All posts by Tim Staples

Jimmy Akin – Apologist Extraordinaire

It’s been a while since I’ve recommended an apologist, or a website, or both. Let me do both now. As most of you know, Jimmy Akin is my colleague at Catholic Answers and our “Senior Apologist.” People ask me sometimes, “What does that mean? Senior Apologist?”

I normally respond, “Smarter Than Everybody Else.”

Jimmy has been a stalwart in Catholic Apologetics, and, along with our Founder and Senior Fellow, Karl Keating, has contributed as much to the apologetics movement in the United States as anyone I can think of. Jimmy’s work has been extensive over the last 20+ years, and not just his outstanding books: 1. The Fathers Know Best  2. Mass Revision 3. The Drama of Salvation 4. A Daily Defense (coming very soon – and it is outstanding!), or his outstanding booklets, like “20 Answers: Salvation,” “Mass Appeal,” “Annulments: What You Need to Know,” and more. He has also written numerous tracts, many of which he does not get credit for, he has virtually written entire books for other people for which he does not ask for or receive credit, special reports for Catholic Answers, and more, but I want to focus on his blog contributions that are truly stellar.

If you have not perused his blogs, you simply must.

His personal blog is found here:

http://jimmyakin.com/

Here alone you could spend a lifetime perusing posts on just about everything. And I mean everything… except sports. Jimmy is not a big fan of the gridiron, the baseball diamond, ”the square circle,” etc.

But just about everything else!

He also contributes regularly to  the blog of the National Catholic Register that you can find here:

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin

But I warn you: once you go to Jimmy’s blogs and begin to get into Jimmy’s mind, you may never want to leave! And I will also guarantee you that you are going to learn more than you ever imagined!

 

 

The Filioque Controversy

“Filoque” is Latin for “and the Son” and refers to the part of the Nicene Creed wherein Christians declare the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” The Orthodox—along with Eastern Catholic Churches—do not recite this part of the Creed. More important for our purpose, many among the Orthodox reject the theology of the filioque as well. This, of course, is where the problem starts.

The objections from the Orthodox can basically be broken down into three categories. First, the claim is made that the filioque is a novelty of the ninth century that contradicted the original and definitive Nicene Creed as it was declared by the Council of Constantinople (AD 381). Second, it is claimed, the filioque denies the Father as the first “principle” (Greek, arche) or “source” of the life of the Godhead, and in so doing contradicts a constitutive element of the nature of the Blessed Trinity. And thirdly, it is believed to contradict the plain words of Jesus in John 15:26:

But when the Counselor comes … even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me.

Jesus here declares the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, not from the Father and the Son.

The Catholic Answer:

The Catholic Church has always acknowledged the Creed of I Constantinople (AD 381) since Pope St. Leo I ratified both the Council and the Symbol (the Creed) in AD 451. The addition of the filioque is a development of the Creed that in no way contradicts the earlier version any more than the development and subsequent change of the Creed between the time of the Council of Nicea (AD 325) and I Constantinople represented a corruption of the Creed then. Moreover, the Catholic Church actually agrees with the Orthodox that the Father is the first origin of the divine life of the Trinity. CCC 245-248 explains:

The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.” By this confession, the Church recognizes the Father as “the source and origin of the whole divinity”. But the eternal origin of the Spirit is not unconnected with the Son’s origin… he is not called the Spirit of the Father alone,… but the Spirit of both the Father and the Son…
The Council of Florence in 1438 explains: “The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son [filioque]. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration. . . .

The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447 (Quam Laudabiliter) even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize and receive the Symbol of 381. The use of this formula in the Creed was gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh centuries)…

At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father’s character as first origin of the Spirit… The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque)… This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.
A Protestant-Orthodox Parallel

Some among the Orthodox who are “rigid” on this point are reminiscent of Protestants who cling to verses of Scripture that say justification is “by faith” while refusing to acknowledge other texts that just as clearly say justification involves “works,” or “obedience,” “perseverance,” etc. They are right when they say justification is by faith; they are wrong when they insist upon a “faith alone” that excludes works as being part of the process of justification in any sense.

The Catholic Church could allow for a belief in “faith alone” as long as it would not place hope and charity in opposition to faith, and as long as it would teach perseverance in that faith, hope, and charity—in good works performed in Christ—as necessary for final justification or salvation. A “faith alone” theology, for example, that places faith in opposition to works done apart from Christ, or before entering into Christ, would not contradict the Catholic Faith.

Analogously, the Orthodox are right when they insist the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as first principle of the divine life of the Trinity, and the Catholic Church has always agreed. They are wrong if they, along with the originators of the schism, create the novelty of ek tou monou tou Patrou, which is Greek for “from the Father alone” in that “rigid” sense contrary to the ancient theological understanding of both the Creed and our Trinitarian theology in both the East and West. Similar to the Protestant controversy concerning sola fide, the Church would not even have a problem with ek tou monou tou Patrou as long as that phrase would not be interpreted as denying the Son’s essential role in the procession of the Person of the Holy Spirit. More on that below:

One way to aid in understanding the filioque is to think about the eternal relations within the Godhead that constitute the persons of the Trinity as an eternal and intimate dialogue of love. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is referred to in John 1:1 as “the Word” of the Father who is therefore “generated” by the Father (John 1:18), and yet he is also revealed to have been “with” the Father enjoying this eternal and loving “dialogue,” or communion of persons, from all eternity in John 17:5. The Holy Spirit is that dialogue or communion of love between the Father and Son that is so perfect and infinite that “it” constitutes another person; “it” becomes a “he.” It is the Father who initiates the “dialogue” as “first origin” of life and love in the Godhead. But without the Son, there is no dialogue. Thus, without both the Father and the Son there is no procession of the Person of the Holy Spirit; The Holy Spirit proceeds as the fruit of this loving communion between the Father and the Son, initiated by the Father alone.

The Eastern concept of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father through the Son is another legitimate way of getting at the idea of the Son’s essential involvement in the procession of the Holy Spirit. In fact, there are some among Orthodox leaders who today acknowledge the essential agreement between Catholics and the Orthodox. Eastern Orthodox Bishop Kallistos Ware is one of these. He has actually changed his mind on the matter:

Qualifying the firm position taken when I wrote [my book] The Orthodox Church twenty years ago, I now believe, after further study, that the problem is more in the area of semantics and different emphases than in any basic doctrinal differences (Speech to a Symposium on the Trinity: Rose Hill College, Aiken, South Carolina, May, 1995).

What Does the Bible Say?

John 14:26:

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things…

John 15:26:

But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me.

The Father “sends” the Holy Spirit? And you even have the very words of our Lord stating the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father.” No doubt a surface reading of these texts seems to contradict the Catholic position. But we must be careful not to lift texts out of context and absolutize them.

As I said above, the Catholic Church agrees that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. She objects to a “rigid” version of “proceeds from the Father alone.” The Holy Spirit is sent by and proceeds from the Father to be sure. But notice, in John 15:26, Jesus says he will “send” the Holy Spirit just as he also says the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father.” Moreover, in John 16:7, Jesus goes on to say:

Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I go not away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you (emphasis added).

And as the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out in paragraph 1137:

… finally it (referring to Rev. 22:1) presents “the river of the water of life… flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” one of the most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, the Bible is very plain in Revelation 22:1:

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb…

Here we have the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. The Catechism also references Rev. 21:6 and John 4:10-14, which make very clear that this “water of life” is a reference to the Holy Spirit. If you also add John 7:37-39 recalling that it was St. John who wrote both John’s gospel and the book of Revelation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there can be no doubt what—or who—this “water of life” refers to as proceeding from the Father and the Son:

… “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Now this he said about the Spirit…

A Matter of Semantics

In the final analysis, the words of Cool Hand Luke come to mind when we consider the filioque controversy: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” From the outset of the controversy in the ninth century, a large portion of the problem has been the failure of Greek and Latin minds to understand each other. Let me explain:

When the Greeks spoke of the “procession” of the Holy Spirit, they had in mind the Greek word, ekporeusis, the term, in fact, used in John 15:26 cited above, when Jesus said the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father.” This term refers to the essential and “first” origin of the Holy Spirit, which the Greeks are right, is from the Father alone. It is the teaching of all Christians, East and West, that the Father is the soul monarch, or source (Gr. arche) of the entire Godhead. Greek has another term, proienai, which is used among the Greek fathers for the Son’s role involving not the “first” origin of the Holy Spirit; rather, the procession of the Person of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son that in no way denies the Father as first principle of life on the Godhead.

