-worldly, and downright fanciful notions that some people believe:

* There are other dimensions beyond our own.
* Certain entities can move through solid walls.
* Some things can be invisible.
* Certain things can travel back and forth through time.
* The same entity can be in multiple distinct locations at the same time.
* Certain entities can communicate instantaneously with other entities – that are billions of light years away.

Bill Maher could have a field day with this stuff.

In centuries past, people believed in the supernatural because they didn’t have science to explain things. Now, we’re nicely ensconced in the age of science and reason; if it’s not explainable by science, goes the thinking, then it can’t be true.

Or maybe not.

It turns out that the strange notions described above are championed by top physicists.

That’s right. The weirdness falls into the realm of quantum physics – the branch of physics that seeks to explain how subatomic particles behave.

Physicists often use the adjectives “bizarre” or “weird” when describing quantum physics – because things happen that defy classical physics or common sense. And they admit they can’t explain how such things happen.

So let me get this straight. The secular elite disparages religion because they find silly the notion that there are spiritual beings that can exist in different dimensions, be invisible, go through solid walls, time travel, and carry out other seemingly miraculous activities.

Yet, renown scientists are telling us that subatomic particles can do all of these things.

If one accepts that, then it’s by no means a stretch to infer that there is a spiritual world in which similar things occur.

Far from being in conflict with each other, science and religion are complementary. Twentieth-century physicist and Nobel Prize-winner Eugene Wigner pointed out that materialism – the atheistic worldview that reality only consists of physical matter – is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”

Another Nobel Prize winner, neuroscientist John C. Eccles, posited that the spiritual mind and physical brain are independent entities, and that the two interact through quantum physics.

In quantum physics there are systems, laws, and observers. “There is something about observers like us that’s not reducible to (classical) physics,” said University of Delaware physicist Stephen Barr. He explained in a 2012 Research on Religion podcast interview that once you accept the nonphysical reality of our own minds, then it’s easier to accept the reality of greater minds, such as that of God. And given how incredibly orderly the universe is from a mathematical standpoint, which suggests a supreme designer, “Modern physics ought to make every particle physicist in the world get down on their knees,” he remarked.

The dictionary defines the term supernatural as “not existing in nature or not subject to explanation according to natural laws.” It’s also defined as “of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe.”

If that’s the case, then to this reporter, modern science indicates that the supernatural must exist. “An order of existence beyond the visible observable universe” immediately evokes dark matter and dark energy. Astrophysicists widely agree that the visible observable universe only makes up about 4 percent of all matter. The rest is matter that is invisible to us, known as dark matter, as well as dark energy. Scientists know it’s there because without the gravitational effects of dark matter, galaxies would fly apart.

Some physicists, notably Lisa Randall at Harvard, theorize that dark matter comes from higher dimensions, and that gravity is “leaking” from these dimensions. Apart from that, string theory has long predicted hidden dimensions. And at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, they’re working hard on finding evidence of other dimensions.

Oxford physicist David Deutsch considers there to be vast numbers of parallel (albeit not spiritual) worlds, and that perhaps someday we’ll be able to contact them using quantum computers.

To be sure, scientists very rarely use the term supernatural when describing quantum physics. If there are other dimensions, most physicists consider them to be physical – not spiritual – dimensions. Whatever the case, all this talk of other dimensions blurs the lines between the definition of physical and spiritual.

And one thing is certain: for evidence of the supernatural, the theologians have a much stronger case than the secular elite. Science confirms it.

 

(Originally published in Newsmax.com)

 

And No Religion Too

It’s symbolic – and ironic – that in Europe following terrorist attacks, the unofficial anthem of choice is that ode to atheism, John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

After the November 13 attacks in Paris, a pianist attracted the attention of millions via the mainstream press and social media when he played Imagine outside one of the places of carnage, The Bataclan. Last February in the aftermath of killings in Copenhagen by a radical Muslim, tens of thousands of Danes sang Imagine at memorials across the country.

“Imagine there’s no heaven …. No hell below us … And no religion too,” go the lyrics.

It’s symbolic because religionless is what Europe has become – particularly Northern Europe. Churches in France are closing for lack of worshipers. Only about 5-10 percent of the French go to church regularly. That percentage is even less in Denmark.

So the ethnic French (as opposed to ethnic Arabs in France) largely have attained one of the sentiments longed for in the song: no religion. They have abandoned the Christian faith.

