"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Horton on being made "One Flesh with Christ"

At the West Coast Ligonier conference, Dr. Michael Horton was asked the following question:

"You said that we are not an extension of Christ’s kingdom. How does that cohere with our being the body of Christ? Our being the hands and feet of Christ, as it were?"

(Continue reading)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"I unite you to My Passion"

St. Padre Pio

I heard this voice: ‘I unite you to my Passion’. And immediately, the vision having disappeared, I came to and I saw these signs from which blood was flowing.  I did not have them before.” (Source)

Union with Christ is for us now a union with His Passion. "We are fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him." (Rom 8:17) Hence it follows that the union of Christ's followers, one with another, is perfected through suffering, even our suffering, joined to His. Stigmata are a sign to all Christians of the continuing presence of God with His Church, and of our call to lay aside our pride, and take up our cross. Our crosses and wounds are usually not extraordinary as were the stigmata of St. Padre Pio. But by dying to our own primacy, even in little ways, we find our true place in His Mystical Body under His Headship, and our true home in that eternal Kingdom. Only in so dying is our life given out to others, and Christ's through ours. Bearing the wounds of Christ is a great honor, as Peter recognized himself not worthy to be crucified upright as was the Lord. There is no greater humiliation in the eyes of men than death upon the cross of Christ, but no greater glory in the eternal life that awaits us, for those who share Christ's cross with Him. The dying one, through suffering, sees the end, and the End. For that reason he is quick to seek peace and make peace, because he sees himself with another on the way with him, together approaching the Judge. (Matt 5:25) This is now our opportunity as Christ's followers, to seek peace with one another, in charity and patience, yet with the urgency of those who know they are dying, and so have little time to give what they can. Christ came preaching peace to those who were far away and to those who were near. (Eph 2:17) What will our generation have suffered, and what we will have sacrificed, to bring the peace of reconciliation and reunion to those with whom we are on the way? What Christ said to St. Padre Pio, He says to us as His people: "I unite you to My Passion." While we have the opportunity, may we bear His cross for the joy that is set before us, despising the shame, to bring to others the peace He brought to the whole world, and especially to the household of faith.

St. Padre Pio, pray for us, that with God's help we may heal those wounds that separate Christ's followers, bearing them in ourselves instead.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Social Trinitarianism and the Catholic Faith

The Shield of the Trinity, informed by the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed.

In his chapter titled “Social Trinity and Tritheism,” Cornelius Plantinga Jr., the current president of Calvin Theological Seminary, argues in support of what is known as ’social trinitarianism.’  This position is not compatible with the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, so here I want to show the difference between the two positions, and why they are incompatible. (continue reading)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Benedict XVI receives Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion

Optimistic comments earlier this week by the Most Rev. Paolo Pezzi, Catholic Archbishop of Moscow about the future of Catholic-Orthodox reunification elicited quite a 'buzz' in the blogosphere. A few days later, Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion, president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, arrived in Rome for a planned meeting with Pope Benedict.

Here is a selection from Archbishop Hilarion's speech in Rome delivered on Thursday, September 17.

We live in a de-Christianized world, in a time that some define—mistakenly—as post-Christian. Contemporary society, with its practical materialism and moral relativism, is a challenge to us all. The future of humanity depends on our response, as Christians, to this challenge, and maybe even whether life continues on our planet. It is a common challenge and also our answer must be common. Only together can we put forward all the spiritual and moral value of the Christian faith; only together can we offer our Christian vision for the family, only together can we affirm our concept of social justice, of a more equal distribution of goods.

These moral values are traditional because they have been affirmed by Christians for 20 centuries and have formed our cultural and European civilization. They are, at the same time, very new and modern, because the Gospel of Jesus is eternally new and modern. With this common challenge, the contemporary world challenges us, and we Christians must be together. It's time to pass from confrontation to solidarity, mutual respect, and esteem. I would say without hesitating that we must pass to mutual love, living out Jesus’s commandment to love one another. As Jesus said, all will know you are disciples of mine if you have love for the other. This is what our preaching demands and it can be effective, it can be convincing, also in our contemporary world, if we are able to live this mutual love among us as Christians. (my emphases)

Please continue to pray for the reconciliation and reunion of Orthodox, Protestants, and Catholics.

H/T: ByzTex

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ecclesial Deism or Catholicism?

David Cloud provides an example of ecclesial deism when in "The Church Fathers, A Door To Rome," he writes:

"The fact is that the "early Fathers" were mostly heretics!"

At what point does one's own disagreement with the early Church Fathers become evidence against one's own position, rather than an indication that the early Church Fathers were "mostly heretics"? St. Justin Martyr, born around the time that the Apostle John died, describes a Catholic mass in the video below, explaining in his Apology that they had received their belief and practice from the Apostles. St. Justin's testimony counts far more than does the testimony of a contemporary twenty-first century figure, precisely because of St. Justin's closer proximity to the Apostles. So claiming that the early Fathers were "mostly heretics" is in that respect self-refuting. But it is forthright and correct in its recognition of the distinctively Catholic nature of the early Church Fathers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Protestantism has no “visible catholic Church”

St. Peter (c. 1708-13)
Pierre Etienne Monnot
San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome

Part of the content of the Christian faith is the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church," because that is one article of the Church’s Creed. Concerning the Church, the Westminster Confession of Faith reads:

The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
But, as I show below, Protestantism itself has no visible catholic Church. It has only denominations, congregations, believers and their children. Within Protestantism there is not some one additional entity to which the term “visible catholic Church” refers, consisting of these denominations, congregations, believers and their children.
(continue reading)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Beckwith and George: Can You Be Catholic and Evangelical?

On September 3, Wheaton College hosted a friendly discussion between professors Timothy George and Francis Beckwith focused primarily on the following question: Can you be Catholic and Evangelical? Timothy George is a Southern Baptist and dean of Beeson Divinity School, and a co-signer of The Gift of Salvation. Francis Beckwith was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society when he reverted to the Catholic Church in 2006; he is now Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies at Baylor University. The video of the discussion and the following Q&A can be found here.

Such a discussion, and the way it was conducted, are very encouraging signs with respect to the goal of seeking the reunion of all Christians, especially Protestants and Catholics. In my opinion this event is exactly the sort of conversation Protestants and Catholics should be having. The discussion often just touched on various points of disagreement, without going into significant depth. But the purpose of the discussion was not to go into depth on these issues, only to sketch out the overall picture and develop a better mutual understanding of the common ground and the differences between Evangelicals and Catholics in relation to the question that titled the event.

My comments below focus only on Professor George’s statements. My purpose is to advance the discussion of our disagreements, by pointing to the deeper reasons underlying our disagreements.

(continue reading at Called To Communion)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?

St. Paul Enthroned with Saints and Angels (c. 1360)
Unknown Italian Master
Collezione Vittorio Cini, Venice

One primary impediment to the reconciliation of Protestants and Catholics concerns the doctrine of justification. Protestants endorse justification by faith alone (sola fide), while the Council of Trent condemned justification by faith alone. (Session 6, Canon 9) The question I ask here is this: Is there any Biblical evidence for "justification by faith alone"? (continue reading)