Monday, April 11, 2011

Catholicism is objective, Protestantism is subjective

Please note: When I address the differences between Catholics and Protestants, I am addressing doctrinal issues; I am not judging anyone's personal holiness or love for Christ. 


Once upon a time, five hundred years ago, a group of Christians broke away from the Catholic Church in protest, declaring that the Bible was a Christian's only legitimate authority. Without an authoritative Church, each protesting (i.e., Protestant) Christian was now able to interpret the Bible himself, as Protestants believe God intended. 


However, this new paradigm of each Christian interpreting Scripture for himself means that there are as many interpretations of Scripture as there are Protestants. As you can imagine, this leads to a host of problems for a religion that exists to proclaim Truth.


Protestants will tell you that sincere Christians can find the Truth easily, because the "Scriptures are clear" -- and yet Protestants cannot seem to agree on even the essentials of salvation. This reality has led to division after division after division among the Protestant churches over the centuries. It's a real quandary, one which many Protestants acknowledge.


Catholics, thankfully, don't have that headache. We know what the Church teaches on every issue that touches on salvation, because Tradition has been handed down intact throughout the centuries, both written and orally, and those teachings are accessible to all. Anyone who wants to know what the Catholic Church teaches can know.


However, something has come up time and again in my dialogues with Protestants over the years. They tell me that we Catholics have a more serious problem with our Sacred Tradition paradigm than they have with their "Bible only" paradigm. They say that since Catholic Tradition is not "written down" (except for the part of Tradition that is written down, i.e., the Bible), then it is subjective, almost impossible to pin down.


To show how the argument goes, I'll reprint an excerpt from a facebook dialogue I've had with a thoughtful and godly Protestant Christian whom I'll call Brian (his words in red):


It seems to me that if there is no written Tradition (primary sources), then that makes Tradition highly subjective.



I responded:


Hi again, Brian! 

Okay, so if I read you correctly, you contend that submitting to Church authority/teachings/Tradition is highly subjective, but that submitting to the written Word (the Bible alone) is objective. 

I don’t think, practically speaking, that that bears itself out.

For example, let’s set up a simple comparison: 

Group A: 1,000 Bible-believing Protestants (sola scriptura adherents, who believe in the Bible as our only authority). They are all “true believers” who are saved and who love Jesus, and who sincerely want nothing more than to submit their lives to Christ’s Truth as found in the Bible.

Group B: 1,000 Church-loving Catholics (who believe the Church is the final authority). They are all “true believers” who are in a state of grace and who love Jesus and who want nothing more than to submit their lives to Christ’s Truth as found in the Church.

***Note: None of the Protestants or Catholics are dissenting or liberal Christians… i.e., no “Jesus Seminar” types in the Protestant group, and no Pope-bashers in the Catholic group. 

First, ask the individuals in Group A questions about what they believe on important matters of doctrine. Then, ask individuals in Group B the same questions about what they believe on important matters of doctrine. Here’s what you will find (and just as an example, let's use baptism):

Group A (Sincere Protestants):

Q. Is baptism a sacrament? A. Answers will vary.
Q. Is baptism regenerative? A. Answers will vary.
Q. Is infant baptism legitimate? A. Answers will vary.
Q. Can baptism be repeated? A. Answers will vary.
Q. Must baptism be by immersion only? A. Answers will vary.

Group B (Sincere Catholics):

Q. Is baptism a sacrament? A. All will answer “yes”
Q. Is baptism regenerative? A. All will answer “yes”
Q. Is infant baptism legitimate? A. All will answer “yes”
Q. Can baptism be repeated? A. All will answer “no”
Q. Must baptism be by immersion only? A. All will answer “no”


To me, this shows that adhering to “sola scriptura” leads to a much more subjective result than adhering to Church authority/teaching, which leads to an objective result.

I am willing to hear why you think my example is inaccurate.

Blessings to you,
Leila


Here is the pertinent part of Brian's response:


[T]he example that you give is in fallacious in a big way. The same example can be given of any organization. For example, you can place Jehovah's Witnesses in group A and Mormons in group B; Protestants in group A and Anglicans in group B. A general consensus doesn't necessarily mean truth. 

Thanks for allowing me to discuss this with you.

I responded:


Brian, you misunderstand. I never argued that my example proves "truth". I was only arguing that my system (true or not) is less subjective than yours. You were arguing that Catholicism's paradigm led to more subjectivity, no? I was showing you that your system leads to more subjectivity. So, I think I am on firm ground there.

Even Mormonism (which is false), has a system that is more objective than yours [i.e., the Protestant paradigm].



At base, the divide between Protestants and Catholics boils down to authority. If there is no earthly, human authority, if everyone gets to decide for himself what the Bible means, then we have a system of subjectivity and chaos. It is unworkable, as evidenced by the lack of agreement by Protestants not only of how to understand the essentials of salvation, but even what those essentials are!


Here is a short list of things that touch on salvation itself, about which Protestants cannot agree:

  • The existence of, nature of, and number of the sacraments in general, especially Baptism and Eucharist
  • The moral law, including degrees of sin and teachings on human sexuality
  • The meaning of justification
  • The cycle of redemption
  • The nature of the Church and Church authority
  • The existence and nature of Purgatory
  • The implications of the Incarnation
  • Whether salvation is once and done, or a lifelong process
  • Whether one can lose his salvation
  • The nature of predestination
And many more.



As I told Brian, I have not tried to prove the truth of the Catholic Church in this discussion. But consider that if God loves us (and He does) then He would not leave us confused, forced to reinvent the wheel with every new Christian. A loving God would leave us with clarity and truth throughout the centuries and millennia. And He did. Christ established His Church so that we would not be left orphans, and the Holy Spirit has guided the Church into all truth since that time. 


I will be diving into specifics over the next few weeks and months as we talk more about the differences between Catholics and Protestants. I certainly am open to taking requests on what you'd like me to cover.



194 comments:

  1. As I told Brian, I have not tried to prove the truth of the Catholic Church in this discussion. But consider that if God loves us (and He does) then He would not leave us confused, forced to reinvent the wheel with every new Christian. A loving God would leave us with clarity and truth throughout the centuries and millennia. And He did. Christ established His Church so that we would not be left orphans, and the Holy Spirit has guided the Church into all truth since that time.

    Love this paragraph and it says so much about the invalidity (not sure if that's a word?) of the different branches of Protestantism. i have often wondered if Protestants ahve questioned their beliefs based on their many branches of "truth".

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  2. OHMY Goodness!!! Is the discussion ever going to get interesting here today!! I ENJOY these discussions, but I just hope there is no mud slinging!!! This makes me so glad I have an iphone, so I can follow along at work (on my breaks of course)
    May I suggest a FAB-U-LOUS book to our bible believing, Jesus loving protestant brothers and sisters....
    "Rome Sweet Home", by Scott Hahn. Only read it if you love Jesus, and are very very brave.

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  3. p.s.
    Thankyou to our beloved JPII for the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" for when in doubt about anything in the bible, we have the Catechism as a guide....see Acts 8;30-35 ;-)
    The writing of the Catechism was guided under the direction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope B16

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  4. Many Protestants believe Catholics try to save themselves through works...And many Protestants believe Paul was clear that works of the law cannot save you...

    First, I would recommend that any Protestants who believe such things would read Taylor Marshall's book, The Catholic Perspective on Paul.
    But, Leila, many just won't because they believe what their own Pastors say about Catholicism instead of reading what Catholic sources teach. So, perhaps you could touch on this topic?

    A

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  5. My parents are Baptist and they have so many misconceptions of our faith.

    Mark (who wrote the Gospel) was a disciple of St. Peter and he accompanied and assisted him for much of his life and ministry. There are also extensive writings of the first century theologians. Tradition isn't subjective at all. We know what was passed down orally because it was later written down, not generations later but in the first century.

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  6. Leila,

    Another way of making the same point: Protestantism is acquired, Catholicism is received.

    Protestants must build their own body of belief through scripture reading and experience. When they find a difficulty or question there is no one who can give them a definitive answer. Each believer is something like a detective and must find their own solutions.

    Catholicism has a long established body of belief to which I either say yes or no.

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  7. A couple of protestants invited me to follow their blogs. Two of them are friends from the same town and they may even go to the same church but they had completely different interpretations on the Last Supper. So even within the same "denomination,"(I believe, they're non-denominational,) they can have differing views.
    One of them keeps writing about how other denominations are wrong and "not faithful to the Bible" I commented that all the other denominations he mentioned think they're following the Bible the best so how is he so sure he's right and everyone else is wrong. I can see he's frustrated by all the differences and the disunity but he doesn't see how using the Bible as the only authority is what's causing all the disunity.

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  8. Part III

    Finally, the same Catholic church that once believed the earth was flat, the same church that stood behind Alexander the Great and his slaughter of thousands, the same church that has been wrong in the past and has been wrong in the future, that church, which continually claims to be right, is no different than any other Protestant church -- fallible, full of sinners, and growing daily.

    There's no need to be condescending, but I don't think that was your intention. In fact, the reason I probably think it is condescending is because I take it personally and find the assumptions arrogant. But my comment to your post is just as assuming. I love your blog, Leila, but I don't always agree with you.

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  9. Part II
    Your list of things Protestants can't agree on . . . . which one of those can cost a person or keep a person from salvation? Protestants may not be at a level in their faith where they can give you an educated answer on those subjects, but if they are at a point where they "confess their sins, God will be faithful and just to forgive their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness." THAT is salvation. You might go to church, but you are not a part of that church until you have acknowledged that Jesus died sinless and rose from the dead. All else is doctrine that begins with a personal relationship with God. Such a personal relationship calls for personal decisions. I suppose Peter was a Protestant for going against the religious doctrine of the time and learning that it is acceptable to eat things previously forbidden.

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  10. Part I
    "As I told Brian, I have not tried to prove the truth of the Catholic Church in this discussion. But consider that if God loves us (and He does) then He would not leave us confused, forced to reinvent the wheel with every new Christian."

    Really? Have you read any of Jesus's parables? Some of them are quite easy to understand, but others require meditation and study. And when you're done studying them, you can go back and learn something He left under layers and layers of understanding that you never saw before. A loving God does not hold your hand through everything. If He did not want us to be confused, to ask questions, the seek and find, to learn, then He would not be a loving God at all. I think that they persecution suffered by thousands for refusing to renounce their faith would be a prime example of this. Would a loving God want any of His followers to suffer? NO! But would He allow it to further His Kingdom? Heavens yes he would!

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  11. Part 0

    "We know what the Church teaches on every issue that touches on salvation, because Tradition has been handed down intact throughout the centuries, both written and orally, and those teachings are accessible to all."

    Is this the same church that once jailed people for saying the earth ISN'T flat? The Word of God is infallible. The people of God aren't. It doesn't matter if you're a Catholic or a Protestant; at one point or another you have been wrong -- you have sinned. You may be able to write a paper free of any grammatical errors, but can you live a life or develop doctrine as perfect? If one person can sin or make a mistake, what can the millions or billions of people throughout the centuries who have built either the Catholic or Protestant church do?

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  12. Part -1
    Great article, but I don' agree with it all. There are a lot of assumptions.

    "this new paradigm of each Christian interpreting Scripture for himself means that there are as many interpretations of Scripture as there are Protestants."

    That is a very misleading statement. The quote should read, "this new paradigm of each Christian interpreting Scripture for himself means that IT IS POSSIBLE there are as many interpretations of Scripture as there are Protestants." Based on what you are saying, 1000 people could read that "God so loved the world that He gave his only Son and that anyone who believes in him will have eternal life." There are not 1000 ways to interpret that. You either believe it or you don't.

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  13. I think Manda is right- the biggest problem is that people tend to believe misrepresentations about the Church from their own church leaders, rather than consult Catholic sources.

    And while the blame doesn't rest solely on the shoulders of Catholics for these misrepresentations, Catholics who do not know their faith inside and out and talk about the Truth with confidence add to the problem of misrepresentation. The Church is not only misrepresented by outsiders, it's also misrepresented by many Catholics!

    The things I have learned here about redemptive suffering vs "whatever makes you happy" are clearly not known by all or perhaps even most Catholics! And the "whatever makes you happy" attitude is part of why Protestantism is so strong. If we each get to interpret the Bible individually, it's clear that we will err on the side of our own selfish desires in interpretation.

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  14. I agree with Monica. The term "most protestants" or the summation of all protestant has been used a lot in this post and the replies. The reality is that the people who don't know squat are the ones that stand out -- Catholics who don't know their faith and Protestants who don't know theirs. And forget about whether or not they know each others. There are too many Joel Osteens out there on the Protestant side.

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  15. chewspam, I'm glad you are back! Okay, you have put a lot out there. I hope you understand that while I would love to tackle all of it right now, I think it's more practical to take one thing at a time.

    First, despite your misunderstanding about the Galileo incident, I will start by saying that science is not part of Catholic doctrine. Let's stick to doctrine, that is, the truth about faith (think Creed) and morals (think Ten Commandments).

    So let me ask you: Do you see the difference between someone who sins and someone who teaches error? For example, could it be that there is a sinful preacher (having affairs, stealing from the collection plate), but who still teaches truth?

    For example, St. Peter actually betrayed Jesus! A sinner, he. Yet, he was able to teach truth infallibly (he wrote parts of the Bible infallibly, no?).

    Are we in agreement about that distinction? That sinful people can teach truth?

    I'll go from there once you answer.
    Thanks!

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  16. The reality is that the people who don't know squat are the ones that stand out -- Catholics who don't know their faith and Protestants who don't know theirs.

    I agree. That is why I was very careful about framing it this way:

    Group A: 1,000 Bible-believing Protestants (sola scriptura adherents, who believe in the Bible as our only authority). They are all “true believers” who are saved and who love Jesus, and who sincerely want nothing more than to submit their lives to Christ’s Truth as found in the Bible.

    Group B: 1,000 Church-loving Catholics (who believe the Church is the final authority). They are all “true believers” who are in a state of grace and who love Jesus and who want nothing more than to submit their lives to Christ’s Truth as found in the Church.

    ***Note: None of the Protestants or Catholics are dissenting or liberal Christians… i.e., no “Jesus Seminar” types in the Protestant group, and no Pope-bashers in the Catholic group.

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  17. Leila, most definitely. That's what confuses me the most about Catholics despite being married to one (a very HOT one!) They tend to defend their church before their faith. The way I see it is that they defend the Canon law before the Biblical Law. My understanding is that Canon law is based on the Bible, but to call it infallible it amend it to the Bible, and my understanding of that is that the Bible states it should not be added to since all scripture is God breathed and God inspired.

