Ray: John, how do we understand God’s anger? I have heard some apologists say that God doesn’t really have anger, and other apologists argue that God is an extremely personal God who has emotions. Isn’t it fair to say that God has emotions? Or are the descriptions of God’s anger in Scripture purely metaphorical? I understand that Catholic theology teaches us that God is moved by our sacrifices and, because of our sacrifices (which are united to the sacrifice of Christ), God grants us His mercy. Thus, it seems reasonable to say that He has an emotive disposition. But does this mean God changes? What do you think?
J. Salza: Ray, Catholic theology does not teach that God is “moved” by our sacrifices, for God cannot be “moved.” He is unmovable and immutable. He does not change. God is the Prime Mover who is doing the moving. God is the one who moves people by His grace to satisfy His justice through sacrifice. This is possible because of the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to which our sacrifices are united in order to be efficacious (see Col 1:24).
It is true that God responds to human actions. Our Blessed Mother has revealed to us that God is “offended” by sin. But when we say God “responds” to sin, this implies no change in God, for God’s will is immutable and cannot change (Mal 3:6; Num 23:19; Jam 1:17). God’s responses to good and evil come from His same immutable will. Rather, when we say God “responds” to sin or is “offended” by sin, we mean that God wills to punish sinners to restore justice and to move the sinner to repentance because God wills all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4).
God fulfills His will by constantly giving man grace to repent. If man repents, God forgives. If man does not repent, God punishes. God’s “response” (whether its forgiveness, punishment, or both) comes from His same immutable will to save the sinner or to punish the unrepentant sinner. Hence, Aquinas teaches that God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some men to be damned as a manifestation of His justice (He wills damnation for those who have opposed His will by dying unrepentant). With that as a background, let’s address your question.
Does God have anger? Yes He does. Scripture clearly teaches that God has anger in many places (Ex 4:14; Deut 13:17; Jos 7:1; Judg 2:12; 2Sam 24:1; Isa 5:25; 2Kg 17:11; Rom 2:5; 5:9; Heb 3:11; Apoc 14:10). Does God have emotions? No He does not. Why? Because, using Thomistic terminology, emotion requires passivity and potentiality (that is, the ability to change). Because God cannot change, He cannot have emotions. As Aquinas teaches, God is pure act with no potentiality because, absolutely speaking, actuality is prior to potentiality (something can change from potentiality to actuality only by a being in actuality, and God is the First Being). This is why it is proper to call Scripture’s description of God’s anger as metaphorical (which Aquinas does) insofar as there is a likeness or analogy between human and divine anger, but also vast differences between them. They are neither purely equivocal nor univocal.
This means that there is a difference between human anger and divine anger. Human anger is a passion or emotion, while divine anger is not. Instead, God’s anger is a judgment of divine justice. The “anger” in Scripture describes God’s vengeance against those who oppose His will. Speaking in purely human terms, God’s anger is perfectly righteous and predictable, never arbitrary or spiteful. For humans, anger is in the sensitive appetite (and God doesn’t have a sensitive appetite). For God, anger is in the will because it is part of God’s justice, and God wills justice.
Both Scripture and the Church teach that God’s anger (or His justice) is appeased by sacrifice. Sacrifice propitiates or appeases God’s anger (or judgment) against sin by restoring the equality of justice. This equality refers to the relationship between the offender and the offended. In terms of human justice, if I harm another person, I must restore that person to the position he was in before I harmed him. For example, if I steal someone’s car, I must return the car to him or buy him another car to restore justice. In terms of divine justice, properly speaking, I cannot take anything away from God because He has everything.
However, sin deprives God of the love and obedience we owe Him as a matter of justice. By repenting and doing penance, we are able to restore the equality of justice between us and God by submitting our will to His which honors and pleases God. Aquinas says, “A sacrifice properly so called is something done for that honor which is properly due to God, in order to appease Him” (Summa Theologica, III, Q.48, Art. 3). As I mentioned, our ability to appease God through sacrifice is itself a grace from God, who moves us to do it. As Augustine says, when God accepts our works He is simply crowning His own gifts.
Christ, of course, made the perfect and superabundant satisfaction for sin by His suffering and death. Aquinas says, “Christ’s voluntary suffering was such a good act that, because of its being found in human nature, God was appeased for every offense of the human race with regard to those who are made one with the crucified Christ” (Summa Theologica, III, Q.49, Art. 4). I hope that answers your question on the distinction between anger and emotion as applied to God.
2. Jehovah's Witnesses and the torture stake
Anthony: Hi John, it's been a while. This is an exciting week here in Toronto for obvious reasons. The cross, another idol? Cross from the latin crux. the Greek word rendered 'cross' (torture stake) is stauros. This implied an upright stake or pale. An upright pole or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung. Not having a cross piece. In Jesus' time the Roman army would use a tree or a upright pole to perform executions. Logically a conquering or occupying army would use the most efficient and quick means to execute it's captives or rebelers. To build a cross as depicted by Catholics today would have required immense engineering and not an efficient use of time and resources.
J. Salza: This is another novelty of the JWs, and something that was never taught for 2,000 years. If Jesus was executed on a torture stake, with both hands together over his head, as only the WTS teaches, why does John 20:25 say "...unless I see in his hands the print of the nailS..." (plural), indicating that there was more than one nail used for his hands? Two nails would have been used if he was crucified on a cross. Crucifixion literally means affixed to a cross, not a stake. It is also an historical fact the Romans used crosses, not stakes, for their crucifixions.
Anthony: Interesting. You had mention to me that the scriptures are not the only source to learn about Jesus. You also said not to read scriptures out of context. The whole text of John 20:25 states as follows: Consequently the other disciples would say to him: "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them: Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick finger into the print of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will certainly not believe." This is Thomas speaking. Yes, more that one nail was used to attach Jesus to the stake. A nail was driven through his hands and one through his feet thus nails. Two nails causing four wounds. If we are to use your logic that the expression nails means a nail in each hand then when Thomas says that he want to stick his finger and hand both singular terms in Jesus' wounds does that mean that Thomas has only one finger and one hand? Of course not. I am at World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada and will return next week.
J. Salza: Good to hear from you again. I pray for you that your participation in World Youth Day will fill you with God's grace as you walk with the Lord. I also pray that the youth will observe proper decorum during the liturgical celebrations, and that all measures will be taken to prevent any kind of profanation of the Eucharist during these gatherings.
You say: “A nail was driven through his hands and one through his feet thus nails. Two nails causing four wounds.”
John 20:25 says: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails.”
Therefore, NAILS were used to affix Jesus' HANDS to the cross.
Also as I have said, crosses were used for crucifixion, not stakes. Historical fact. Non-Catholics who become educated in history usually end up becoming Catholics.
It is fruitless to debate about isolated Scripture verses back and forth to prove I am right and you are wrong, or vice versa. You need to focus not on how many nails were driven through our Lord's body, but how much He loves you, and calls you to share in His Sacrifice, His Body and Blood, and His Church. I recommend that you buy the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a fairly inexpensive book that explains the faith of the 2,000 year-old Catholic Church. If you find something you disagree with in the Catechism, let me know and we can discuss.
Grace be with you.
3. Do you believe in the Rapture?
Patron: You must realize, that anyone who studies the book of revelation, even to just read it will receieve blessings. Blessings being wisdom and knowledge because God imparts knowledge to those who earnestly seek him. I am an ex-catholic, born again (you must be born again to see the kingdom of heaven - (eyes to see spiritually)) born once of water, which is our human birth and once of the spirit, with is our spiritual eternal birth. Those who have been born twice, will not be hurt by the second death. But back to the subject of the rapture, even though the word rapture is not in the bible, it translates to snathing up or being caught away, which are in the bible. The Holy Spirit imparts this wisdom to Paul as he penned the words, Don't be ignorant, the coming of the lawless one cannot happen until the restrainer is removed. Who restrains Satan from reeking full blown evil in this world? That would be the Holy Sprit (God) and the Holy Sprit indwells every true believer, thus making up the body of Christ on earth (the bride of Christ or the Church) and the Church will be snatched away (I believe the bible says with a trumpet blast and a loud noise (probably the loudest sonic boom you will ever hear, because millions of people will be instantly transported up and away creating a sound barrier. The 144 thousand are sealed (12,000 from from each of the 12 Tribes of Israel) this happens simultaneously with the rapture (see chapters 6 and 7 of revelation). Many are being deceived and will be deceived into thinking that the anti-christ is Christ, which is so important to understand the details of God's word which are a a blueprint for this life and the one to follow.
J. Salza: Anonymous, the "Rapture" is a false theory of eschatology that was developed by Protestant John Nelson Darby, and introduced to this country by Protestant Cyrus Scofield in the early 20th century. You will not find the theory posited by any father, doctor, saint, medieval, pope, council or any reliable Christian scholar for 1800 years. This should give you pause. For a thorough, biblical refutation of the rapture theory, please see my link called “Zionism.”
The Rapture theory is not only unhistorical, it is also unbiblical. You, as a Rapturist, believe that certain Christians will be secretly taken up to heaven by Christ before the millennial period based on such verses as 1 Thess. 4:17. You also interpret the 1,000 year period of the Apocalypse literally, even though the Apocalypse is written in symbolic language. You then believe that Christ will reign with the Jews for this 1,000-year period before the consummation of the world. Thus, you believe that the Rapture occurs at least 1,000 years before the end of the world.
The Scriptures, however, say that the rapture occurs coincident with the end of the world, not a millennium before the end of the world. Turning to the “rapture” passage in 1 Thessalonians, Paul says: “For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep” (v.15). In other words, those Christians living at the time of the “rapture” are not taken first.
Instead, “the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (vv.16-17). These passages clearly teach that the resurrection of the dead precedes the rapture. Therefore, to know when the rapture occurs, we must first know when the resurrection of the dead occurs.
Scripture teaches that the resurrection of the dead occurs on the “last day” of the world (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48). Because the resurrection of the dead occurs on the “last day” of the world, and the rapture follows the resurrection, this means that the rapture also occurs on the “last day” (there can be no day after the “last day”). Since the rapture occurs on the “last day,” it cannot occur on any other day (that is, there is no “pre-millennial” rapture).
Therefore, the “rapture” occurs on the “last day” (John 6), and immediately follows the resurrection of the dead (1 Thess. 4:16-17). This necessarily means that the righteous and the unrighteous will be raised at the same time, because there is no day that can follow the “last day” where the unrighteous could be raised.
Scripture, of course, confirms this conclusion. In John 5:28-29, the Lord Jesus says:
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”
Jesus says that the resurrection will occur at “the hour” (v.28). This is the same as saying the resurrection will occur on the “last day” because an hour is part of one day, and that is the “last day” per John 6, 11 and 12. Jesus also says that “all who are in the tombs will hear his voice” (v.28). This follows Paul’s teaching on the resurrection/rapture event when he says that the Lord will descend from heaven with “a cry of command,” and the “dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16).