Are they better off without Christianity? The tragic event of last weekend suggests they are not.

French society still retains some Christian values. They include a love of peace, justice, and civility, and helping the poor and downtrodden. The latter manifests itself in the form of generous foreign aid programs, and taking in refugees afflicted by war and poverty.

It is one thing for a country to open one’s doors to a certain number of the poor and downtrodden. It is quite another thing to open one’s doors to whole nations of poor and downtrodden – from radically different cultures. That is what France and other developed countries including the United States have been doing. (And it’s not just motivated by compassion, but also by a desire to import future liberal-left voters.)

Taking in what amounts to whole nations of peoples fundamentally transforms the identity and culture of the host nation. After decades of migration from the Middle East and North Africa, many aspects of French society are being upended, such as a rise in economic inequality. But worst is the importation of the culture of violence. It should not surprise anyone that terrorist attacks that always have been so common in the Middle East are now taking place in Europe.

Had the French remained devout Christians, it is doubtful they ever would have taken in such huge numbers of Muslims. They would have recognized the threat it would have posed to their Christian identity, to their freedom of worship, and to their security. Their leaders would have been more in the mold of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who keenly recognizes the problem of outsized Muslim immigration into traditionally Christian nations.

Europeans have taken to heart another piece of bad advice contained in John Lennon’s song: “Imagine there’s (sic) no countries…” The open-borders policy reflects that. And it’s devouring them.

Imagine also makes a nod to communism with the “Imagine no possessions” line. At least the French haven’t gone that far – yet.

But getting back to imagining no religion, the abandonment of Christianity in France invites another great danger: less protection from God.

All you atheists, agnostics, and Christians who don’t take your religion too seriously may laugh off what you just read. I would have, back when I was in your camp. But a couple of years and a lot of investigation later, I’ve become convinced that all those things that we associate with religion are actually true: God, the spiritual world, the divinity of Christ, the authenticity of the gospels, heaven and hell, angels, and fallen angels. Evidence of that will be presented in future articles. But for now, suffice it to say that fallen angels do exist. (The Drudge Report posts stories on that topic practically every few days – and many of them are credible.) The earth truly is the devil’s playground. His greatest triumph is convincing the world that he doesn’t exist.

According to theologians, God protects us from the evil one all the time. Without such protection, the whole of the earth would degenerate into one big slaughterhouse. When nations turn further away from God, His protective hand eases up.

That’s what’s happening in France. Last weekend we saw one of the consequences. As America turns further away from God, we too tread on more dangerous territory.

It behooves those in France, America, and other Western nations to return to their Christian roots. Otherwise, expect more tragedies such as what happened in Paris.

(Originally published in Newsmax.com)

A Divine Plan in Pope Francis?

Regarding the hard-core leftism of the current pope, it’s disturbing, but grin and bear it. There may be a divine plan in all of this: use this pope to cozy up to the billions of people on the left in the hope that at least some of them will consider embracing Christianity. And then once they’re in, have the next pope teach them deeper lessons in Christianity.

Still, the jury is still out as to whether the “Francis effect” is bringing more people into the Church. A survey in late 2013 showed no clear Francis effect in the U.S. Another survey at that time pointed to an increase in Catholic congregations in Italy.  Those surveys are ancient history now. As far as approval ratings (as opposed to conversions to Catholicism), in the wake of the Pope’s global warming and anti-free-market activism, a recent survey showed declining approval ratings among U.S. conservatives, which is no surprise. What is very surprising is that the same poll showed a decline in approval ratings among U.S. liberals. That doesn’t make sense; more research behind those numbers is needed.

In any case, don’t fret too much over Pope Francis. By reaching out to those on the left in such a forceful manner, he may actually be helping to bring many lost sheep into the Catholic fold. And one day they may in turn end up softening or abandoning their hardcore leftist attitudes.

Believing in the Nongod of Nothingness

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker recently quoted (or paraphrased) former Bush administration official Karl Rove as saying, “Faith is a gift that, unfortunately, I have not received.”

Based on that quote the assumption is that Rove is not a believer; on the other hand he’s quoted elsewhere as saying , “I am a practicing Christian who attends a bible-centered Episcopal church in Washington and an Anglican church in Texas.”