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  18. To address your post more specifically, yes, sinners can preach the truth. However, the Devil spoke truth to Eve.

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  19. A thousand years ago, a small group of Franks broke away from the Catholic Church headed by a bishop of a prominent see, for which they finally secured one of their own as its bishop. This bishop thought he could interpret the bible all for himself and everyone else had to submit to his "subjective" interpretation. They even claimed the name of "catholic" for themself even though none of the other Apostolic Sees went alone with this Frankish hi-jacking of Rome...

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  20. chewspam, no! Please know that I am not talking about Canon Law! Canon Law is not "the Deposit of Faith". It's not doctrine, it's discipline, which you can read about here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/catholics-you-must-understand-this.html

    So, please know that I am not talking about Canon Law!

    Also, I'm glad we can agree that even evil sinners can teach truth. So, sinfulness and truthful teaching can go together.

    More in a bit....

    (I'm glad your wife is a hot Catholic! We need more of those, ha ha ha!)

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  21. Acolyte, the Catholic/Orthodox schism is beyond the scope of this particular post, so I'm gonna stick with Protestantism/Catholic right now.

    I guess a badge of honor is that secularists, Protestants and Orthodox all disdain the Catholic Church. We are equal opportunity in that way! :)

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  22. They tend to defend their church before their faith.

    chewspam, there is no separation between the teachings of the Church and the teachings of our Faith. That is why your statement confuses me. The Church is the Body of Christ. As the Bible says, the Church "is the pillar and foundation of Truth". So, our Church and our Faith are the same. We love the Bible because it came from the Church.

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  23. Leila, exactly my point. you can only make the argument stick against the protestants if you ignore the Orthodox. The matter is not a simple two way conversation.

    Given that the secularists disdain every beleif system that hardly singals out Catholicism. Second, i wasn't aware that they were the divine voice of approval or a truth indicator. Third, the secularists tried to wipe out the Orthodox the last century while the majority of Catholics were quite comfy.

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  24. Acolyte, don't misunderstand. I don't accept your original comment's premise at all. But I do understand that you see it that way.

    If you have a final authority in Orthodoxy (maybe the body of bishops? I'm not sure), then for the purposes of this particular post, we are in agreement. Orthodoxy is objective, Protestantism is subjective. I don't want to go beyond the scope of this post and start to debate the schism between Catholics and Orthodox. My father is an eastern rite Catholic, so I don't believe east and west needs to be separated.

    BTW, I always found it interesting that even though Orthodox and Catholics have devotion to Mary, belief in the Sacraments (Mysteries) and the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, belief in Sacred Tradition, a ministerial priesthood, etc., Protestants don't really seem to have a problem with the Orthodox. This leads me to believe that it's really all about the Pope, for everyone outside the Catholic Church. Meaning, it's all about authority. Acceptance of it or rejection of it. If it weren't about that, then Protestants would be as anti-Orthodox as they are anti-Catholic. And yet they aren't.

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  25. Great post! It's amazing to me how much time is spent debating the issues you listed in wonderful Protestant circles. There is a lot of confusion. The CCC was very refreshing for me when I decided to become Catholic. Another aspect of your list of answers is that the clear answers the Catholics would give would be answers that haven't changed. It's not like last year the answer was "no" and this year "yes" depending on the whims of the pope.

    Another fascinating study for me has been the debates of the early church and early church fathers. Without the papacy, the concept of apostolic authority, I don't think Christianity could have survived the early days. It's just not possible. Remember, the Scriptures were NOT in their current form at that time or even agreed upon. The debates on certain doctrines was fierce and very articulate on all side. If wasn't for the guidance of the Holy Spirit through the apostles and their successors, early Christianity would have just imploded. Modern methods of "just read your Bible" were completely foreign, impossible, and impractical to the early Christians.

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  26. Well who had the final authority in the fifth Ecumenical council? can't be the pope because that council excommunicated the sitting pope. So who had the final authority there?

    You can't have the pope without the Filioque since papal claims were premised that the pope alone was the vicar of Christ alone and the Spirit proceede dinto the church from the father *and* the Son, and hence from the Pope alone in the economy of salvation. So the issues are wider than just the pope but entail Trinitarian theology as well as Christological matters.

    Besides, don't make argumentative jabs and then shut down discussion. it is hardly fair to engage and then forbid your dialog partners a chance to reply.

    Protestants don't have a problem with the Orthodox because Protestants generally don't know ab out the Orthodox.

    Further, as i framed the issue with the Frnakish schism it was all about authority, the Frnaks got control of papal elections and claimed authority over all the other sees for themselves. if the papal teaching were of the apostolic deposit it would have been in all of the other apostolic sees as well, but it wasn't and isn't. It is in principle no different than the Coptic schism, especially in light of the fact that Alexandria was a Petrine see as well.

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  27. Unfortunately, no one can speak for everyone, and no Catholic or Protestant is an excellent example of their respective faith. I think the problem with the whole argument or group of arguments going on here is that a generalization is required. I am not anti-catholic, but I can't understand why Catholics are so stubborn to call themselves Catholic instead of Christian when asked what religion they are. I am also not anti-orthodox. But I've met a lot of Orthodox who attend church/mass only on Easter and Christmas Eve just like a lot of Catholics. I don't think this argument can go anywhere without generalizations and it make it impossible to get to any sort of agreement. Thanks for more thought provoking writing, Leila.

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  28. chewspam, while stereotyping is bad, generalizing is good, esp. when we want to have a conversation. If we can't generalize, we can't speak.

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/generalizing-is-not-bad-thing.html

    Actually, I use the term Catholic because it means universal, and it was first used by St. Ignatius back in about 102AD. It wouldn't be necessary to use the term Catholic if the Reformation (Rebellion?) hadn't happened. Now, sadly, we must differentiate. I will tell you that it's been my experience that many fundamentalist/evangelical Protestants are the ones who do not consider Catholics to be Christians. As in, "She's not Christian, she is Catholic." Of course, I am both.

    Acolyte, what is your faith background?

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  29. If it weren't about that, then Protestants would be as anti-Orthodox as they are anti-Catholic. And yet they aren't.

    On the other hand, the Orthodox accept the limited use of condoms (only for married couples, I believe), and they do permit remarriage after divorce without annulment in a limited fashion (i.e., I believe couples are only allowed to do so once in their lives?), so that could be an aspect of why they aren't as reviled as Catholics by most Protestant sects.

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  30. Chewspam,

    Can you give some examples of hard teachings where Jesus does not explain what his message is?
    Usually in the bible where it says his disciples did not understand him, Jesus goes on to explain it to them in human terms.
    What about John 6, where Jesus says you have to eat his flesh and drink his blood or you have no life within you? You seem to imply that Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant must only repent and believe in Jesus but in John 6 Jesus draws a line in the sand. If you believe him, you must believe in ALL of his teachings...not just the easy ones.

    He gives the sermon in John 6 and many of his disciples leave him and no longer follow him. This is at the time of the Passover. Then He institutes the New Passover at the Last Supper, where he explains what eating his flesh and drinking his blood actually looks like.

    So why is this so hard for Protestants to accept? And yet do you see it as insignificant, or arrogant on the part of Catholics for taking Jesus at His word?

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  31. JoAnna,

    Annulments were a later medieval canonical devleopment. Among the Orthodox and Eastern Christendom at large they are generally referred to as ecclesiastical divorces. one isn't granted these like giving out candy and there are penalties attached to remarriage and it is limited to three at the absolute most.

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  32. leila,

    katholikos means according to the whole. It refers to the faith of all the apostolic churches, not that of a sect. The faith was "catholic" when it was limited to Jerusalem or Antioch. Geographical spread matters not. Second, Catholic was necessary prior to and after the Nicene creed. Its a creedal term Protestants at least pay lip service too.

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  33. JoAnna, thanks for saying what I was thinking. Usually there are issues with contraception and divorce which keep the sides separated. That and submission to authority.

    Acolyte, Jesus said divorce and remarriage is committing adultery. Yet, Orthodoxy allows it, three times.

    Annulments are not divorces. Annulments are declarations that the sacrament never took place in the first place. We can argue whether or not there are too many, but it's wrong to equate annulment with divorce. Even the secular laws acknowledge a difference between civil divorce and civil annulment. Different animals.

    Acolyte, were you raised Catholic?

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  34. Sarah and Manda, great points. Chewspam, I am not sure why you left the discussion? Do you think that Catholic teaching is hard to find? The point of this post is that Protestants tell me all the time that it is impossible to know what Catholics believe, since it is not "written". Do you think that's true? Is it hard to know?

    Protestant teaching is all "written" and yet there is no way of knowing what "Protestantism" believes on that whole host of issues which touch on salvation.

    Can you tell me if I am wrong? I'm confused why you think we can't discuss it.

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  35. katholikos means according to the whole. It refers to the faith of all the apostolic churches, not that of a sect. The faith was "catholic" when it was limited to Jerusalem or Antioch. Geographical spread matters not. Second, Catholic was necessary prior to and after the Nicene creed. Its a creedal term Protestants at least pay lip service too.

    acolyte, I agree. The term was never meant to name a "sect". You are absolutely right about that. But it's how we are known now, with a capital "C".

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  36. Protestantism is acquired, Catholicism is received.

    Mr. F, yes! That is a good way to put it. Catholicism is handed down and received, generation after generation (preserved by the protection of the Holy Spirit). Protestants have to spend their lives trying to figure out what the Bible says, assuming they can read (much of the world is still illiterate -- would a loving God really have left just a big book without any official interpreter?)

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  37. Acolyte said: "Annulments were a later medieval canonical devleopment."

    That's a very interesting view, given that the principle that underlies modern annulment is found in Scripture. It's also interesting that the Orthodox allow remarriage after divorce three times given that Scripture says that even once equates to adultery (see previously referenced article).

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  38. "My understanding is that Canon law is based on the Bible, but to call it infallible it amend it to the Bible, and my understanding of that is that the Bible states it should not be added to since all scripture is God breathed and God inspired."

    Chewspam, which came first? The chicken or the egg? http://firstcomeslove.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/the-chicken-or-the-egg/

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  39. Manda, what I meant was that there are more wonderful things to learn from the teachings of Christ than what is just on the surface. He said that all you need is the faith of a mustard seed. Okay, so you need just a small amount, but isn't it trivial as to why he used a mustard seed. Why not a smaller one? Why not a larger one? If you study the mustard seed you come to find many more fascinating things that increase your understanding of Christ and God. I agree with you that you have to take all or nothing of the word of God. You mentioned John 6: eating the flesh and drinking the blood. Catholics believe it is a sacrament/mystery that the bread and wine change to flesh and blood while Protestants focus on the "do this in REMEMBRANCE of me" portion of the scripture. You can focus on this and let the Devil win or you can put your faith in Christ alone and know you are following his command to eat and drink as he commanded.

    Sorry to leave the discussion. There was work to be done and a paycheck to earn.

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  40. Chewspam, take your time. I thought you had implied that you were done with the conversation. I understand if you need to get other stuff done! I am with you on that.

    As to the eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ... If there is one truth that has always been taught loudly, clearly and without doubt, it's that the Eucharist is truly the Flesh and Blood of Christ.

    This is no little issue that we just gloss over. "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you."

    This is big stuff. If the Eucharist is Jesus in the Flesh, that is HUGE. It is everything. It's not "majoring in the minors" as I've heard it said.

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  41. I understand, but what I am saying is that it is wrong for Protestants to condemn Catholics in their belief of the Eucharist. If we follow the Catholic belief, and a Protestant takes the Eucharist in a Protestant church, does the bread and wine not still turn to the flesh and blood of Christ whether they believe it or not? After all, Christ still died on the cross whether a person believes it or not. A person is still saved when they believe this even though they are accepting it well after the death and resurrection. What I am saying is that Catholics and Protestants spend too much time bickering about the differences in their doctrine instead of following the Word of God. Did I make myself clear on that? I'm divided b/t a lot of tasks today and feel like I can't get my point across affectively.

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  42. Joanna,

    Given that the passages speak of divorce and not annulments and the scripture allows for divorce under certain circumstances (adultery and such) I disagree with your take. I also disagree because the pre-schism Eastern canonical tradition disagrees with your view. Consequently Mr. Akin is wrong because his arguments are bad arguments. Practically the entire Eastern tradition isn’t misreading the text prior to the schism in their own language. The practice existed long before the schism in the East.

    Scripture doesn’t say that remarriage amounts to adultery, it says that if there is remarriage apart from the reasons scripture gives it is adultery. Canonically the Orthodox do not allow it for the reasons apart from the ones Scripture gives. So your argument is based on a straw man.

    And an annulment isn’t a divorce in the biblical sense or any other since the former says no valid marriage ever took place, so when scripture speaks of divorce it can’t be speaking of annulments.

    Besides, scripture no where and the tradition no where permits women to serve at the altar, yet Catholics allow this widespread subversion of the apostolic tradition to continue. Why? If Rome can’t or won’t enforce the bare minimum of its supposed authority and power to preserve the tradition in small things, why think it has done so in large things?

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  43. If we follow the Catholic belief, and a Protestant takes the Eucharist in a Protestant church, does the bread and wine not still turn to the flesh and blood of Christ whether they believe it or not?

    It does not. This is a good explanation of why that is:

    For the consecration of the elements to take place, it must be performed by a ministerial priest, whose role is different from that of the universal priesthood all believers. Since the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and the other ancient Christian churches have preserved the ministerial priesthood through the apostolic succession of bishops, their Eucharist is valid.

    Unfortunately, the ministerial priesthood has not been retained in Protestant churches. Most Protestant churches (all but the Anglican/Episcopalian tradition) have rejected the existence of a ministerial priesthood distinct from the universal priesthood and thus ceased to perpetuate it, breaking the apostolic succession in their circles.

    It is equally unfortunate that, while many Anglicans/Episcopalians profess belief in a ministerial priesthood, the apostolic succession was ruptured in their circles, and their priesthood is no longer valid. After Henry VIII broke away from the Church, his successor, Edward VI, introduced a drastically altered and invalid version of the rite of ordination, with the result that the apostolic succession (which had previously been present in the Anglican Church) ceased, and its ministerial priesthood stopped.

    This does not mean that Protestants such as Lutherans and Anglicans do not experience a real encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. They can receive Jesus spiritually in communion, they just do not receive him in the full, sacramental manner he intended and which he wants them to experience. These communions are not just "a sham" but can be genuine spiritual encounters with Christ.

