Friday, March 19, 2010

Is The Bible The Only Rule Of Faith? - Part 1

Today, I'll talk about why Catholics stick to their doctrines and dogmas instead of yielding to pressure to renounce some of their doctrines that Protestants claim have no biblical basis.

Catholics are often accused of believing in “man-made rules” (doctrines and dogmas), instead of what the Bible says. In order to answer the question satisfactorily, we must first prove that the Catholic Church, as the Church founded directly by Christ, has full authority to teach what has been handed down to her both in writing or letters (Scriptures), by word of mouth and by revelation (Tradition). In other words, she has full authority to teach with or without the Bible.

Let us examine the various sources from which the Catholic Church derives her authority to teach other nations and other sects, to interpret Scriptures and to declare Christian doctrines without error.

Divine promise to St. Peter and his successors

The invisible head of the Catholic Church is its founder – Christ, while the visible head is the pope – the direct successor of St. Peter, whom Jesus directly elected as the first leader of his Church and handed the reigns of leadership of his Church:

“I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my
church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against
it.” (Matt 16:18)

St. Peter ruled the Church till his death. And since the time of St. Peter to the present day, the Catholic Church has had an unbroken chain of leadership. There is no doubt then that the pope is today the true successor to St. Peter who was given the firm promise:

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven.” (Matt 16:19)

This awesome promise made to St. Peter and the authority to “bind” and “loose” granted him did not die with him, but has remained with the popes down to the present pope. The pope, therefore, rightly exercises this authority to “bind” and “loose” on earth by making certain proclamations where he states divine truths as revealed by the Holy Spirit to the Church.

Divine charge to teach others

The Church also derives her authority to teach divine truths from Christ himself:

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven
and on earth have been given to me. Go therefore and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them
to observe all that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with
you always, to the close of the age.’” (Matt 28:18-20)

This is a divine mandate that empowers the Magisterium of the Catholic Church to teach other Christians, interpret the Scriptures and to declare truths as may be revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Church has been carrying out this mandate with the help of Christ who promised to be with his Church “to the close of the age,” and by sending them the Holy Spirit, who would bring to their remembrance all that he had taught them as well as declare new truths or doctrines.

Divine promise to send the Holy Spirit

The Catholic Church also derives her authority to teach from the firm promise of Jesus to his apostles to send them the Holy Spirit:

“I have yet many things to say to you but you cannot bear
them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide
you into the truth … and he will declare to you the things
that are to come.” (John 16:12-13)

“But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will
send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to
your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

True to his word, the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost Day (Acts 2:1-4). Therefore, the true representatives of the apostles are not teaching on their own authority, but with the mandate and assistance of Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Specifically, the Holy Spirit would “bring to their remembrance all that he had taught them,” which they might forget and to reveal to them “the things that are to come.”

Ok, I'll conclude the topic tomorrow. Then I'll talk about Tradition.

Meantine, you may visit for more topics.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Trinity Of God

Today, I’ll provide some scriptural inferences to the triune nature of God.

To some Christian sects, it is unthinkable and indeed blasphemous to say that God subsists as three distinct divine Persons. The word “trinity” is nowhere in the Bible, but the truth is that there are three distinct Persons in one God.

Let all be clear about the correct Catholic teaching about the doctrine of the Trinity of God. It is not three distinct divine Persons in three Gods! No!! Absolutely not!!! But three distinct divine Persons, one in will, understanding, essence, power, co-substantial and co-eternal in all perfections – one, true, living God; Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

We now cite the clearest proofs that there are three distinct Persons in one God. Do note the conversational tone in the following passages of the Bible (they are boldfaced):

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image.’” (Gen 1:26)

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold the man has become
like one of us, knowing good and evil, and now, lest he
put forth his hand and also of the tree of life, and eat,
and live forever.’” (Gen 3:22)

In the confusion of the tongues of men in the botched attempt to build the tower of Babel,
again we see the three divine Persons expressing themselves as one God using plural

“And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which
the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are
one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the
beginning of what they will do, and nothing they propose to do
will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there
confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’” (Gen 11:5-7)

Now let us reflect on the above passages. Consider these: “Then God (one Individual) said, ‘Let us make man in our image.’” Again, “Then the Lord God (one Individual) said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us …’” And again, “And the Lord (one Individual) … said, ‘Come (same one individual Person is calling out to others), ‘let us go down …’” Three facts stand out from the above three passages:

1. More than one individual Being are at the scenes where the three statements
were made.
2. Each individual Being represents a distinctive Entity.
3. The Beings involved are in constant conversation with one another about the
events happening around them. God is not a lunatic that converses with himself.

