Donny's Ramblings


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What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “It Is Finished”? (And why I believe He is LITERALLY present in the Eucharist/Communion)

What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “It Is Finished”?  It was quite profound, and it is definitely tied into the Eucharist/Communion as well as His literal presence therein.  Please browse through the notes I made while listening to Dr. Scott Hahn teach on this topic.

• He wasn’t referring to his work of redemption
a) He had not yet resurrected
b) Paul said his resurrection had to happen for us to be justified (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

• The Passover was instituted to save the first born sons of man
a) Either the first born son was slaughtered, or a lamb was slaughtered

• How was Passover celebrated?
The Passover Seder meal was a four fold structure – four cups of wine are consumed:
(1) First was part of preliminary course: prayer of the Kadeish – blessings and the first cup of wine
(2) Maggid: Retelling the Passover story and drinking the second cup of wine
(3) Bareich: Blessing after the meal and drinking the third cup of wine
(4) Hallel: Reciting the Hallel (Psalm 113-118) and then drinking of the fourth cup of wine

There is a serious problem in the order of the Last Supper’s Passover meal then:
(1) He passed around the third cup, they drank, they sung the hymn in Mark 14:26, but then they departed without having drank the fourth cup, heading to the Garden of Gethsemane.
(2) Not only is the fourth cup omitted, but the climax of the Passover meal was missed. The cup of consummation ends Passover, but it had not yet been consumed.

• How he prayed in the garden:
a) “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me…” He prayed three times to have this cup taken from him.

• John, the eye witness to the crucifixion, noticed something:
a) John 19:14 – “about the sixth hour” … “away with him, away with him, crucify him.” The sixth hour happens to be the time that the Passover lamb is to be slain – the Lamb of God was sentenced to die at the precise moment that the Passover lamb is supposed to die.
b) John 19:23-24 – Jesus was wearing a seamless linen garment called a Chiton – this is the exact garment the high priest wore when sacrificing the Passover Lamb.  Jesus is therefore not only the sacrifice, but the priest offering it.
c) Jesus was the only one of the three on the crosses that day that didn’t have his bones broken.  This fulfills scripture that “not a bone shall be broken” BUT, in Exodus 12:46, God commands of the unblemished Passover lamb, “Do not break any of the  bones.”
d) Way back in John 1:29, John stated, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

• Jesus said, in order to fulfill the scriptures, “I thirst.”
a) He obviously would have been thirsty for hours before this
b) This isn’t just a passing comment he makes a few moments before death
c) It had intended significance

• They brought a hyssop branch, put a sponge on it, dipped it in sour wine, and lifted it to Jesus.
a) Recall that he had been offered wine mixed with gall (a pain killer) on his way to Calvary, yet he declined
b) Hyssop branches just happen to be the same type of branch used to sprinkle lamb’s blood on the doorposts in Exodus
c) As soon as he drank this wine, he said, “It is finished!” – this can also be translated, “It is consummated”
d) He had omitted the fourth cup at the Passover meal, the fourth cup of consummation, but has now finished it. He had transformed the old covenant Passover into the new covenant Passover

• Jesus had begun his sacrifice on the cross with the Passover meal the night before. He didn’t complete that meal at that time, but now completes it on the cross by drinking the wine of the fourth cup of consummation.
a) “This is my body…”
b) “This is my blood…”
c) “… of the new covenant”
d) By signifying the separation of body and blood, he signified his coming death – THIS (the Last Supper) is when His sacrifice began.

• Notice that when Jesus gave his “Bread of Life” teachings, it was around the time of the Passover (John 6:4 – “The Jewish Passover Festival was near”). This was a year or two before the Last Supper and His crucifixion.

• He says we are to eat his flesh and drink his blood. He was being literal when he said this!

He was NOT saying communion is symbolic! Here is why (especially beginning in letter c below):

a) Remember that for the angel of death to Passover the house in Exodus, the lamb itself had to be consumed (Exodus 12:8).  Not only was the blood to be sprinkled on the door, but if you didn’t eat the lamb, your son was taken.

b) Jesus, the lamb, was slain and his blood was shed. Yet we still need to eat the lamb (also notice that in In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul exhorts us to keep the Passover with unleavened bread – this is how it’s done in the Eucharist – also read in 1 Corinthians 10:16: Is not the cup of Thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? [FYI: the Cup of Thanksgiving was the third cup of the Passover, as mentioned above] and is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?).

c) John chapter 6 makes it crystal clear that Jesus meant it literally when he said we would eat his flesh and drink his blood. This is NOT symbolic. Please note that people who had just seen him FEED 5,000 PEOPLE with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and then had seen him WALK ON WATER and had tried to make him a KING, then LEFT HIM in verse 66 because of what he taught about this:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” [Does Jesus then say, “Oh, I meant that symbolically?” NOPE. He reinforces it to be literal!]