    Upon entering Catholic life, one does not need to look back upon one's former communions as simply empty shams; one can view them as spiritual encounters with Christ, encounters which gave one the grace to approach Christ even more closely, finally coming to receive the fullness of the Eucharist he wanted you to have.


    Only in the Catholic (and Orthodox) churches does Jesus exist fully in the Eucharist - body, blood, soul, and divinity.

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  44. I had to delete my comment because I was trying to point out that the word "remembrance" in the original use of the word was sacrificial in it's tone...but the link I sent you to was an anti-catholic site called justforcatholics.org (tries to bring Catholics AWAY from the Church, not uncommon) which was actually addressing that notion and then claiming that although it is "sometimes" sacrificial that it doesn't have to be.

    *Please note that we are not re-sacrificing Christ at the mass, but recalling and making present the one sacrifice for all time of Jesus Christ on the cross. (This is my body, which will be given up for you and for many)

    I agree with Leila. This is important.

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  45. Acolyte,

    Given that the passages speak of divorce and not annulments and the scripture allows for divorce under certain circumstances (adultery and such) I disagree with your take.

    Actually, Scripture NEVER allows divorce under ANY circumstances. See the article I referenced earlier for an explanation.

    I also disagree because the pre-schism Eastern canonical tradition disagrees with your view. Consequently Mr. Akin is wrong because his arguments are bad arguments. Practically the entire Eastern tradition isn’t misreading the text prior to the schism in their own language. The practice existed long before the schism in the East.

    Just because the practice may have existed does not mean that it was right.

    Scripture doesn’t say that remarriage amounts to adultery, it says that if there is remarriage apart from the reasons scripture gives it is adultery. Canonically the Orthodox do not allow it for the reasons apart from the ones Scripture gives. So your argument is based on a straw man.

    The article I referenced above shows why this understanding is false.

    And an annulment isn’t a divorce in the biblical sense or any other since the former says no valid marriage ever took place, so when scripture speaks of divorce it can’t be speaking of annulments.

    Scripture speaks of marriages that are unlawful, which is essentially what an annulment does -- investigates whether a marriage was indeed unlawful (in the sense of Church law) at the time it was contracted.

    Besides, scripture no where and the tradition no where permits women to serve at the altar, yet Catholics allow this widespread subversion of the apostolic tradition to continue. Why? If Rome can’t or won’t enforce the bare minimum of its supposed authority and power to preserve the tradition in small things, why think it has done so in large things?

    You need to read Leila's post about doctrine vs disciplines:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/catholics-you-must-understand-this.html

    Women serving the altar is a discipline, not a doctrine, and thus can be changed or modified by legitimate authority.

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  46. Chewspam, JoAnna is right: No priests = no True Presence. Protestants are eating bread/crackers, not the Flesh and Blood of our Lord.

    Scripture doesn’t say that remarriage amounts to adultery, it says that if there is remarriage apart from the reasons scripture gives it is adultery. Canonically the Orthodox do not allow it for the reasons apart from the ones Scripture gives.

    Acolyte, what are the "reasons scripture gives"?

    Also, altar girls are not a part of the Deposit of Faith. The rules about altar servers are disciplines, not doctrine. Check the link I gave above for more on the distinction.

    Also, were you raised Catholic? What is your opinion on condoms?

    Thanks!

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  47. Manda, exactly. "Remembrance" doesn't mean it's merely a memory upon which we are thinking fondly. The Sacrifice of Christ transcends time and space and is eternal. We all get to access that perfect, atoning Sacrifice, not just those in First Century Palestine. Isn't it glorious? Our God is so generous to allow us to be present at that self-same Sacrifice (not repeated, not remembered, but the same). At every Mass, we stand at the foot of the Cross.

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  48. So whether or not you believe it is the blood and flesh doesn't affect whether or not it is in fact so. It is because it is regardless of your belief or disbelief. So instead of telling a Protestant "You are wrong and your entire church philosophy is wrong," why don't you just smile at their ignorance? They are saved, but simply don't know they are eating the flesh and blood of Christ. At the same time, and as Acolyte touched on, when a Catholic goes through the annulment process and gets remarried, they are violating the sacred institution of marriage while many Protestants will not remarry because they believe it is adultery. Again, it doesn't matter if the Catholic believes it or not. It is because it is.

    On a side note . . . I'm out of here (work) in a bit. I look forward to your response but please understand if I do not comment again. Have a blessed day.

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  49. chewspam, Catholics have always believed that Baptism is the ordinary means of salvation, and also that small babies are welcome to access that salvation.

    If this is true, it's vitally important! Don't you think it's imperative that Christianity to be clear on something as essential as how we are saved? Do you see that Protestants have no clear teaching on baptism (some even denying that baptism is necessary for a Christian at all)? How can Protestant Christianity (and the sola scriptura paradigm) be what Christ intended?

    These issues are vitally important.

    What I am saying is that Catholics and Protestants spend too much time bickering about the differences in their doctrine instead of following the Word of God.

    We believe that doctrine is the Word of God.

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  50. So instead of telling a Protestant "You are wrong and your entire church philosophy is wrong," why don't you just smile at their ignorance?

    Because Jesus said, "If you do not eat my flesh and drink my blood, YOU HAVE NO LIFE WITHIN YOU."

    The Eucharist gives us spiritual life! We want our Protestant brothers and sisters to share in that spiritual life. We want them to be able to share in and benefit from the incredible graces received from regular reception of the Eucharist.

    Is it possible for Protestants to have spiritual life if they are invincibly ignorant of the Eucharist? Yes. Is it much more difficult? Yes. Are they missing out without it? Emphatically yes -- and I say this as a former Protestant who was without the Eucharist for many years.

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  51. What I am saying is that Catholics and Protestants spend too much time bickering about the differences in their doctrine instead of following the Word of God.

    How do we know how to follow the Word of God if the essentials are unclear?

    Do you see the problem?

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  52. They are saved, but simply don't know they are eating the flesh and blood of Christ.

    Actually, they are NOT eating the flesh and blood of Christ. They are eating bread or crackers.

    As for the annulment/divorce thing, I think I'll be doing a whole post on that. :)

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  53. Okay. Before I get out of here:

    "Actually, they are NOT eating the flesh and blood of Christ. They are eating bread or crackers."

    That's objective and against the original argument. To say what is true for one is not true for another is objective and not subjective.

    "How do we know how to follow the Word of God if the essentials are unclear?"

    The essentials are not unclear. Here it is: For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but the free gift of life is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Our righteousness -- what preserves our place in heaven -- is not based on eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ. It is enriched by this act, yes, but it is not determinant. "Is it possible for Protestants to have spiritual life if they are invincibly ignorant of the Eucharist? Yes. Is it much more difficult? Yes. Are they missing out without it? Emphatically yes -- and I say this as a former Protestant who was without the Eucharist for many years."

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  54. Chewspam,

    That's objective and against the original argument. To say what is true for one is not true for another is objective and not subjective.

    I think you've mixed up your terms. To say something is SUBJECTIVE means that it's true for one person but not true for another person. To say something is OBJECTIVE means it's true for everyone, regardless if the truth is recognized or acknowledged.

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  55. Arg! I told you I had too many things going on. Blast! Yeah. Flip that!

    "So to say that something is true for one person and not true for another means it is subjective and not an absolute truth."

    Sorry. That's what I meant to say.

    Now . . . . the need of absolute truth in salvation. Discuss . . . . Been fun ladies. I'm out. Gotta get my bride her favorite creamer from Trader Joe's on my way home. =)

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  56. You sound like a great husband!!

    Okay, but you are still confusing this:

    A validly consecrated Host is Jesus Christ in the Flesh, whether or not Catholics believe it and whether or not Protestants believe it. It just is. It is reality.

    The bread/cracker at a Protestant service is not Jesus, whether or not Protestants believe it is or Catholics believe it's not. It just isn't Jesus. No valid priest, no consecration, no Jesus, just bread.

    That is just plain old objective truth. I didn't make it up; it's been the teaching of the Church since the beginning.

    It's only a Protestant (or a very ignorant Catholic) who would say that Communion is Jesus "if I feel it is" or "if I believe it is". That is a totally subjective understanding of Communion.

    It's like this:

    Jesus lived as a man in First Century Palestine. Some people thought He was divine, and some thought He was mere man. But their thoughts had no bearing on whether or not He was God. Because He was God standing there before them, whether they knew it or believed it or not.

    It would be subjective (and silly) to say: "He is God if I believe He's God" or "He's God because I 'feel' it" or "If I have enough faith, He will be God for me," etc. It would also be subjective to say: "He is not God because I don't believe He is God" or "He is not God because I don't 'feel' like He is God" or "He doesn't look like God so He must not be God."

    All those things are subjective. But our feelings and subjective beliefs have no bearing on whether or not Jesus is God. Our opinions do not affect the reality of His divinity one whit! He is God objectively, no matter our thoughts on it. Even if the whole world disbelieves it.

    Same with the Eucharist: The Catholic Eucharist is God, no matter what anyone thinks or doesn't think. It's not based on how deep the faith of the recipient is. The Protestant communion cracker is not God, no matter what anyone thinks or doesn't think. No matter what the faith or belief of the recipient. Thinking something does not make it so. That is objective truth.

    More on truth here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/10/pilate-said-to-him-what-is-truth.html

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  57. Concerning "remembrance,"

    The Jewish passover is a memorial meal in which the saving deeds of God are recalled and the participants rebind themselves to the covenant. Jesus, at the Last Supper, took the Bread of Affliction and said "this is now a remembrance of me!" After the supper, he takes the Elijah Cup and says that it is no longer held in anticipation of Elijah's return but that it is now Jesus' own memorial (this Jesus is either the most arrogant guy who ever lived or the Son of God!)

    Jesus does not abolish the passover, He fulfills it; it is now a memorial of himself. Therefore, that the bread and wine are a remembrance of Jesus says nothing of what it is that we are eating and drinking. Jesus himself says we remember his passover by eating his flesh and drinking his blood.

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  58. Therefore, that the bread and wine are a remembrance of Jesus says nothing of what it is that we are eating and drinking. Jesus himself says we remember his passover by eating his flesh and drinking his blood.

    Mr. F, this is an excellent point!

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  59. Even when a Catholic priest doesn't believe it's the body and blood while he is consecrating the bread and wine, it still is the body and blood and sometimes things like this happen

    http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/lanciano.html

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  60. I always learn so much here. :-)

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  61. Leila,

    The scriptural reasons are adultery or unfaithfulness. I should have thought that was obvious. This is how the East by and large understood the matter long prior to the schism.

    Sure altar girls are not part of the deposit of faith, so why permit them? To admit the point only highlights the subversion of the tradition. Why won’t Rome enforce the *least* bit of discipline and enforce canon law which only allows them if there are no men capable of serving? It doesn’t and it hasn’t for nearly fifty years. The tradition both east and west is uniform on precluding women from serving at the altar,not to mention LEM's, so it is not an East/West thing. This is just one of many clear violations of the tradition Rome permits on a regular and widespread basis.

    I was baptized Catholic, raised Anglican, then as a teenager when I knew everything I was non-denominational, then became Reformed and then returned to my Anglican roots in the high church tradition and eventually became Orthodox 12 years ago.

    The reason why barrier methods were prohibited in the ancient church was due to the ancient biological belief that sperm were whole human beings and so to use a barrier method would be tantamount to murder. This biological view was only falsified in the late 19th century. This is why patristic thought followed Stoic and Aristotelian thinking for so long. Barrier methods for the Orthodox are permitted within marriage only under specific circumstances under the supervision of one’s confessor. Any method that is or could be abortive is absolutely prohibited, which includes the “Pill” and other such measures.

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  62. chewspam, how do you as a Christian know what is or isn't essential to the faith and to salvation? Is that a determination for you to make in the first place?

    Think about this: The Church, from earliest days (read Church Fathers) believed that the Eucharist and Baptism were two essentials of our Faith, and intricately connected to salvation. They died for these truths. That is an indication that certain doctrines that Protestants reject are actually very important, and not peripheral issues at all. They are central issues to our faith and salvation.

    How do you, in a practical sense, determine what is an essential of the Faith or what isn't? And do you have the authority to say that? I know that I don't have that authority.

    Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons don't even think that belief in the Trinity (the way Christians have always understood it) is necessary. How come they are wrong? Whose to say? On what authority do any of us have any opinion on any of this? What is the source of Truth and how do we access it? What did Jesus leave for us? Just a Book (for the literate) that we can all disagree on till the end of time?

    How does that square with Jesus' prayer to the Father at the Last Supper:

    “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." (John 17)

    Where is this unity for which Jesus prayed? His prayers are perfect, and efficacious, so there must be that unity somewhere. Not a unity of "fellowship" but Trinitarian unity -- a unity of Truth.

    The model of sola scriptura cannot lead to anything but confusion, conflicting beliefs about the "essentials" and doctrinal chaos. It is not what Jesus intended.

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  63. acolyte:

    The scriptural reasons are adultery or unfaithfulness. I should have thought that was obvious.

    It's not obvious at all. In fact, it's not true. Think about what you're essentially proposing:

    Jesus said, "If you leave your wife and marry another, you commit adultery against her!" (Adultery being a very serious, horrific sin.) But with your exegesis, you are saying that he added, in essence: "Oh, but if you want to get divorced, go ahead and commit adultery and I'll let you out of the marriage, no prob. Cuz adultery is the way you can legitimately dump your wife and then go off and have a new wife. Yep, I totally allow that. I allow you to use adultery as a way to avoid adultery."

    Scratching head here....??

    Doesn't make sense.

    What did you make of JoAnna's explanation?

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  64. The reason why barrier methods were prohibited in the ancient church was due to the ancient biological belief that sperm were whole human beings and so to use a barrier method would be tantamount to murder. This biological view was only falsified in the late 19th century. This is why patristic thought followed Stoic and Aristotelian thinking for so long. Barrier methods for the Orthodox are permitted within marriage only under specific circumstances under the supervision of one’s confessor. Any method that is or could be abortive is absolutely prohibited, which includes the “Pill” and other such measures.

    I'm glad to hear about the prohibition of the Pill, but the rest sounds like a way to lower the moral law and get away with it. How does a couple become "one flesh" when the flesh isn't touching?