Whatever the case, let’s assume that someone says they don’t have the gift of faith. Actually that person does have a lot of faith – in the power of spontaneous self-assembly.

It takes more faith to believe that the raw materials of the universe and that the laws of physics arose from nothing, and that those raw materials somehow self-assembled themselves into stars and living organisms, than to believe that they were designed by an intelligent agent. That’s particularly remarkable because such assembly happened in defiance of the second law of thermodynamics – that things naturally go from order to disorder.

Cup with your hands some empty space in front of you. Then imagine nothing is there – not even any molecules. If you lack faith in God, then you believe in the unbelievable notion that (1) the laws of physics somehow appeared, (2) molecules somehow appeared, (3) those molecules self-assembled into chemicals (which is doable thanks to the laws of physics), (4) those chemicals somehow, on their own (with no input of stimuli) self-assembled into amino acids, (5) those amino acids somehow self-assembled into proteins, (6) those proteins somehow self-assembled into cells, and (7) those cells somehow self-assembled into bacteria, insects, plants, animals, and humans.

If you believe all that happened without the input of an intelligent agent, then you have a lot of faith in the impossible. You have faith in something for which there’s no evidence – not even circumstantial evidence. On the other hand, there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence for God. Just as a house is circumstantial evidence that it was created by a human or humans (not direct evidence because we didn’t directly see anyone building it decades ago), a tree or an animal is circumstantial evidence that it was created by an intelligent agent, i.e. God.

Walk into a factory. Tell someone that all the components and functions of that factory randomly and coincidentally fell into place over time. Absurd, right? It’s the same idea with the cell – a factory vastly more complex than any factory man could ever build. (For a flavor for that, watch some of the video animations that the folks at the Discovery Institute put together, such as at
www.unlockingthemysteryoflife.com.)

It also takes a lot of faith not to believe in the divinity of Christ and authenticity of the Gospels. As former atheist Lee Strobel said, “In the face of this overwhelming avalanche of evidence in the case for Christ, the great irony was this: it would require much more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to trust in Jesus of Nazareth!” For more info read his book The Case for Christ or see his videos obtainable here. Also check out this.

There’s also the avalanche of accounts of mystical experiences. My favorite are appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On that, I point you to proof. Read about the story of Fatima, Portugal in 1917 and the Miracle of the Sun. Leading up to the event, the secular newspapers scoffed at such an idea. Now, you easily can find on the Internet English translations of newspaper articles by the secular press describing the extraordinary event, such as here.

So to reiterate, given the abundant evidence of an intelligent creator, it takes more faith (in the non-god of nothingness?) not to believe in Him than to believe in Him.

When Protestant Ministers Turn Catholic

In recent decades hundreds if not thousands of Protestant ministers have left their vocation to join the Catholic Church. It’s enough of a frequent phenomenon that there’s even an organization, called the Coming Home Network International, dedicated to helping them with the practical aspects of having to abandon their career and transition to Catholicism. It’s a tough decision, which is why it’s likely that many ministers don’t go through with it even though they may have come to realize that the Roman Catholic Church is the church established by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. They often have to give up their jobs, their health insurance plan, and their status in the community, and may be abandoned by friends and even family members. But as the Coming Home Network intones, “At the same time, a sense of joy and discovery permeates every journey. Drawing closer to the Catholic Church means drawing closer to Jesus, our Lord and Savior.”

Coming closer to Jesus is certainly what happened with the former Protestant ministers whose conversion stories are featured below. A common thread throughout their stories is that at some point in their careers or education they were compelled to study the early Church Fathers – i.e. those who led the Christian Church in the first several centuries after the apostles died. Church Fathers include Ignatius of Antioch (d. A.D. 110), Clement of Rome (d. 97), Polycarp (d. 155), Justin Martyr, Irenaeus (d. 202), and Cyprian (d. 258). An in-depth study of the New Testament can additionally prompt a person to embrace Catholicism. Usually the decision boils down to coming to appreciate the importance of the Eucharist and the real presence of Christ within the Eucharist.

Home to Rome

Probably the most well-known former Protestant minister turned Catholic is Dr. Scott Hahn. He’s is a prolific author and prominent speaker on the Catholic lecture circuit. Currently a professor of Biblical theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville Ohio, he’s a former Presbyterian minister and was a militant opponent of the Catholic Church. He converted to the Catholic faith in 1986.