Finally, Jesus is clear that at this “hour” both those who have done good and those who have done evil will rise at the same time. The good will be raised to life, and the evil will be raised to judgment. There is simply no exegetical basis for inserting a millennial period between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust. Jesus says that the resurrection happens at “the hour,” when “all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth.” Thus, Scripture teaches that the rapture of the living occurs coincident with the resurrection of all of the dead, both the good and the evil, at the same time, on the last day of the world.
The Protestant scheme of a rapture preceding the millennium and final coming requires “three” comings of Christ. First, Christ came at the Incarnation. Second, Christ would come at the “rapture.” Third, Christ will come at the end of the world.
This scheme is absolutely false and contradicts the perennial teachings of the Church. It is also refuted by Sacred Scripture. For example, Paul says in his letter to the Hebrews:
“And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb. 9:27-28).
Paul says that Christ will “appear a second time.” This second appearance of Christ is nothing short of His second and final appearance at the end of the world, when He will judge the living and the dead. Paul draws a parallel between our death and Christ’s death, and our judgment and Christ’s second appearance. Following the literary parallel, Christ’s second appearance is the very moment of our “judgment,” for Christ is the “lawgiver and judge” (James 4:2; 5:9).
Because this Second Coming of Christ refers to the end of the world, Christ will no longer “deal with sin” because He will have already rendered His judgments upon the wicked. In other words, at Christ’s second and final coming, the fate of all humanity will be sealed. For those who have done evil, it will be too late to repent.
Regarding being “born again,” every early Church Father interpreted John 3:5 to be a reference to baptism. Once again, your opinions contradict the constant Christian Tradition. I implore you to come home to the faith into which you were “born again” in baptism. Time is short.
4. Perfect love and fearing God
Paul: I am doing research on the following two subjects and need some help. Could you or your organization be so kind as to give me some insight as to my inquiry? If the scripture tells us that “Perfect love casts out fear,” then why are we to fear God? You can keep it short if you like. I don’t a lengthy explanation. Thank you.
J. Salza: It says "perfect" love casts out fear. But who has "perfect" love this side of heaven? Since we are not perfect, we will not have a perfect love for God until He perfects us in eternity. This means we will always have an element of holy fear for God, and rightly so. He is our lawgiver and judge, and will determine our eternal destiny. The Scriptures also say that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of the divine judgment moves us to contrition for our sins, and this is healthy. But we should strive for attrition, which is a fear of committing sin and losing heaven for love of God. Both fear and love of God are graces from God, so we should be grateful for both, while trying to be "perfect as our heavenly father is perfect."
Grace be with you.
Paul: Great!!!! Just what I was looking for. Thank you so much for your answer and having your website available to those whom are caught up in the fog of understanding God’s Word.
In Him Who Loves Us All,
5. My brief response to a Muslim
Mohammed: John, you teach untruth. Allah said, "And the Jews say, 'Ezra is the son of Allah,' and the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the son of Allah.' This is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah's curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth. They took their rabbis and their monks as lords besides Allah and (they also took as Lord) the Messiah, son of Mary. But they were commanded only to worship none but One God. Praise and Glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate with Him." [at-Taubah 9:30-31]
That shows that they are polytheists who associate partners with Allah. In other verses, Allah has made it clear that they are disbelievers: "Surely in disbelief are they who say that Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary." [al-Maidah 5:17 and 72]
"Surely, disbelievers are those who said, 'Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity)." [al-Maidah 5:73] "Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, son of Mary." [al-Maidah 5:87]
"Those who disbelieve among the People of the Book and the idolaters will abide in the Fire of Hell." [al-Bayyinah 98:6]
Many verses and hadith express the same meaning. The one who rejects the idea that the Jews and the Christians who do not believe in Muhammad (peace be upon him) and deny him are disbelievers is, in fact, denying what Allah has said. Denying what Allah has said is blasphemy. How could that man be pleased to say that it is not allowed to say that they are disbelievers when they themselves say that Allah is one of a Trinity? Their Creator Himself has declared that they are disbelievers.
J. Salza: Mohammed, I would not put any hope in a man who was deceived by Satan like Mohammed was. He wasn't sure if he was receiving the Word from God or Satan. That is because he is a false prophet. He also advocates the beating of women and the murder of infidels. This is not from God. God desires all men to be saved through genuine conversion, not coercion. God also gave women equal dignity. That is not what your religion, which came over 600 years after the Catholic religion, teaches. Islam is a self-contradiction. It claims that Jesus was a prophet and a good man, but not God. Tell me, how can Islam claim that Jesus was a good man, when Jesus claimed that He was God? This is the fallacy of Islam. Either Jesus was God or a mad man. There is no in-between.
Islam also has no central authority. It is just like Protestantism. God did not leave Muslims and Protestants a book to let them figure it all out themselves. Why? Because we are fallible beings. God instead gave us a Church, which He guides into all truth. This is the Holy Catholic Church that Christ Jesus purchased for us with His blood on the cross. His sacrifice propitiated the Father's wrath, and restored us to friendship with Him. There is salvation in and through no one else but Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.
God bless you.
Another Patron writes:
I read with interest the article entitled, "ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY--TWO RELIGIONS OF PEACE? By Michael Forrest, and just wondered if you thought there was a contradiction between the article and the Catechism of the Catholic Church #841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day." It seems to me that there is a discrepency between this article and the Holy Tradition of the Catholic Church. I am distressed that your site seems to be saying that the Catechism is not correct. Isn't the Catechism was the best place to find official teachings of the Catholic church? Who should I believe?
J. Salza: There is no discrepancy. The Catechism accurately presents the Church's teaching tradition. But the Catechism and the article are about two different things. The Catechism merely says that Christians and Muslims share a belief in the Monotheistic God, the shared faith of Abraham. The Catechism does not go beyond that. It doesn't get into the errors of Islam. Mr. Forrest's article does. Forrest's article points out that the Koran condones the killing of infidels and the beating of women. The Catechism doesn't get in to these issues because it is unnecessary. The natural law alone tells us that these are atrocious errors worthy of God's condemnation. So it is important for us to make the proper distinctions.
6. Speaking in tongues
Do you know of any Catholic Saints who spoke in tongues? Also, I can't find in the catechism the stance the church takes on Speaking in Tongues, In today's world. Thanks John
J. Salza: John, I have put a page on my website about tongue-speaking, but will briefly summarize my thoughts on the topic.
The Bible says that the gift of tongues would cease. Tongue-speaking is the only gift of the Holy Spirit that Scripture says will "cease" (in Greek, pauomai). It is also enumerated as a lesser gift of the Spirit, relatively speaking. There were a handful of saints who spoke in tongues over the last 2,000 years (Dominic, Anthony of Padua, Francis Xavier, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Loyola), but many of the early Church fathers testify that the gift had already ceased in the early Church. In fact, Paul mentions tongue-speaking in his early letter to the Corinthians, but not in his later letters. This means the gift could have actually been fading away during the period of revelation.
Paul warns us that the gift of tongue-speaking may not be of God. Where you have a huge assembly speaking in tongues, we can be assured that it is not. It is simply emotionalism. The tongue-speaking in the Bible generally referred to speaking in other languages, which was necessary so that the infant Church could spread the gospel to all nations.
There were also some apparent incidents of ecstatic, unintelligible utterances as well, but note what Paul says. He says that there must be an interpreter for those utterances, so that it edifies the Church. The psycho-babbling that goes on in these Protestant churches is not tongue-speaking. It is pure emotionalism, as far as Paul's teaching goes. Paul says that only 2 or 3 should speak in tongues, each in turn, with an interpreter, and for the edification of the Church. Paul also warned that tongue-speaking could actually be a sign of God's judgment for sin and unbelief. Just like God confused the speech of Babel when they rejected Him and wanted to make a name for themselves, God can bring about these confusing utterances as a sign of His displeasure and judgment for unbelief. This appears to have been what was happening at Corinth, at the time of Paul's letter.
7. Catholic Answers' Voters' Guide
Brigid: Do any of you belong to any parish other than St. Anthony's (Mitchell)? Here's why I ask. Have you seen "The Voters Guide For Serious Catholics"? It's great. My mom got permission from her parish to distribute these after mass (St.Anthony's Menomonee Falls). They are out of town this weekend so I agreed to help them. I asked our own parish, St. clare/St.John North Lake and the priest told me no. Sad, but no big surprise from him I guess. Anyway, my mom ordered 1,000 and rush delivered them so that we could try to get these out this weekend. I am wondering about St. Mary's Elm Grove? Any others? St. Anthony's on Mitchell already has them available. Please let me know if you have any ideas or would be willing to call a parish priest. It is critical that these things get out. Thanks!
J. Salza: Brigid, thank you for the email regarding the vote. Let's also thank God that life has prevailed in this vote. I am sure our prayers and fasting moved our Lord to respond to America's most urgent need. Now we need to pray daily that the Supreme Court will be changed during the next term, and the deadly law will be overruled. We believe that our Lady's Immaculate Heart will prevail.
One comment on the Voters’ Guide. While the Voters Guide had noble intentions, I believe it has confused the issue. The Guide says it is permissible to choose between the lesser of two evils, so as to prevent greater evil. This is true, and it is consistent with Catholic moral theology. However, the Guide goes on to say that a Catholic can actually choose the greater evil, if the Catholic believes that the person condoning the greater evil will have a less likely chance at legislating the evil. This instruction has no precedent in Catholic moral theology. It is obvious why the Voters Guide did not cite any precedent for its instruction (papal, conciliar, catechetical, etc.) That is because there is none. Such an instruction makes the selection purely subjective, and even arbitrary.
On what basis is a Catholic suppose to decide the likelihood of the candidate's ability to legislate? The Guide provides no answers. Such a rationale would actually condone voting for the greater evil on purely subjective grounds. This is not a Catholic answer. But it has shown how far we have come as a society. The "non-negotiables" have actually become negotiable, and we can even base their negotiability upon our purely subjective reasoning process to prognosticate who has a better chance at legislating the evil. And when we cast our vote, we won't even know the make-up of the House and Senate to formulate our opinion, but I suppose we also need to prognosticate about that as well.
For these reasons, I believe the Voters’ Guide has confused the issue.
May God bless America.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
8. Beatification, infallibility, and private revelation
Glenn: John, doesn't the fact that Anne Emmerich has been beatified by the Pope mean that it was because of her visions, isn't the Pope beatifiying someone "ex cathedra" would the Pope beatify her if the visions aren't true? Therefore is it not binding on Roman Catholic?