    The Bible says, "woe to those who call evil good and good evil." For over 19 centuries the Orthodox churches called contraception evil. Now they call it good. What does that mean in light of what the Bible says? Can something be "good" in one era and "evil" in another? Or, was the Orthodox Church wrong all those centuries about contraception? If they were wrong, then where is truth? Where was it then? How do we know what is morally true if the Orthodox Church go it completely wrong for so many centuries?

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  65. Sure altar girls are not part of the deposit of faith, so why permit them? To admit the point only highlights the subversion of the tradition. Why won’t Rome enforce the *least* bit of discipline and enforce canon law which only allows them if there are no men capable of serving? It doesn’t and it hasn’t for nearly fifty years. The tradition both east and west is uniform on precluding women from serving at the altar,not to mention LEM's, so it is not an East/West thing. This is just one of many clear violations of the tradition Rome permits on a regular and widespread basis.

    Wait, you admit that the altar girl issue is not part of the Deposit of Faith, but you are blasting the bishops for using their power to bind and loose, simply because you don't like it?

    You are mad that we have altar girls (which you admit is nothing more than a discipline) and yet you are happy to tell me that your Church changed its teaching on contraception and human sexuality, which actually is part of the moral law? Seems like you are straining at the gnat while swallowing camels.

    I was baptized Catholic, raised Anglican, then as a teenager when I knew everything I was non-denominational, then became Reformed and then returned to my Anglican roots in the high church tradition and eventually became Orthodox 12 years ago.

    I hope you come all the way back to the Catholic Church one day. We'd love to have you!!

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  66. ACK! I just released two of JoAnna's comments from spam jail, so if you missed them, they are at 12:01 and 12:07 above. They are important, so please check them out. Sorry!

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  67. Acolyte, just to jump in on one of the minor points here, it actually is not utterly unheard of (nor a modern aberration) for there to be women "serving at the altar." In fact, during the first centuries of Christian tradition, both an "order of widows" and an "order of virgins" were permitted to sit in choir, or in the sanctuary itself, depending on the particular community or worship space. These were women consecrated to a single, celibate life, whose function is best equated today with cloistered nuns--women whose dedication solely to Christ as his handmaidens allows them the distinction of entering the sanctuary to serve him in prayer and meditation.

    While these are clearly not "altar girls," I wanted to be sure that precluding women totally from the sanctuary wasn't seen as a consistent, 2000-year-old tradition. It is not. If anything, we need to be educating our girls about this kind of [much more proper] role for women in the church, not running them off with a stick and a harsh word. There are times and places where they lend much dignity to the celebration of the Eucharist, especially as they image the women who were at the foot of the Cross.

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  68. "chewspam, how do you as a Christian know what is or isn't essential to the faith and to salvation? Is that a determination for you to make in the first place?"

    I am in almost total disagreement with just about all of that post.

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  69. I guess since you disagree with just about all of that post that none of it has any truth.-Sola Scriptura

    Since you disagree with it you can believe what you know to be true.-Relativism

    Sola Scriptura=Relativism=Truth is Subjective

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  70. I am in almost total disagreement with just about all of that post.

    That's pretty much a non-answer. Can you elaborate?

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  71. A few years ago I read a poem that made me think more objectively and led to my conversion to Catholicism. The poem was "Christmas" by John Betjeman.

    And is it true
    This most tremendous tale of all
    Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
    A baby in an ox's stall?
    The Maker of the stars and sea,
    Become a Child on earth for me? . . .

    No love that in a family dwells,
    No caroling on frosty air,
    Nor all the steeple shaking bells
    Can with this single Truth compare-
    That God was man in Palestine
    And lives today in Bread and Wine.

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  72. Manda, my disagreement doesn't mean it isn't true. Its truth is not determined by my agreement with it.

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  73. “chewspam, how do you as a Christian know what is or isn't essential to the faith and to salvation? Is that a determination for you to make in the first place?”
    Answer: Yes. Are you saying the Bible isn’t definitive on what is necessary for salvation? If not, how are any of us to be saved? If so, what is necessary?

    Think about this: The Church, from earliest days (read Church Fathers) believed that the Eucharist and Baptism were two essentials of our Faith, and intricately connected to salvation. They died for these truths. That is an indication that certain doctrines that Protestants reject are actually very important, and not peripheral issues at all. They are central issues to our faith and salvation.

    “How do you, in a practical sense, determine what is an essential of the Faith or what isn't? And do you have the authority to say that? I know that I don't have that authority.”

    Answer: What is essential for faith? If by faith you mean salvation I will refer to my response above.

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  74. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons don't even think that belief in the Trinity (the way Christians have always understood it) is necessary. How come they are wrong? Whose to say? On what authority do any of us have any opinion on any of this? What is the source of Truth and how do we access it? What did Jesus leave for us? Just a Book (for the literate) that we can all disagree on till the end of time?

    Answer: I am not the judge of the salvation of someone else. That job is not mine to assume. If their doctrine disagrees with what the Bible teaches, then I can disagree with it, but I am not the keeper of their salvation.

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  75. How does that square with Jesus' prayer to the Father at the Last Supper:

    “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." (John 17)
    Answer: I love this prayer. On this prayer we are given the authority over the angels. We are welcomed in to the family of Christ. We are maid brothers and sisters of Christ. We are given a holy authority, but we are still not the judge of the salvation of others.

    Where is this unity for which Jesus prayed? His prayers are perfect, and efficacious, so there must be that unity somewhere. Not a unity of "fellowship" but Trinitarian unity -- a unity of Truth.

    The model of sola scriptura cannot lead to anything but confusion, conflicting beliefs about the "essentials" and doctrinal chaos. It is not what Jesus intended.
    Answer: This is a belief and an assumption which can’t exist with absolute truth.

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  76. chewspam, do you believe that baptism is necessary for salvation?

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  77. Who did Jesus give the power to forgive sins to? Who did Jesus give the power to bing and loose "whatever" (anything) on Earth and in Heaven? Who did Jesus give the keys to the Kingdom to?

    Was he establishing an authoritative body over his church or not?

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  78. No. I believe that baptism is a public profession of one's faith and SHOULD BE done. If you can't profess your faith in Christ publicly, have you really accepted salvation? But I am open to reason on this issue as with any other. I take it you do think that salvation is necessary. I take it Catholics get this question a lot, but I've never heard an answer to it. If someone dies after accepting Christ as their savior, confesses their sins, repents, and believes that Christ died sinless and rose three days later, will they go to heaven if they die immediately after this if they have not been baptized? I honestly don't know the Catholic take on this and would like to.

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  79. Baptism now saves you
    1 Peter 3:21

    I'm going with the Bible and unbroken Christian Tradition on this.

    If someone dies after accepting Christ as their savior, confesses their sins, repents, and believes that Christ died sinless and rose three days later, will they go to heaven if they die immediately after this if they have not been baptized?

    You're talking about "baptism of desire". We are bound by Christ's sacraments, but God is not bound by His sacraments. Baptism is the "ordinary means of salvation" but God can save as He wills, in extraordinary ways, and He knows hearts. A situation like you describe is why Catholics would never, ever say that only baptized Catholics/Christians can be saved. That deserves a whole post. :)

    But when we know (as we do) that baptism is the ordinary means of salvation, and the way to wash away Original Sin and become incorporated into the Body of Christ, then we are obligated and pleased to receive grace as He intended. It's a beautiful thing, baptism, and it is what "makes" a Christian. It confers a mark on the soul which is there for eternity. Even if a soul should go to hell, the mark of the Christian remains on his soul, because baptism actually changes the soul.

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  80. Manda, my disagreement doesn't mean it isn't true. Its truth is not determined by my agreement with it.

    Exactly. ;)

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  81. Well, here's the problem, chewspam.

    The Catholic Church (along with many other Protestant sects) teaches that baptism is NECESSARY for salvation (Leila articulated the CC's teaching beautifully above).

    You believe that baptism is not necessary for salvation.

    What if you're wrong? How do you know you're not wrong?

    By what authority do you say that my interpretation of John 3:5, where Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" is incorrect?

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  82. "But when we know (as we do) that baptism is the ordinary means of salvation, and the way to wash away Original Sin and become incorporated into the Body of Christ, then we are obligated and pleased to receive grace as He intended. It's a beautiful thing, baptism, and it is what "makes" a Christian. It confers a mark on the soul which is there for eternity. Even if a soul should go to hell, the mark of the Christian remains on his soul, because baptism actually changes the soul."

    I can accept that answer, but the last part confuses me. Can you elaborate?

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  83. "As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:3]" (First Apology 61 [A.D. 151]).

    "[N]o one can attain salvation without baptism, especially in view of the declaration of the Lord, who says, ‘Unless a man shall be born of water, he shall not have life’" (Baptism 12:1 [A.D. 203]).

    Less than two hundred years after Christ's resurrection, the early Christian church was teaching that Baptism is necessary for salvation.

    Chewspam, is it your believe that the early church "went off the rails" so quickly? Did Jesus abandon His Church until your denomination was started?

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  84. A more experienced Catholic may want to correct me, but here is what I've found. Baptism IS necessary to salvation, and baptism by water is the most common type. However, there is also baptism by blood, and baptism by desire. This is from www.catholic.com :

    The Christian belief that baptism is necessary for salvation is so unshakable that even the Protestant Martin Luther affirmed the necessity of baptism. He wrote: "Baptism is no human plaything but is instituted by God himself. Moreover, it is solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved. We are not to regard it as an indifferent matter, then, like putting on a new red coat. It is of the greatest importance that we regard baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted" (Large Catechism 4:6).

    Yet Christians have also always realized that the necessity of water baptism is a normative rather than an absolute necessity. There are exceptions to water baptism: It is possible to be saved through "baptism of blood," martyrdom for Christ, or through "baptism of desire", that is, an explicit or even implicit desire for baptism.

    Thus the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized" (CCC 1281; the salvation of unbaptized infants is also possible under this system; cf. CCC 1260–1, 1283).

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  85. sorry, my quotes in 8:15am came from Justin Martyr and Tertullian, respectively.

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  86. Chewspam, I wrote this is a post once:

    If Jesus literally rose from the dead, then He is God, and I will submit to Him in all things.

    If Jesus established a Church, then I will be a member of His Church.

    If Jesus appointed leaders for His Church and delegated His teaching authority to those leaders, then I will submit to those leaders when they speak on matters of salvation, faith and morals.

    Those are some big ifs, and I won't set about to prove any of them today. Obviously, many folks dispute one or all of them.

    If any one of those ifs is untrue, then the Catholic Church is irrelevant and can be ignored.


    I want to elaborate on that more soon. But basically, we believe that Jesus founded a Church to teach in His authority; that Church has as part of her Tradition a Sacred Scripture which the she protects and interprets. Protestants believe that He left us a Book only.

    It's a whole different paradigm, which changes everything.

    We believe Truth is revealed and received through the Church. God did not leave us wondering what is true and what is essential and what is not.

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  87. As to Baptism, I would have used the obvious statement in John 3:5:

    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

    But in recent centuries some Protestants have gone to such lengths to reject Catholic teaching that now we are supposed to understand "water" to mean "amniotic fluid"!

    Titus 3:5 is another verse which reflects the unbroken Christian understanding of baptism.

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  88. Sandy, beautiful poem!

    Chewspam, I have no idea what your statement at 7:40 means, so if you could clarify.

    Moving on to the next point you made:

    I am not the judge of the salvation of someone else. That job is not mine to assume. If their doctrine disagrees with what the Bible teaches, then I can disagree with it, but I am not the keeper of their salvation.

    I agree, but I am not talking about their salvation. I was talking about the truth or error of their doctrine. If you could answer with that in mind. Thanks!

    With respect to what I said about Jesus' Prayer at the last supper, you answered:

    This is a belief and an assumption which can’t exist with absolute truth.

    But of course there is absolute truth. You simply need to find the legitimate authority which teaches that truth, then submit to it. ;)

    It all boils down to authority.

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  89. chewspam, readers might be confused as to what your words are and what mine are. I am even having to wade through. If you could either clearly label each set of words by the name of the person who wrote them, or use the " < i > text here < /i > (with no spaces between the < > ), that would be so helpful!

    Thanks so much!!

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  90. Even if a soul should go to hell, the mark of the Christian remains on his soul, because baptism actually changes the soul."

    You asked me to elaborate on what I wrote, above. I would be glad to! There are certain sacraments that actually change the character of the human soul, leaving a "mark" so to speak. They are baptism, confirmation and Holy Orders. (That is why a priest is a "priest forever")

    Once a baptized Christian, always a baptized Christian. Remember, we become "a new creation in Christ". We belong to Him, as a member of His Body, when we are baptized. Even though we sin mortally, and end up in eternity for Hell, we are still marked with the sign of baptism forever. That mark does not leave our soul.

    Oh, and there is no such thing as "rebaptism". There is only one baptism, as St. Paul said in the Bible, and as the Creed says. There is a reason for that, as explained in the last paragraph. So, when Protestants "rebaptize" Catholics, it's cringe-worthy and unbiblical. Catholics do not ever rebaptize legitimately baptized Protestants. We accept that they are Christian.

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  91. By the way, interesting story written by a very early Church Father (help me remember? Was it Polycarp?) who told of a Christian he knew who had left the Church and was rejecting Christ. This ex-Christian even went so far as to try to "unbaptize" himself with animal blood! But as the Church Father knew, it is in vain to try to remove that mark of Christ from one's soul. It's there forever.

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  92. The model of sola scriptura cannot lead to anything but confusion, conflicting beliefs about the "essentials" and doctrinal chaos.

    You disagreed with this. Can you show me (demonstrate) how it's wrong? Thanks!

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  93. JoAnna, your problem is here: "Chewspam, is it your believe that the early church "went off the rails" so quickly? Did Jesus abandon His Church until your denomination was started?"

    Listen carefully to this: WE ARE NOT ON OPPOSITE SIDES!!!

    As I said, I am open to reason, and that reason was given by Leila. Whether I agree with it or not is between me and my Heavenly Father as your beliefs are between you and the same Heavenly Father. Christianity is personal. It is a personal relationship. I'm sure you can agree on this as the only other alternatives are collective salvation or none at all.

    Leila, what did you mean by your comment about soul marked as a Christian going to hell?

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  94. Chewspam, wait, I need to add one thing that might make things clear about baptism and the mark on the soul.

    Most Protestants believe that baptism is a symbol of cleansing. But that it really is just for "show" so to speak. They don't believe it actually does something to the soul. Catholics, by contrast, believe that sacraments actually effect what they signify. In other words, the cleansing of the waters of baptism is a real cleansing. The soul really does become spotless. We really are a new creation in Christ. It's not just a symbol.