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

[Notice the Disciples didn’t like this?] Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples
complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? [notice he doesn’t pull back on this, even to his disciples]”

[Then check this out – these same people had seen him perform miracles EARLIER THAT DAY:] From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

Answer this question: Why would they stop following him if they took him to be speaking metaphorically/symbolically? They’d just wanted to crown him KING. They’d seen him feed five thousand with just a few loaves and fish. They’d just seen him walk on water! It was because he said they had to literally eat his flesh and drink his blood. HE BECOMES PRESENT IN THE EUCHARIST!

• The Eucharist is indeed a great mystery of faith. In it, Jesus is truly present, not just symbolically. AMAZING!


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Two More Recognized Saints? Some Thoughts.

There are now two more “Saints” recognized by the Catholic Church. I know some of my Protestant friends are probably rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. I wanted to share some thoughts.

From the time I began arguing with Catholics five years ago about how wrong they were on so many different things, until I was confirmed into the Church on Easter Vigil, I’ve noticed something that I find difficult to put into appropriate words: everything seems “bigger.” What do I mean by this? I mean the Catholic Church really emphasizes how we’re all in communion with one another, as well as those who have gone before us and will come after us. All of the souls on heaven and earth who are in Christ are part of one huge family.

You know how some families are families, while others are FAMILIES? I mean, some families obviously love and respect each other, but there are others who seem to know everything about every family member and make huge deals about every single event relating to each one of them, from birthdays to ball games to graduations, but instead of only the parents celebrating all of that, the second cousins twice removed also show up and are just as into it all. Know what I’m talking about?

THAT is what the Catholic Church does. A faithful Christian from centuries ago is celebrated like we’d celebrate some family member, still walking the earth just across town, whose valiant acts are bringing worldwide attention and honor to our family name.

All of this comes from the rich celebration of Christianity past and present, and the belief that all Saints are still alive and well, just in heaven interceding for us. Christ’s Bride is a very deep, complex, amazing bride.

I’ve had those close to me roll their eyes and say skeptically some comment or other about statues or paintings or stained glass or… any number of things. I like pointing out that such traditions started at a time when most humans were illiterate. Statutes and paintings and stained glass were all teaching tools, which clergy used to share the stories of the faith with an audience that couldn’t read about it for themselves. I love it.

The Church acknowledges that God gave us five senses, and it firmly believes all five of them should be engaged in worshipping our Creator. Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, and hearing are all important. This is why such things as incense and bells are used during Mass (which is a prayer to God, I might add, and contrary to the belief that Catholics don’t read their Bibles, each Mass has more scriptural readings than I’ve ever heard at any one particular service in my life prior to having attended Mass). Each of these things has a deep, historical meaning.

While some might not appreciate it, it is my opinion that such things make the big picture… even bigger.


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On Being a Bit Annoyed, On Being Drawn to Catholicism, and On Being Donny

I would like to share a few reasons, some of which you might find a bit off-the-wall, on why I’m drawn to the Catholic Church. Many have asked.

First of all, I’ve been invited to fewer Protestant churches since I became “Catholic-friendly.” My encounters with the Catholic Church began in 2008. It hasn’t been easy.  I’ve had many questions.  In my life, I’ve also felt many of the same opinions of most of the Protestants I know in regards to Catholicism.  When I told her of my draw towards the Catholic Church, a family member told me that she didn’t want to hear my garbage anymore because I’ve obviously been turned over to a reprobate mind.  I expected such responses.

On Being a Bit Annoyed

Here’s what I mean by being annoyed: I’ve lost a handful of speaking opportunities to Protestant audiences since I began embracing Catholicism.  I’m not sure why anyone would feel threatened by such things as the church I choose to attend.  I’ve never been invited to your congregations to lecture on theology, but rather to share a unique perspective on pornography and how God brought me out of that business.  I’ve been chosen to share a story of His grace, forgiveness and love.  It’s a very impactful message of hope, and one that challenges the audience.  Numerous people have left porn behind after hearing it.  But some pastors have directly told me that I can’t be brought in to speak because of my thoughts on Catholicism – at least they have the guts to say so directly to me.  Others do not, but I know anyway.  If you’re a Protestant pastor, your church needs to hear what God’s given me to share.  Shame on you if you let your prejudices towards the location in which I choose to attend services  keep such an important message from your people.  Seriously.  I’m skinning my index finger, which is pointed at your face.