By the way I am not a RC. Thanks anyway.
J. Salza: Glenn, first, no pope or council has ever infallibly declared that a pope’s canonizations are infallible. However, it has been the pious belief of Catholics that the pope’s canonizations are in fact infallible.
The beatification does not mean that her private revelations are binding on all Catholics. Such private revelations would only be binding on the one to whom the revelations were directed. Nor does the beatification mean that her private revelations were the reason she was beatified. Instead, she was beatified for her life of heroic virtue (not because of her visions or writings). Also, the beatification required proof that her intercession led to a miracle (not that she had mystical revelations). It does, however, mean that Catholics must believe in her revelations as true. This would be permissible. But Catholics are not obligated to believe they are true. I hope that helps.
9. The Jews and the Old Covenant
Nina: Thank you for your valuable website. I visited for the first time today and will return often. One observation -- on the "What is the history of your Church" webpage the first thing I noticed is that Judaism is not mentioned. I realize your aim is not to represent every religion ever established. Still, I have been thinking about it ever since I looked at the list, especially given that Jesus is the promised Messiah. I don't know how that could be presented on the webpage effectively, though, without causing confusion.
Well, thank you again for such a wonderful website. I am grateful to have discovered scripturecatholic.com.
J. Salza: Nina, thanks for the email. Judaism really began about 2,000 B.C. when God gave circumcision to Abraham. Circumcision served as a sign of the covenant God entered into with Abraham. Judaism was abolished with the New Covenant in 33 A.D. with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am posting some pages in the next few weeks that deal with issues concerning Judaism (specifically, Zionism, the Old Covenant being revoked, etc.)
Nina: Yes, thank you for your response. I would just propose that Judaism was not so much abolished as it was fulfilled in Jesus, our High Priest. We received the grace of being grafted into the Vine. For instance, there was a Vatican document issued several years ago -- authored, I think, by Cardinal Ratzinger (now of course, our Pope) -- that said Christians and Jews both share the wait. Jews believe they are awaiting the first Coming, Christians await the Second. But we are both waiting for the same Messiah.
Thank you again for all your very hard work and for your kindness responding to my email.
J. Salza: Nina, thank you for the email. Please let me clarify a couple points. First, Judaism has been abolished, not fulfilled. The New Covenant has completely superseded the Old Covenant. The only thing that Christ has brought to fulfillment is the fullness of His grace through the sacramental life of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has replaced the whole system of Jewry, with all of its legal, moral and ceremonial edicts. But, while the New Covenant has abolished the Old, it has incorporated the moral principles of the Old Covenant into itself. Thus, although we are no longer legally bound under the Ten Commandments as an entity, we are morally bound by their principles, even to a greater degree.
This is why, for example, Jesus says that while adultery was condemned in the Old Covenant, in the New Covenant even looking lustfully at a woman is adultery. We are held to even higher standards now, because in the New Covenant, God peers into our hearts and judges are secret motives. This is because we have become His adopted sons and daughters through baptism. Where there is a greater familial relationship, there are greater rewards, but greater responsibilities. In Christ, we have gone beyond a mere legal relationship with God, and now have a filial relationship with Him. Those who join the Church become fully grafted onto the vine, which is Jesus Christ (the “vine” is NOT Israel, or the Jewish people).
It is also very problematic to say that the Jews await the first coming, while Christians await the second coming. That is not official Magisterial teaching. The second coming will be the second coming, for all people, period. Such a view exempts the Jews from bending the knee to the risen Christ and joining the Catholic Church right now, which they have a moral obligation to do. The Jews must renounce their Judaism and join the Church, as St. Paul repeatedly commanded them to do in the Scriptures. If not, when Christ comes a second and final time, the Jews will be among those who "will look upon Him whom they have pierced and wail on account of Him" (Apoc.1:7). It is no way to evangelize Jews by telling them that they are somehow off the hook, that they can by-pass the sacraments of the Catholic Church and receive their inheritance at the "first" coming. Christ has already come a first time to establish the New Covenant with His Catholic Church. At the second coming, Christ will no longer come to establish covenants and forgive sins. He will come in judgment.
Nina: I think you misunderstand what I intended to express. I'm sure I must not have explained myself very clearly. When I quoted the document that says the Jews await the first coming it is to mean that they did not understand or recognize the true first coming. So whether or not they realize it, both we and they are awaiting the very same Person -- not different Gods.
And yes, the old system of laws and sacrifices was abolished. But there is still a spiritual High Priest who continually offers His perfect and eternal sacrifice before the Lord for our sakes. I may be expressing myself in a clumsy fashion, I am not intending to be argumentative. I was trying to express the continuity between Judaism and Christianity. The earthly/imperfect is replaced/superseded by the Spiritual and perfect. I think my problem may be with the connotation of the word "abolished". For it is true that the old, imperfect system was abolished ... but the first covenant was not abolished. That is, a covenant is not merely a contract -- it is a relationship, just like a marriage or an adoption is a relationship. We belong to the new covenant, but that does not abolish God's relationship with the Jews established in the first covenant. If I thought the first covenant was abolished that would be like me saying God got a divorce. So again, I am not so adept at expressing myself clearly. Perhaps we are -- as they say -- in violent agreement with each other. It just seemed important to separate the practices of Judaism (abolished) from the covenant relationship (eternal).
J. Salza: Nina, I hope the following clarifies things for you.
1. The Old Covenant refers to the covenant God entered into with Moses, the Mosaic law (2 Cor 3:14). This covenant has indeed been abolished (see 2 Cor 3:14; Heb. 7:18; 8:7; 10:9). In fact, in Hebrews 10:9, Paul uses the word "abolish" (in Greek, anaireo, which means "to annul"). In Hebrews 8:7, Paul uses the phrase "set aside" (in Greek, aphetesis, which also means "to annul"). That means the Old Covenant has been abolished, annulled, superseded. This happened when God tore the Temple curtain in two at Christ's crucifixion. Now, all people must come to the Father through the Son in the waters of baptism.
2. The covenant that God entered into with Abraham, however, has not been abolished. It has been incorporated into the New Covenant. This is the covenant of promise to both the Jews and the Gentiles. Remember, God entered into this covenant with Abraham when Abraham was still a Gentile. This covenant was incorporated into the New Covenant because it was a covenant of grace, based on faith. The Old covenant was a covenant based on law.
Thus, there is a distinction between the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants. The former has been abolished, and the latter has been incorporated into the New and Everlasting Covenant of Jesus Christ.
Nina: Thank you again. I appreciate your time and effort to explain so thoroughly and helpfully your understanding of this topic.
10. Hindi Chants in Catholic Worship?
Victor: Hi John. Some church leaders in India are encouraging the usage of Hindi chants, specifically the word "OM" or "AUM" in catholic prayer. What is the Church's position on this? Is it acceptable?
God bless you
J. Salza: Victor, this is absolutely unacceptable, but it just goes to show us how apostate many in the Church have become. These Hindi chants are nothing less than invocations to devils. As St. Paul said, what they sacrifice they sacrifice to devils, but our sacrifice is to God (1 Cor. 10:20). As David said, “all the gods of the nations are devils” (Psalm 96:5). This deliberate mixing of the profane with the sacred warrants God's most severe condemnation. Have nothing to do with it.
Grace be with you.
Victor: Thank you very much John for the quick reply!
Is there any church teaching on this I can quote to my leaders when I take it up with them? Any web links which deal on this subject would be helpful too! Thank you again for your assistance.
J. Salza: Victor, the Church has consistently taught that Catholics cannot participate in non-Catholic worship because it promotes indifferentism (the belief that all religions are equally valid) and syncretism (the blending of different religious beliefs). See, for example, Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos, 1928.
The liberals try to argue that Vatican II changed the traditional teaching. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the 16 documents of Vatican II, "prayer" is mentioned about 200 times, and the ONLY time the council mentioned that Catholics can participate in non-Catholic worship was in the context of Christian worship when the intention was to convert Protestant Christians (“separated brethren”) to the “grace of unity” which exists only in the Catholic Church! (Unitatis Redintegratio, No. 8). There is NEVER any allowance for introducing pagan chants into Catholic worship. Such would be gravely offensive to God and a violation of the First Commandment.
Victor: Thank You John! That was a superb reply!! God bless you and your ministry abundantly. Thanks & regards
J. Salza: Victor, you may also want to take a look at these encyclicals in detail:
-Pius VIII, Traditi Humuilitati, 1829, No. 4
-Pius IX, Qui Pluribus, 1846, No. 15
-Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, 1928, No. 2
-Pius XII, Humani Generis, 1950, No. 2
These are papal encyclicals that address the problem of indifferentism.
Victor: Thank you again John
I will read them too.
11. Evolution and “faith and morals”
Patrick: Mr. Salza,
I would just like to say that I have been looking at your website for several years it seems, and I really like the many articles and scripture verses you have provided. Your site even helped in the conversion of a friend from Protestantism to Catholicism. Thank you for your service.
Also, I am a person who values scientific knowledge and research as a tool given to man by God. So many scientists, the vast majority in fact, have long since accepted the Theory of Evolution. Even the Pope has allowed this scientific theory, like gravity, to be true. While the method of evolution is and probably will always be debated, there is no doubt that the Earth is billions of years old, that certain organisms have evolved in specific ways, and that this "evidence" is a compilation of facts and scientific observences. From one point of view, it can be argued that there is more evidence for the evolution of man than there is evidence that Jesus Christ existed.
I believe in creation and original sin of course, but I believe that God made this happen through a more complicated means than simply snapping his fingers. God said, "Let there be light." The beginning of the universe is described as a "Big Bang," and explosion of light. God said that in the beginning the earth was desolate and formless. Science tells us that the earth was once a molten ball of lava and gas, without land or water.
Why must the first part of Genesis be taken literally? The writing style is different, more like a parable than a historical record. God on many occassions chose parables and stories to impart truths that we could not at the time understand. Only recently did our knowledge of the world allow us to understand that we are just a small part in God's great creation.
I am not trying to argue evolution vs creation, especially since I think both are 100% correct. But I think perhaps you should find out a little more about evolution and the creation of the world. Evolution does not have to discount God's hand. In fact, science says there is no observable reason why the big bang suddenly occured, we just know it did.
Anyway, thanks again for your site, it's a gem. I hope it's around for many more years.
J. Salza: Patrick, thank you very much for your email. It really encourages me to know that the site is helping win souls for His Church. I hope it continues to do so.
Regarding your comments on evolution. First, no pope has ever accepted evolution as a scientific fact. To the contrary, if you read the Magisterial statements on my website, you will see just the opposite. The popes have condemned the notion that God didn't create everything in the world ex nihilo (from nothing). Only Pope John Paul II allowed evolution to be debated as a theory, but that is it. It is only a theory, and theories can be true or false.