It is as if the three divine Persons divided the work of the redemption of humankind among themselves. In the Old Testament, we see God the Father preparing his people and announcing through his prophets the coming of the Redeemer – God the Son. In the New Testament, God the Son came and performed the supreme sacrifice of the cross for the salvation of humankind. And just before he ascended into heaven, he announced the coming of God the Holy Spirit, who would continue the work of Redemption by revealing divine truths for the benefit of humankind and the Church of God:

“When the Counsellor (Advocate) comes, whom I shall
send to you from the Father, he will bear me witness.”
(John 15:26)

“And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another
Counsellor, (Advocate) to be with you for ever.” (John 14:16)

God the Holy Spirit did indeed come on Pentecost Day (Acts 2:1-4). Jesus revealed the triune nature of God when he mandated his disciples to baptize:

“In the name of (God) the Father and of (God) the Son
and of (God) the Holy Spirit.” (Matt 28:19)

There are indeed three Persons in one God – Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. All Three subsist as one God.

Blessed, adored and praised be God forever!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Proof of the Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Let's see what support there is from the Scriptures of the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

Those who deny that Jesus is God for baseless reasons also deny that the Holy Spirit is God. The reason for their denial is because they do not, implicitly, want to admit that there are three distinct divine Persons in One God (I'll talk about that in my next post). Let us go straight to the Scriptures. In referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus used certain action verbs that portray the Holy Spirit as an independent divine Entity. The action verbs are boldfaced:

When the Counsellor comes, whom I shall send to you
from the Father, he will bear me witness.” (John 15:26)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will not speak on his
authority, but what he hears, he will speak.” (John 16:13)

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the
Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart Barnabas and Saul (later Paul)
for the work to which I have called them.’” (Acts 13:2)

The Holy Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot.’”
(Acts 8:29)

"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were
sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph 4:30)

We see that the Holy Spirit can be sent, comes, hears, bears witness, speaks and grieves. During the creation of the world, He was:

“… moving over the face of the waters.” (Gen 1:2)

Christ describes the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of truth.” That means the Holy Spirit is ultimately responsible for all truth. He exits, just as Satan, the spirit of all lies exists. (John 8:44)

As a distinct Person, the Holy Spirit had on occasions manifested Himself physically just as God the Father and God the Son had done on different occasions. The Father spoke to the patriarchs and the prophets in the Old Testament and His voice was heard. Adam and Eve heard the “sound” of Him walking in the garden (Gen 3:8). Jesus as God the Son came and people saw Him. God the Holy Spirit had also appeared to men in different forms: as a dove (Matt 3:16), as (tongue or flame of) fire (Exo 3:2; 19:18; Acts 2:3), as wind, breeze or noise (1 King 19:12; Acts 2:3). That is to say that the Holy Spirit exists as a living Entity.

Let us look at it this way. The Father is a Spirit and a Being. Jesus is a Spirit and a Being. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit and a Being. Thinking of the Holy Spirit as a Being rather than the Spirit of God (jointly of the Father and the Son), or as a Person will help understand Him better, for all spirits and persons (including humans) are beings, but all beings are not spirits. Since He is a divine Being (does the questioner still deny this?), He exits.

The Holy Spirit, the living Spirit of God (Gen 1:2) exits as a separate Entity.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Is Jesus Christ God? - Part Two

Today, I'll conclude my discussion on the divinity of Christ.

Now, if we go by the injunction of the Scripture to worship only God (Exo 20:3-5; Matt 4:10; Rev 19:10), then Jesus Christ is God since He was worshiped a good number of times. The three wise men from the East worshiped Him:

Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For
we have seen his star in the east, and we have come to
worship him … and going into the house they saw the
child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and
worshipped him” (Matt 2:2,11)

The man who was blind from birth that Jesus healed by mixing His spittle with sand worshipped Him:

He said, ‘Lord, I believe’, and he worshipped him.
(John 9:38)

In awe, the apostles worshipped Jesus after Peter nearly sank in the water when Jesus bid him to step into the water:

And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly,
you are the Son of God.’” (Matt 14:33)

After the devil dared to tempt Christ the second time after He rebuked him once, Christ indicated that it is perfectly proper to worship Him as God:

You shall worship the Lord your God and only him
shall you serve.” (Matt 4:10)

Now there are numerous instances where Jesus is called God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1-2)

Paul tells the Romans:

… to them belong the Patriarch, and of their race,
according to the flesh, in the Christ, who is God over
all, blessed for ever. Amen.” (Rom 9:5)

And in his letter to Titus:

… awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory
of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:5)

Lastly, in adoration, Thomas the Apostle proclaimed:

My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)

And from the Old Testament, we see Prophet Zephaniah referring to Jesus in Mary’s womb as God:

Sing aloud O daughter of Zion; shut O Israel! Rejoice
and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The King of Israel, the Lord (Jesus) is in your midst
(as infant in your womb); the Lord your God is in your
midst …” (Zeph 3:14-15,17)