Unfortunately, the Latins used procedit (“proceeds”) from the Vulgate translation of John 15:26 that has a more general meaning that can incorporate either ekporeusis or proienai in Greek. The Latins emphasized a meaning akin to proienai.

Thus, the Latins never intended to deny the sole monarchy of the Father, while some in the East seemed not to be able to understand the Western concept of “procedit.”

Add to this the problem of the Greek word arche (“beginning,” or “source”) translated into Latin as principio (“beginning,” or “principle”) and we have more trouble. For the Greeks, there cannot be two “sources” or “causes” (arche) of the divine life of God. And the Latin fathers agree. But following St. Augustine, the Latin fathers and theologians would speak of the Father as Principium Impricipatum (an “unbegun beginning”) and the Son as Principium Principiatum (a “begun beginning”) allowing them to harmonize the truth that both the Father and the Son are the single principle (principio) of the procession of the Person of the Holy Spirit while never denying the uniqueness of the Father as “principle without principle.”

The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as principle, and, through the latter’s timeless gift to the Son, from the Father and the Son in communion (St. Augustine, De Trinitate, XV, 25, 47).

To the Greek “a begun beginning” made no sense (welcome to the mystery!). And for some, this was tantamount to the creation of two Gods; hence, they went so far as to declare Catholic baptisms invalid!

This quickly became much more than semantics!

The key, I think, to understanding between East and West is to understand the Holy Spirit to proceed ek monou tou patrou because the Father is the true arche (source) of the entire life of the Trinity. The Greeks are right here. It is only when we speak of the procession (proienai) of the Person of the Holy Spirit “after” the initiation of the divine life that alone belongs to the Father that we can speak of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son (filioque). The Latins are correct as well.

Ask the Fathers – They Know

Far from rejecting the theology of the filioque, many fathers of the Church—both East and West—clearly taught it. In the West, we have Tertullian, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine, all teaching the theology of the filioque anywhere from 600 to 800+ years before the final Orthodox schism in AD 1054. These fathers are clearly “Catholic” in their understanding.

Most importantly for our Orthodox friends, many Eastern fathers taught the filioque as well. For example, we have Didymus the Blind (The Holy Spirit, 37: AD 380). He is an Eastern father and was head of the famous Catechetical School of Alexandria. He was blind from the age of four, yet absolutely brilliant. He was one of St. Jerome’s teachers and, in fact, St. Jerome accused St. Ambrose of plagiarism because he used Didymus’ work so extensively in his own work titled, On the Holy Spirit, where St. Ambrose teaches the filioque as well. Could this be a case of an ancient Eastern father teaching a Western father the theology of the filioque? Perhaps. But most importantly, listen to the clear words of Didymus:

“Of mine he shall receive.” (Quoting John 16:15) Just as we have understood discussions, therefore, about the incorporeal natures, so too it is now to be recognized that the Holy Spirit receives from the Son that which He was of His own nature, and not as one substance giving and another receiving, but as signifying one substance. So too the Son is said to receive from the Father the very things given Him by the Father, nor has the Holy Spirit any other substance than that given Him by the Son. And on that account we do affirm those propositions according to which we believe that in the Trinity the nature of the Holy Spirit is the same as that of the Father and the Son.

We also have St. Epiphanius of Salamis (The Man Well-Anchored, 8; 75 AD 374). He is another Eastern Father who taught the theology of the filioque. St. Jerome called him “a pentaglot” because of his thorough knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic and Latin. He was Bishop of modern Salamis, then Cyprus at Constantia:

For the Only-begotten Himself calls [the Holy Spirit] “the Spirit of the Father,” and says of Him that “He proceeds from the Father,” and “will receive of mine,” so that He is reckoned as not being foreign to the Father nor to the Son, but is of their same substance, of the same Godhead; He is Spirit divine… of God, and He is God. For He is Spirit of God, Spirit of the Father, and Spirit of the Son, not by some kind of synthesis, like soul and body in us, but in the midst of Father and Son, of the Father and of the Son, a third by appellation…

The Father always existed and the Son always existed, and the Spirit breathes from the Father and the Son; and neither is the Son created nor is the Spirit created…

St. Cyril of Alexandria (Treasury of the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity, Thesis 34, AD 425), another Eastern Father, says perhaps even more plainly:

Since the Holy Spirit when He is in us effects our being conformed to God, and He actually proceeds from Father and Son, it is abundantly clear that he is of the divine essence, in it of essence and proceeding from it.

There are many more fathers we could cite, but our conclusion here should be apparent: From an historical perspective, a “rigid” Orthodox position is untenable. To say that these great fathers of the Church representing both East and West were all wrong would be unwise at the very least.

Genitive of Relation (or “Origin”)

One important way Scripture reveals the “origin” of the Holy Spirit is when it refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of the Father.” Consider Matthew 10:19-20:

When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

This phrase “the Spirit of your Father” uses a very common linguistic tool in Greek grammar: “the genitive of relation.” Another example of this usage is found in Luke 6 in the listing of the apostles multiple times in order to identify the father of some of the apostles. We’ll just look at one example here from Luke 6:15. Notice, St. James is referred to as “James of Alphaeus.” This is another case of “the genitive of relation” revealing Alphaeus to be James’s father. In the same way, and in many places in Scripture, the Holy Spirit is also shown to have His origin not only from the Father, but also from the Son.

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him (Romans 8:9).

The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory (I Peter 1:10-11).

Notice, in Romans 8:9, “the Spirit of God (the Father)” is then referred to as “the Spirit of Christ” in the same verse! There can hardly be a doubt, biblically speaking, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Were Adam and Eve Real or Symbols?

In recent years it has become more and more in vogue to say Adam and Eve were not real historical individuals; rather, they were symbols of a population of thousands of original “parents” from whom all are descended. In a word, this is what Pope Pius XII referred to as the error of “polygenism” now reinvigorated.

The source of these rumblings can be traced to a relatively few, very few, statements of note that have been greatly exaggerated in importance. The first was from a remarkably lacking catechism published by the Dutch Bishop’s Conference in 1966. Though it called into question the historical veracity of Adam and Eve, it also taught Catholic couples to consider their consciences the final authority on contraception, and more such tomfoolery. Though, unfortunately, the bishops never rescinded that horrid document, it is not taken seriously in the Church, especially in view of the universal Catechism promulgated as a “sure norm” for the universal Church in 1992, with the final and Latin typical edition being promulgated in 1997.

Similarly, there was a German Catechism promulgated by the German Bishops in 1987 that favored polygenism. And though it was certainly a far better catechism than the Dutch catechism, it too has been superseded in authority by the Universal Catechism. It is not to be understood that the Universal Catechism replaced local catechisms, but where there is a conflict, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church represents the ordinary teaching of the Church. It is to be the standard and guide for local catechisms.

Finally, we have a vague statement followed by a parenthetical statement from the International Theological Commission that seem favorable to “polygenism” as well. And it is important to note that the Commission was chaired by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, at the time. The document, Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God, published in 2004, acknowledges that the scientific evidence seems to point to a polygenic origin for humanity. It states:

While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage (Para. 63).

And here is the parenthetic statement (Para. 70).

Catholic theology  affirms that that the emergence of the first members of the human species  (whether as individuals or in populations) represents an event that is not  susceptible of a purely natural explanation and which can appropriately be  attributed to divine intervention.

While these are significant statements to be sure, they are greatly exaggerated in importance in some circles today. The International Theological Commission does not have magisterial authority in the Catholic Church. It is merely advisory in nature. Unless it is quoted by the Magisterium in an authoritative document, it retains its advisory character, and nothing more. These statements have not been so quoted, and therefore do not overrule the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium on this matter, nor do they reduce the earlier Magisterial statements in any way.