You say that "there is no doubt the world is billions of years old." Says who? The problem you have is that there is no scientific proof that the world is billions of years old. The scientific proof is actually against such a conclusion. Second, if you read the Scriptural chronologies which I piece together on my website, we instead conclude that the earth is only about 14,000 years-old. Again, in the absence of scientific proof to the contrary (which there is none), we as Catholics must stick to the Scriptures, the Fathers and the Magisterium, none of whom ever taught that the world is billions of years old.
To say that there is more evidence for the evolution of man than of the existence of Jesus Christ is an incredible statement, especially from a Catholic. Please let me put you to the test. Provide the evidence for the "evolution of man." There is absolutely no evidence that man evolved from apes, which evolutionary theory holds. It is contrary to every papal statement on the creation account. Yes, species adapt to environmental conditions, but there is no evidence that one species evolves into another species. If evolution were true, there would be millions of transitional fossils out there. The fact is, there isn't one. This is a fatal scientific blow to the false theory of evolution, and the evolutionists have so much as admitted it.
Regarding your comments on the "Big Bang," no, Scripture does not say that there was an "explosion of light." Scripture says that God said "let there be light," and "there was light." No evolutionary process. No billions of years. Nothing of the sort. Science can hypothesize all it wants about what the earth once was, but if it doesn't comport with God's revealed Word in Scripture, then it is false. Second, these "scientists" who hypothesize about such matters (most of whom are agnostics who abhor the Catholic faith and revealed religion) weren't there at the beginning. So they don't know any more than you or me about what actually happened. That is why God decided to open up His revelation with a detailed account of how He put things together. He knew in advance that atheistic scientists would attempt to discredit the faith with their scientific theories, and so revealed to us the creation account.
Regarding interpreting Genesis literally, all of the early Church Fathers did so (Augustine had an alternative interpretation that everything was creating instantaneously, never over millions of years). You should know that the Church dogmatically teaches us (Trent and Vatican I) that we are not to depart from the interpretation of the Fathers when there is a consensus, because the consensus means the Fathers' teaching came from the apostles. All the Fathers believed in a six-day creation, and thus no Father ever believed in evolutionary theory. This means that we are not to depart from their interpretation. The Church also teaches that we are to interpret the Scriptures in their literal and obvious sense, unless the interpretation is untenable. Interpreting Genesis literally is not only not untenable, it reflects the faith of our Fathers which are are bound to follow. That, coupled with the papal teachings against evolution, require us to reject the false theory of evolution.
I hope this helps. If I can be of further assistance, please write.
Thank you for your timely and elaborate response. It is obvious that you work diligently for the Lord and His Truth. You said you would like to "put me to the test." I accept, and I will be drafting a response to each point you made in your reply. This may take some time, but I will work on it as quickly as possible. Since I happen to be on vacation this week, perhaps I will be able to send it to you in the next few days.
Before I send you the response, please know that I have noted the following of your letter to me. I have heard your arguments, and I understand them, but I think that the problem is not that your arguments are false, but rather they are, for the most part, arguments about things that are irrelevant (pardon my word usage here). It would be like a Protestant arguing that Catholics worship the pope, and thus can't be right. The argument would hold weight if the premise, that Catholics worship the pope, were true.
Therefore, I will demonstrate each point and question with the upmost care to fully explain my point of view.
Thank you again for your response and arguments.
J. Salza: Patrick, I will be on vacation starting Friday until Sept 5, so I may not get back to you for weeks. However, before you do respond, please consider what I have written below.
The main point you have to understand is the dogmatic teachings of Trent and Vatican I which require us not to depart from the teachings of the Fathers when they are unanimous. This requirement to adhere to the unanimity of the Fathers is infallible, dogmatic Catholic teaching. As regards a six-day creation, the Fathers were unanimous. The Church has NEVER, in any papal or conciliar pronouncement, ever made any statements supporting the evolutionary theory.
To the contrary, Vatican Council I, the same council that bound us to the literal and unanimous interpretation of the Fathers, issued an infallible dogmatic statement with an accompanying anathema: “If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing, let him be anathema.”
Thus, the Church infallibly proclaims that “the world and all things” in it are the product of an ex nihilo creation. In addition, the Church, for the first time, adds the phrase “as regards their whole substance.” This phrase essentially prevents anyone from advancing the theory of evolution (that is, arguing that God made some parts, but evolution contributed to the other parts). Moreover, the Church affirms Lateran Council IV that both the “spiritual and material” were made out of nothing. Spiritual refers to the creation of angels, and no one has argued that angels were created by an evolutionary process. There is never any distinction between how God created the angels (instantaneously, out of nothing) and how God created humans (instantaneously, out of nothing).
If you would like to respond, please address the teaching of Vatican I and the unanimity of the Fathers, and why Catholics are free to dissent from same.
Patrick: John, the principal reason why the pronouncements from Trent and Vatican I don’t apply is because evolution does not involve faith or morals. If you read Trent and Vatican I’s teachings, they require us to follow the unanimity of the Fathers only when their teachings regard faith or morals. Evolution is about science, not faith or morals. Therefore, we are not bound by the Fathers’ interpretation on a six-day creation.
J. Salza: Patrick, in order to get out from under the Church's dogmatic teaching about interpreting the Scriptures with the unanimity of the Fathers, you have pursued the only road you could: trying to argue that the creation account does not concern "faith." Unfortunately, this is not going to work for you.
First, the creation account concerns the faith for a number of reasons. Here are ten:
1. It is where we get the doctrine of Original Sin.
2. It is where we get the doctrine of Marriage.
3. It is where we get the Protoevangelium.
4. It is where we get the doctrine of ex nihilo creation.
5. The NT teachings on the faith appeal to the creation account as true history (2 Cor 4:4-6; Heb 4:4).
6. The OT teachings on the faith appeal to the creation account as true history (Ex 20:11).
7. The Fathers and the medievals considered it a matter of the faith.
8. The 1909 Pontifical Biblical Commission, endorsed by Pius X, considered it a matter of the faith.
9. Popes Pelagius I, Leo XIII and Pius XII considered it a matter of faith; as did Lateran IV, Cologne and Vatican I.
10. The Church defines faith as an assent of the intellect to the truths revealed by God. Since the creation account is one of the truths revealed by God, it is a matter of faith.
Second, the Church teaches us that we must interpret the Scriptures in their literal and obvious sense, unless the interpretation is unreasonable or necessity requires otherwise (Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, No. 15, 1893; Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, No. 36, 1950; the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 116). Because science has not (and cannot) disproved a six-day creation and evolutionary theory, we must interpret the Scriptures literally. That means a six-day, ex nihilo creation.
Third, the Fathers were unanimous in their belief in a six-day creation period, and many of the quotes you provided prove my case. Only Augustine offered an alternative theory: that God created everything instantly, and fashioned it over six days so that the angels could comprehend His work. This is the antithesis of the evolutionary theory. Moreover, Augustine also viewed a six-day creation period as a legitimate interpretation of the Scriptures. In fact, it was from Augustine that the Church derived her literal approach to the Scriptures. The only Father that deviated from a six-day creation account was Origen, but he allegorized almost everything and so is an irrelevant exception to the rule.
Fourth, two infallible councils eliminate evolution as a legitimate theory of creation. Lateran Council IV stated that “God created both orders out of nothing from the beginning of time, the spiritual and corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly.” The Lateran Council infallibly proclaims that God created the spiritual (angels) and corporeal (humans, animals, plants, heavenly bodies) “out of nothing” (ex nihilo).
Unlike what you have argued, ex nihilo means "from nothing," not "from God alone." That God used dust to create Adam does not contradict ex nihilo creation, for human cells do not come from mud. That means Adam was created out of nothing, and God's use of dust wasn't necessary. In fact, God's use of dust has a theological, yes "Faith" element to it, for it prefigured man's destiny while in sin - that we return to the dust from whence Adam came.
In 1870, Vatican Council I issued an infallible dogmatic statement with an accompanying anathema: “If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing, let him be anathema.” Once again, the Church infallibly proclaims that “the world and all things” in it are the product of an ex nihilo creation.
In addition, the Church, for the first time, adds the phrase “as regards their whole substance.” This phrase essentially prevents anyone from advancing the theory of evolution (that is, arguing that God made some parts, but evolution contributed to the other parts). Moreover, the Church affirms Lateran Council IV that both the “spiritual and material” were made out of nothing. Spiritual refers to the creation of angels, and no one has argued that angels were created by an evolutionary process. There is never any distinction between how God created the angels (instantaneously, out of nothing) and how God created humans (instantaneously, out of nothing). Pope Leo XIII affirmed the same in his encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae. John Paul II has never (and could never) contradict this infallible teaching. Statements from the Pontifical Academy of Science (made up primarily of non-Catholic agnostics) have absolutely no authority.
Therefore, you are back to square one - explaining why we are not bound by the mandate of two infallible councils that we must interpret the creation account according to the unanimity of the Fathers, when they concern faith or morals.
MayGod give you His wisdom to hear the Faith of the Fathers, not the enemies of God and His Church.
12. Catholic Schools and Science
Pete: Dear John, I am a sending my children to Catholic schools. As a Traditional Catholic and Geocentrist, I struggle with the kind of science they teach the children: the earth is millions of years old, it whizzes around the sun at thousands of miles an hour, etc. How do you deal with this issue in your own home?
J. Salza: Peter, we also send our children to Catholic schools. Other than home schooling, it is the only choice. Public schools are among the most corrupt institutions in America and parents are harming their children by sending them to these wolves. Freemasonry has achieved its objective of ridding public schools of God and morality.
Remember, the parents are the primary educators. The parents need to teach the children the faith. Although we send our children to a good Catholic school, I catechize the children myself using traditional catechisms. I prepare our children to receive the sacraments independently of the school to ensure their formation in Catholic orthodoxy.
Regarding science, it is unfortunate that the majority of Catholic schools in this country have bought into the secular status-quo when it comes to teaching our children. We had this same problem. Much of this stems from ignorance. We need to educate the priests and the teachers about what the Church teaches on these matters. To give you an example, below is a letter I sent to my daughter’s teacher concerning Geocentrism:
30 March 2006
Dear Mrs. Bill:
I am writing you to let you know that what we are teaching our daughter about the solar system differs from what you are teaching in the classroom. We are teaching Anna that the earth is the center of the universe and does not move, and that the sun, planets and stars revolve around the earth. This is called the “geocentric” view.
Based on my review of your materials and what my daughter has told me, you are teaching the “heliocentric” theory – that the sun is the center of the solar system and the earth and planets revolve around the sun. Unfortunately, the heliocentric view is taught in the majority of Catholic schools in this country as a fact of science, when it is not. The heliocentric view is only a theory and, based upon Catholic teaching, a false one.