The Good Thief said to Jesus on the cross:

Remember me when you come into your kingly power.”
(Luke 23:42)

By “kingly power,” the Good Thief must be referring to a spiritual kingdom, since as dying men, the question of an earthly kingdom was ruled out. As King then of this implied spiritual kingdom (heaven), Jesus is God, since there is only one King in heaven – God. Jesus confirmed that He is indeed King of heaven (God) by His firm promise of salvation to the repentant thief:

Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in
paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Jesus Christ is Lord and God. May all honor, glory, adoration and worship be unto Him now and for ever! Amen!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is Jesus Christ God? - Part One

Today, I'll provide scriptural evidence of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Some Christian sects deny that Jesus is God. They prefer to call Him, “Son of God,” “Son of the Father,” “First Born of the Father,” etc. Understandably, admitting that Jesus is God implicitly means that there are three divine Persons in One God, if you include the Holy Spirit. So those who deny the trinity of God also deny that Jesus is God. But the Bible is unequivocal in referring to Jesus as God. Let us examine the Scriptures:

Jesus has all the attributes of God. He is the same with the Father:

He who has seen me has seen the Father... Do you not
believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?
The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own
authority; but the Father who dwells in me, does his
works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the
Father in me ….” (John 14:9-11)

Christ said that He and the Father are one:

I and the Father are one.”(John 10:30)

Elsewhere, He continues:

That they may be one; even as thou, Father, art in me,
and I in thee.” (John 17:21)

Since Jesus is in the Father and the Father in Him, and since He and the Father are One, and again, since the “Father dwells” in Him, He is God.

Christ has the same glory as God the Father. Since only God can have the same glory as God, Jesus is God:

And now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence
with the same glory which I had with thee before the
world was made.” (John 17:5)

Only God can forgive sins. As God then, Christ forgave the sins of many:

Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven … But that
you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth
to forgive sins.” (Matt 9:2,6)

Therefore I tell you her sins, which are many are forgiven …
And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” (Luke 7:42-48)

He gave His apostles the power to forgive sins too:

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you
retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:23)

Also as God, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath:

For the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matt 12:8)

It is true that Christ said that:

“The Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)

But from the discussion of that passage, it is known that He was speaking of Himself as Man, because He said He was going to the Father. He could only “go” to the Father as Man. As God, He cannot go for He is everywhere with the Father, always. He is equal to the Father in everything, even in glory as we saw earlier.

Jesus also indicated that He is God when He asked the Pharisees whose son they thought the Messiah was, and they answered, “The son of David.” He then said to them:

How is it then that David inspired by the Spirit calls him
Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right
hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet.’” (Matt 22:41-44)

Clearly, the first “Lord” is God the Father, and the second “Lord” is Jesus, Who is both Lord and God.

One of the reasons the Jews had for killing Jesus was because He called God His Father; implying that He is also God:

This is why the Jews sought to kill him, because he … called
God his Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18)

The Jews once took up stones to throw at Jesus and He demanded why they were intent on stoning Him. They replied:

Because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:33)

Jesus, knowing how serious a charge of divine impersonation was, did not deny the accusation; meaning that He is indeed God.

If we continue to reason along the line that as Son of God Jesus is God (John 5:18), then there are many instances where He is called the Son of God. Angel Gabriel called Him the Son of God:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of
the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child
to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

John the baptizer testified that Christ was the Son of God:

I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son
of God.” (John 1:34)

The apostles also called Him the Son of God:

And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly,
you are the Son of God.’” (Matt 14:33)

The two demoniacs that Jesus permitted to enter a herd of swine that rushed down a steep bank into the sea called Him the Son of God:

What have you to do with us, O Son of God …?
(Matt 10:32-33; see also Luke 5:41)

In compunction of heart, the centurion called Jesus the Son of God after His death:

Truly, this was the Son of God.” (Matt 27:54)

Mark started his gospel clearly referring to Christ as the Son of God:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son
of God.” (Mark 1:1)

God the Father also testified that Jesus is His Son during His baptism (Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and transfiguration (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35).

Ok, I'll continue with more evidence in the next edition.

Have a blessed day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Biblical Precedents of Image Veneration - Part Two

In this edition, we conclude our discussion on why Catholics venerate sacred objects and images. The Bible remains our reference book.