One note of import before we get to the Magisterial statements of the Church: For those who struggle with the scientific issues that surround the consideration of Adam and Eve as real historical persons, they and we are free to ask questions respectfully concerning these often perplexing questions. But out of respect for the Ordinary Magisterium, we must acknowledge that the teaching of the Church is that we have two original parents, Adam and Eve. In this post, I would like to do two things. First, I want to make clear what the teaching of the Church is. And second, I want to give some of the crucial reasons why the Church teaches as she does.

What Does the Church Teach?

In CCC 388, the Catechism footnotes Romans 5:12-21 with regard to original sin, and will refer to it again in the main text later. I believe this text alone proves devastating to polygenism:

Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men… Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come… for if many died through one man’s trespass, much more… the free gift of grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal… For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous…

It is more than just difficult to see how St. Paul could have been clearer. The parallels drawn, the typology, is remarkable. St. Paul repeats over and over again, “as one man’s trespass… so one’s man’s act of righteousness.” To say Adam was really not a single man seems to contradict the clear teaching of the Holy Spirit through St. Paul.

Moreover, the Catechism of the Catholic Church 402-403 references this very text from Romans 5 and says:

All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.” Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the “death of the soul”.

CCC 390 is even more compelling and comes under the heading “How to Read the Account of the Fall.” This is the Magisterium’s way of saying, among other things, “this is the way we view Adam and Eve.” It refers to one man and one woman. The Church, thus, considers this to be part of our Catholic Faith, at the very least, at the ordinary level.

The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

There seems to be no room here for either “many men” (polygenism) or “many trespasses,” as would have to be the case for polygenism to be true. St. Paul seems quite clear, as does the Catechism.

And most importantly, footnote 365 in paragraph 390 is crucial as well. The Catechism footnotes Humani Generis, 37, where Pope Pius XII is also quite clear that polygenism is not safe to teach as Catholics:

When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

According to the Catechism this warning is still in effect.

It also footnotes Pope Paul VI and his Allocution to a symposium on original sin, of July 11, 1966. He lays out parameters beyond which the invitees were not permitted to tread, in keeping with the teaching of Pope Pius XII and St. Paul:

With a conviction, therefore, that the doctrine of original sin—with regard to its existence and universality, and also its nature as a true sin, even in Adam’s descendants, and its sad consequences for soul and body—is a truth revealed by God in various passages of the Old and New Testament—and especially in Genesis 3:1-10, and in the Letter to the Romans 5:12-19, with which you are very familiar—you should take the greatest possible care, in delving into the meaning of the biblical texts and spelling it out more clearly, to stick to the indispensable norms which come from the analogia fidei, from the declarations and definitions of the above-mentioned Councils, and from the documents issued by the Apostolic See. In this way, you will be sure to respect… the sense of the Universal teaching Church and learning Church, which the Fathers of the Second Council of Carthage—which dealt with original sin against the Pelagians—regarded as “regulam fidei.”

Thus it is obvious that you will regard the explanations of original sin given by some modern authors as irreconcilable with genuine Catholic doctrine. Starting out from the undemonstrated hypothesis of polygenism, they deny, more or less clearly, that the sin from which this great trash heap of ills in mankind is derived, was first of all the disobedience of Adam, “the first man,” a figure of the man to come—a sin that was committed at the beginning of history. As a consequence, such explanations do not agree with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Church’s magisterium, according to which the sin of the first man is transmitted to all of his descendants not through imitation but through propagation…

The theory of evolution will not seem acceptable to you whenever it is not decisively in accord with the immediate creation of each and every human soul by God, and whenever it does regard as decisively important for the fate of mankind the disobedience of Adam, the universal first parent.

In the words chosen by the Church in the Catechism as well as in its footnoting these texts, the Church has made clear that this is, at the very least, still the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.

As far as the compatibility of polygenism with the teaching of the Church, no one that I know of has presented a way in which it can be done. Some claim they have, but those who make the claim fall short of accomplishing the task. But even more importantly, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has not acknowledged that it can be done.

Here are just a relatively few, seven, of the problems polygenism presents beyond the obvious ones I have already mentioned, and the Popes have already mentioned (the “one man,” “one trespass” problem, the problem of the one Adam as a figure of the one man, Christ, etc.). And this is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list.

1. If there were of necessity somewhere around 14,000 “original parents”, as some would say it would require for mankind to have a sufficient diversity of gene pool to survive (at the very least we are talking about “thousands” of original “parents” according to the varying evolutionary theories), what would this say of human nature? All 14,000 “freely” chose to commit original sin? This presents a very dark understanding of human nature. Not one of them would refuse to commit sin? Especially given the fact that our original parents’ were created in a state of perfect integrity, or “original justice,” free from the concupiscence of original sin, illuminated with extraordinary knowledge of both God and the world, in perfect harmony with God and the world, this would seem to be a more Calvinist view of human nature in relation to God than a Catholic view.

2. How would this sin be accomplished? You would have to have a certain number of babies in the womb and children under the age of accountability at the time of the commission of the original sin. If “the Teaching Authority of the Church propose[s,] with regard to original sin, [that it] proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam” (Pius XII, Humani Generis, 37), or, as CCC 404 teaches, original sin was a “a personal sin” for our original parents alone, how could babies in the womb commit this personal sin? Would each of these also have to choose to freely sin later on? How would this be one sin? And this is not to mention that this would represent an even darker view of human nature. Our original parents would have hardly been free if the commission of this first sin, or these thousands of first sins, was this automatic.

3. Now, either those babies and persons under the age of accountability would have had to commit sin later (and then we have the problem of “many original sins”), or there would have to be another class of people not considered before in our theology. You would have the thousands of original parents who somehow sinned, let’s say, by joining with their chief of their tribe in this “original sin,” and then you would have the babies and children under the age of accountability who would have somehow contracted original sin neither by actual sin nor by propagation. Would the child of five have immediately gone from a state of original justice to a state of original sin all of the sudden and through no fault of his own?

This, first of all, just seems absurd, but more importantly it would seem to contradict the teaching of the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent, Session 5, in its Decree on Original Sin, canon 1:

If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offence of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.

These many “Adams” in the womb or under the age of accountability would have never “transgressed the commandment of God,” and yet they would be our “original parents?” Not according to this definition at the Council of Trent.

Again, that is absurd and, it seems to me, contrary to the Faith.

4. What of the role of “Adam” and “Eve” in the commission of original sin? St. Paul tells us Adam played the decisive role in Romans 5:12-19, but that the woman had an integral role to play as well. She was the intercessor, and as such, “first” in the transgression and deceived by the devil, who brought the message of death to her husband, according to I Tim. 2:12-14. Would we now have to have thousands of Adams and thousands of Eves with all of these women being deceived as St. Paul teaches and bringing this temptation to their husbands? And every single one of them falling in the same way? This seems, again, to be contrary to what we know of the essential goodness of human nature.

5. One way of attempting to harmonize original sin and polygenism is to say that just as Adam and Eve committed together not two sins, but one original sin with Eve contributing through her intercession toward her husband as a sort of prime mover to sin, and Adam being the one ultimately responsible as head of the family, all of the other thousands of original parents could be like Eve and participate in that sin and you would have one chief of the tribe who would hold ultimate responsibility while all participate in that sin like the fictional “Eve” in Scripture. The problem here is that you then have multiple Adams and multiple Eves all acting in the role of Eve. You have one Adam and a whole slew of Eves including men acting in the role of Eve. This too seems absurd.

6. Here is a point I think a lot of folks miss. Even if polygenism were “proven science,” which it is not, it makes unnecessary assumptions from the data received even if it were true. For example, scientists tell us that the diversified genetic pool we see in all of mankind must come from natural sources over a very long period of time. And this is understandable using the scientific method. For every natural effect, the scientist must look for a natural cause. But when it comes to the creation of the human person, there would have been no natural first cause because, for one reason, man has a spiritual element to his nature. The soul was directly and immediately created by God.

Moreover, when it comes to the human body, we know, by faith, that God did not create Adam and Eve’s human body over a long period of time. In the instant God breathed the soul into each of our original parents, they became human persons, not before. And they were not monkeys with human souls either. Even if the human body were created from “pre-existent and living matter,” as Pius XII posited as a possibility in Humani Generis 36, though this is not proven to be the case, there would have been a substantial change to that “pre-existent and living matter” so that the material into which God infused a human soul would be substantially different than it was before the soul was infused. The entire human person of Adam and the entire human person of Eve would have been created anew at the instant of the infusion of the human soul, including their bodies. God would, it seems to me, have created whatever genetic information was necessary for humanity to thrive. Whether God used “the slime of the earth,” or he used “pre-existing living matter,” he would have formed it and changed it in a substantial sense into a brand new creation.

