Category Archives: Tradition

“It’s Complicated”

" ... it seems good  to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing." — Canon XX, Council of Nicæa, 325 A.D.
“…it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing.” (Canon XX, Council of Nicæa, 325 A.D.)

Catholic Answers is a ministry that exists “to explain & defend the faith,” and seeks to “help good Catholics become better Catholics, bring former Catholics ‘home,’ and lead non-Catholics into the fullness of the faith.” The ministry began in 1979 when its founder, Karl Keating, grew annoyed at a local Protestant church’s efforts to evangelize the Catholics in his parish. The Protestant church had put flyers on the windshields of the parishioners’ parked cars during Mass, and the flyers were allegedly “riddled with misinformation.” Continue reading “It’s Complicated”

Removing Jesus

Two Crosses
The doctrines of Rome amount to a material rejection of the incarnation.

Long before Jesus turned water into wine, He turned Mary’s amniotic fluid into meconium, and her breast milk into transitional stools. Anyone who has ever changed a child’s diaper knows that the resulting odor offends the nostrils greatly. As Jesus would later instruct us, “whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly” and ends up in the toilet (Matthew 15:17), or in His case as an infant, in the diaper. Thus did Jesus’ lower gastrointestinal tract operate as it must for all men, and thus did our Lord endure the gastrocolic reflex, as all we mortals do. We therefore have no doubt that Mary’s milk passed through Him according to the course of nature, and into His diapers in a common and necessary movement. And thus did Jesus come all the way down to earth to save us, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).

If that opening paragraph offends you, you do not know why Jesus came to earth, and you have not understood the Gospel. Continue reading Removing Jesus

One Kingdom Too Late

Revelation 13
Roman Catholicism was 300 years too late to be “the stone that … became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).

[This is the third installment of a three part series.]

When former Protestant, Taylor Marshall, wrote Eternal City, he sought to explain why Christianity is necessarily Roman. “The Church,” he wrote, “receives the Roman empire” from its previous custodians. But in concluding this, Marshall has mistakenly transposed two kingdoms—both of which Daniel addressed, and both of which Daniel set against the background of the rise and fall of four world empires. One kingdom is of earth and the other of heaven, and Marshall has unfortunately confused the two. Continue reading One Kingdom Too Late

Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 2)

John Paul II and Mary
The visions of Mary have a long-standing, two-way, verbal relationship with the Papacy.

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Last week, we discussed the propensity of Roman Catholics to rely on visions of Mary “to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation” despite the clear instructions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church not to do so (paragraph 67). Taylor Marshall relied on several visions of Mary to bolster his argument that Jesus was born on December 25th, and Fr. Livius relied on a private revelation to help him determine the meaning of the writings of several Church Fathers. But as apologist Fr. William Most has said, “In public revelation, the Church has the promise of divine protection in teaching,” while on the content of private revelation, including apparitions, “the Church does not have such a commission.” Thus it is true that while Roman apologists cite apparitions of Mary to bolster their arguments, it is also true that Roman Catholics “can refuse assent to such revelations … provided this is done … for good reasons.” It is not uncommon (in our experience) for a Roman Catholic on the one hand to cite the many examples of apparitions as evidence that Roman Catholicism is the true church, and then, on the other hand—when the actual content of the visions is brought forward—to dismiss those same apparitions “because we are not required to believe them anyway.”

But the freedom to reject the teachings of the apparitions as “private revelation” is not so simple as that. Continue reading Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 2)

Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 1)

Vision of Mary
The visions of Mary provide additional revelation that is outside the original “Deposit of Faith.”

According to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, everything that is to be known and taught by the Church is to be found in the original “Deposit of Faith,” beyond which, “no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Catechism, p. 66).

As we have discussed elsewhere, Mary is alleged to have appeared many times and in many places over the last 2,000 years. During those appearances, the visions of Mary leave behind explicit instructions and other information: one provided a design for a medal for a particular form of devotion; another provided the design for an image to be venerated; others have provided private messages for the pope; and others have left behind prophecies of things to come. These visions of Mary, or what we call “apparitions of Mary,” have very much to say. “However,” warns the catechism, “They do not belong … to the deposit of faith“: Continue reading Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 1)

Was Mary the Mother of John the Baptist, too?

Aaron's Rod Blossoming
There is a reason the Scriptures never refer to Aaron’s Rod Blossoming as a figure for Jesus.

In Rome’s unwavering efforts to honor Mary with the accolades of immaculacy, the mantle of inviolable purity, the admiration of angels and the veneration of men, there is an unfortunate tendency to see Mary in every reference in the Bible. It would seem that there is not a verse in the Old Testament that does not prefigure her: she is the “land of Havilah” in Genesis 2:11. She is, at once, Noah’s Ark, the dove he released, and the olive branch it returned. She is Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, from which the Almonds of Jesus grew. She is Jesse’s Rod from which the branch of Jesus sprung (for “rod” in Latin is “virga,” which must refer to the Virgin), and she was present when the Spirit blew upon the seas at creation (for the Latin word for “seas” is “maria,” which must refer to Mary). She is the virgin soil from which Adam was made, and she is the cloud that led the Hebrews out of Egypt. She is Gideon’s fleece, the temple, the tabernacle, the ark, as well as the golden urn containing the manna within it. When David danced, he danced for her, and what Moses saw in the burning bush prefigured her—she was at the same time the flame and the unconsumed wood of the bush. She is even prefigured in the rotting manna, and Jesus is prefigured by the worms that fed on it.