His powerful conversion testimony is the most widely distributed Catholic audio recording of all time, “Why a Protestant Pastor Became Catholic”.

Hahn is a scholar on the Bible and early Christianity, able to read the original texts in ancient Hebrew and Greek. While at Presbyterian seminary, that helped enable him to delve deep into the literature of that time period.Hahn1

As a Protestant he was of the school of thought that a person is saved by faith alone rather than by both faith and good works. Sola fide – faith alone – and sola scriptura – the Bible alone – were the battle cries of the Protestant Reformation. Luther based sola fide on a passage in Romans 3:28, which to him indicated that faith is all you need for salvation.

Luther’s German translation stated that man is justified by faith alone. But while reading the book of Romans in the original Greek, Hahn saw that something was missing in the Greek – the word “alone”. It said men are justified by faith, but not by faith alone.

Nevertheless he put that out of mind and became a Presbyterian minister in the Washington, D.C. area.

He began to share with his parish all that he had been discovering in his studies in college and seminary. He started to understand and appreciate the concept of covenant, and noted that Jesus only used the word covenant on one occasion, when he instituted the Eucharist. So Hahn’s church started having the Eucharist along with the sermons.

Then he started teaching a course on the Gospel of John, and got stumped when it came to John 6 verse 53. Jesus said, “Truly truly I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you.” He and his fellow Presbyterians had been taking that figuratively. It doesn’t mean it’s literally his flesh and blood, Hahn had always thought. But as he read the Greek texts, he discovered that Jesus nowhere indicates that it was just a figure of speech. Four times Jesus says to a crowd, eat my flesh and drink my blood. Most of the crowd left – except for the 12 apostles – because that concept was so difficult to accept. Had Jesus just considered it a symbol, Hahn recounts, he would have said so and called them back. But he didn’t. That prompted Hahn to realize that it’s more than the Lord’s Supper, it’s the Eucharist. It’s more than a symbol, it’s reality. It’s more than a figure of speech – Jesus really expects people to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

Another eye-opener came when, during a class Hahn was teaching, one of his students asked him, where exactly does the Bible teach sole scriptura? Hahn was stumped because the Bible doesn’t seem to indicate that Holy Scriptures should be the only authority. This implies sacred tradition can be an authority as well. In second Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 15, Paul tells the Thessalonians, “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

After some time Hahn began attending mass, just as an observer. He couldn’t believe how much of the Bible he was hearing – three readings of Scripture. Then during the liturgy of the Eucharist he heard for the first time in his life the words of consecration, “This is my body.” And when the priest elevated the consecrated host, he felt the last drops of doubt draining out of his heart. Said he, “I felt like an orphan who finally found my way home”.

A Sister Outwits a Megachurch Pastor

Allen Hunt, author of Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor, once led one of the largest Methodist churches in the world, serving more than 15,000 people each week.

After finishing seminary at Emory University, he got into the PhD program at Yale University on New Testament early Christian history.

While at Yale a fellow student in that program who was a Catholic priest introduced him to a cloistered monastery of Dominican nuns in North Guildford, Conn., where Hunt and the priest lectured for several weeks. While there, Hunt had “unwittingly stumbled into the most providential experience of my life.”

At the end of a lecture during Q&A, he got into an exchange with a particular nun there. She asked him why he wasn’t part of the Catholic Church. He said the main reason was communion. It’s a symbol, he said. A metaphor.

She said, “You’re a New Testament scholar, right?” Then she said, “You remember where Jesus said in the Gospel when he gathered his disciples together for the Last Supper, and he took the loaf and said this is my body and took the cup and said this is my blood. What don’t you understand Allen?”

HuntBut the sister wasn’t done yet. They had just got done studying first Corinthians where Paul passed on what he received from the disciples, who received from Jesus that this is his body, this is his blood. He doesn’t say this is like my body. He doesn’t say this is like my blood. He says plainly this is my body, this is my blood.

The nun continued, “Let’s open to John chapter 6. In verse 53, 54, 55, and 56 it says, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’” Four times in a row. She again asked, “What don’t you understand?”

Afterward Hunt started to do some reading about people in the early Church – the first, second, third and fourth century Christians. Reinforcing the point of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Hunt found that those early Christians were willing to die because they believed it is literally the body and blood of Jesus. (If one is puzzled as to how bread and wine can be changed into the real body and blood of Jesus, it certainly can be done, now that Jesus is in spiritual form. In spiritual form, he could change himself into the tree outside your window if he wanted to.)