    Just like the Eucharist is not just a symbol of Christ's Body and Blood.

    So, for baptism, we Catholics believe in infused righteousness. Not just "imputed" righteousness as Protestants believe. We are not "snow covered dung hills" as Luther contended. We are actually, really, truly, literally, interiorly cleaned.

    It's a beautiful thing, what grace can do!

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  95. "A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon." G.K. Chesterton

    Chewspam, yes, Christians are on the same side. I rejoice in it! Now, let's all get unified again. :)

    (the stuff about the mark of the soul in hell I responded to just above)

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  96. Chewspam, to clarify, we are all saved as individuals, it's true. I don't disagree. But Christianity is a corporate (corporal?) religion. It's not just "me and Jesus" but "me and Jesus and all my brothers and sisters in Christ." We are the family of God. And truth is universal. It's true for everyone.

    Catholic means universal.

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  97. Chewspam,

    When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, he gave them the Lord's Prayer. It is the perfect prayer and it is a prayer of communion. We are saved in community. Chewspam, you say it is a personal relationship but it is also a communal relationship as we are all part of the body of Christ and one part needs the other in order to be "alive".

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  98. STUPID FRIGGIN BLOGGER THAT CAN'T POST ANYTHING AND LOSES WHAT I WRITE!!!

    Arg! Okay. I had to F5 to get all the updates. I understand everything you have said, but I disagree that salvation can be lost.

    Also, there are many many many protestants that believe baptism cleanses the soul.

    You disagreed with this. Can you show me (demonstrate) how it's wrong? Thanks!

    Because salvation begins with the individual. Tribal people visited by missionaries have not idea what a Catholic is, but they know what a Christian is, and that is enough for God.

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  99. We are saved in community. Chewspam, you say it is a personal relationship but it is also a communal relationship as we are all part of the body of Christ and one part needs the other in order to be "alive".

    Karl Marx and Margaret Sanger thought the same way.

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  100. Karl Marx and Margaret Sanger thought the same way.

    About community . . . . not Christianity.

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  101. I disagree that salvation can be lost.

    The Bible warns again and again and again that salvation can be lost.

    Also, there are many many many protestants that believe baptism cleanses the soul.

    Some do, most don't. Again, who is right? It's not an unimportant point.

    Tribal people visited by missionaries have not idea what a Catholic is, but they know what a Christian is, and that is enough for God.

    But once they do know what a Catholic is, and once they do find the Church Christ founded, and once they do learn of the Sacraments He left, then becomes not good enough for God. We go with what we know. The more you learn about the Truth, the more you are obligated to obey and follow. Right?

    Of course Marx and Sanger (and all godless people) still understand that community is what we are made for. It's written in our hearts. Natural law, remember? But that understanding of community (The Body of Christ, remember?) is from God Himself. The Trinity is a community of Love, after all.

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  102. and once they do learn of the Sacraments He left, then becomes not good enough for God. We go with what we know. The more you learn about the Truth, the more you are obligated to obey and follow.

    That, to me, means that it's personal . . .. from beginning to end.

    What is the result or definition of salvation lost? Is it complete separation from God?

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  103. "STUPID FRIGGIN BLOGGER THAT CAN'T POST ANYTHING AND LOSES WHAT I WRITE!!!",

    Finally, something we agree on! ;)
    (when this happens, I think, okay guess that didn't need to be said right then.) :)

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  104. That, to me, means that it's personal . . .. from beginning to end.

    It's personal AND communal (read what St. Paul says about the Body of Christ; read the Church Fathers)

    Catholicism is all about "both/and" not "either/or"

    What is the result or definition of salvation lost? Is it complete separation from God?

    Yes, mortal sin separates us fully from God, and salvation is lost. God's mercy is deep however, and we have recourse to the Sacrament of Confession if we fall from grace after becoming a Christian.

    We can lose the sanctifying grace we receive in baptism (we still have free will, after all! God cannot force us to continue to love him!).

    Here are a few points about grace:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/02/answers-to-doctrinal-quiz-show-amazing.html


    There are so many posts I need to do about grace, sin, the Cycle of Redemption, etc. Thanks for this putting up with this piecemeal stuff.

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  105. Manda and chewspam, ha ha! Blogger drives me nuts sometimes!!

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  106. I did not get a bunch of comments via e-mail, so sorry for the delay in my response. Thanks, Blogger. *roll eyes* Incidentally, I now copy every post prior to clicking on "Post Comment," because 50% of the time Blogger will hiccup and I'll lose everything.

    Chewspam, you said: "Listen carefully to this: WE ARE NOT ON OPPOSITE SIDES!!!"

    You avoided my question, though. It's very clear that the early Church taught that Baptism is necessary for salvation. Given that you don't believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, it logically follows that in your view the Christian Church WAS TEACHING ERROR as early as 150 AD. Even worse, they were teaching error about what is necessary for salvation!

    How do you reconcile this? I honestly can't see it.

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  107. It's very clear that the early Church taught that Baptism is necessary for salvation.

    Because where you believe it was taught as necessary to salvation, many others believe that it was taught as part of what Christians did. The simple fact is that now and then you didn't have to be baptized to go to heaven. Leila stated it herself.

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  108. I did not get a bunch of comments via e-mail,

    You can get emails to responses? What will they think of next?

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  109. The Orthodox Church upholds the same moral principles regarding contraception today as it did in the past, it is just that for some forms of contraception those moral principles applicable to abortive methods turn out not to apply because those methods turn out not to in fact be abortive as they thought when they were working with biology carved out by the Stoics and Aristotelians-sperm aren’t human beings in small, so condom’s aren’t tantamount to murder. So you seem to misrepresent my position by implying that the Orthodox allow contraception carte blanch, which is false.

    The way the “rest” sounds to you doesn’t amount to a proof that what I said was false. You need to actually do that in order to show I am wrong. As for the couple being one flesh without touching, not all non-abortive methods amount to condoms, but even if they did, there is plenty of “touching” going on, I can assure you.

    I agree that for over 19 centuries there was a blanket condemnation of contraception by the Orthodox and then something important happened. People figured out that sperm weren’t small human beings like the Stoics and Aristotelians thought. Aristotle was wrong, imagine that?! So, saying that the Orthodox changed their position out of social pressure and admitted contraception carte blanche is a misrepresentation of the facts. To continue to misrepresent anothers position in this way falls under bearing falsewitness.

    Second, the Orthodox do not bow to social pressure. They surely didn’t to the Communists or the Muslims or Popes. At Florence, they preferred subjugation and conquest to theological compromise.

    You ask how the Orthodox went wrong, but you still haven’t grasped the point. They weren’t wrong on the moral teaching, the application of the teaching was in error because last I checked neither your church nor mine makes dogmatic statements on questions of biology. That is, they take what biologists discover and apply moral principles to it. This is why Rome limits its normative statements to faith and morals and not to questions of science. This is why Catholic arguments against contraception CHANGED when the biology came clear and fell back to a bare natural law argument concerning natural intentions rather than the older Patristic, Conciliar and Papal teaching that it was abortive. Rome stopped using those arguments that barrier methods were abortions around the same time. Why did Rome change too then? Very simple, because it became clear that the truth about human biology came to light, which is why none of those older papal arguments are used now.

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  110. Leila,

    When I wrote it would be obvious I meant obvious what I was referring to in the biblical text. It was obvious to various Fathers. Take St. Basil’s canons (canon 9), Oration 37 of Gregory of Nanziansus, and even Augustine and Jerome in the west. (See http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.viii.iii.iii.xx.html?highlight=divorce#highlight ) They all allow for divorce upon condition of sexual immorality and these were a clean 600 years or more prior to the Great Schism and well recognized church fathers. I can also bring forward the decisions showing the judgment of various local synods across Christendom to show that this was not just their private opinion.


    The argument you put forward is a bad one because it depends on committing another grave sin. Anyone who is going to commit a grave sin of mutual adultery is going to commit the grave sin of getting an unwarranted divorce anyway. That is not a disproof of the moral principle. Second, such a collusion would make them doubly culpable, even on Catholic moral principles and so wouldn’t have any exculpatory value relative to a divorce. Lastly, such an attitude ignores the spirit of the canons for the letter, a practice that is hardly commended by Jesus.


    I agree that women at the altar are not part of the deposit of faith and they are not part of the received tradition either. Teaching authority doesn’t give one a license to set aside the received tradition, even if it has not been formally defined as yet. Rome itself recognizes this is the case, which is why canonically it only permits women to serve in extreme circumstances (there being no men who can serve), so your argument here just doesn’t wash because it isn’t a matter of not “liking it.” So you’re argument doesn’t engage what I wrote yet.


    If I were mad or not it would mean nothing as to whether my argument is a good one or not. Emotion has no bearing on whether an argument is a good one or not. I didn’t admit that it was a discipline so again you’ve failed to engage the argument I put forward. It isn’t a discipline to regularly allow women to serve according to Rome, it is a violation of canon law and the received tradition on Catholic principles alone. Read the code of canon law for yourself.

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  111. Yes, mortal sin separates us fully from God, and salvation is lost. God's mercy is deep however, and we have recourse to the Sacrament of Confession if we fall from grace after becoming a Christian.

    There are two things I think about when I read something like that.

    1. Were they ever saved? There's no way for us to know b/c we are not that judge. Oh that, and that whole salvation being a personal thing that keeps coming up.

    2. Christ was separated from God. That's why He sweat blood. Others went through the same torture and didn't sweat blood so the reason for this had to be something else. Something like . . . knowing He would be separated from God. After conquering death Christ still ascended in to heaven.

    Again, something we will disagree on. If someone goes to hell after "being saved" I would have to question their salvation to begin with, but that's not my place.

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  112. Chewspam,

    Below the comment window (as long as you're logged in with Google or via another method), there's a link that says "Subscribe." If you click it, you can get all comments e-mailed to you.

    You said, "Because where you believe it was taught as necessary to salvation, many others believe that it was taught as part of what Christians did."


    I don't understand what you mean by this. Look at the teachings of the early church fathers regarding Baptism -- teachings that date back to 150 AD if not earlier. They are CLEAR that Baptism is salvific in nature. They did not teach that baptism was merely something "Christians did." Can you provide any proof to the contrary?

    "The simple fact is that now and then you didn't have to be baptized to go to heaven. Leila stated it herself."

    I think you misunderstood what Leila said.

    EVERYONE who is in heaven has been baptized.

    This is important so I'm going to repeat it.

    EVERYONE who is in heaven has been baptized.

    The only difference is if they were baptized by water (the ordinary means of salvation), blood (i.e., martyrdom), or desire (either implicit or explicit). The latter two are known as the extraordinary means of salvation, in that they are only resorted to in extraordinary circumstances.

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  113. Joanna,

    I already read that article and gave some reasons why the arguments it puts forward are bad ones, so you’ll need to do better than that.

    My argument about widespread practice wwasn’t that it was just practiced but that it was widespread church practice, especially in the East. And it was so because it was taught by not a few Church Fathers and various synods. So your objection from custom not being sufficient to be normative won’t wash here. Basil, Gregory of Nazienzus, Augustine and co. aren’t mere nobodies. So your counter point doesn’t even touch what I put forward. So you need another argument because that one doesn’t work.

    Your assertion that the article shows that my take is false can be met with my assertion that the article does not in fact show that my take is false. Assertions are not demonstrations, so you need to actually show how it does so since I deny that it does and have already given reasons for thinking so. Just stating that the article disagrees with what I wrote doesn’t advance the conversation, your position and doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

    Scripture does speak of marriage that are unlawful. Does it speak of marriages that never in principle take place? Even if it did, the Eastern tradition on marriage is somewhat different since there is no an exchange of vows and marriages consequently aren’t contracted between the two people. In the Eastern tradition, the church marries the people rather than people each other with the church’s blessing. The sacrament is of the economia of the church, not the individuals. So for us it isn’t even a question of proper contractual conditions being met since it isn’t a contract of sorts to begin with.


    As far as altar girls you need to understand your own canon law which prohibits it generally so that it isn’t even a question of doctrine vs. discipline. The code of canon law generally prohibits female altar servers except under extreme circumstances. So again, you haven’t, like Leila actually engaged the point, namely that Rome turns a blind eye to the overturning of tradition.

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  114. Acolyte,

    I agree that for over 19 centuries there was a blanket condemnation of contraception by the Orthodox and then something important happened. People figured out that sperm weren’t small human beings like the Stoics and Aristotelians thought.

    So... your opinion is either that (a) God has been okay with contraception for the past 2,000 years, but let his churches teach error for 1,930 years; or (b) God changed His mind.

    Which is it?

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  115. Acolyte,

    As far as altar girls you need to understand your own canon law which prohibits it generally so that it isn’t even a question of doctrine vs. discipline.

    CANON LAW IS NOT DOCTRINE.

    All canon laws are DISCIPLINES.

    So yes, it is very much a matter of disciplines vs. doctrines, because CANON LAWS ARE DISCIPLINES, NOT DOCTRINES.

    Let me try and clarify some more:

    Female priests: doctrine (i.e., the Church does not have the authority to ordain women)

    Female altar servers: discipline (can be changed and determined by legitimate authority)

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  116. Manda,

    I think you are actually being unfair at points to the Protestant position. It isn't relativism and here is why. Relativism is the thesis that we make judgments (about morality or other things) true by assenting to them or false by rejecting to them. So propositios BECOME true for us on such a view. Subjectivism is the idea that matters are neither true or false but a matter of taste or preference. Luther, Calvin and Co. may be wrong, but in no way did they endorse either of these positions and sola scriptura doesn't imply or entail them either.

    What the Protestant thinks (calssical Protestantism mind you) is that no judgment or another person can absolutely bind the conscience of the individual, sinc eall judgments are fallible and second, eacah individual is accountable directly to God. We are not ultimately accountable for other people. So this thesis is called the right of private judgment. It is similar to the Catholic teaching about the pope sine no judgment can bind the pope's conscience except his own and God's. This is why in Protestantism, ever man is his own pope. The difference betgween you is the number of popes you have. That is, the things that are the most unalie are the things themost alike. :)

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  117. I already read that article and gave some reasons why the arguments it puts forward are bad ones, so you’ll need to do better than that.

    Can you link to that post? I must've missed it.