On Being Drawn to Catholicism

There are many reasons why I’m drawn to Catholicism.  I was first invited to work with a Catholic group in 2008.  A documentary was being made that included the topic of pornography, and they wanted me to share my views.  The producer’s son is a priest. I began asking questions.  Shortly thereafter, other Catholic groups began asking me to speak for them.  Many priests – particularly Father Carlos Martins – and laypeople told me I should convert to Catholicism. I told them that would never happen, because there is far too much with which I disagree.  That didn’t scare any of them away from having me speak to their people.

In my free time, I started visiting Cathedrals.  They’re beautiful, and open to the public rather than just Catholics.  I’d take my time, admiring the amazing artwork within.  Much of it is incredibly detailed, and a lot of work.  All of it was made out of love for God.  That being the case, it’s impossible to be inside a Cathedral without feeling His presence.  When invited to speak for a Protestant church in New York City, I used my frequent flier miles to bring along my best friend, John Hunt .  We went to Manhattan a few days before I was to speak so that we could visit the city.  While there, we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. John, who is an agnostic/atheist, insisted that he definitely felt something inside during our visit.  I know what he means; there has never been a time when I’ve been inside a Cathedral without feeling God’s presence very heavily impressed upon my spirit.

Because of that, I began seeking out local Catholic churches in which to pray.  Unlike many Protestant churches, the doors are almost always open for those who want to seek His face within the walls of the church.  I’d sit inside, look at the artwork, pray and study my Bible.  I’ve got over 3,400 books in my Logos Library, in which I’ve invested several thousand dollars, that I use to study nearly every day.  I love God.  I consume the Bible and related books like a Donny Pauling eats a hotdog (yes, I just involved myself in my own made-up metaphor).  Theology fascinates me.  It’s Bill Giovannetti‘s fault that I love the Bible so much.  I used to think the Bible was boring and stupid, even after asking God to take control of my life in 2006.  But I noticed that Bill loved the Bible.  He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and I couldn’t understand why he’d like such a stupid book.  I asked.  He didn’t answer.  He just asked questions in reply, which must be the Professor in him, and those questions made me discover my own love for scripture (no, Bill’s not really all that happy that I want to be Catholic, but I am his friend and that won’t change).

Rather than feeling the normal Protestant prejudices towards statues and artwork, I began studying the history of why Catholics utilize them in worship.  I began imaging what it would be like to be an educated priest, trying to teach illiterate people about God.  Maybe I’d start painting things.  Maybe I’d create statues.  Maybe I’d enlist all sorts of other visual aids.  God gave us five senses; maybe I’d try to engage as many as possible of those five senses into the way I led people in worship of Him.  Such things have a long history, and as I’d sit in beautiful Catholic Churches, I could imagine myself connecting to all those who had lost their lives defending the faith throughout the past 2000 years.  I could imagine myself as a man who had dedicated my entire life to bringing people to Jesus.  I could imagine myself being a layperson who couldn’t read, reliant upon a church to teach me.

Now, I’m not saying everyone should feel this way, because I don’t believe you should.  But I started getting really annoyed that our Protestant churches ignore so much of church history.  It’s quite common for Protestants to accuse Catholics of not spending enough time reading their Bibles.  I’d like to propose to you that Protestants don’t spend even a fraction of the amount of time they should in the study of church history.  Really, outside of the textbooks we probably didn’t read in High school, the vast majority of Protestants are incredibly ignorant of what’s happened the last two thousand years, and even more ignorant of church history.  But it’s so fascinating to do so!  I highly recommend it.  But beware! Removing ignorance just might result in a few changes of opinion!

A side note on that whole “Catholics don’t read their Bibles” thing:  every single Mass – which happens DAILY, I might add – has readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Psalms, and the Gospels.  Every. single. one.  Without those readings, there is no Mass.  A person who attends daily Mass, as I do (I’ll get to my reasons in a bit) goes through the entire Bible every three years.   Some Protestant churches can say the same.  Most cannot.

A few years ago I met Matt Fradd.  I worked together with him on porn-related ministry events.  Later, he went to work for Catholic Answers.  We recorded CDs together.  We debated theology.  He had the likes of Tim Staples and Jimmy Akin – Catholic apologists – call me personally.  Those men asked me questions.  I sought answers.  Many of my thoughts on theology deepened and changed.  Much of my ignorance of Catholic belief changed.  I began to realize that most people, particularly Protestants, don’t hate the Catholic Church for what it actually believes, but rather what they THINK it believes.