All Christians until the 1500s considered the altar and the Eucharist as the centerpieces of worship. Hunt imagines time traveling back to the first millennium, and taking some people from that time to the 21st century and attending a Protestant worship service. Those first-millennium people would hear some good music, hear some excellent sermons and meet some really kind people, and then walk out and say, “When are we going to church? There’s no Eucharist. When’s church?”

While still a non-Catholic, during his vacations, Hunt started attending Catholic masses. He explained that had he attended a Protestant worship service inside an unfamiliar church in an unfamiliar town, he wasn’t sure whether it would be a good service. He didn’t want to waste a Sunday. By going to a Catholic church, he knew what he was going to get. He’d get the liturgy, focused on the altar – which has been the same for 2,000 years. It would be exactly the same no matter where he goes in the world, even if he doesn’t understand a single word.

One morning Hunt went to mass on the feast day of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The priest told the story of Aquinas, probably the greatest thinker and scholar of the church, who became dumbstruck one day as he elevated the host and began to speak. He was rendered speechless as he held the precious body. He was so dumbfounded that he placed it back on the altar, sat back down and didn’t finish the mass. That night in his journal Aquinas wrote something like this: “At that moment I was so overwhelmed by the Providence, the Love and the Grace of God and at his mercy and giving himself to us in such an intimate way that I realize that everything I have thought, everything I have preached, and everything I have written is like straw compared to that.”

Hunt prayed that moment and said, “God, forgive my unbelief.”

A New Testament Worship Service is a Catholic Worship Service

Deacon Alex Jones was an African-American Pentecostal minister in Detroit from 1975 to 2000, and is now an ordained permanent deacon in the archdiocese of Detroit. Not only did he convert to Catholicism, but he brought 54 members of his congregation with him into the Church, entering it on April 14, 2001.

Jones’ journey started one Wednesday in 1998. Always wanting to be innovative and creative, that evening he asked his congregation, “Would you like a New Testament worship service?” He was seeking to give them most genuine experience of the early Christian Church. They said yes. He said give me 30 days to study up, and after that we’ll do it the way the early Christians did it.

So he delved into the texts of the apostolic fathers. “In those 30 days of reading and searching,” recounted Jones, “my whole life was transformed.” He came face to face with the truth, says Jones, as he began to read the Church Fathers. He saw a different Christianity compared with what he was used to. The Church was liturgical. In other words they had a systematic way of worship that was uniform and universal. Great preaching wasn’t the center of the worship service back then. It was the Eucharist. Not only that, but they considered the Eucharist Christ’s real body and blood. Jones previously was under the mistaken impression that that concept arose duriJonesng the Middle Ages.

He found that the early Church was not only liturgical, but also hierarchical – with bishops, presbyters and deacons. The bishop presided in the place of God and the presbyters did so in the place of the council of the apostles.

“The most telling thing in my reading of the Fathers was that the whole spirit of the apostolic and post-apostolic Church was totally different from the Christianity that I saw around me,” he intoned.

At Jones’ Pentecostal church, everybody wants to be blessed. Everybody wants to receive.  Everybody wants God to do something for them. They want a new house, a car, a good job. But Jones didn’t see that in the apostolic church. He saw a desire to serve Christ to the point of giving up one’s life. He saw a dedication to holiness and to holy living.

Many things that Jones previously believed he found not to be true, such as sola scriptura and rejection of tradition, discussed above.

What mainly prompted Jones to join the Catholic Church were two truths. Number one was the Mathew 16:18 passage when Jesus says, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” He was giving the church perpetuity.

Number two was when the Holy Spirit, post-resurrection, breathed on the apostles as they gathered in the upper room, leading and guiding them into truth. That told Jones that the Church that the Lord initiated in the upper room would never become corrupted and that the Holy Spirit will be with it forever. There’s a clear line from what happened in the upper room to the present, and that line is manifested in the Catholic Church. “It seems the Holy Spirit branded that into my mind and heart,” thundered Jones.

He contrasted that with his own church, which began in 1982. Where was his and the thousands of other Protestant churches before the 16th century?, he asked.

His conversion cost him much, such as many friends and brothers with whom he had walked for the previous 40 years. But he thanks God that he’s home at last.