    My argument about widespread practice wwasn’t that it was just practiced but that it was widespread church practice, especially in the East. And it was so because it was taught by not a few Church Fathers and various synods. So your objection from custom not being sufficient to be normative won’t wash here. Basil, Gregory of Nazienzus, Augustine and co. aren’t mere nobodies. So your counter point doesn’t even touch what I put forward. So you need another argument because that one doesn’t work.

    Augustine et al taught that the Pope was merely first among equals? Do tell. Source?

    Your assertion that the article shows that my take is false can be met with my assertion that the article does not in fact show that my take is false. Assertions are not demonstrations, so you need to actually show how it does so since I deny that it does and have already given reasons for thinking so. Just stating that the article disagrees with what I wrote doesn’t advance the conversation, your position and doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

    The article clearly demonstrates the proper exegesis of Scriptural passages that condemn divorce "except for adultery." It clearly shows that "adultery" is a bad translation, and it is more accurately translated as "unlawful". Thus, Scripture clearly condemns divorce for ANY reason.

    Scripture does speak of marriage that are unlawful. Does it speak of marriages that never in principle take place?

    Same thing. If the parties involved do not know that the marriage is unlawful at the time it is contracted, it doesn't change the fact that it is still unlawful. That pesky objective truth thing again.

    Even if it did, the Eastern tradition on marriage is somewhat different since there is no an exchange of vows and marriages consequently aren’t contracted between the two people. In the Eastern tradition, the church marries the people rather than people each other with the church’s blessing. The sacrament is of the economia of the church, not the individuals. So for us it isn’t even a question of proper contractual conditions being met since it isn’t a contract of sorts to begin with.

    Interesting, I didn't know this. Could you provide me some further resources about the Orthodox perception of marriage?

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  118. 1. Were they ever saved? There's no way for us to know b/c we are not that judge. Oh that, and that whole salvation being a personal thing that keeps coming up.

    Yes, we can know if they were saved, because we can know if they were baptized. The grace of baptism is how we are saved. If one rejects the grace of baptism later, through mortal sin, then one loses that grace, that salvation.

    2. Christ was separated from God. That's why He sweat blood. Others went through the same torture and didn't sweat blood so the reason for this had to be something else. Something like . . . knowing He would be separated from God. After conquering death Christ still ascended in to heaven.

    How could Christ be separated from God? Christ is God. He and the Father are One. The Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is Three Persons in One God. They cannot be "separated".

    Acolyte, you throw a lot of words out there. We try to be very clear and simple here. I will wait till you answer JoAnna's clear question before going on.

    And, remember, contraception is wrong not because it's one type or another, but because it's wrong to change and distort the nature of the sex act. It's the breaking of union and procreation that is the disorder, not anything about abortifacients.

    Oh, and I touch a lot of people in a lot of ways, but that doesn't constitute becoming "one flesh". Being "one flesh" is very specific to intercourse. Even homosexuals cannot become "one flesh". So, you are on shaky ground with that theory.

    More soon.... Gotta play some card games with my son...

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  119. EVERYONE who is in heaven has been baptized.

    Moses & Elijah? God created things with an order - with a system. Watching you two trying to piece this thing together is like watching one of my kids try to make up a board game from scratch. As much fun as it is, without a proper set of rules or foundation, without using a system already set in place, it just doesn't work. There are so many exceptions to this and exceptions to that. Continued below.

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  120. Here's an example of the problem. God said "no divorce", but that didn't stop His people. So He gave them rules to divorce, but that didn't mean it was good for them. I just feel like y'all (all denominations) are just making up rules to make it work for you. Just b/c the Catholic church is the oldest and the strongest doesn't mean it's 100% right. Do you get where I'm going with this? Neither Catholics or Protestants are 100% right, and we can't know 100% in this life. We will be judged one day, but all of our names are probably in that book of life, and we'll find out where we were wrong at that time.

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  121. "Moses & Elijah?"

    Baptism is part of the New Covenant, not the Old Law. Moses and Elijah were subject to the Old Law, not the New Covenant. In effect, Moses and Elijah were "baptized" when they were circumcised, since circumcision is a prefigurement of baptism.

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  122. God created things with an order - with a system.

    Yes, exactly!! Show me the church model in the New Testament (or heck, in the Old Testament ecclesia!) which didn't have a human authority delegated by God that the people of God were to obey. Show me that system.

    Thanks!

    (Korah was the OT model of Protestant sentiment.)



    Really gotta run now....

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  123. Here's an example of the problem. God said "no divorce", but that didn't stop His people. So He gave them rules to divorce, but that didn't mean it was good for them.

    Right, and then Jesus came along and said, "Moses gave you divorce due to the hardness of your hearts, BUT I SAY TO YOU, whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery."

    I just feel like y'all (all denominations) are just making up rules to make it work for you.

    Yes, that's a common perception of non-Catholics (as I once was). It's really not the case, though.

    Just b/c the Catholic church is the oldest and the strongest doesn't mean it's 100% right. Do you get where I'm going with this? Neither Catholics or Protestants are 100% right, and we can't know 100% in this life. We will be judged one day, but all of our names are probably in that book of life, and we'll find out where we were wrong at that time.

    See, I don't get this. I trust God a lot more than that. I trust that God set up a system whereby we CAN know the truth. Jesus said, "Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door will be opened."

    Was He lying? If I seek the truth, is it impossible for me to find and know it?

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  124. People who go to Hell were never saved. Our salvation is not yet accomplished in us, yet is nearer than we first believed (Romans 13:11)
    We have to finish the race so that we won't find ourselves disqualified (but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1Corinthians 9:27)
    Once saved always saved is a recent phenomenon which Christians did not believe in before the 18th century. They skirt around scriptures like these (Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 1Corinthians 10:12) and claim that justification is a moment in time and is finished once and for all in that moment (how can a man be justified by works--(You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:24)
    Justification is a process, which includes sanctification. This is another example of why an authoritative body which interprets the scriptures is necessary. The sin of presumption is dangerous to the soul.

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  125. Manda, we agree again. Nice use of scripture.

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  126. Acolyte4236,

    Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration. When Protestants create God in THEIR OWN IMAGE by having a Jesus and Me attitude of studying and interpreting God's Word for themselves, the TRUTH is SUBJECTIVE. This is why there are over 33,000 denominations of Protestantism in the United States and even members within those denominations disagree on matters of faith and morals. When you claim that no one can be 100% right, as Chewspam has claimed, you are adhering to a belief system of Relativism. (this is true because the Holy Spirit said so. but the Holy Spirit told me this is wrong. Well, you must be wrong because I am sure I have the Holy Spirit...) Truth is lost and Relativism is left.

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  127. Joanna,

    You can look through my replies to Leila.

    Second, my mention of Augustine was in reference to his views on digamy (remarriage) not the bishop of Rome. So please try to track what I am saying.
    Again, claiming that the article “clearly demonstrates” is just another assertion, since I don’t think it demonstrates any such thing. I’ suggest picking up half a dozen technical commentaries to see what I mean. In any case, its just more assertion on your part that the article does in fact do such a thing. I don’t think it does. And I don’t think it is a bad translation. Plenty of native Greek speakers took it to refer to adultery as I referenced already and they weren’t reading it through a translation, Basil and Gregory of Nazienzus, who were masters of the Greek language and Fathers of the church to boot.


    I’ll grant you that unlawful marriages are no marriages in fact. Fair enough. That changes little in terms of the canonical phenomenon of annulments being a later development as a matter of canon law. Any Catholic history of canon law will say the same. Where do you think I learned it from but Catholic canonists?


    You can find Orthodox teaching on marriage in Fr. Mack’s book or a number of other well published works on the Orthodox teaching on the sacraments.

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  128. Manda,

    Sure, Realtivism denies that there is objective mind independent truth, it does not deny that there is truth. This is why I said that Relativists think that they **make** propositions true or false. Protestantism has never affirmed such a view.

    Second, you again confuse relativism with subjectivism, which I already differentiated above.

    Protestants do not take themselves to create their own God. Rather they take themselves to be discovering the absolute truth. Let us be honest, one doesn’t have to be infallible to understand the bible, even if one has to be infallible to make binding judgments about what it teaches.

    Actually I don’t think the number of Protestant denominations is 33,000. That seems to be blown out of the water some time ago. The number matters not either way since if Protestantism is true then the number of bodies matters not, if false, then it matters not. Don’t get me wrong, I am not defending Protestantism , but your remarks on these points are attacking a straw man and misrepresenting your opponents position.

    It matters not what Chewspam says since what counts as Protestantism doesn’t really rely on what he says, any more than what an individual Catholic says reflects the Catholic Church’s teaching, which is a good thing since upwards of 80% of Catholics in North America deny that Christ is actually present in the Eucharist, among other things. To look at Protestantism you need to have in mind what it puts forward in its representative documents, tradition by tradition, Lutheran, Reformed, or Anabaptist. Consequently, even if Chewspam makes relativistic statements or endorses relativism, he has placed himself outside of what it means to be a Protestant.

    Thinking that something is true because the Holy Spirit told you so isn’t relativism, unless every Prophet of the Bible was a relativist. It may not be a publically accessible truth claim, but it isn’t relativism.

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  129. Acolyte, I remember you said that the Orthodox church allows divorce up to three times? Correct me if I misread that. I don't see how that's always been a part of Church tradition.
    Here's what the early Church Father's say about divorce and remarriage.

    So yes, you can divorce if your wife or husband commits adultery BUT you can't remarry otherwise, you also commit adultery. The only way around this is to say that they were never really sacramentally married to begin with which is what an annulment is.

    HERMAS

    "What then shall the husband do, if the wife continue in this disposition [adultery]? Let him divorce her, and let the husband remain single. But if he divorce his wife and marry another, he too commits adultery" (Shepherd 4:1:6 [A.D. 80]).

    CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA

    "That Scripture counsels marriage, however, and never allows any release from the union is expressly contained in the law: ‘You shall not divorce a wife, except for reason of immorality.’ And it regards as adultery the marriage of a spouse, while the one from whom a separation was made is still alive. ‘Whoever takes a divorced woman as wife commits adultery,’ it says; for ‘if anyone divorce his wife, he debauches her’; that is, he compels her to commit adultery. And not only does he that divorces her become the cause of this, but also he that takes the woman and gives her the opportunity of sinning; for if he did not take her, she would return to her husband" (Miscellanies 2:23:145:3 [A.D. 208]).

    AUGUSTINE

    "Neither can it rightly be held that a husband who dismisses his wife because of fornication and marries another does not commit adultery. For there is also adultery on the part of those who, after the repudiation of their former wives because of fornication, marry others. This adultery, nevertheless, is certainly less serious than that of men who dismiss their wives for reasons other than fornication and take other wives. Therefore, when we say: ‘Whoever marries a woman dismissed by her husband for reason other than fornication commits adultery,’ undoubtedly we speak the truth. But we do not thereby acquit of this crime the man who marries a woman who was dismissed because of fornication. We do not doubt in the least that both are adulterers. We do indeed pronounce him an adulterer who dismissed his wife for cause other than fornication and marries another, nor do we thereby defend from the taint of this sin the man who dismissed his wife because of fornication and marries another. We recognize that both are adulterers, though the sin of one is more grave than that of the other. No one is so unreasonable to say that a man who marries a woman whose husband has dismissed her because of fornication is not an adulterer, while maintaining that a man who marries a woman dismissed without the ground of fornication is an adulterer. Both of these men are guilty of adultery" (Adulterous Marriages 1:9:9 [A.D. 419]).

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  130. Joanna,

    First, some canon law does pick out doctrine, such as the DECREES of ecumenical councils. Some Popes dictated canons on their authority as well and these had doctgrinal content. Some of the canons I’ve pointed you to were affirmed by ecumenical councils.

    Second, TRADITION is wider and far more normative than mere canons. TRADITION can’t be relaxed since TRADITION isn’t a rule formed by the episcopate, it is what is handed on from the Apostles. The TRADITION was in force long before there were canons on the matter, since the TRADITON came form the Apostles.

    For two thousand years can you show me anywhere in the TRADITION there were prior to the 20th century female altar serves? Lay Eucharistic ministers and the like? No. The tradition has ALWAYS been, East and West that no one lower than a deacon can handle the Eucharist. I grant that there have always been exceptions in extreme circumstances or in the case of Imperial figures or an Abbess in a convent, but go your average Catholic parish and that isn’t an extreme circumstance or any of the other cases.

    And second, even if it were a matter of canon law alone on Catholic principles, it is still contrary to the canons of the Catholic Church and yet Rome does nothing to protect the tradition and be faithful in small areas like this. If they aren’t faithful in small things, why think they are in big things? (Lk 16:10) What good is tradition on paper alone?

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  131. I wrote a response to the first part of your post, Acolyte, but then lost it due to blogger (I'd only copied the last half as I had to break the post into two parts due to size). Ack! I'll try to reproduce it later.

    "I’ll grant you that unlawful marriages are no marriages in fact. Fair enough. That changes little in terms of the canonical phenomenon of annulments being a later development as a matter of canon law. Any Catholic history of canon law will say the same. Where do you think I learned it from but Catholic canonists?"

    Are you aware of what the Church teaches regarding development of doctrine? The annulment process as we know it today did indeed develop over time, especially as Churches began acting as a civil government authority.

    By the way, while researching this topic, I found this exhaustive blog post about the subject, and the author includes an interesting quote by St. John Chrysostom:

    "Do not cite the civil law made by outsiders, which command that a bill be issued and a divorce granted. For it is not according to these laws that the Lord will judge thee on the Last Day, but according to those which He Himself has given."

    And I found this information about Orthodox marriage (emphasis mine):

    Marriage is celebrated through a rite of crowning, performed with great solemnity and signifying an eternal union, sacramentally "projected" into the Kingdom of God. Orthodox theology of marriage insists on its sacramental eternity rather than its legal indissolubility. Thus, second marriages, in cases of either widowhood or divorce, are celebrated through a subdued penitential rite, and men who have been married more than once are not admitted to the priesthood. Remarriage after divorce is tolerated on the basis of the possibility that the sacrament of marriage was not originally received with the consciousness and responsibility that would have made it fully effective; according to this view, remarriage can be a second chance.

    Essentially, it seems, the Orthodox allow remarriage using the same principle with which the Catholic Church grants annulments! The only difference seems to be that the Orthodox Churche does not make any effort to ascertain if there was indeed an existing impediment to marriage at the time the union took place; they just take it on faith that one was present. It seems a rather dangerous assumption to make.

    What is Father Mack's full name, please?