The Sacred Scriptures in many different places teach that the earth does not move (1 Chron 16:30; Psalm 93:1; 96:10; 104:5; 119:90; Job 26:7). The same Scriptures teach that the sun, moon and stars move (Jos 10:12-14; 2 Kgs 20:11; Psalm 19:5-6; Eccl 1:5; Sir 43:5; 46:4; Isa 38:7-8; Hab 3:11). That God created the earth on the first day and the sun on the fourth day also indicates that the sun cannot be the center of the universe (Gen 1:1-4; 14-19).
The early Church Fathers were unanimous in their view of a geocentric universe based upon their interpretation of Scripture (Augustine, Basil, Cassian, Chrysostom, Clement of Rome, Cyril of Jerusalem, Eusebius, Gregory of Nanzianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Hippolytus, Irenaeus, Jerome, Justin Martyr, etc.). Two Church councils (Trent and Vatican I) dogmatically teach that we are bound to the Fathers’ interpretation of Scripture when they are unanimous.
In light of these biblical and patristic witnesses, three popes (Paul V, Urban VIII and Alexander VII) have issued or approved condemnations of the heliocentric position as “heretical” and “opposed to Scripture.” Since these condemnations have never been revoked, they apply today as forcefully as they applied in the seventeenth century when they were issued. Moreover, scientific evidence favors the geocentric view, and there are many prominent scientists throughout the world who believe in geocentrism.
Therefore, we are teaching our children the geocentric view of the universe. This view especially highlights for children that God made the earth a very special place for the Incarnation of His Son, and that we are dear to Him. If you wish to teach the heliocentric view in the classroom, then it should be presented to the children only as a theory, not a fact. In addition, it makes sense, in light of our Catholic tradition, to teach the children the geocentric model as well.
We hope this information helps you understand any confusion that my daughter may have in your science classroom. Thank you for your understanding. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to call me at XXX.XXX.XXXX.
God bless you.
13. Isn’t “a Christian a Christian”? Does the denomination really matter?
Ray: Joe: John, I have always believed that “a Christian is a Christian.” If we love Jesus and believe that He died for our sins, we will be saved. Promoting a specific “brand” of Christianity only promotes division. I am a Methodist, but I love Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and Pentecostals all the same. We need to learn to live together. What we have in common is more important than our differences.
J. Salza: Joe, such a compromise doesn’t work in matters of salvation. Let me explain why. As a Methodist, you believe in the Ten Commandments, right? In the First Commandment, God warns us not to worship false gods. If we do, we commit the mortal sin of idolatry and condemn ourselves to hell. So far so good?
Now, if a pagan came to your front door and shared with you his religion and worship of the Great Thumb, you would have a moral duty as a Christian to tell him that he is worshiping a false god. You would have an obligation to tell him to renounce his false religion, repent of his sins, and come to Jesus Christ who is the only way of salvation. Again, so far so good? Good.
Now, here is your problem. Catholics worship what appears to be mere bread, which the Church calls the Eucharist. We worship the Eucharist because we believe that, in the sacrifice of the Mass, the bread becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ and is thus worthy of worship. Our belief is based on Scripture, history and the entire Christian tradition.
If the Eucharist is not Jesus Christ, but a mere piece of ordinary bread, then Catholics are committing idolatry. If we are committing idolatry, you have the same moral obligation to us as you had to the pagan. You are obligated to tell us that we are committing idolatry and must renounce our false religion, lest we go to hell. If Catholics worship bread, then Catholicism must be renounced by all Christians. In fact, the Catholic religion lives or dies with the Eucharist, for the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic faith. If the Catholic faith is false, then you must not sit idly by and let us Catholics commit idolatry and die in our sins.
If, however, the Eucharist is truly the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, then the Catholic Church is the one and only true religion. Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53). Jesus didn’t say “If you don’t eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are nevertheless okay because a Christian is still a Christian.” If the Catholic faith is true, then you must renounce every Protestant “brand” of Christianity and become Catholic, in order to receive the “life” that Jesus has promised us. Otherwise, “you have no life in you.”
So you see Joe, we cannot go by the mantra “a Christian is a Christian.” Those who make such a statement are settling for an unacceptable compromise, and really demonstrating that they are lukewarm in their own Christianity.
14. Did Christ have to suffer and die for our sins?
Rich: John, I have heard some Catholic apologists argue that Christ had to die for our sins in order to save us. They point to Jesus’ plea in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He asks His Father, “Father, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” I have heard other apologists say that God could have chosen any way to redeem us, even crucifying a donkey. What is the truth?
J. Salza: Rich, the donkey theory is Nominalist blasphemy which the Church rejected a long time ago. However, it is true that God was not compelled by necessity to send Christ to atone for sin. As Thomas Aquinas teaches, because God is omnipotent and perfectly free, it was possible for God to save man other than by Christ’s Passion, for example, an act of the divine will could have been sufficient. Because God has no one higher than Himself, it would not have been an offense against justice for God to have willed our salvation without a satisfaction (He would have wronged no one in doing so).
However, the Father’s will to send Christ to die for sin was the most suitable way, demonstrating par excellence His mercy and love for humanity. Thus, Aquinas teaches that Christ’s death was not a necessity from compulsion (because God is free) but a necessity from supposition (supposing God willed Christ’s death, which He did). That is, once God willed Christ’s death as the suitable satisfaction for sin, He could choose no other way, because God’s will is unchangeable. That is why Jesus’ plea in the Garden could not change the Father’s will, and Jesus acknowledged this when He said, “not my will, by thy will be done.”
15. An email from a sedevacantist regarding the New Mass
Craig: Hello John,
I am glad to see that you renounced membership in that fraternity, the name of which is not worth mentioning, and returned to that Church in which you were baptized.
On a slightly different note, John, given the fact that you were born at a time when Vatican II had just come to an end and the so-called New Mass had just been introduced by Paul VI I would like to know if you have spent any time researching your Catholic Faith as it existed for roughly 20 centuries as compared to how it has changed since the time of a man called Annibale Bugnini who began to change the Mass in 1956. Further if you research into individuals like John XXIII you might find some interesting testimony against him as a lodge member and someone suspect of modernism by the Holy Office.
To make a long story short John, as someone who exclusively attends the traditional Catholic Mass I should invite you to do so also...and you will find, not unlike your membership in a certain fraternal organization, that it is not a question of politics that I don't recognize the Novus Ordo or Conciliar Church but a question of theology.
Although several groups of traditional minded Catholics exist today they are often at odds with one another over certain theological positions. Mine is that of a sedevacantist who sees the papal throne in Rome as vacant.
So there you have it John. I was a Catholic who was never raised as a Catholic and it took me until my 31st year to find the Church of my baptism and another four years to find out that the Novus Ordo was not the Mass celebrated by the Apostles and Church Fathers.
In Christ Jesus,
J. Salza: Craig, I am well aware of the theological issues surrounding the Novus Ordo Missae. I too attend the Traditional Mass. I also know quite well the development of the liturgy over the centuries (having studied especially the work of Fr. Fortescue and Michael Davies) and firmly believe that the ad orientem posture, silent canon, Latin language, kneeling to receive Communion on the tongue, etc. are all ecclesiastical traditions of the Church that have been inspired by the Holy Ghost. The Novus Ordo Mass sets aside many of these ecclesiastical traditions, and this creates a dilemma for the Catholic who must now choose between Tradition and obedience.
But you have overreacted to the crisis in the Church, not unlike the reaction of a Protestant. The Church has never bound Catholics to practice or believe any differently than we believed in 1961. The novelties that have been introduced into the liturgy were promulgated by Roman congregations who have no authority to deride the ecclesiastical traditions of the Church to which Catholics are bound for all time. In fact, some of them, like Communion in the Hand, were unlawfully procured by disobedient U.S. bishops who disregarded authentic papal authority which prohibited them. Nevertheless, remember that these are not questions of dogmatic authority, and the First Vatican Council infallibly declared that the office of Peter would have perpetual successors until the end of time.
Yes, the Church is in a crisis that Our Lady of Fatima warned us about. But that doesn't mean you arrogate to yourself the authority to conclude that we don't have a valid pope. You don't have that authority. Christ has promised that the gates of hell would not prevail, and if we are without His Vicar, the gates of hell have prevailed. Don't confuse the non-binding teachings and practices of the post-conciliar popes with their binding authority. Their ecumenism, interreligious dialogue and New Mass do not mean they were heretics when they took the papal office. The Church was in a similar crisis with Arianism. You are on dangerous ground. Let your God-given reason, with the grace of God, bring you back to the fold of the Good Shepherd and His Vicar.
May God give you His Wisdom.
16. Should we choose the “lesser of two evils” when voting?
Chuck: John, would you comment on the notion of the “lesser of two evils.” We hear this phrase a lot when a new Presidential election comes around. Is choosing the “lesser of two evils” a Catholic notion?
J. Salza: Yes, Chuck, in light of the pending Presidential election, we do hear a lot these days about voting for "the lesser of two evils." This concept must be properly understood.
Catholics can never choose evil. If there are only two choices and both are evil, Catholics cannot choose either one. In that sense, choosing the “lesser of two evils” is not a Catholic notion.
We need to understand this, however, in the context of the principle of double effect. In Catholic moral theology, the principle of double effect says that an act can have both a good and an evil consequence to it. It is permissible to make a choice where both good and evil result, but only if:
1. The act is good or indifferent;
2. Evil does not cause the good;
3. There is no intention of evil, only good; and,
4. The good must outweigh the evil (proportionality).
In this case, if evil results from our choice, we are not considered to be formally participating in it. Formal participation in evil (e.g., voting for an anti-life candidate because he is anti-life) is a mortal sin.
I hope that helps.
17. Is the geocentric theory for crazy people?
Tony: John, your support for the geocentric theory shows you have no humility in contradicting 99% of the known world's opinion, based on hard scientific observation? (And the small fact that geocentric principles and calculations are used to get anything into orbit, let alone out of it and into space!) If you really believe the universe is revolving around the earth, or that it even matters in regard to our Faith) it shows how small minded and egocentric you are. The Church would have had no reason to apologize publicly to Galileo if it didn't believe it had erred. It doesn't matter one bit either way in regard to Christ's dominion over all things. You have some kind of strange agenda to prove EVERYTHING in the Bible must be taken literally when the Church in fact does not teach this in any way. I hope to see you in Heaven where the real proof of everything lies. Until then, have fun swimming upstream in matters of no matter, instead of using your energy for far better and meaningful things! I am just glad that the Church isn't run by people like you!