Making Sense of the Bible

David Currie was raised in a devout Protestant family, his father a fundamentalist preacher. Growing up, he had never wanted to be anything other than a fundamentalist preacher. He studied in the Masters of Divinity program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, but after a long and arduous journey Currie entered the Catholic Church with his family in 1995.

While at seminary he started to make a mental list of Bible verses that had no answer or that were not understandable in any Protestant tradition. He says there are a lot of them, and they started to nag on him.

He had no doubt that somewhere he would find the theological system that made the whole Bible makes sense – that took into account all of the verses of the Bible. He did find that but it was the very last place he ever expected: the Roman Catholic Church.

CurrieCurrie had gone through seminary without ever reading first-hand about the Church Fathers. He finally did that, and found that everybody who said anything about the Eucharist or about the mass for the first thousand years of the Church assumed the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

The verse he couldn’t get around was John chapter 6 verse 51, where Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” He had always thought that Jesus was speaking in symbolic terms. But after studying the early Church Fathers he realized Jesus didn’t give us that option. Currie knew there was only one church that consistently and faithfully taught the meaning of that verse.

He even spent a month trying to find one teaching of the Catholic Church that was verifiably the absolute antithesis to what Scripture taught, but he couldn’t find one.

Currie had always believed in the Apostles Creed, but only after tremendous research and soul-searching became convinced that the Catholic Church is the church of which this Creed speaks.

The more he studied the Bible, the more he found the truth in the Church. Currie and his wife became convinced that the Catholic Church really is the church that Jesus Christ founded 2,000 years ago, and for this reason he didn’t have any choice but to give it all of his loyalty and support.

The Catholic Church is to the Bible as the Supreme Court is to the Constitution

Additional reasons Protestants convert to Christianity include the realization that there needs to be a pope. Among other things, that’s based on Jesus telling Peter that upon him – Peter means Rock – he will build his church and give Peter the keys to the kingdom. As Scott Hahn explains, Jesus was referring to the Old Testament book of Isaiah 22 verse 15 which says keys are the symbol of authority to the House of David – and the House of David is a reference to a dynasty that lives on with succeeding generations, with offices that become vacant and that need to be filled. That of course is reflected in the succession of popes after the death of Peter.Hahn2

The early Church did recognize the Bishop of Rome as having that supreme authority. William Jurgens’ The Faith of the Early Fathers examines the early fathers and the many things they said indicating recognition of this authority.

The doctrine of papal infallibility is a favorite punching bag of Catholic naysayers, but Catholic converts come to see its necessity. Most Protestants readily accept the Bible as being infallible. Why would God stop there? Hahn explains that rejecting papal infallibility implies that once Jesus gave the Christian Church this infallible scripture, there was no need anymore for infallible interpretations of scripture. That’s like saying once the Founding Fathers gave us the U.S. Constitution, there was no need for any court of final appeal to interpret, enforce, explain and proclaim the truths therein. Confusion and disarray would prevail. Perhaps that’s why there are some 35,000 denominations of Protestantism today.

There are of course numerous other reasons why Protestants convert to Catholicism. Good books on that subject include Scott Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home and Patrick Madrid’s Surprised by Truth, a three-book series in which the author recounts stories of dozens of converts to the faith.

Other good sources are audio CDs (and MP3s) produced by Lighthouse Catholic Media, from which this article was derived. They are Scott Hahn’s “Why a Protestant Pastor Became Catholic” and “Why Do We Need a Pope?”, Allen Hunt’s “Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor,” Alex Jones’ “No Price Too High”, and David Currie’s “Quest for Truth: A Convert’s Perspective.”

Listen to them. Your salvation could depend on it.

 

 

 

 

 

A Weak Reason for Leaving the Church

Social critic and “dissident feminist” Camille Paglia, who often boasts of being a Democrat and/or Green Party supporter but who seems to have a soft spot for conservatism, was interviewed recently by the liberal Catholic magazine America in which she discussed her abandonment of Catholicism.

I asked the nun what still seems to me a perfectly reasonable and intriguing question: if God is all-forgiving, will he ever forgive Satan? The nun’s reaction was stunning: she turned beet red and began screaming at me in front of everyone. That was when I concluded there was no room in the Catholic Church of that time for an inquiring mind.