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  132. Just another,

    "Meanwhile an intensifying spirit of asceticism was leading many in the Church to a condemnation of second marriage in all cases. Minucius Felix (Octavius, c. 31, § 5) only professes on behalf of the Christians a preference for monogamy. Clement of Alexandria (a.d. 150–220) seems to confine the term marriage to the first lawful union (Stromata, Bk. ii.).…It would seem, however, that when these views were carried to the extent of absolute prohibition of second marriages generally by several heretical sects, the Montanists (see Augustine, De Hæresibus, c. xxvi.), the Cathari (ib., c. xxxviii.), and a portion at least of the Novatianists (see Cotel., Patr. Apol., vol. i., p. 91, n. 16) the Church saw the necessity of not fixing such a yoke on the necks of the laity. The forbiddance of second marriage, or its assimilation to fornication, was treated as one of the marks of heresy (Augustin. u. s.; and see also his De Bono Vid., c. vi.). The sentiment of Augustine (in the last referred to passage) may be taken to express the Church’s judgment at the close of the fourth century: “Second marriages are not to be condemned, but had in less honour,” and see also Epiphanius, in his Exposition of the Catholic Faith.

    To these remarks of Mr. Ludlow’s, I may add that St. Ambrose had written (De Viduis, c. xi.), “We do not prohibit second marriages, but we do not approve marriages frequently reiterated.” St. Jerome had spoken still more strongly (Ep. lxvii., Apol. pro libris adv. Jovin.), “I do not condemn digamists, or even trigamists or, if such a thing can be said, octagamists.” It does not seem that the penance which was imposed in the East upon those entering into second nuptials was imposed in the West. The Corpus Juris Canonici contains two decretals, one of Alexander III. and another of Urban III., forbidding priests to give the nuptial benediction in cases of reiterated marriage. In the East at second marriages the
    73benediction of the crown is omitted and “propitiatory prayers” are to be said. Mr. Ludlow points out that in the “Sanctions and Decrees,” falsely attributed to the Council of Nice and found in Mansi (vol. ii., col. 1029) it is expressly stated that widowers and widows may marry, but that “the blessing of the crowns is not to be imparted to them, for this is only once given, at first marriages, and is not to be repeated.…But if one of them be not a widower or widow, let such one alone receive the benediction with the paranymphs, those whom he will.”

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.viii.iii.iii.xx.html?highlight=digamy#highlight

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  133. Acolyte,

    Canons may refer to doctrines. They may be based upon doctrines. They may give further detail to doctrinal issues (for example, proper matter and form in regard to a valid baptism). But by and large the Code of Canon Law is a collection of disciplines used to essentially "enforce" doctrines; the laws are not doctrinal in nature, and the issue of female altar servers is not a doctrine.

    It is, in fact, not against Canon Law to have female altar servers.

    See here:

    From the point of view of liturgical law, an official interpretation of Canon 230, Paragraph 2, of the Code of Canon law on the possibility of delegating certain liturgical offices led to a 1994 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments clarifying that girls may serve at the altar. But bishops are not bound to permit them to do so, nor could the episcopal conference limit the bishop's faculty to decide for himself.

    A further clarifying letter published in 2001 said priests are not compelled to have girls serve at the altar, even when their bishops grant permission.

    The 1994 letter states: "It will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations. Thus the obligation to support such groups of altar boys will always continue."

    The letter also recommends to bishops to consider "among other things the sensibilities of the faithful, the reasons which would motivate such permission and the different liturgical settings and congregations which gather for the Holy Mass."

    Therefore the Holy See's recommendation is to retain as far as possible the custom of having only boys as servers. But it leaves to the bishop the choice of permitting women and girls for a good reason and to the pastor of each parish the decision as to whether to act on the bishop's permission.


    As for where this occurs in Tradition, you must have missed Fidelio's post here.

    For the record, I prefer male-only altar servers. I just recognize that the Church has the authority to make that determination.

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  134. Joanna,

    Actually the Catholic church teaches very little about development of doctrine. I am aware of what Cardinal Newman wrote on the subject and others, but then again, they aren’t the Magisterium per se, are they? So If you think official Catholic teaching on doctrinal development helps here, you need to do a few things. First cite the official teaching on doctrinal development, show that the matter is a matter of doctrine and then how development helps answer my objection. So far you haven’t done that. In any case, to say it is a matter of development admits the point in sum, it was a later canonical development. So my point sticks either way.


    Second, it is then an idiosyncratic development because it never developed in the Eastern Apostolic Sees. And the Church never acted as a civil authority in the East with the other Apostolic Sees.


    I am well aware of what John Chrysostom wrote, but that doesn’t touch anything I wrote since my argument wasn’t from civil law, but from tradition. Why note cite what St. John says about the issue at hand in the tradition?


    As for what you cite from Orthodox info, while I agree with it, it isn’t an authoritative source for the Orthodox. Second, it doesn’t deny that divorce can occur for adultery and remarriage can follow, which is what we are discussing. I also agree that if someone is forced into a marriage and such it would not be a marriage in fact, because the tradition says that too in the canons and the Fathers, so the citation you bring forward leaves the original matter untouched. I know this because I’ve read the documents cover to cover myself and not because I used a PhD I got from google.


    You claim that the Orthodox make no effort to ascertain if a marriage did in fact take place. Tell me, did you find this out from reading through Orthodox canon law or from some other normative Orthodox source? Have you observed what happens in such circumstances in an Orthodox setting yourself/ Gone through it? How do you know this is so? If not, it seems you are feeling free to slander other Christians, Christians I might add that your own church recognizes our Apostolic Succession and valid Sacraments.


    Fr. John Mack.

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  135. Fidelio,

    Actually it is a modern aberration, see Allate Sunt, sec. 29.

    Second, the cases you refer to are deaconesses which were Abbesses functioning in a convent chapel in most circumstances. The were not the usual altar servers, so your examples do not apply to what I am talking about. There were other exceptions, which I’ve already noted, such as the Empress sitting behind the iconostasis for example, but of female altar servers or lay Eucharistic ministers, the tradition knows of no such thing. Of course you already admit as much when you write that they were not altar serves or LEMS, which just makes my point.

    Women were at the foot of the Cross, as were men, but that doesn’t make men up for the title of Theotokos or women priests or any of the minor orders.

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  136. Acolyte, I am sure it's me, but you are making my head spin. I am glad JoAnna is discussing with you, because I really need a simpler presentation of ideas. I can't take the time to follow all you are saying. Ultimately, I can't get past that you are still worried about altar girls (which is a discipline) and yet seem to have no problem with the wholesale switch on moral theology when it comes to sex (both with regards to the principle of contraception, i.e., changing the nature of the sex act, and with regards to divorce and remarriage, which also is all about sex).

    If you could answer the points about becoming "one flesh" that I brought up, as well as JoAnna's very short question at 10:27. It really was a clear question. It has to be either one or the other. Help me out, my brain is tired. Make it very simple.

    Thanks!

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  137. Re: development of doctrine - on the contrary, the Church has taught about this issue. Vatican II's Dei Verbum, for example. See here for more information.

    Since the information I cited regarding Orthodox marriage isn't, in your view, accurate, could you provide me with an online source that is?

    I wasn't aware that the Orthodox had an annulment process (even if they don't call it that, per se), so information on that would be helpful as well.

    I'll see if I can hunt up a copy of Fr. Mack's book. No promises, though. I don't claim to have a Ph.D. from Google (only a B.A. in English, I'm afraid) but I work full-time and have three small children so I don't have time to read weighty theological tomes from cover-to-cover as you apparently do. Ah, I miss those days sometimes. :)

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  138. Manda, I have to put in this clarification: We are saved at the time of our baptism. At that time, our souls are filled with sanctifying grace (the very life and love of God), and we are fit to live in Heaven. We are saved and in a state of grace at that time. However, because we retain our free will, we can always willfully choose to commit serious, mortal sin and lose that grace. If we lose that sanctifying grace, we are not longer equipped to live in Heaven. Our souls are no longer sanctified. So, in that sense, we have lost our salvation.

    Of course, God being so merciful, He gives a Christian unlimited chances to restore our souls to His grace (through the Sacrament of Confession) and thus be fit to live in Heaven with Him. That is why the state of a person's soul at the time of death is of ultimate importance. What did Jesus say? Be prepared, for you know not the day or the hour. We could die at any time, and we must die in a state of friendship with God, with grace in our souls.

    That is the story of running the race. We haven't won the race until we leave this earth, at the moment of death, in a state of His grace.

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  139. Um, Acolyte... is the Fr. John Mack you're referring to the same one that converted to Catholicism a few years ago?

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  140. Joanna,

    Even if I were to grant your point about canons, it is irrelevant since it is part of the tradition, as what you cite from Rome shows. Female altar serves are not part of the “noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar.”

    Now if you read the 2001 letter, the 1994 letter and Canon 230, par. 2, under what circumstances are women permitted to act in such manner? Do you know? Only in extremis. That rules out the overwhelming majority of what goes on today and for the last forty years. So as far as a norm goes it IS against canon law to have female altar servers. It is only permissible when there are no suitable men/boys. Now, does your parish have female altar servers? Is there a shortage of boys or men to serve there? If yes to the first and no to the second question, why not just comply with what your church teaches? What is so hard about obedience here?

    This is why your cited source says priests are not compelled to have girls serve at the altar since it is only permissible in extremis. This is the “good reason” the Holy See has articulated in the past if you read the documents. It is only after Vatican 2 that this problem even arises through abuse, which eventually has become the norm.

    So again, your points here really don’t get at the problem I’ve pointed to, since everything you cited is perfectly in line with what I’ve claimed.

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  141. Now if you read the 2001 letter, the 1994 letter and Canon 230, par. 2, under what circumstances are women permitted to act in such manner? Do you know? Only in extremis. That rules out the overwhelming majority of what goes on today and for the last forty years.

    In your opinion. The Church has ruled differently. She has the authority to do so. You do not.

    That being said, I agree with you in principle. I would prefer only male altar servers, and I would like the practice of numerous Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion phased out too. Alas, it is not my call to make. I submit to the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church.

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  142. Joanna, Yup, he converted after he left his wife, left the prieswthood and remarried.. Then Rome took him in. Is that what you wish to brag about?

    Did you think I would have referred to his book if I didn't know about this? his book is fine as far as what it teaches, though his behavior is obviously not commendable.

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  143. Also, for chewspam and others, I have to put in one more clarification:

    I agree that Protestants believe in objective, revealed Truth. We have that in common, praise God! But their paradigm is very subjective (personal interpretation of the Bible only, by infallible individuals). It ends up being a very subjective hodge-podge of doctrines.

    So, yes, unlike secularists, who really DO believe Truth is subjective, Protestants and Catholics agree that it is not. That is a good thing!

    But without a final, human, earthly authority with the protection of infallibility, Protestantism is, in practice, exceedingly subjective. Truth on the essentials is very, very difficult to pin down. Even agreement on what the essentials are is impossible.

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  144. Joanna,

    Have you read those documents to know it is my opinion or not? I have. Please cite them to prove me wrong. What is the uniform tradition servers at the altar? under what ciricumstances are women allowed to serve? Can you cite the documents or no to show I am wrong?

    Again, since what goes on now is in violation to the canons it isn't a questionof judgment on what is aceptable, it is about enforcing what has alrady been decided by the Holy See. Why doesn't anyone obey the Pope here?

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  145. Yup, he converted after he left his wife, left the prieswthood and remarried.. Then Rome took him in. Is that what you wish to brag about?

    The Church takes everyone in, even the worst of sinners, just so long as his sins were repented of. This is a good thing, no? Or would you have the Church do otherwise?

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  146. Really? The information I have is that he left the priesthood, divorced, and remarried AFTER Rome took him in, not before. Do you have a source that says otherwise?

    I suppose it's a "do as I say, not as I do" scenario, but I have to wonder about the sincerity of his beliefs if he was able to forsake them so readily. I tend not to recommend Catholic sources if the authors are no longer Catholics in good standing, even if the content itself is theologically sound. It's a credibility issue.

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  147. Acolyte,

    I'm saying that your interpretation of the documents differs from the Church's. The Church has the authority to correctly interpret those documents. You do not. They obviously interpret "in extremis" differently than you do.

    I submit to the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church.

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  148. Acolyte, the bishops use their judgment regarding disciplines where they have leeway(they are not puppets of Rome). I am sorry but I still cannot get over that you have no problem with Orthodoxy changing 19 centuries of the unbroken moral law, but are harping on the minutiae of the changeable discipline of Catholic altar girls in America?

    Again, aren't you straining at the gnat while swalling the camel?

    I would do it, too, if I were you, but it's not proving any point other than we are all free to debate and disagree with disciplines. What we cannot fight against is the Deposit of Faith, which includes sexual morality and the meaning and nature of marriage.

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  149. Leila,

    If he was penitent and Roma had valid sacraments, sure, but I don't believe the second and I doubt the first.

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  150. Wow, that is sad. We don't doubt the validity of your sacraments, and we certainly could if Rome was all about being power hungry and vindictive.

    Oh, well.

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  151. Joanna, I knew Nathan Mack personally for a number of years. Did you? We've had a ton of mutual friends for decades in common. Do you?
    Idon't mean to drag Nathan thru the dirt. I only rbought that up because you were making a big deal about his conversion. i fyou want me to bring out the sordid details i can, but I'd prefer not to.

    I grant your general practice is acceptable on recommending authors, but do you recommend Tertullian? Nuff said.

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  152. Acolyte, could you clarify with me what "one flesh" means?

    Thanks!

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  153. I'm just curious, but is it standard in Orthodoxy to pass judgment on the personal contrition of another's soul (Nathan Mack)?

    Catholics believe we are not to judge the state of another's souls. We can judge actions as right or wrong, but not contrition.

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  154. Joanna, How can you know that my interpretation differs from taht of th Cahtolic church, unless you've read the documents in whole? Have you read them in whole or not?

    Second, even your own source notes,

    "While our correspondent is correct in saying that the role of altar servers is not merely functional, I think it is necessary to distinguish between minister, either ordained (bishop, priest and deacon) or instituted (acolyte and lector) and those who may be delegated in some cases to substitute for them.

    Thus the formal ministries of the Church are open only to males, while altar servers, readers and extraordinary ministers of Communion, whose function is to substitute for the lack of proper ministers, may be delegated to Catholics of either sex.

    Even when these functions are carried out frequently, or even daily, they will always be essentially delegated and substitutive. In this context the canonical decision to open service at the altar to girls was logical since every other delegated ministry had already been opened up.