J. Salza: Tony, I am well aware that posting this information about the geocentric theory vexes many people who have already made up their minds. As a Catholic apologist, I am not in a popularity contest and want only that my patrons see what the Church has taught throughout her tradition. Quite frankly, I have no “upside” in posting this material, and am constantly asked and even tempted to take it down. But I am going to stick with what the Magisterium, the Fathers and the plain meaning of Scripture say, no matter what the cost. You sound like a typical know-it-all who really hasn't done the research but pretends he has. In fact, you probably don't have the guts to do the research, and would rather worship the god of science instead. I will put my faith in the Church. It is permissible for a Catholic to believe that there is more evidence for geocentrism than heliocentrism, based on what the popes, fathers, doctors and even modern science has said. If you had any intellectual honesty at all, you would present cogent arguments to defend your thesis. Instead, you present nothing but calumny, which shows you lack charity and virtue. You know more than Augustine, and Aquinas who were avowed geocentrists, and three popes (the only three popes who ever ruled on the matter). Get some humility before you contact me again.
Tony: The Church "banned" Heliocentric writings and teaching up to, and sometime beyond Galileo's time. I am not sure (and really don't care) when the ban was lifted, but at some point it became obvious that it was more than likely they were wrong in some of their assumptions about the situation of the earth in the "grand scheme" of things. John Paul II felt it necessary to say so, and to publicly "pardon" Galileo. The Church has rarely done such a thing, and certainly would not have if it (still) believed Heliocentric theories contradict the Bible. My only point.
J. Salza: You need to study this a bit more. The Church allowed the publication of Galileo's theory only after he edited the book to state that heliocentrism was only a theory, not scientific fact. This is what the Church says today. This concession does not, and cannot, undermine the Magisterial teachings which condemned heliocentrism as "heretical" and "opposed to Scripture." If you want to say that heliocentrism can be taught as a theory, I have no objection, so long as it is not taught as a certainty. Theories can be true or false. The Church's official teachings are clear, and unless a pope officially reverses these condemnations, I maintain this position. My position is the same as that of the Church.
Tony: John, I appreciate your Catholicism and your conservative approach. I am in agreement about the infallibility of the Pope (when teaching "Ex Cathedra" in matters of Faith and morals). I just feel your adamant/radical support for Geocentrism is unreasonable, and to a certain degree indefensible (and harmful to the Church) in this day and age. I believe we need strong Faith in this tumultuous time, but we need it in the "things that last" ("the greatest of these being Love" to quote St. Paul).
J. Salza: Tony, why is this a “tumultuous time”? Perhaps because we have allowed the god of science to replace the God of the Catholic Church. Perhaps because we have removed Christ from our high altars and tabernacles and put Him into a side chapel. Perhaps because we no longer kneel to receive the King of the Universe. Perhaps because we treat the Eucharist as common bread and the Mass as a meal only without the sacrifice. Perhaps because we have allowed theologians to deny the inerrancy of Scripture. Perhaps because we have all but abandoned the ecclesiastical traditions of the Roman Catholic Church which have been inspired by the Holy Ghost. My whole point is that we need to keep the Faith of our Fathers, the faith that the popes have handed on to us. Heliocentrism was never held by any saint, or doctor or pope, ever, in the history of the Church. I am going to hold on to what the popes and Fathers have handed down to me unless and until a pope says that it is an error to do so.
Tony: I am sorry for any comments that were insensitive and reactionary. I was just taken aback by this Geocentric "theory", which flies in the face of much of what has been discovered by science and approved for belief by the Church. We would be much better served by defense of what is important and relevant to Our Faith in Christ and His one true Church. I am a staunch opponent of "Sola Scriptura" and believe much of the Bible (especially the Old Testament) to be allegorical and written within the confines of human knowledge at the time. All that is truly important and unchanging has been stated (through the guidance of the Holy Spirit) in a way that will always be interpretable within the teaching of the Magisterium ! Any error is man's not God's! God bless you, Tony
J. Salza: Tony, thank you for the message. There is nothing unreasonable about supporting geocentrism as the most plausible theory regarding the universe, especially when it has the support of Scripture, the Fathers and the Magisterium. The cosmos is an important issue, and that is because God chose to open His revelation to us by describing how He fashioned the universe. Obviously, God is telling us something, namely, that we hold a very important place in the universe. Who would expect less for the dwelling place of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in His Incarnation and Eucharistic presence? People get emotional about the "scientific" support for heliocentrism but, like you, usually never get around to presenting their "proofs." If people would only take the time to study the scientific "evidence," they would have even more faith in the Church.
Tony: John, I have indefatigable Faith in the Church , and don't see how I could have "more" regardless of whether the earth revolves around a common center with the other planets (or not). To place such importance on peripheral things is to miss those of more importance. I perceive and appreciate the symbolic and theological continuity of the Church's teaching or I would not continue to believe after having been granted the gift of Faith. I just don't see how an expanding universe or a Heliocentric world view contradicts Church teaching in any way. The Church, because it is made up men, has grown and regressed in it's journey, just as most individuals do. I thank God that it is open to certain changes in practice, or we might still be putting people to death as heretics. I prefer Christ's implementation of the Law in regard to the woman caught in adultery, than the practice of revealed religion at the time! I look more to Christ's life for inspiration and example than I do anything else. I don't see that He concerned Himself much with the location of the earth. He did however, go against many of the *literal* teachings and practices of the religion into which he was born and raised (as did St. Paul, if you want to raise the argument that Christ was God). Harping on geocentrism in a time like ours is about as useful in promoting and sustaining Faith in the Church as supporting an inquisition would be! Go with God, and let us agree to disagree on that which the Church allows us to.
J. Salza: Tony, I respect your opinions, and I will leave it at that. Before doing so, let me say that I don't make judgments about what revelations are more or less important, since they all come from God. I leave that judgment to the Church. When God decides to open His written revelation with a detailed description of how He made the earth on the first day and the sun on the fourth day (did He shift the center of the universe to the sun after three days?), it is important. When 40 of the early Church Fathers chose to write about how Scripture supports geocentrism (even though the Greeks before the time of Christ were advocating heliocentrism, long before Galileo came along), and no Father every wrote against geocentrism, it is important. When three popes decide to condemn heliocentrism as heretical and opposed to Scripture with their full apostolic authority, and no subsequent popes have reversed (or even remotely undermined these magisterial pronouncements), it is important. When people who react emotionally against geocentrism fail to provide a single piece of scientific evidence for their position, it is important - and revealing.
I don't sit in judgment of the Magisterium and the Fathers. For you to say that the Church has "regressed" in some way reveals that you are skeptical about the Church's teaching authority. Be careful about this skepticism; this skepticism can lead to the errors of private judgment, and, ultimately, Protestantism. I know you don't want to go there, and I am not accusing you of being a Protestant. But please don't look askew at your fellow Catholics for adhering to the teachings of the Fathers and the Magisterium, just because you think the subject matter is tangential or irrelevant to what you deem important.
18. Authority and the six-day creation account
Aaron: I have some concerns? regarding the material on 'Evolution' on your website.
You claim that all the Fathers interpreted Genesis in terms of a six-day literal Creation, ruling out evolution entirely.? In view of the Decree of the Council of Trent (which you point out) that Catholics are not permitted to hold an interpretation of the Scripture contrary to the Fathers of the Church, the implication you make quite clearly,?even if it is not explicitly stated, is essentially that a so-called Young Earth Creationist interpretation of Genesis a Dogma of the Catholic Faith.
Yet you also quote from the Encyclical 'Humani Generis' of Ven. Pope Pius XII who permitted 'research and discussion' regarding evolution, provided it was done with 'the greatest moderation and caution'.? the full passage, which you quote rather selectively from, runs as follows:
"For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith. Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question." (Humani Generis #36)
This passage would seem to make it clear that a particular interpretation of Genesis? is NOT binding on the faithful because if it were, the Pope would not have granted 'liberty of discussion' concerning it. The Church does not give 'liberty of discussion' about whether or not women can be Priests for example, or indeed about the truth of any of its Dogmas, even if such discussion is done with 'moderation and caution'.? IF it were a Dogma of the Faith that God created the world in six days, then the Pope would have not have said that 'the sources of divine revelation [demand] the greatest moderation and caution in this question', rather he would have asserted that the sources of divine revelation exclude such opinions entirely, and warned Catholics who hold such that they would no longer be in communion with the Holy See.? To imply that the Pope would grant a liberty of discussion concerning a Dogma of the Faith binding on all Catholics is to imply that the Pope was a material heretic who failed miserably in his duty of confirming the brethren- an implication which is offensive to pious ears.
At this point it might be fitting to point out that I would concur with your interpretation of Genesis.? A so-called 'Young Earth Creationist' perspective would seem to me to be the most reasonable explanation of both the Scriptural and scientific evidence.? However, to claim that this is a Dogma of the Faith, as your exposition of the matter implies, is clearly an insult to the august memory Pius XII who permitted 'liberty of discussion' concerning the matter.?
J.Salza: Aaron, there is a difference between infallible definitions of faith and non-infallible teachings. I never said that a six-day creation was dogmatically defined by the Church. If it were, then Pope Pius XII would not have allowed discussions on the topic. However, the implication, based on Trent and Vatican I's directive about the consensus of the Fathers, is that a six-day creation interpretation is the official teaching of the Church. Just because Pope Pius XII invited discussion on the subject does not mean that a six-day interprettion is incorrect. The fact is, Pius XII called the evolutionists' bluff since they couldn't marshal any scientific evidence to rebut the six-day interpretation. That is how clever Pius XII was. Remember, he also invited exegetes to use historical criticism, but also said that he couldn't undermine the literal interpretation of Scripture as understood in light of Tradition. Remember also that the popes invited much discussion about the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, even though Tradition always held Mary as without sin and the doctrine was not really in dispute. That is because the Church was seeking more information from theologians in formulating her dogma. As applied here, the weight of the evidence supports a six-day interpretation as the correct and official position of the Church, even though the Church has not elevated it to a level of dogma. The burden is on our interlocutors to prove otherwise, which they cannot.
19. Does God change His mind?
Brendan: Hi John
Just a quick query:
I was reading your response to the 'crucified donkey theory', where you state that God's will is unchangeable. This got me thinking: I have a book entitled 'The End Times'. It is a printing of a Maria Valtorta's diary in which Christ is said to have appeared to her over a number of years. It is quite a popular book and I think approved by The Church. Perhaps you have heard of it. Anyway, Christ talks about many things to her, but on one page He (supposedly) says to Maria that God the Father 'grows weary' and has been ready to destroy the world on a few occasions, but has had His Mind changed by Christ and the Blessed Virgin's pleading to Him personally.