Would these first human bodies have had some of the properties of the “slime” or the “living matter?” Absolutely! In fact, whether God used “slime” or “pre-existent living matter,” that matter would have had to have been prepared sufficiently by God for it to be capable to instantiate a human soul. But in either case, it would also have been substantially more after God breathed a soul into it than it was before. There is no possible way an evolutionary process could create a truly human body precisely because a human body only becomes a human body because it is formed by a human soul directly and immediately created by God.

Those who hold to the polygenic understanding end up positing that two different souls, one rational, and one material–a man’s and a monkey’s–could form the same body. I know I’ve used the term “absurd” a lot here, but if I may, I’ll use it one more time. That’s absurd and fails to understand the Catholic concept of the soul as the form of the body. The soul can only form one body, just as the body can only be formed by one soul.

We are not “ghosts in a machine,” folks!

7. Those who posit the possibility of a Christian view to include polygenism fail to consider the reality of what Pope St. John Paul II called the “ontological leap” from non-rational living matter (or from non-living matter as well) to a rational human being. In his famous “Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution,” St. John Paul said it like this, in paragraphs 5 and 6:

It is by virtue of his eternal soul that the whole person, including his body, possesses such great dignity. Pius XII underlined the essential point: if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God (“animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides non    retimere iubet”). (Humani Generis)

As a result, the theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. They are therefore unable to serve as the basis for the dignity of the human person.

With man, we find ourselves facing a different ontological order—an ontological    leap, we could say. But in posing such a great ontological discontinuity, are we not    breaking up the physical continuity which seems to be the main line of research about evolution in the fields of physics and chemistry?

The answer is, “yes!” Because when it comes to the creation of man, we are not talking about monkeys with souls. We are talking about that “ontological leap” which represents a leap tantamount to a leap not just of 100 billion light years across the known universe. It is much more than that. It is more like a leap from an ant to an angel. It is a leap, both at the level of the human body and the human soul, that is impossible to make apart from a special act of an infinitely powerful and loving God.

When you read the disturbing theories that are out there, up to and including the possibility that our original “parents” could have been a mish-mosh of marriages (or some sort of “unions”) between human beings and these sub-human globs of genetic information that contributed to our genetic code, it becomes nightmarish. Monkeys mating with humans is so far beyond the pale that it hardly merits a mention in my way of thinking.

And all because those involved don’t understand what John Paul called that “ontological leap” that represents everything we are as human beings.

Another Attack Against a Priest Not in the News

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Catholics (and Christians in general, but especially Catholics) are being severely persecuted in over 50 countries of the world (and many, many more if we consider lesser types of persecution, like we have happening in the United States and other Western nations). Never in the history of the world have Christians been persecuted in greater numbers than in our own time. And yet, have you noticed the general lack of this fact being reported in the media?

I wonder why? Hmmmmm…

According to “the Center for the Study of Global Christianity,” an average of 100,000 Christians are being killed every year for simply being Christians, and 80% of the religious persecution in the world today is aimed at Christians. The Vatican, somewhat surprisingly to me, has concurred calling it “over 100,000 Christians per year.” The Vatican is usually somewhat reticent to quote numbers like these. But have you heard this broadcast on the CBS Evening News lately? How about ABC? NBC?

Now, I should note that Ruth Alexander of the BBC criticized these numbers claiming the actual number to be more like 7-8,000 per year. The truth is, the number is probably somewhere in between. But think about it. Can you imagine if it was anywhere from 7 to 100,000 homosexuals being killed each year? You wouldn’t be able to turn on the television without having those numbers in your face. But since it’s Christians being killed, our media elite simply don’t care.

I know, I know, “Tim, you are being too harsh, surely they care.” I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe they do. Actions, my friend, actions. If they cared, they would do something about it by way of ink on paper and words over the telly.

Here is a most recent example of what I am talking about. We just had another attempted suicide bombing in a Catholic Church, this time in Indonesia, and no one is reporting it. How much do you want to bet that it would be covered if it was a “gay” bar that was attacked?

Oh well, it was only a Catholic priest who was wounded in the attack of an axe-wielding radical ISIS Islamic terrorist who attacked during Mass and only failed in his murderous attempt because of a malfunctioning bomb and the fact that he was obviously not very good with his axe. He was evidently subdued by parishioners as he chose his attack during a heavily attended Mass. Kudos to those parishioners! Check out this story here.

I am one who tends to err on the side of optimism when it comes to our future in the good ole’ U.S. of A. And if you know me at all, you know this is true. But the way things are going in our world and in our country right now, I truly believe that as Catholic Christians, we are going to have to learn to protect ourselves more and more as the world continues to show its true hatred for Jesus Christ and his bride, the Church. If you are waiting for your government to help you, you will wait in vain.

The best thing you and I can do right now is fourfold:

1. Pray

2. Dive into our Catholic Faith. Learn it and live it.

3. Involve ourselves politically. Vote for life! Vote for sane candidates who understand the moral law and our responsibilities toward God and neighbor as a people. The rest will usually follow. The sane produce sanity.

4. Arm yourself and be ready to protect yourself and your family.

A final thought: There were probably about 10,000 Christians, at a minimum, murdered in the last 12 months for simply being Christians. How many of these 10,000 have you heard about? And what is your government doing to help these Christians with targets on their foreheads?

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The Travesty of Christians Supporting Homosexual “Marriage”

In my DVD, “Truth and Consequences,” I first declare the biblical truth concerning the infallible teaching authority of the Church, the “Magisterium” of the Catholic Church, then I give examples from both matters of faith and moral matters of the tragic consequences that follow from not having this great gift. You will be stunned when you see in this presentation how far the Protestant denominations have fallen over the centuries as a result of their rejection of the truth of the Magisterium of the Church.

In an earlier blog post, I gave some snippets from my DVD by way of eight major Protestant denominations, and I added the Mormons as well, that support abortion to various degrees. And we are not talking about “Bob and Pete’s Church of Fun,” here, we are talking about major denominations: 1. The Salvation Army 2. The Mormons 3. The United Church of Christ 4. The American Baptist Churches 5. The Southern Baptist Church 6. The Presbyterian Church (USA) 7. The Evangelical Luther Church 8. The United Methodist Church 9. The Episcopalian Church

All of the above support abortion to varying degrees. And this represents just nine of the 18 I present in my DVD!

In this post, I want to present to you just six of the 25 denominations I found that now support homosexual acts/homosexual so-called “marriage” as morally acceptable. Can you even imagine what Luther and Calvin would say of these their sons and daughters today?

  1. The Episcopalian Church. Do we all remember the “ordination” of “Bishop” Gene Robinson, the first openly and active homosexual bishop in the Episcopalian Church in 2003?
  2. The American Baptist Churches. In this denomination they take no position and allow individual churches to decide.
  3. Evangelical Church of Germany. This community is actually a federation of 22 denominations both Lutheran and Reformed—10 of the 22 now accept so-called homosexual “marriage.” These churches represent 30% of the entire German population!
  4. The United Church of Christ. These guys are popularly known as “Obama’s church,” because of the spotlight that came on this community due to Obama’s pastor for twenty years, Jeremiah Wright. Well, I suppose it is no surprise that these guys support homosexual unions. They were on my list of supporters of abortion as well.
  5. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (remember these guys? The “church” that declares on its website that a baby “does not have an absolute right to be born?” This that is the largest Lutheran body in the United States, just voted in 2009 to allow Homosexual marriage and created a liturgy to “bless” these unions.
  6. The Presbyterian Church (USA). You’ll remember these guys as well if you read my earlier post or if you’ve seen my DVD. This is the largest Presbyterian body in the United States. Not only do they accept homosexual marriage, but they just voted and approved the ordination of active homosexuals on July 8, 2010.

And on and on we go to 25 denominations, as I said above.