    This is certainly a break with a very long-standing custom of having only males serve at the altar even in substitutive roles. But it does not appear to be an issue of doctrine.'

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur19.htm

    Now, are girls allowed to serve only in extreme circusmtances or no according to Catholic teaching? what was the tradition for 2,00o years?

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  155. I'm sorry, I'm lost. Who is Nathan Mack?

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  156. Also, Acolyte, I generally will cite Tertullian in the company of other Church fathers in order to provide evidence about what the Church taught in those days, but I wouldn't give someone a book written by Tertullian and tell them it had all they needed to know about Catholicism.

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  157. Leila,

    I wasn't aware that I made an absolute judgment on his soul. Given his apostasy from the one true church and his immoral behavior, its hardly wrong for me to say what I did. Second, if he was contrite why run form his own church'sw discipline? That wasn't the first time he had run ins with church authorities.

    As for Catholic orders, the Orthodox believe, assert and teach that we are the one true apostolic church founded by Christ,not the one church plus all the others kind of true churches lite. The Othodox Church does not "subsist" in the true chuch, it is the true church, full stop. Second, there are no sacramentally valid orders outside of the Church. At best they can be "valid" in terms of form of rite, (see canon 7 of Constantinople 1) but not of scaramental efficacy.

    As for some of your comments about Protestantism, Classical protestants do not dney infused grace, they deny that it is a basis for justification. Its just fine for sanctification. they think.

    now I've wasted my afternoon. have a nice day ladies. God bless.

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  158. Joanna, How can you know that my interpretation differs from taht of th Cahtolic church, unless you've read the documents in whole? Have you read them in whole or not?

    Acolyte, I have read the documents, but even if I hadn't it wouldn't matter, because (all together now!) I submit to the legitimate authority of the Church. My personal interpretation means jack and squat. Even though I disagree with the appropriateness of female altar servers and all EMHCs, I recognize that I don't have the authority to make these decisions on behalf of the Church, so my disagreement is pointless.

    You quoted this excerpt yourself:

    "This is certainly a break with a very long-standing custom of having only males serve at the altar even in substitutive roles. But it does not appear to be an issue of doctrine.'

    If it is not an issue of doctrine, then the Church has the legitimate authority to determine if female servers are allowable or not. Right now, in America, they are allowed. I submit to the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church to interpret the documents and issue determinations.

    Why don't you try answering Leila's excellent question from above:

    "I am sorry but I still cannot get over that you have no problem with Orthodoxy changing 19 centuries of the unbroken moral law, but are harping on the minutiae of the changeable discipline of Catholic altar girls in America?"

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  159. Joanna,

    Tertullian is not a church father in the Catholic or Orthodox Churches. Nathan is John Macks's pre-chrismation name.

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  160. Uh, Joanna, yes, that it "does not appear" is his private opinion, not official church document.

    Read the documents yourself.

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  161. "I've wasted my afternoon"

    acolyte, why so rude? Were we rude to you? Not nice.

    Also, why won't you answer the sex questions? Why do you suddenly insulst and rush away, after you go on and on about non-doctrinal issues, but don't address the clear questions about things that are doctrinal?

    Maybe you can find an Orthodox friend who will answer those simple questions?

    Thanks, and you are welcome back any time.

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  162. Tertullian is not a church father in the Catholic or Orthodox Churches.

    He is a Catholic church father:

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/

    Nathan is John Macks's pre-chrismation name.

    Oh, they're the same person. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I didn't know he was your personal friend, but even so I can only take your word on that as well as your word on his personal circumstances. I hope he has repented of his sins, and if he is still a Catholic I hope he is one in good standing. I'll pray for him as well.

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  163. Acolyte,

    I have read the documents. I agree with the Catholic Church's interpretation of them, even if I have a personal preference otherwise. I submit to the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church.

    Once again,

    "I am sorry but I still cannot get over that you have no problem with Orthodoxy changing 19 centuries of the unbroken moral law, but are harping on the minutiae of the changeable discipline of Catholic altar girls in America?"

    Guess what, I submit to the Catholic Church's teaching on the evils of contraception too, not just in matters of discipline!

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  164. Joanna, I am fraid you're mistaken. That list uses the term "father" in a loose sense. Tertuloian, Origen and such are apostates and condemned heretics. Just read the Fifth Ecumenical councils, which is why they are not commeorated in the church calander as saints.

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  165. Jonna, so you've read the canon 230 par. 2? Can you produce it? How about the 2001 and 1994 letters? can you direct me to them?

    I already addressed the claim that the Orthodox changed the moral law, but you ignored it.

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  166. It did change the moral law. It taught for 19 centuries that all contraception was a moral evil. Now, it has reversed course. That is called changing the moral law.

    What is "one flesh" union? Thanks!

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  167. Oh for heaven's sake, Acolyte. The list is called "The Fathers of the Church" not "The Fathers of the Church, but Only In a Loose Sense."

    By what authority do you dictate what does and does not constitute an early church father?

    Being formally canonized a saint is not a requirement for one to be designated as an early church father, so far as I am aware.

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  168. Sure, Acolyte. Code of Canon Law, 230, #2 is here: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PV.HTM

    The other two will have to wait; I'm scheduled for an hour of prayer outside of an abortion facility and then I have a doctor's appointment. I'll provide the other sources when I get home tonight.

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  169. Leila,

    My intention with that comment was not meant to be rude. Certanily my wife thinking I spent a good portion of the day doing this amounts to "wasting."

    some of the particpants are a bit snarky and triumphalistic as well as condescedning.

    I answered the sex question, but perhaps you missed it or you didn't find it convincing. So don't say I ignored it and ran away. I've addressed everything point forpoint here, even if you do not find it persuasive.

    The preservation of tradition isn't exactly non-doctrinal. Second, we could move on to the Filioque and how Rome fudged the Trinity if you'd like instead? Or how the Fifth Council excommunicated a sitting pope AT the council, until the pope changed his mind? I rasied taht hours ago and no one touched it. Why are you and others "running away" from doctrinal questions there? What's good for the goose...So please don't frame it as if i am running away. that is just dishonest. I just don't exist to argue with you every second of the day. its a blog for crying out loud.

    Maybe i can find...? Now that is rather condescending and rude.

    dust here...feet there.

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  170. condescending, rude, snarky? Huh? I am thoroughly confused. You came on here, guns blazing, trying to 'trick' us with your first question instead of speaking plainly, and being somewhat nasty in practically every comment. No one has been rude, though we have defended ourselves and our Church.

    You said you were basically done wasting time, and so I aked, without any rudeness, if you could refer this thread to an Orthodox friend to continue? That's not out of line, I don't think.

    More on the sex thing in a moment....I've got some more to say on that...

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  171. I've asked you what a "one flesh" union was, you never answered.

    I can't understand your answer, I think you are saying that science can overturn a moral law? I've asked you to state things more plainly, for clarity's sake (I am sorry but you seem to convey things in the most complicated terms). I am sorry if you think that my asking you to clarify is "ignoring" your answer. I often ask people to clarify, but perhaps you are unfamiliar with this blog.

    Here is what I think you are saying, and can you please confirm?

    The Orthodox Church was only opposed to contraception because they thought it was causing abortions. It was never an issue of changing the nature of the sex act, never about the wrongness of separating the unitive and the procreative aspects of sex, but only about abortion. So, as soon as science confirmed that barriers during sex are not abortive, then the moral problem is gone.

    Did I get that correct? Making oneself barren or sterile was never a moral issue, only abortion?

    Thanks for clarifying!

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  172. To be even more clear in my question:

    Acolyte, are you claiming that the Orthodox Church has never believed that contraception is immoral, but only abortion?

    Thanks!

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  173. Keep in mind as we approach 200 comments that the comments will then continue on a new page.

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  174. Leila-
    I love your blog, and I think you do a great job of presenting the Church's stance on things.

    Having said that, I'd like to partly echo Acolyte's comment about rudeness. At times, I have felt that perhaps you and other Catholic commenters are slightly disrespectful to non-Catholics who leave comments. For example, "Huh?" is not a very respectful thing to say. Neither is "why so rude? Were we rude to you? Not nice."

    I don't presume to give you advice about how to communicate with people online or how to run your blog. I'm just letting you know that, as someone who doesn't know you personally and can only imagine you saying these things, I have found some of your comments can easily be interpreted as disrespectful.

    God Bless,
    ~Ut Christus Regnet

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  175. Ut Christus Regnet, thank you! It is a fine line, and some of it is personality. I am also the mother of eight, so I do cut right to the chase and get my point across. Some may not like that style. Like I said, Acolyte came in here guns blazing with a trick question designed to "gotcha" us Catholics, and has been fairly condescending since minute one. I can only tolerate so much of it. Sorry, but I have to be firm and my personality is not one that can just allow that stuff.

    I do get that it may seem harsh to you. Again, a personality thing. Acolyte is welcome to comment, but I draw the line when he (or anyone) is rude. I will call them on it.

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  176. Acolyte:

    Sorry for the delay, just got home. :)

    I originally read the 1994 letter here, and the 2001 letter here.

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  177. Ut Christus Regnet - I really think that the difficulty lies in the medium. You can't read facial expressions or vocal tone in an online forum. What you perceived as sarcasm and condescension, I perceived as puzzlement. I thought that Leila's "Huh?" was expressing genuine confusion.

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  178. For example, "Huh?" is not a very respectful thing to say. Neither is "why so rude? Were we rude to you? Not nice."

    By the way, I find nothing disrespectful in these statements. Anyone is welcome to say "huh?" to me and I will not be offended. Also, he was rude. And it's not nice to be rude. I don't consider that disrespectful. I consider that being a blog moderator who is challenging my commenter to play nice.

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  179. Not to beat a dead horse (too late?), but I realize now that I already responded to you about this earlier, in my blogoversary post. I said to you then:

    Ut Christus Regnet, thanks! I will take that into consideration! And I'm not being sarcastic when I say that if you could give me an actual example of that, I would love it! It would help me see what you mean.

    I often must press people on thoughts and consequences of thoughts, or else we will be all over the place. It's hard to be the moderator sometimes, but I do have to set the boundaries. A lot of times, what commenters don't say says volumes, so I use the (semi) Socratic Method to challenge them to think it through further.

    Another thing that is hard for people to see is that my mind really does work a certain way... it needs clarity in order to be able to make sense of things. So, I push and push for clarity not to play "gotcha", but so that I fully understand what someone is saying. Sometimes I do that to my children and husband, too, not just liberals. :)

    This might help for those who are new:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/p/purpose-of-my-blog.html
    April 5, 2011 5:03 PM

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  180. Hi Leila,

    I find your communication to be very charitable actually, and I'm a blog reader who's stood in opposition of you before. I felt appreciated, and rudeness wasn't a part of the dialogue when my comments have been responded to. :) I think your tactful as well as straight to the point.

    Also, as far as future posts go, could you speak specifically to why Catholics need priests, when Protestants claim we do not need mediators?

    Thanks! Love this blog!

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  181. Bridget, thank you so much!

    And, the priesthood (and mediators) is a great idea for a blog post! I will definitely put that in the lineup!

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  182. Anonymous, I don't think that's a fair assessment. I think Leila's response to Acolyte's last few comments was very appropriate.
    I think Leila's questioning gets very direct and right to the point of the matter and I've seen it before where I think basically someone like Acolyte or others get frustrated because frankly, I don't think they have an answer and they've only come here to win an argument. I mean, asking for clarification on the Orthodox stance on birth control isn't that difficult of a question but since there seems to be some contradictions in the Orthodox reasoning from what Acolyte has told us, it becomes more of a difficult question to answer- especially when he is stating that his church has remained faithful to the early Church and the Catholic Church hasn't.
    So, if you come here to only to win an argument you'll run into problems here.
    If you come here to openly discuss ideas and understand the other side it can be very fruitful and we may not all come to an agreement- but I think we can appreciate different viewpoints and understand those who we don't agree with a lot better.

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  183. Suburban mom, thank you so much! You said it well!

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  184. It's funny to me that the title of this post is addressing Catholicism and Protestantism, yet the majority of the arguments are between East and West. We can argue all day about which Church is the One True Church but I personally believe that "Rome Has Spoken" was the final authority way before the split in 1054 when a form of nationalism---we want our own say---was a major motivation in the split...ONCE again, people don't want the big guy in charge telling them what to do. Pride? Hmm..

    Anyway, I feel I may have chased Chewspam away and I do hope he comes back. Chewspam, I'm sorry if I offended you w/ my comment about relativism...I do feel that when we decide ultimate truth is unattainable the end result looks much like this recent phenomenon we see in secular society.

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  185. Manda, I think you might be on to something, as Acolyte has not come back to answer those very simple, pointed questions. Here's hoping he's just busy today.

    And don't worry, I think Chewspam will be back! I didn't find your comments offensive and I don't think he would have either (though I cannot speak for him, ultimately). Your contributions have been excellent!!

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  186. You know, I wonder- about the split of 1054. I didn't think it was a complete split was it? What were the Crusades all about? I thought that was the Western Church coming to the aid of the Eastern Church. Perhaps a little history lesson is in order.

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  187. Manda's entry three above this, where she mentions that it isn't the Protestants vs the Catholics who are arguing. Protestants don't actually believe in the "one true church", I would assume. We do get Protestants around these parts arguing against the "one true church".

    I was thinking while reading her comment that making the point that if someone doesn't believe in the one true church (i.e. they are a Protestant) then that person is a relativist is doing more good for the atheist cause than I could do myself.

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  188. Interesting, MaiZeke, why do you say that?

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  189. MaiZeke, I think you could make a case for that. Relativism and subjectivism does help the cause of atheism, though Protestants don't aid you willfully or knowingly. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on that.

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  190. Love it, Leila! I can't wait to read more!

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  191. MaiZeke, here is an interesting thought: Years ago I heard a political commentator say that the problem with Islam is that "it doesn't have a pope". Meaning, we can't really know what Islam teaches, since there are so many different sects interpreting the Koran differently, even in a contradictory way. It's a subjective religion, like Protestantism, even though there is a belief in objective truth. I just heard two people yesterday on the air, trying to "prove" what Islam "really" teaches. But without a final authority, a Magisterium, a pope, there is never going to be an answer to that.

    It's a real problem.

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  192. were some comments deleted? because when I clicked "comments" it said 197 but now it's only 192... =/


    Myn

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  193. Myn, sometimes I delete duplicates (due to some comments being stuck in spam and people reposting) and sometimes people delete their own comments for either reasons of duplication or if they change their mind about what they posted.

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