Also, there is a case where a Jewish convert to Catholicism prayed the Rosary fervently for his stubborn Jewess mother's conversion; but despite this she still died in final impenitence. However, apparently Mary prostrated herself at God the Father's feet, begging the mother be granted mercy due to the son's fervent prayer; in which God the Father permitted it.
Do these examples reveal that God can in fact change His initial will, or 'change His Mind'? And if Christ constantly intercedes for us to The Father, does this not effectively change God's Mind on occasions? Or have I misunderstood what you mean by God's Will being unchangeable?
J.Salza: Brendan, this is a mystery. God does not change His mind. When He wills something, it is certain to occur. It cannot be changed because God's will is perfect and immutable. He governs all things by His divine providence and plan of predestination. When Scripture speaks of God "repenting" of an action (as if He changed His mind), it is speaking metaphorically. It was God who brought about the circumstances that led to the change. God didn't change HIS mind. God changed MAN'S MIND.
This is what most people these days do not understand. When people plead with God to intervene or change something in their lives, IT IS GOD WHO MOVES THEM TO DO SO. You see? God has already decreed in eternity either to move someone to good, or to permit someone to do evil. When a person comes to God begging Him to intervene, God's grace is moving the person to do so. God works in us both to will and to accomplish His end (Phil 2:13). God is everything and we are nothing. We depend upon God for everything. Any good we do comes from God. Jesus says "without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5). St. Paul says, "what have you, that you haven't received?" (1Cor 4:7). Once we realize our total dependence upon God, it is easier for us to resign ourselves to His holy will. Unfortunately, most Catholics these days appear to be Semi-Pelagians.
Regarding Christ’s intercession, just as God the Father willed the death of Christ to atone for sins, He also wills the ongoing intercession of Christ (by which Christ presents His sacrifice to the Father). It is through Christ’s death and His ongoing intercession as our High Priest that God dispenses His graces, according to His will. Christ’s intercession does not change God’s will. Rather, Christ’s intercession changes man’s will, through the graces it brings. And this, of course, happens according to God’s immutable will.
20. What are we to think of Medjugorje?
Gino: John, what do you think about Medjugorje? Are these valid apparitions or are they from the devil?
J.Salza: Gino, here are the facts. The Church has not approved the apparitions at Medjugorje. The two bishops in that diocese (Bishop Zanic and his successor, Bishop Peric) have called the Medjugorje apparitions a hoax. The bishops of Yugoslavia in 1991 also denied the authenticity of the apparitions. What bishop would not want to declare that the Virgin Mother of God is visiting his diocese? How much spiritual and material benefits would the diocese enjoy from a simple affirmation from their bishop? And yet, the bishops who have studied the matter have never failed to denounce these supposed apparitions. Before Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Peric to the diocese, the pope knew the bishop’s opinion about Medjugorje. The bishop told the Holy Father that “it is certain that these events do not concern supernatural apparitions.”
Why have the bishops held this opinion? And without any rebuke from the Holy See? There are many reasons, and I would refer you to E. Michael Jones’ book The Medjugorje Deception for a thorough treatment of this topic. Before even addressing the messages in the apparitions, one must question the frequency of the apparitions. The Blessed Virgin Mary is said to appear daily to the six seers since 1981? There are tens of thousands of apparitions since 1981? Surely, if Our Lady were really appearing with such frequency to a given area, we would expect to see a transformation of the area (peace, holiness, religious vocations and a return to Tradition), and expect to also see the Church supporting the phenomena. This has not happened. Sure, there are many people doing penance and hearing Mass. But the seers (the profiteers) have not gone into religious life (like Lucia of Fatima). Rather, they have profited financially from the spectacle and live in big homes with tennis courts and nice cars. We also know of a loss of religious vocations and other negative spiritual and material phenomena (e.g., pilgrims involved in serious accidents, disobedience, cult-like ethos, etc.).
Then we get to the messages themselves. The seers allege that Our Lady said that “all religions are dear to my Son,” and that “there is not enough unity among the worlds’ religions.” This is the message of Freemasonry, not Jesus Christ. All religions are not “dear” to Our Lord. The only religion that is “dear” to Jesus Christ is the Catholic religion, the one He founded. Moreover, there cannot be “unity among the world’s religions” because there is no communion between light and darkness, between Christ and Belial, as God has revealed through St. Paul. The message of Medjugorje is Masonic, not Catholic. We also note that the Blessed Mother is alleged to have denounced the local bishop for excommunicating and defrocking a priest who lived a life of fornication, which is also a hint that these “apparitions” are demonic.
Medjugorje apologists are quick to claim that the seers truly go into trances and hypnotic states, as if that is confirmation of heavenly activity. They even attempt to demonstrate these conditions with medical evidence. But the devil can also make a person evince preternatural powers and go into trances. We know this from exorcists. Hence, the supposed trances of the seers shows that something supernatural is going on in Medjugorje, but it doesn’t prove that it comes from God. In fact, there is also evidence that the seers are faking their “supernatural conditions.” When a skeptic who was gathering data about these phenomena poked at one of the seer’s eyes during a supposed trance, the seer fell back in fear, a natural reaction of someone who is not in a spiritual ecstasy. The seer claimed that she fell back because she saw Mary dropping the baby Jesus (a ridiculous claim on its own), but couldn’t explain why she didn’t move forward to catch baby Jesus but fell back instead (another example of the suspicious, and even evil phenomena taking place at Medjugorje).
The seers claim that they get thousands of messages from Our Lady, but these messages do not include her divine order to pray the daily Rosary. This is another tell-tale sign of the fraudulent nature of these visions. We also note that the seers never see the entire body of Our Lady (usually her feet are covered). Theologians say that God does not allow the devil to imitate the entire body of Jesus, Mary or any saint. If Our Lady were really appearing to the people of Medjugorje, then why didn’t she warn them of the genocide that they were to suffer at the hands of the Serbians? And why doesn’t Our Lady speak about the need to consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, which is the key to heaven’s peace plan as she revealed at Fatima? In my opinion, based on the objective evidence, Medjugorje is a creation of the devil to divert souls away from the message of Fatima, which is the real and authentic message of our Lady.
21. Why do we worship on Sunday?
Chris: John, the Catholic Church has defied God’s commandment to keep holy the Sabbath by worshiping on Sunday. This was an evil invention of Constantine in the fourth century to copy the worship of the pagans. The Bible teaches us that we must worship God on Saturday, not Sunday. You are promoting lies.
J.Salza: Chris, first, the requirement to worship on Saturday was a law of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant has abolished the Old Covenant including all of its moral, ceremonial and judicial laws. See 2Cor 3:14; Heb 7:12,18; 8:7,13; 9:15; 10:9. So the worship laws of the Old Covenant no longer apply (unless you claim they do because you are a Jew and not a Christian).
Second, Scripture teaches that God revealed to the apostles to change the principal day of worshiping God from Saturday to Sunday (hence, it is not a Catholic invention in the fourth century; it is a commandment of God revealed in Scripture and given by God to the Church). For example, in reference to the "day of rest," St. Paul writes to the Hebrews that "if Jesus had given them rest, he would never have afterwards spoken of another day" (Heb 4:8). That is, St. Paul reveals that Jesus spoke to His apostles of another day of rest, which is Sunday. Paul confirms in the next verse that "There remaineth therefore a day of rest for the people of God" (v.9). The "people of God" are the Church, the Christians of the New Covenant, not the Jews of the Old Covenant. This "day of rest" is the "another day" of verse 8, which reveals that the Old Testament day of worship was changed; it is no longer Saturday.
The Scriptures reveal that this "day of rest" is the first day of the week for Christians, or Sunday. For example, see Acts 20:7 which reveals that the apostles gathered on Sunday as the principal day of worship. In 1Cor 16:2, Paul instructions the Church to make contributions to the churches "on the first day of the week" which is Sunday. That is because the people would gather for Mass on Sunday and the church would take a collection, just as it happens today. There is also a reason why the gospel writers emphasize Jesus' resurrection and appearances occurred on Sunday Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; John 20:1,19. In Rev 1:10, the apostle John also notes that he witnesses the heavenly liturgy on Sunday, the first day of the week. In Col 2:16-17, St. Paul reveals that the Sabbath was only a shadow of what was fulfilled in Christ, and says "let no one pass judgment any more over a Sabbath." Why? Because the Sabbath day obligation, which was only a shadow of what was to be fulfilled in Christ, has been transformed into the Lord's Day, which is Sunday. Thus, we are not to judge people by the Old Sabbath anymore, because God has made it obsolete.
If these Scriptures are not enough, you should also read the following writings from the early Christians, who also reveal that the Church's principal day of worship was changed from the "Sabbath" to the "Lord's Day," which is Sunday.
On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks, but first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure." Didache, 14 (A.D. 90).
"If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death--whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master." Ignatius, To the Magnesians, 9:1 (A.D. 110).
"The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest--abstraction from ills--preparing for the Primal Day,[The Lord's Day] our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of light, in which all things are viewed and possessed. From this day the first wisdom and knowledge illuminate us. For the light of truth--a light true, casting no shadow, is the Spirit of God indivisibly divided to all, who are sanctified by faith, holding the place of a luminary, in order to the knowledge of real existences. By following Him, therefore, through our whole life, we become impossible; and this is to rest." Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 6:16 (A.D. 202).
"In fine, let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day because of the threat of death, teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath, or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered "friends of God." For if circumcision purges a man since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did He not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? At all events, in settling him in paradise, He appointed one uncircumcised as colonist of paradise. Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised, and inobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was by Him commended; while He accepted what he was offering in simplicity of heart, and reprobated the sacrifice of his brother Cain, who was not rightly dividing what he was offering. Noah also, uncircumcised--yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath--God freed from the deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and in-observant of the Sabbath, He translated from this world; who did not first taste death, in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might by this time show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God." Tertullian, An answer to the Jews, 2 (A.D. 203).
"The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation: because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the lace of the dead and on the first day of the week He arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week He ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week He will appear at last with the angels of heaven." Teaching of the Apostles, 2 (A.D. 225).
"Hence it is not possible that the rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh of our God; on the contrary, it is our Saviour who, after the pattern of His own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of His death, and hence also of His resurrection." Origen, Commentary on John, 2:27 (A.D. 229).
"On the seventh day He rested from all His works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord's day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews, which Christ Himself, the Lord of the Sabbath, says by His prophets that 'His soul hateth;' which Sabbath He in His body abolished." Victorinus, On the Creation of the World (A.D. 300).
"They did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we." Eusebius, Church History, 1:4,8 (A.D. 312).
"Also that day which is holy and blessed in everything, which possesses the name of Christ, namely the Lord's day, having risen upon us on the fourth of Pharmuthi (Mar. 30), let us afterwards keep the holy feast of Pentecost." Athanasius, Epistle 9:11 (A.D. 335).
"Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans, or into Judaism: for Jesus Christ henceforth hath ransomed thee. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths, and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean." Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 4:37 (A.D. 350).
"Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ." Council of Laodicea, Canon 29 (A.D. 360).
"For many other observances of the Churches, which are due to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law, as for instance the practice of dipping the head three times in the layer, and then, after leaving the water, of tasting mingled milk and honey in representation of infancy; and, again, the practices of standing up in worship on the Lord's day, and ceasing from fasting every Pentecost; and there are many other unwritten practices which have won their place through reason and custom. So you see we follow the practice of the Church, although it may be clear that a person was baptized before the Spirit was invoked." Jerome, Dialogue against the Luciferians, 8 (A.D. 382).
"Then as one whom they must respect, there will be the presbyter among them and this will contribute to the security of the estate. There will be constant prayers there through thee hymns and Communions through thee; the Oblation on each Lord's Day." John Chrysostom, Acts of the Apostles, Homily 18 (A.D. 388).
"And on the day of our Lord's resurrection, which is the Lord's day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day to hear the saving word concerning the resurrection, on which we pray thrice standing in memory of Him who arose in three days, in which is performed the reading of the prophets, the preaching of the Gospel, the oblation of the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food?" Apostolic Constitutions, 2,7:59 (A.D. 400).
"Well, now, I should like to be told what there is in these ten commandments, except the observance of the Sabbath, which ought not to be kept by a Christian,--whether it prohibit the making and worshipping of idols and of any other gods than the one true God, or the taking of God's name in vain; or prescribe honour to parents; or give warning against fornication, murder, theft, false witness, adultery, or coveting other men's property? Which of these commandments would any one say that the Christian ought not to keep? Is it possible to contend that it is not the law which was written on those two tables that the apostle describes as 'the letter that killeth,' but the law of circumcision and the other sacred rites which are now abolished? But then how can we think so, when in the law occurs this precept, 'Thou shall not covet,' by which very commandment, notwithstanding its being holy, just, and good, 'sin,' says the apostle, 'deceived me, and by it slew me?' What else can this be than 'the letter' that 'killeth'?" Augustine, Spirit and the Letter, 23:14 (A.D. 412).
"He [Constantine] also enjoined the observance of the day termed the Lord's day, which the Jews call the first day of the week, and which the pagans dedicate to the sun, as likewise the day before the seventh, and commanded that no judicial or other business should be transacted on those days, but that God should be served with prayers and supplications. He honored the Lord's day, because on it Christ arose from the dead, and the day above mentioned, because on it he was crucified." Sozomon, Ecclesiastical History, 1:8 (A.D. 443).
"It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these but preachers of Antichrist, who, when he comes, will cause the Sabbath day as well as the Lord's day to be kept free from all work. For, because he pretends to die and rise again, he wishes the Lord's day to be had in reverence; and, because he compels the people to judaize that he may bring back the outward rite of the law, and subject the per-tidy of the Jews to himself, he wishes the Sabbath to be observed. For this which is said by the prophet, 'Ye shall bring in no burden through your gates on the Sabbath day', could be held to as long as it was lawful for the law to be observed according to the letter. But after that the grace of Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ has appeared, the commandments of the law which were spoken figuratively cannot be kept according to the letter. For, if any one says that this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal sacrifices are to be offered: he must say too that the commandment about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained. But let him hear the Apostle Paul saying in opposition to him, 'If ye be circumcised, Christ profiteth you nothing.’” Pope Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], To the Roman Citizens, Epistle 13:1 (A.D. 597).
22. John, you are an amazing, and an amazingly wrong, apologist!
Michael: John, You are an amazing lawyer (and apologist)! I've been reading over your website. You may "use scripture" to make your points (or arguments) about your catholic faith, but you basically follow the teachings and traditions of men. While I like how you allude to various verses, you are extremely ept in subtle manipulation of scripture. Amazing!
I've attended Catholic church for several years because my wife is Catholic. But we've been reading the Bible for ourselves. And I have to tell you, John, the more we read, the more we see the heresy of the catholic church. The bible doesn't support the sacrifice of the mass, nor veneration of the bread and wine. Unlike you, I don't believe the church is the authority on interpreting scripture. Rather, EVERY teaching of the church MUST be held up to the light of scripture.
The catholic church has gotten it wrong countless times throughout the centuries. And I'm here to tell you, there were many popes in the "apostolic sucession" that plainly weren't called of God. You can read about the countless cases of immorality and other deviant behavior throughout history.
Once again, John, you are VERY GOOD! I suppose you are an extremely good lawyer too.
Study scripture more, not man's tradition, and the truth will come to light. You truly are a brilliant apologist!
J.Salza: Michael, thank you for your email. Unfortunately, you are using your private judgment to arrive at your conclusions about what Scripture means, but God didn't set it up that way. God established a Church to do that, just as He set up an authority in the Old Testament (e.g., Moses) to interpret the Word of God. Private judgment is not only denied by Scripture, but such a heresy was unheard of until the Protestant Revolt in the 16th century! This is why there are 30,000 different denominations, who all disagree with each other on even the most basic doctrines of Christianity. Surely, you, as a reasonable man, can see the problem with sola Scriptura.
Let's also use some logic here. The canon of Scripture is the infallible list of books that belong in the Bible. But the Bible doesn't tell us what the canon is. No, history shows us that the Catholic Church tells us what the canon is (which she did at regional councils at the end of the fourth century). But if the canon is infallible (which it must be), then the Church who determined the canon must be infallible as well, because an effect is never greater than its cause. The greater never comes from the lesser. Again, you as a reasonable person, can see the truth of this statement.
If you want to know more about the Sacrifice of the Mass, get a copy of my book The Biblical Basis for the Eucharist. The problem with your position is that not only is it refuted by Scripture, but every single early Church Father believed in the sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. These men were closest to Christ and some were even taught by the apostles themselves, such as Ignatius, who referred to the "Eucharist" of the "Catholic Church" as the "flesh of Jesus Christ."
Michael, you need to read the Fathers interpretation of Scripture instead of relying upon your own private judgment. As Peter says, Scripture is not a matter of one's private judgment.
23. Miscellaneous teachings of Christ, martyrdom and the Old Testament
Dave: Hi John, I have a few questions:
1. Although I don't know the passage reference, there is an episode in the NT where the apostles complain to Christ about another group (not part of Christ's entourage) who were preaching in his name and ask Him to stop them. However He refuses saying (in paraphrase): "leave them alone; if they're doing it in my name, they're on our side" (so to speak).
Two things about this please: this episode was quoted by a non-catholic friend of mine as proof that not just the Catholic religion leads to salvation (refuting as it were extra ecclesiam nulla salus.)The friend implied that if 'eens' was true, then Christ would have stopped them. Why did Christ do this, do we know..?? it seems to contradict 1 fold and 1 shepherd and the unique deposit of faith in the Catholic Church etc don't you think? Surely no-one can preach any Christian (non-catholic) faith with Christ's blessing however well meaning they might be..?
J.Salza: 1. Dave, first, the argument presupposes that the men outside the apostolic fold were teaching error. Evidently, they were not, or the Savior would have said so. In fact, at this point, how much could these men have said? There wasn't a Deposit of Faith at this point in history, and so, at most, the men were preaching the coming of theKingdom of God and the Messiah. Second, Christ had not established His Church yet, so Protestants cannot say that these "outsiders" were independent of Christ's Church. In fact, they really weren't "outsiders." Christ did not establish the hierarchy of a pope, bishops, priests and deacons at this point. It would be a much different story on the other side of the Cross.
Dave: 2. "greater love than this no man has than to lay down his life for his friend" What exactly does this statement of Christ mean with regard to salvation and the forgiveness of individual sin (for the one who sacrificed his life)? Does it mean that anyone who dies to save another will be forgiven and saved no matter what? Or are there other conditions? I use this example with my son (with whom you have also corresponded): two communist friends are in a battle. One gets wounded as they retreat and the other goes back to help him but is shot and killed immediately so he had no time to confess etc. Would that mean that the 2nd man would be saved? As an atheistic enemy of Christ working actively against him, I can't see it. It may be that his 'love' for his friend, however misguided, would mitigate his punishment somewhat in the next world perhaps.........? How far does such a sacrifice go to gain individual salvation? I appreciate we can't anticipate Christ's mercy and/or justice but I can't see that in this example he would merit salvation.
J. Salza: 2. This question gets into the Church’s theology of martyrdom. No, it does not necessarily mean that martyrdom forgives sins. St. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians that if we give over our body to be burned, but have not charity, we are nothing. It is only when we die with charity, not pride, that our death for Christ can be efficacious. In that case, it is the greatest act of charity, because it is the giving of ourselves for the love of God. So Scripture and the Church are clear that we need to be in a state of grace, with the supernatural virtue of charity, to be saved. Regarding this particular passage, Jesus is emphasizing that He will demonstrate in the most perfect way possible God's love for humanity through His death. This is the greatest way in which God could have shown His love for us.
Dave: 3. I recently read a book called "Ancient siege warfare" by Paul Bentley Kern. In the section on biblical sieges he gives an account of the Israeli Exodus under Moses & Joshua. Well I have to say that it is basically an account of one massacre after another of whole populations including women and children and all done seemingly under God's instructions as they passed thru (some might say invaded...) the land of the Caananites etc. The author quotes from the book of Deuteronomy (deut 20; 16-18) and also Joshua 5 & Joshua 8: 24-29 and comments: "this genocidal command is deeply disturbing to modern sensibilities".
I appreciate we are all God's creatures and he can do with us as He likes. I just wonder why He wanted the complete annihilation of these people...... The innocent as well as the guilty.......? It seems to also contradict Christ's message of peace and turning the other cheek. Although we know it's the same God of course, it almost seems like 2 different gods so opposite does their demeanor in the OT and the NT seem.
J.Salza: 3. Yes, the Old Testament certainly reveals God's exacting justice upon sinners. Remember, it is no different in the New Testament. Our Lady's warnings at Fatima andAkita also reveal that God will punish the world, both the faithful and the faithless, for the crimes and abominations that have been committed against Him. These punishments will exceed anything every experienced in the Old Testament. In fact, Our Lady at Akita said that the punishment will be worse than the deluge during the time of Noah which destroyed the world but for eight people. This will be a punishment of fire that will consume most of the world, sparing neither priest nor faithful. I believe the only thing that is staving off His wrath is the sacrifice of theMass. But as Jesus said, we need not worry about it if we are in a state of grace. If we die in a state of grace, we go to heaven. Remember, the Israelites were worshiping false gods and even sacrificing their children on pagan altars to pagan deities. Their complete destruction shows the depths of the evil of sin and the incomprehensible holiness of our God