And folks, we are not talking about individuals in these denominations failing to live up to the teachings of its leadership. That will always be the case. As long as we are living in the world and in our fallen state as human beings, there will always be sin. But we are talking about so-called “churches” leading people into sin and claiming, in the words of Shakespeare, “fair is foul, and foul is fair.”

This leads me to two main thoughts among the many we could talk about. First, it leads me to give thanks to God for the great gift of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church that is the only institution on the planet earth that has preserved in its entirety the full body of Christian teaching for 2,000 years. Only its divine authority can explain this historical fact.

Second, it leads me to want to invite everyone I come into contact with to come to Jesus Christ in the Church that he established 2,000 years ago, the Catholic Church. In the words of a familiar Protestant hymn I was raised with, “All other ground is sinking sand.”

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The Great Lie of Seventh-day Adventists

Ellen White’s “Original Lie”

The Founder of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, Ellen Gould White, had some choice words to say about the teaching of the immortality of the soul:

The great original lie, which [the devil] told to Eve in Eden, “Ye shall not surely die,” was the first sermon ever preached on the immortality of the soul. That sermon was crowned with success, and terrible results followed. He has brought minds to receive that sermon as truth, and ministers preach it, sing it, and pray it.

The sermon which Satan preached to Eve upon the immortality of the soul – “Ye shall not surely die” – they have reiterated from the pulpit; and the people receive it as pure Bible truth. It is the foundation of spiritualism. The word of God nowhere teaches that the soul of man is immortal. Immortality is an attribute of God only. 1Timothy 6:16: “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”

Mrs. White makes two specific errors here that betray a further and underlying problem with her understanding (and Seventh-day Adventists’) of the nature of the human person that is common among the various sects that deny the natural immortality of the soul. We’ll get to the underlying problem after we clear up the first two errors.

1. Mrs. White obviously did not comprehend the Catholic (and biblical) understanding of death. She apparently thought that Catholics believe human beings never die because we believe the souls of mankind are immortal. At least, that is what she appears to say. Modern Seventh-day Adventists I have talked to have a bit more of a nuanced approach, but say essentially the same thing. They will say that Catholics (and those who believe in the natural immortality of the soul) teach that in “death” only the body dies, not the person. So it would be improper to say “Tom Smith died.” For the Catholic—the argument is made—Tom Smith’s body died, not Tom Smith. This is simply incorrect. In fact, Catholics believe that when a Christian dies, the person dies, not just his body. The real key here is to define just what we mean by death.

I remember learning in Philosophy class in the seminary that the basic definition of death that goes back to Plato, Socrates and perhaps beyond is: “The reduction of a composite being into its component parts.” This is precisely what occurs when a human person dies: his “component parts” of body and soul are separated. But make no mistake about it; it is the person who dies. Simple enough. However, at the “death” of the person there is a sense in which we can say the body “dies” that the soul does not. The body itself is “reduced to its component parts” because it no longer has its form, or unifying principle, which is the soul. This is why the body will very quickly begin to decay or “break down into its component parts” at death. As Scripture says, “The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7).

Because the soul is spiritual in nature, there are no “parts” to break down. Hence, the soul continues to live as a substantial, though incomplete, entity. It is in this sense that we say the soul of man does not die, while the body and the person do.

2. When Scripture says God “only hath immortality,” this does not mean humans and angels do not participate in that immortality that God possesses absolutely. The Fourth Lateran Council declared in its Constitutions, “On the Catholic Faith,’ ch. 1:

We firmly believe and simply confess that there is only one true God, eternal and immeasurable, almighty, unchangeable, incomprehensible and ineffable…”

God alone is eternal according to the Council, yet “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23) according to Scripture. This is not a contradiction. Catholic theology makes a distinction between the aeternitas of God and the aevum or aeviternitas of man. The “eternity of God” has no beginning and no end. The “eternal” life of man has a beginning, but no end. There is an essential difference between the two. Man’s eternity, or more precisely, his immortality, is a participation in what God alone possesses absolutely.

There are two ways to help clear up this misunderstanding biblically. First, we note that even Mrs. White and Seventh-day Adventists believed and believe in the resurrection. Is this not immortality? St. Paul describes the resurrection of the body in terms of: “… this mortal nature must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:53, emphasis added). Jesus said, “He who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26). That means, at least in some sense, humans will possess immortality. And the fact is: Seventh-day Adventists agree that after the resurrection, Christians will never die. That is the definition of immortality! Thus, even according to Adventist theology, I Timothy 6:16 cannot mean God alone is immortal in an absolute sense and to the exclusion of all others in any sense.

Second, we can point to our Lord’s comparison between the immortality of angels and the immortality of the faithful. Jesus said, “Those who are accounted worthy to attain… to the resurrection of the dead… cannot die anymore because they are equal to the angels” (Luke 20:35-36). What makes this text so significant is the context. Our Lord was responding to the Sadducees who “say there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit” (Acts 23:8). It is in this context he makes clear the fundamental truth that angels are immortal. He then uses the example of the angels for the immortality of the resurrected dead. Angels are pure spirits, and therefore “cannot die.” So how are men “equal to the angels?” Men have spiritual souls that similarly cannot die. So obviously, again, I Timothy 6:16 must be taken to mean that God alone is immortal absolutely. Angels and men participate in the immortality that God alone possesses in a strict sense.

The Problem Continues – From Here to Eternity

Like its founder, Ellen Gould White, the Seventh-day Adventist sect denies the natural immortality of the soul. In 1988, the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church published a biblical exposition of the fundamental doctrines of their denomination. It states:

The soul has no conscious existence apart from the body. There is no text that indicates that the soul survives the body as a conscious entity.

Failing to understand the nature of the human person leads to more errors than space would allow us to consider here. But another couple of examples are found in Ellen White’s take on the resurrection and the judgment:

Thus were serious errors introduced into the Christian faith [by the Catholic Church]. Prominent among these was the belief in man’s natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Rome established the invocation of saints and adoration of the Virgin Mary. From this sprung also the heresy of eternal torment for the finally impenitent, which was early incorporated into papal faith.

Aside from the fact that Mrs. White misrepresents the Catholic position on Mary—Catholics do not adore her; we honor her, and rightly so—notice how the truth of the communion of saints and even the doctrine of Hell goes up in smoke (pun intended) with the denial of the immortality of the soul?

In the years I have dealt with Adventists and other sects that deny the natural immortality of the human soul, I have found the underlying problem to lie in the misapplication of texts of Scripture from the Old Testament. Here we find the real foundation of the error for these are the “go-to” verses for Adventists.

We will examine three of them here:

1. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower, and withers… For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease… But man dies, and is laid low… and where is he?… Oh, that thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, that thou wouldst conceal me until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again?… His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he perceives it not… (Job 14:1-2, 7, 10, 13-14, 21)

“His sons come to honor, and he does not know it?” To the Adventist, this text is clear: that would mean there is no consciousness after death. Further, the author compares the death of a man to a tree getting cut down. He says the tree has the advantage! The tree continues to live, whereas a man will not. Seems like an open and shut case. But not so fast! If we examine the context here we see quite a different story. Job is speaking of death being the final end to this life. He is not denying that there is an afterlife. There are four points to consider in order to clear up this apparent difficulty:

1) Job compares man to a tree, which continues to blossom again; or “return” to this life. Man does not. He is not denying an afterlife. Job obviously believes man will be resurrected. He says as much in Job 19:25: “For I know that my redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God.” Job simply declares what all Christians believe: a man that dies will not ordinarily return to this life.

2) In verses 13-14, as Fr. William Most has said, “[Job] indulges a fanciful wish, saying he would like to hide, without dying in Sheol, the underworld, until God’s wrath has passed” (Catholic Apologetics Today, p. 228) This is an understandable wish in the midst of terrible suffering. It is in this context that he says, in verse 14, “If a man dies shall he live again?” Job knows that you cannot go to Sheol and return to this life. We know this is what he is referring to because, as we have seen, in Job 19:25, Job explicitly teaches that there will be a resurrection of the body. So the dead will return, but not to this life.

3) What about the part that says the sons of the dead man “come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he perceives it not?” Job is writing at a time, before the advent of Christ, when the dead did not experience the Beatific Vision. The “limbo of the fathers,” as it is called, was somewhat mysterious.