Elsewhere, we see God using Earth materials after making them sacred to heal people. He asked Moses to make a snake image and He (God) made it sacred; for those who had earlier been bitten by a snake for disobedience but now looked at the image of the snake became healed:

And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and
set it on a pole, and anyone who is bitten, when he looks
at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and
set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would
look at the bronze serpent and he lived.” (Num 21:8-9)

In the New Testament, we read cases where ordinary handkerchiefs and aprons that made contact with the body of Paul became sacred objects that were used to heal the sick and drive away evil spirits:

And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of
Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried
away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them
and the evil spirits came out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12)

Peter’s shadow also healed people of their infirmities:

Many signs and wonders were done among the people
by the hands of the apostles … so that they even carried
out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and
pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might
fall on some of them … The people also gathered from
the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those
afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”
(Acts 5:12-16)

Moses performed many miracles with his “sacred” rod after God Himself changed it from a rod to a snake and back to a rod (Exo 4:2-5):

You shall take in your hand this rod, with which you
shall do the signs (miracles).” (Exo 4:17)

Elijah’s mantle was also sacred and was used to perform a miracle:

Then he (Elisha) took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen
from him, and struck the water (of the River Jordan), …
the water was parted to one side and to the other; and
Elisha went over.” (2 Kings 2:14)

The garment that Jesus wore was made and sewn with Earth materials, yet it was sacred for power did flow out of it (Matt 9:20-22; Mark 5:27-29; Luke 8:43-44).

There are many cases of incorruptible bodies of saints all over the world. Such sacred bodies merit veneration. Please see the book: The Incorruptibles, by Juan Carroll Cruz, TAN Books & Publishers, Inc. Rockford, Illinois 61105. A parallel example can be found in the Bible. A dead man was revived when his body was thrown hurriedly into the grave of Elisha as the people carrying his body sighted a group of advancing marauders:

And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band
was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha;
and as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived,
and stood up upon his feet.” (2 King 13:21)

Sacred relics like the bones of saints, such as Elisha’s, and sacred objects, such as holy medals and pictures, statues, scapulas, crucifixes, rosaries, etc should be venerated. The Bible sanctions it. Always ensure that a priest blesses your sacramental before you start using it.

Biblical Precedents of Image Veneration - Part One

Today, I have some time on my hands, so I'll just go ahead and clear the popular misunderstanding of what Catholics actually do when they venerate sacred images and objects (sacramental).

Catholics are often accused of “worshiping” certain people and objects, when in fact, all they do is venerate these people and sacred objects. To put the record straight, Catholics do NOT worship anybody or anything but worship ONLY God. However, they venerate holy pictures of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the holy angels, the crowned saints in heaven and other sacred objects or sacramental.

Sure, the Bible warns us strictly with severe consequences:

You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any
likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on
the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
you shall not bow down to them or serve them …” (Deut 5:8-9)

However, veneration of objects has its precedents in the Bible. The Bible treated some objects as sacred and any sort of profanation of such objects was punished. The Ark of the Covenant was built of Earth materials, yet it was sacred. God asked Moses to make two winged creatures (cherubs or angels) to be kept in the Ark where He dwelt:

And you shall make two cherubs of gold; of hammered
work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy
seat. Make one cherub on the one end; of one piece with
the mercy seat shall you make the cherub on its two ends.
The cherubs shall spread out their wings above, oversha-
dowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to
another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherub
be. There I will meet with you, and from the mercy seat from
between the two cherubs that are upon the Ark of the testimony,
I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment
for the people of Israel.” (Exo 25:18-19,22)

Solomon had engraved images of cherubim, trees and flowers in the sanctuary of the house he built for God:

In the inner sanctuary, he made two cherubim of olivewood …
He carved all the walls of the house round about with carved
figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the
inner and outer rooms …” (1 Kings 6:23-33)

On the panels that were set in the frames were (engraved
images of) lions, oxen, and cherubim.” (1 Kings 7:29)

The Ark (the dwelling place of God) was built of Earth materials, yet it was sacred and demanded reverence for:

1. The household of Obededom was blessed because of the presence of the Ark (2 Sam 6:10-12).
2. Uzzah stumbled on the Ark and died (2 Sam 6:6-8).
3. David rejoiced greatly with all his strength in honour of the presence of the Ark (2 Sam 6:12-19).
4. Seventy inhabitants of the city of Bethshemesh died because they dared to look inside the Ark (1 Sam 6:19).
5. The gods of the Philistines adored God in the Ark (1 Sam 5:1-5).

Here are some pertinent questions for those who accuse Catholics of “worshipping” images:

1. When the people of Israel showed reverence for the Ark, were they worshipping the two carved images of the cherubs (angels) inside the wooden ark itself or God Who dwelt inside?
2. Who killed the seventy inhabitants of Bethshemesh who dared to look inside the Ark – the two cherubs or God?
3. Who or what were the gods of the Philistines adoring in the Ark – the two cherubs or God?

OK, I'll stop this Part One here. In the next edition, I'll show more biblical evidence of image veneration, both in the New and Old Testaments.

Have a blessed day!