Why doesn’t God forgive Satan? As I mentioned in the comments to that article, even if God did forgive Satan, he wouldn’t come back to God. Angels’ intellects are far superior to those of humans, and once they make a decision – which Satan did when he chose to rebel against God – they accept and embrace that decision as final, with full knowledge of the consequences.

Another commenter explained that God did not provide a plan of redemption for the angels (which includes Satan, a fallen angel) as He did for mankind.

It’s silly to leave the faith because a nun couldn’t adequately answer that question. I’m sure Ms. Paglia had other reasons, but one should not join or leave a religion based on personal preferences. One should do so based on whether that religion is true.

There’s abundant circumstantial evidence, as outlined in several recent books, for the divinity of Christ and authenticity of the Gospels. There’s also a very strong case to be made that the Church that Jesus established upon Peter’s rock was the Catholic Church. By rejecting that Church, Ms. Paglia is taking an extreme risk. Best not to set oneself up for a rude awakening when it’s time to plop down on that judgement seat.

Courses on Christianity by a Christ-Naysayer

There are a lot of book authors arguing in favor of the divinity of Christ and authenticity of the Gospels. There don’t see to be many authors, however, who’ve made a name for themselves arguing against those assertions. One such author, though, is UNC-Chapel Hill professor Bart D. Ehrman. It seems whenever anyone wants to challenge a Christian apologist, or hold a debate between a Christian apologist and a contrary spokesperson, they turn to Dr. Ehrman. (Is there no one else to whom they can turn? Are the arguments against the authenticity of the Gospels so weak that so few researchers are prepared to defend that position?)

You may be familiar with The Great Courses – the audio lecture series with hundreds of courses in a variety of disciplines, presented by prominent professors. The Great Courses has several courses on Christianity, including History of the Bible, How Jesus Became God, A History of Early Christianity, Historical Jesus, The Greatest Controversies of Early Christian History, and The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers.

Those constitute a large portion if not the majority of their courses on Christianity. And guess who’s the lecturer for all of the aforementioned courses: yep, none other than Bart Ehrman.

To be sure, The Great Courses has another course relating to Christianity, The History of the Catholic Church, taught by a professor who’s a Catholic himself. So they aren’t all religion-bashers there.

But Dr. Ehrman certainly is. Calling himself both an atheist and agnostic, he’s produced voluminous literature arguing against the divinity of Christ and authenticity of the Gospels. The Freedom from Religion Foundation even presented him with their Emperor Has No Clothes award last year. See here and here.

It’s obvious that this is a man with an axe to grind.

A less controversial lecturer would be preferred – at the very least someone who is coy about whether or not he or she believes in the divinity of Christ.

In their bio of him, it behooves The Great Courses to add that among Dr. Ehrman’s awards is the above-mentioned one from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Update: Having listened to Ehrman’s History of Early Christianity, it turns out that his presentation was more objective than I had expected. In any case, his FFRF association should still be in his bio.

 

 

New San Diego Bishop’s Wrong Approach to Poverty

First Chicago, now San Diego. Pope Francis just appointed a left-leaning bishop to lead the Diocese of San Diego, Bishop Robert McElroy. He reportedly is prone to “placing abortion and euthanasia on the same moral level as immigration and poverty.” That probably means he plays down the former in favor of issues such as poverty.

The irony is that it’s left-wing policies, which the Bishop no doubt espouses, that breed poverty. High minimum wages, for example, price unskilled people out of the job market, resulting in a large underclass of unemployed. Welfare often discourages work, which even Bill Clinton recognized. High taxes and regulations on businesses discourage business creation and hiring, resulting in fewer jobs and putting downward pressure on wages. Huge government expenditures and stronger government control of the economy slow economic growth – and slow growth is the biggest producer of poverty. It’s no surprise that inner cities, where leftist policies dominate, are breeding grounds of poverty. Same with leftist-controlled countries around the world.

So it’s quite ironic that the good Bishop, who claims to be most concerned about poverty, unwittingly supports the very policies that encourage it. (Preceding paragraphs taken from my comment to the above-linked article.)

Absolute poverty throughout the world has declined considerably over the past several decades. That has coincided with a much greater embrace of free markets, especially in places like China, India and other Asian countries. If Bishop McElroy were really serious about eradicating poverty, he would be a champion of free markets. But alas, my guess is that he does the opposite.