Job talks of the future life as he knew it, and as Jews thought of it. Job and his people thought of life [after death] as a drab survival—which is what it really was before the death of Christ. It was a dim limbo of the fathers, in which they had no means of knowing what transpired on earth, whether their children suffered or prospered [barring a special revelation given by God to the souls in Sheol for a special purpose as we see in the cases of Samuel (I Samuel 28:15), perhaps Rachel (Jeremiah 31:15), certainly Jeremiah and Onias (II Maccabees 15:11-15), and Moses and Elijah on the Mountain of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31)]. By way of the beatific vision of God [the holy souls of the departed] can know what goes on on earth. But without that vision he cannot. And that vision was not to be had in the days of Job, not until Jesus died (Apologetics Today, 229-230).

4) Most importantly, we have to read the very next verse: Job 14:22:

He feels only the pain of his own body, and he mourns only for himself.

This seems to be overlooked by those who deny the natural immortality of the soul. But if the dead man being spoken of feels his own pain, then he must have a continued existence, albeit, he does not know what is happening “under the sun.”

The “limbo of the fathers” was a shadowy sort of existence that we just do not know everything about. This “pain” in the afterlife of which Job speaks may well be a reference to the separation of body and soul at death and the longing for the resurrection. This makes sense” when we again consider Job 19:25. Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God.” It would certainly make sense that Job would communicate a sense of “pain” in that the righteous dead are awaiting that which will finally complete them as human persons. Most important however is the fact that Job indicates “feeling” after death.

2. Psalm 6:3-6:

My soul is sorely troubled. But thou, O Lord—how long? Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of thy steadfast love. In death there is no remembrance of thee; in Sheol who can give thee praise?

“’In death there is no remembrance of thee?’ How can it get any clearer than that?” says the Adventist. Fr. Most, quoting Scripture scholar Mitchell Joseph Dahood, S.J., responds:

The psalmist suffers not because of the inability to remember Yahweh in Sheol [Hell], but from being unable to share in the praise of Yahweh which characterizes Israel’s worship (Apologetics Today, 231).

Psalm 6 is a Psalm of David written “to the choirmaster” in order for it to be sung in the context of the liturgical worship of the people of God. This is the worship of God that David loved so much. In Sheol there would be no Tabernacle, no Temple, no choir and no grand communal worship. There would be no “remembrance” of God in the liturgy. No “praise” of God in the assembly. This was the desire of David’s heart all of his life:

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple (Psalm 27:4).

David does not want to be deprived of the glorious praise of God. Fr. Most continues:

Isaiah 38:18 also has similar language: “For Sheol will not thank you [nor] death praise you.” The verb for praise, hallel, in Hebrew is precisely the same verb used in I Chr. 16:4 and II Chr. 5:13 and 31:2 for the liturgical praise of God. That of course would not take place in Hell [sheol].

A good way to see vividly the difference between the after-life occasioned by the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ in the New Covenant verses the after-life in the Old Covenant is to note the different ways death is viewed in each Testament. David, in Psalm 6, does not want to die because in death existence was less appealing than life in this world. Not just for the damned—of course that would be true—but for the just. In the New Covenant, we see just the opposite. St. Paul says:

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me… My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account (Phil. 1:21-24).

Only an understanding of the immortality of the soul and the glory of the beatific vision awaiting the faithful after the resurrection of Christ can make sense of this text. If there is nothing—but nothing—in death, then St. Paul should be saying with David, “I don’t want to die!” St. Paul says plainly that death in friendship with Christ is “far better” than life in this present world.

3. Eccl. 9:10:

For there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

That sounds like we should join the local Seventh-day Adventist community, doesn’t it? But, again, not so fast! As always, the key is context. If we back up to verse five of this same chapter, we read:

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun. Go, eat your bread with enjoyment… Enjoy life with the wife who you love… which he has given you under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. Again, I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift…

Notice how many times the inspired author said “under the sun?” Three times in these few short verses! The inspired author does not say the dead have no existence at all. The context reveals that he was saying the dead have nothing to do, and no knowledge of, what is happening “under the sun” as I’ve said before. But, in the end, the writer of Ecclesiastes knows that justice is coming in the next life. He is so certain of this that he can say in the final two verses of his book:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Eccl. 12:13-14).

The writer of Ecclesiastes is focusing upon what happens “under the sun” until the very end when he tells us that the after-life is the place where everything will finally make sense. He does not attempt to give us an in-depth teaching of the nature of the after-life. He simply assures his readers that ultimate justice awaits in God’s good time.

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The Perpetual Virginity of Mary Pt. 2

In my last post, I gave an abbreviated version of three of the eight reasons I give for Mary’s perpetual virginity in my book, Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines. Because I have received tons of questions on this over the years, I thought I would provide three more abbreviated reasons for the perpetual virginity of Mary in this post.

Reason Four: Mary Was Consecrated to the Father of Her Son

As I said in my last post, Mary entered into a nuptial relationship with the Holy Spirit. The marriage between Mary and the Holy Spirit and that between Mary and Joseph are not incompatible, because they are of entirely different orders—like my own marriage to my wife, Valerie, does not contradict each of the two of us having a truly nuptial relationship with the Lord.

However, unlike all Christians’ “nuptial” relationship with the Lord, in the case of Mary and the Holy Spirit, a child was conceived. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In a unique and unrepeatable fashion, the two orders intersect. Thus, Mary’s consecration to God for the purpose of the Incarnation brings with it biblical challenges.

In my last post, I mentioned how Joseph and Mary’s betrothal to each other was equal to a legal spousal contract, according to Scripture. The word for betrothed in Hebrew is kiddush, which is derived from the Hebrew word kadash, meaning “holy” or “consecrated.” This betrothal was considered a sacred event binding spouses to each other. It was because of this understanding of the sacredness of the bond of matrimony that adultery was considered such a serious sin. Marriage was a consecrated state. Desecrating this state by adultery left a woman defiled and was punishable by death or, in some circumstances, left her unfit to return to conjugal relations with her husband. (This seems odd to us today, but things were different among the ancient, tribal people with whom our Lord was dealing.)

The latter cases where a desecration of a marriage left women unfit to return to relations with their husbands are of particular interest to us now. We see an example of this in 2 Samuel. Absalom, one of David’s sons, tried to usurp the throne of his father by, among other things, sleeping with ten of David’s concubines:

Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.”. . . [A]nd Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel (16:21-22).

Later, when Absolam’s attempted coup d’état failed and he was killed, King David did not forget his concubines. Scripture tells us David “took the ten concubines, whom he had left to care for the house, and put them in a house under guard, and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood” (20:3).

David would not have conjugal relations with these ten concubines again because they were “defiled” by Absalom. But he did have the responsibility to care for them and protect them after Absalom’s death, because he (Absalom) could no longer care for them. And they were David’s concubines, so he had a real responsibility for their well being.

It is hard for us to fathom this in the twenty-first century. How could King David and St. Joseph have the responsibility to care for their wives but not be able to have conjugal relations with them? We have to understand this through the revelation given to us in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Jeremiah 3:1 reveal to us that a woman who was divorced by her husband and then wedded to another could never return to her former husband even if her new husband were to die. Deuteronomy 24:4 declares:

Then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring guilt upon the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.

It was the sexual bond that was evidently the cause of the “defilement” in the relationship. Hence, King David could receive his concubines into his home after they were “defiled” by Absalom, but he could never have conjugal relations with them again.

In Jeremiah 3:1, God refers to this law when he speaks metaphorically of his relationship with Israel:

“If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the harlot with many lovers; and would you return to me?” says the Lord.

Very much rooted in this Old Testament understanding, the Talmud taught divorce to be mandatory in the case of an espoused woman who became pregnant by another. The espoused woman who conceived by another would then belong to that other and could never return to her former husband. The ancient rabbis said:

A woman made pregnant by a former husband and a woman who was giving suck to a child by another husband . . . do not receive the marriage contract. . . . A man should not marry a woman made pregnant by an earlier husband or giving suck to a child born to an earlier husband, and if she married under such conditions, he must put her away and never remarry her (Neusner, Babylonian Talmud, vol. 11, 123).