There are, of course, dangers in finding Mary in everything, Continue reading Was Mary the Mother of John the Baptist, too?

“The Blonde Kids Are On Our Ticket”

Four Cute Kids
They are not mine because they look like me. They look like me because they are mine.

My wife and I are both blonde, and our kids received that attribute from us. We often dine out with another family, of which both parents and all children are brunettes. We usually get separate checks, yet our families are mixed together at the table, so we make it easy for the waiter: “The blonde kids are all on our ticket.” If the waiter separated the ticket based on which side people were seated, our bill would include the dinner of some brunettes, and their bill would include some blondes. In an environment where there are two types of people that need to be distinguished, it is easier to highlight their outward attributes than their inward ones.

But it would be a mistake to say that I pay for their dinner because they are blonde. I pay for their dinner because they are mine, and you can tell they are mine by the color of their hair. There is no causal link between their hair color and my provision for them. Continue reading “The Blonde Kids Are On Our Ticket”

Why “Infallibility” Doesn’t Work

Serpent
Roman Catholics believe that it is an infallible fallible infallible fallible teaching of the Church that Mary is the one who crushes the serpent’s head.

Last week, we highlighted the attempts by Fr. William G. Most to extract an infallible teaching from the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. (The Magisterium is essentially the pope and the bishops who are in communion with him.) By studying the teachings of the Magisterium, William Most thought he had discovered how to arrive at an infallible teaching. By way of example, to prove that it is an infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that Mary’s physical virginity was uncompromised when Christ was born, all Most had to do was demonstrate repetition by popes and councils. Surely, Fr. Most thought, repetition is evidence of an intent to teach infallibly:

A doctrine taught with multiple papal approval plus that of Vatican II should be called infallible, for these texts show the intention to make it definitive by their repetition.

By this standard, we can conclude that it is an infallible doctrine of the Roman Church that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent in Genesis 3:15. After all, multiple popes and at least one council have confirmed this. The Council of Trent made Jerome’s translation of the Vulgate the official translation of the Roman Catholic Church. Jerome’s translation of Genesis 3:15 indicates that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent. Here is the English rendering of the Roman Catholic translation of that verse: Continue reading Why “Infallibility” Doesn’t Work

“Truth” received on no authority at all

Cracked Foundation
Cardinal Newman taught that sincerely believing a well-crafted fabrication is as good as believing the truth.

The sincere Roman Catholic will no doubt bristle at our summary of Tradition in our previous post:

The pattern for Rome is this: “we already know this to be true, so there is no error in creating evidence to support it.” This is why I call ‘Tradition’ the historical revisionism that it clearly is.

It is nonetheless a true, and verifiable statement. John Henry Cardinal Newman, one of the most famous converts to Rome from the Church of England, was a prolific writer and, after his conversion, a staunch apologist for Rome. He provides one of the best examples in recent memory of an apologist who was committed to the circularity of Roman epistemology: “we already know this to be true, so there is no error in creating evidence to support it.” When commenting on A Legend of St. Gundleus, Newman not only allows for adding fictional dialogues to the gospel narrative—he insists that it is necessary. Continue reading “Truth” received on no authority at all

When the Word just isn’t enough

The Holy Bible
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Christian who must wrestle with Roman Catholic apologists (trained and untrained) will often hear them appeal to the ancient, non-scriptural, sources as proof of what the Apostles taught. We dealt with a part of that issue in a prior post about going all the way back to the written Word, instead of just going back to the first few post-apostolic generations. We acknowledge that some foundational Roman Catholic errors emerged early in the post-apostolic era, as Paul predicted they would (Acts 20:30-32), but we deny that those errors must be canonized along with God’s revelation to us in the Holy Bible. Ancient unbiblical teachings do not become more biblical with the passage of time.

What will be interesting to the Christian reader, however, Continue reading When the Word just isn’t enough

All the Way Back

St. Paul icon
St. Paul still holds out the written Word of God to His people.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Word of God is transmitted to the Church by Tradition, the Scriptures and the Magisterium (i.e., popes, councils, etc…). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (81),

Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.

Christians hold to Sola Scriptura (the written Word of God alone) while Roman Catholics hold to Sola Verbum Dei (the Word of God alone), as transmitted by Tradition, etc… Roman Catholic apologist, Scott Hahn, makes this point nicely in his book, Rome Sweet Home (p. 74). The Roman Catholic Church sees “Tradition” as part of the Word of God, and thus, it makes little sense (to Roman Catholics) when Christians say that Rome’s “Tradition” goes against “the Word of God.” Tradition, to them, is the Word of God.

Therefore, to the Roman apologist, there is no tension when Tradition includes doctrines not explicitly included in the Bible. Tradition merely helps us understand what Scripture means. This leads to some interesting arguments, like this one from Roman apologist Robert Sungenis, who says, if Roman Catholic teachings are in the Bible, then I should be able to find them somewhere else. Continue reading All the Way Back