When we take into account the Old Testament background and ancient Hebrew culture, we understand Matthew 1 and the situation with the Holy Family. In Joseph’s mind, once she was pregnant, Mary would have belonged to the father of the child within her. His choices were either to expose her publicly and endanger her to mob violence or to do what we see he actually resolved to do in Matthew 1:19: divorce her quietly. But notice what Scripture tells us in verses 20 and 21:

But as [Joseph] considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

When the angel told Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived of the Holy Spirit, he knew what was required of him. Just as we saw with King David in 2 Samuel 20:3, Joseph knew that he was to take his wife into his home and care for her, though he could never have conjugal relations with her. According to Scripture and ancient Jewish tradition, Mary belonged to the father of her child—the Holy Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit could not be the protector that Mary needed. The Holy Spirit could not sign legal documents and be Mary’s legal spouse. But Joseph was ready and willing—just man that he was—to care for Mary as his lawfully wedded spouse.

Reason Five: Mary is the Temple Gate

In Ezekiel 44:1-2, the prophet was given a vision of the holiness of “the gate” of the temple, which would be fulfilled in the perpetual virginity of Mary:

Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.”

No Christian would deny that in the New Testament Jesus is revealed to be the fulfillment of the temple. In John 2:19, when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” the Jews thought he was speaking of the enormous stone edifice that stood in Jerusalem. But, as John tells us two verses later, he was actually speaking of his own body. So if Christ is the prophetic temple of Ezekiel 44 into which God himself has entered for our salvation, who or what is this prophetic gate that is the conduit for God to enter into his temple?

Mary is the natural fulfillment. She is the gate through which not just a spiritual presence of God has passed but God in the flesh. How much more would the New Testament gate remain forever closed? St. Jerome commented on this text in the fourth century:

Only Christ opened the closed doors of the virginal womb, which continued to remain closed, however. This is the closed eastern gate, through which only the high priest may enter and exit and which nevertheless is always closed (Against the Pelagians, 2,4).

Reason Six: Mary is the untouchable Ark

According to multiple parallel texts in Scripture, Mary is depicted as the New Testament Ark of the Covenant. The encounter of Mary and Elizabeth in Luke 1:39-45, shortly after Mary conceived Jesus at the Annunciation, is clear evidence of this.

First, take note of Elizabeth’s exclamation when Mary entered her home and greeted her: “And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” This refers back to 2 Samuel 6:9 where the Old Testament “type” of Mary—the Ark of the Covenant—was carried into the presence of King David. He said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” The ark remained there three months. In a New Testament fulfillment of the type, Luke 1 records that Elizabeth gave Mary an identical greeting, and that Mary remained with Elizabeth for three months.

According to Hebrews 9:4, the Ark of the Covenant bore the Ten Commandments, a small amount of manna, and the staff of Aaron the high priest. All of these were types of our Lord. According to John 6:31-33, Jesus is the true manna. According to Hebrews 3:1, Jesus is our true high priest. In Hebrew, the Ten Commandments can be referred to as the ten words (dabar in Hebrew). Jesus is the word made flesh, according to John 1:14.

According to the Old Testament, no one except the high priest could touch the ark or even look inside it. If anyone else touched or looked inside the ark, the punishment was death. The Levites in charge of the ark knew all too well that their charge was to protect but that they could not look inside and they could not touch.

If this was the case for the Old Testament type, which, according to Hebrews 10:1, is no more than a shadow of the true New Testament fulfillment, then it would seem fitting that Mary would remain “untouched” by Joseph as well. When we understand this, we understand why great saints such as Jerome and Epiphanius would have been so indignant when they encountered the first heretics to posit even the possibility that Joseph could have had conjugal relations with Mary. This was absolutely foreign to the Christian consciousness of the first four centuries of the Christian era.

Perhaps in a future post, I will discuss the unanimity among the Fathers of the Church on this matter. For the first Christians, this was a no-brainer.

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The Perpetual Virginity of Mary Pt. 1

Perhaps the two most commonly employed texts by those who deny Mary’s perpetual virginity are:

Matthew 13:55-56: “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all of his sisters with us?”

and:

Matthew 1:24-25: “And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife. And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn [Greek, prototokon] son: and he called his name JESUS” (Douay-Rheims).

A surface reading of these texts seems to raise some questions. If Jesus had brethren (brothers) and sisters, doesn’t this mean that Mary had other children? If Jesus was Mary’s firstborn, doesn’t this imply there was at least a second-born? And doesn’t “he knew her not till” imply that he “knew her” at some point thereafter? We’ll begin with Matthew 13:55-56.

Oh, brother!

First, we must understand that the term brother has a wide semantic range in Scripture. It can mean not only a blood brother but an extended relative or even a spiritual brother. Abraham and Lot are classic examples of “brother” being used for an extended relation (see Genesis 13:8 and 14:12). Though they were actually uncle and nephew, they called one another “brother.” Moreover, in the New Testament, Jesus told us to call one another “brothers” (see Matthew 23:8). Obviously, this doesn’t infer that all Christians have the same physical mother.

Second, if we examine more closely the example of James, one of these four “brothers” of the Lord mentioned in Matthew 13:55, we discover him to actually be a cousin or some other variety of relative of Jesus rather than a blood brother. For example, St. Paul tells us:

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:18-19).

Notice, the James of whom St. Paul speaks was both a “brother of the Lord” and an “apostle.” There are only two apostles named James among the twelve. The first James is revealed to have been a son of Zebedee. He would most likely not be the James St. Paul speaks of in Galatians, because this James, the brother of John, was martyred early on, according to Acts 12:1-2. And even if it were him, his father was Zebedee. If he were the blood brother of the Lord, his father would have been Joseph.

The second James who was an apostle, according to Luke 6:15-16, is most likely to whom St. Paul refers, and his father was Alphaeus, not Joseph. Thus, James the apostle and Jesus were not blood brothers.

Easy enough. However, some will argue that the James spoken of in Galatians 1 was not an apostle—or, at least, he was not one of the Twelve. Though this is a possibility—there are others in the New Testament, such as St. Barnabas in Acts 14:14, who are referred to as “apostles” in a looser sense—the argument from Scripture is weak.

When St. Paul wrote about going “up to Jerusalem” to see St. Peter, he was writing about an event that occurred many years earlier, shortly after he had converted. He was basically going up to the apostles to receive approval lest he “should be running or had run in vain.” It would be more likely he would have here been speaking about apostles proper, or the Twelve.

But for those inclined to argue the point, the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses another line of reasoning:

[T]he Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, “brothers of Jesus,” are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls “the other Mary.” They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression (CCC 500).

The Catechism here refers to the fact that, fourteen chapters after we find the “brothers” of the Lord listed as “James, Joses, Simon and Judas,” we find “James and Joses” mentioned again, but this time their mother is revealed as being named Mary—but not Mary the mother of Jesus. The conclusion becomes apparent: “James and Joses” are “brothers” of Jesus, but they are not blood brothers.

The Problem of the “Firstborn”

So what about Matthew 1:24-25 and the claim Jesus was Mary’s “firstborn son” and that Joseph “knew her not until” Christ was born? Does St. Matthew here teach Mary to have had other children?

Exodus 13:1-2 reveals something important about the firstborn in Israel:

The Lord said to Moses, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and beast, is mine.”

The firstborn were not given the title because there was a second-born. They were called firstborn at birth. Hence, Jesus being referred to as firstborn in Matthew 1 does not require there to be more siblings after him.

Propositions About a Preposition

Scripture stating Joseph “knew [Mary] not until she brought forth her firstborn” would not necessarily mean they “knew” each other after she brought forth Jesus. Until is often used in Scripture as part of an idiomatic expression similar to our own usage in English. I may say to you, “Until we meet again, God bless you.” Does that mean after we meet again, God curse you? By no means! A phrase like this is used to emphasize what is being described before the “until” is fulfilled. It is not intended to say anything about the future beyond that point. Here are some biblical examples that may help clarify things:

II Samuel 6:23: “And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to [unti] the day of her death.” Does this mean she had children after she died?

I Timothy 4:13: “Until I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching.” Does this mean Timothy should stop teaching after St. Paul comes?

I Corinthians 15:25: “For he [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Does this mean Christ’s reign will end? By no means! Luke 1:33 says, “[H]e will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

In recent years, some have argued that because Matthew 1:25 uses the Greek words heos hou for “until,” whereas the texts I mention above from the New Testament use heos alone, there is a difference in meaning. Heos hou, it is argued, would indicate the action of the first clause does not continue. Thus, Mary and Joseph “not having come together” would have then ended after Jesus was born.

The problems with this theory begin with the fact that there is no scholarship available that confirms it. In fact, the evidence proves the contrary. Heos hou and heos are used interchangeably and have the same meaning. Acts 25:21 should suffice to clear up the matter:

But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I commanded him to be held until (Greek, heos hou) I could send him to Caesar.

Does this text mean that St. Paul would not be held in custody after he was “sent” to Caesar? Not according to the biblical record. He would be held in custody while in transit (see Acts 27:1) and after he arrived in Rome for a time (see Acts 29:16). The action of the main clause did not cease with heos hou.

A Positive Outlook

Having dispatched some of the objections to Mary’s perpetual virginity, perhaps some positive reasons for faith would be in order. In my book Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines, I give eight positive reasons, but for brevity’s sake, we will briefly consider three:

1. In Luke 1:34, when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, she asked the question, literally translated from the Greek, “How shall this be, since I know not man?” This question makes no sense unless Mary had a vow of virginity.

When we consider Mary and Joseph were already “espoused,” according to verse 27 of this same chapter, we understand Mary and Joseph to then have had what would be akin to a ratified marriage in the New Covenant. They were married! That would mean St. Joseph would have had the right to the marriage bed at that point. Normally, after the espousal the husband would prepare a home for his new bride and then come and receive her into his home where the union would be consummated. This is precisely why St. Joseph intended to “divorce her quietly” (Matt. 1:19) when he discovered she was pregnant.

This background is significant, because a newly married woman would not ask the question, “How shall this be?” She would know! Unless, of course, that woman had a vow of virginity! Mary believed the message but wanted to know how this was going to be accomplished. This indicates she was not planning on the normal course of events for her future with St. Joseph.

2. In John 19:26, Jesus gave his mother to the care of St. John even though by law the next eldest sibling would have the responsibility to care for her. It is unthinkable to believe that Jesus would take his mother away from his family in disobedience to the law.

Some will claim Jesus did this because his brothers and sisters were not there. They had left him. Thus, Jesus committed his mother to St. John, who was faithful and present at the foot of the cross.

This claim reveals a low and unbiblical Christology. As St. John tells us, Jesus “knew all men” (John 2:25). If St. James were his blood brother, Jesus would have known he would be faithful along with his “brother” Jude. The fact is, Jesus had no brothers and sisters, so he had the responsibility, on a human level, to take care of his mother.

3. Mary is depicted as the spouse of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. When Mary asked the angel how she was going to conceive a child in Luke 1:34, the angel responded:

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.

This is nuptial language hearkening back to Ruth 3:8, where Ruth said to Boaz “spread your skirt over me” when she revealed to him his duty to marry her according to the law of Deuteronomy 25. When Mary then came up pregnant, St. Joseph would have been required to divorce her, because she would then belong to another (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jeremiah 3:1). When St. Joseph found out that “the other” was the Holy Spirit, the idea of St. Joseph having conjugal relations with Mary would not have been a consideration for a “just man” like St. Joseph.

One Final Thought

An obvious question remains: Why did St. Joseph then “take [Mary] his wife,” according to Matthew 1:24, if she belonged to the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is Mary’s spouse, but St. Joseph was her spouse and protector on Earth. This is not a contradiction. All Christians have a nuptial relationship with our Lord. The Church is, after all, “the bride of Christ.” But in the case of Mary and Joseph, Joseph was essential in the life of Mary, his spouse, for at least two obvious reasons. First, as St. Matthew points out in his genealogy in chapter 1, St. Joseph was in line to be a successor of David as King of Israel. Thus, if Jesus was to be the true “son of David” and king of Israel (see II Samuel 7:14; Hebrews 1:5; Revelation 19:16, 22:16), he needed to be the son of St. Joseph. As the only son of St. Joseph, even though adopted, he would have been in line for the throne.

Also, in a culture that did not take kindly to espoused women becoming pregnant by someone other than their spouse, Mary would have been in mortal danger. Thus, St. Joseph became Mary’s earthly spouse and protector as well as the protector of the child Jesus.

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America Will Reject Abortion When America Sees Abortion

The title for this post is taken from Fr. Frank Pavone, the Founder and President of Priests for Life, who famously said, “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.” I just made it a positive, “America will reject abortion when America sees abortion.” And I have always believed this to be true. I know many will not agree with me on this point, but I also believe people who favor abortion need to see abortion in all of its gory reality in order for this viewing of abortion to have its full effect. I believe tens of millions would change their view from pro-abortion to pro-life in a matter of the minutes it would take to see, via video, the reality of what abortion truly is.

Below, find proof positive that Fr. Frank (and I, I might add) is right! Watch how multiple people’s minds are changed by viewing what are rather mild examples of videos exposing the brutality of abortion. Watch this:

And this was after viewing these videos that are, again, relatively mild in presentation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRDnVSMr5j0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgw4X7Dw_3k

There are much more graphic videos than these available that I believe would be even more effective. But the main point of this post remains: America would reject abortion if America were to actually come to know what abortion is through seeing what abortion actually is with its own collective eyes.

One Way, But Not the Only Way

The viewing of the graphic and brutal reality of what abortion is is not the only way to change minds and hearts; though, as I said, I believe it is a very effective way. We can also persuade people, as I can tell you I have over the years, by simply laying out the truth of what abortion truly is. We all need to be evangelists for life if we are Catholic. In fact, we all need to be evangelists for life if we are simply men and women of good will. Opposition to the killing of innocent pre-born children is not a Catholic-only club!

But there is a third way of accomplishing the task as well. And the Knights of Columbus have teamed up with COLFS (Culture of Life Family Services) to bring to the fore what I believe to be another extremely effective tool in educating the masses who live in ignorance as to the truth about abortion. It comes in the form of multiple mobile ultrasound units that can be taken anywhere in the U.S. to give women in crisis pregnancies the opportunity to see their own babies in the womb in order to aid them in making the right choice to bring their unborn children to full term.

I recently spoke at a fundraiser for this group and it was truly one of the great honors of my entire career as an apologist. Check out the website here and see how you can get involved in this most worthy endeavor to create a true culture of life.

And if you would like to educate yourself as to the issues involved on an intellectual level, click here. 

More Guns, Less Crime

Some of you may remember the masterpiece of research and presentation on the matter of guns against the insanity of those who want to take away the rights of law-abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves and their families against unjust aggressors. The book is titled More Guns, Less Crime, by John Lott, Jr., first published in 1998. It is now in its third edition.

Here is just another among hundreds of cases we could examine that demonstrate how guns can be instruments that save the lives of the innocent. When two armed men attempted a home invasion robbery of a home in Ladson, South Carolina, where a 13 year-old boy was home alone, thank God he was able to quickly acquire his mother’s  legally-purchased pistol to defend himself.

To make a long story short, a gun fight ensued leaving one of the invading felons dead, and the other eventually in custody. The boy was uninjured. See the full story here:

http://www.worldpoliticus.com/6-time-felon-killed-shootout-13-year-old-home-invasion/

I, for one, am glad the Catholic Church is not pacifist, and, in fact, teaches, in CCC 2264-2265:

Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow…

[2265] Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of  the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.

It is unthinkable to me how anyone, much less a Christian, could really believe the government should disarm its citizenry.

Some will say at this point that there is a legitimate tradition of pacifism in the Church. And there is. If you want to read an article I wrote about that, click here. So if someone wants to be a pacifist that is one thing. But to force others, even a father like me, who has the responsibility to protect my wife and seven children, to disarm so that he, or I, cannot protect my family, is unconscionable. In the end, the only thing gun control accomplishes is the rendering of law-abiding citizens defenseless against armed aggressors.

Thank God this 13 year-old boy had recourse to what became the ultimate equalizer in this battle of and for his life!

Don’t anyone dare to try and take my guns away from me and my family! Not gonna’ happen, folks!