I also started to ponder a few things:

  • Why would God entrust the Catholic Church to canonize the Bible, yet deny it the power to interpret it?
  • For more than 1,000 years, until the Great Schism, all Christians were Catholic.  Luther split from the church in the 1500s.  Since then, more than 40 thousand Protestant denominations have arisen, each with their own unique twist on this part of scripture or that part of scripture, each with their own unique interpretations, and each thinking their twists and interpretations make them a little more right than everyone else.  Is God really the author of so much confusion?  I don’t think so.  If Sola Sciptura is as valid as I’ve been taught, why attend any church at all?  Why not just sit home alone, reading my Bible, just me and the Holy Spirit interpreting it together?  Maybe I can figure out a reason why the Donnyism Denomination needs to add to the 40k denominations already in existence
  • I was surprised at the response I received when I’ve mentioned to a few priests that friends have told me things such as, “Many Catholics don’t realize they can have a personal relationship with Jesus.  The Catholic Church is the biggest mission field in the world right now.”   Father James Mallon from Nova Scotia replied, “Both I, and the Pope, would agree with that assessment.  Someone needs to help teach them, right?”
  • I could criticize what I thought to be wrong about the Catholic Church, or I could get in and be one of those who worked to lead people to a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Should I sit back and take pot shots, or roll up my sleeves and get to work?  I am thinking I’d rather do the latter.

This is already a longer article than I intended, so I won’t get into theological issues.  I’ll instead tell you a few personal reasons I love the Catholic Church, a love because of which I’m currently in RCIA, and they’re really not all that deep.

On Being Donny

On my own, I’m a mess.  There is nothing of value in Donny minus God.  I’m not really very nice.  I get grumpy.  I get angry.  I’m impatient.  I want to insult people.  I label others idiots if they don’t agree with me.  I am selfish.  Donny plus God equals a tolerable person.  I want to be tolerable.  I want to help people.  I want to do what I’ve been put here to do.

When I spend time with Him, it is far easier to see others through His eyes.  I feel like I love people.  I feel like I want to listen to them.  I feel like I want to ask God what He’d like me to share with them.  I feel less grumpy.  I love more, period.  And because of Him, I have something to give to the world.

I have a habit of studying at home.  I do so a lot.  But due to my introverted nature and the one track mindedness that comes along with it, when I’m interrupted, I often will become a bit grumpy.  “Leave me the heck alone, Bethany… I’m trying to study.  Figure that geometry problem out on your own!”

Daily Mass changes this.  My morning routine includes dropping Catie off at the charter school she attends, then heading to the local Catholic church for Mass.  Mass, my friends, is a prayer to God.  It’s beautiful.  It’s ceremonial.  It has meaning.  It is saturated in scripture.

For some, Mass might be TOO formal.  For me, it reminds me of why I’m here.  It focuses me on God.  It’s a great way to start my day.  I make better choices for the rest of the day if I start it with this time together with my Creator.  Personal study is great, and I often do so afterwards for 30-45 minutes before I leave the building.  But in my life, I’ve found Mass+personal study to be exponentially more effective than just personal study alone.  And it’s pretty amazing to realize that the exact same order of service, readings, and ceremonies are being observed by millions of others around the globe. It feels pretty awesome to be part of something so  big.  So HUGE.

I’ve met some incredible people who are very, very close to God within the doors of the parishes I’ve attended.  Are there things with which I still struggle, relating to theology?  Of course.  I chew the meat.  I spit out the bones.  I’ve found a place of trust, however, and on many things I choose to simply submit, trusting that my questions and struggles will be answered by the very loving God I serve.   I’ve reached a place where I am not in a hurry for answers, because I love and trust Him so much and, from experience, I know He’ll answer in His own time.

And I’m totally good with that.


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Wrestling: Protestant vs. Catholic – Start Here

On August 28th, I posted the following message on my Facebook page:

Growing up, it was implied (not by my father, but by others in our denomination) that being Catholic meant a person was going to hell because they couldn’t possibly be saved. Because of this, a Protestant Church would NEVER invite a Catholic speaker to share. Imagine my surprise when in 2008 a Catholic group called OFWC Media (with TheologyoftheBody.net – thanks Anastasia Northrop) asked me to be part of the documentary they were making regarding the threat of pornography! I couldn’t believe they’d invite a Protestant to participate in a documentary intended for a Catholic audience. Spending a lot of time with them, I asked many questions. I found this to be a fascinating experience.

Since that date, I’ve been invited by several Catholic groups and spoken to several Catholic parishes, Catholic sponsored University events, been on Catholic radio, made a CD at the request of Catholicism’s biggest group of apologists… the list goes on.

I always ask questions. That’s just my nature. When in Toronto to speak at York University, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, sipping scotch and speaking with a Priest named Fr-Carlos Martins, pelting him with questions, raising objections and generally being my argumentative self, albeit in a respectful manner. I continued that trend when asked to other Catholic venues, with both laypeople and the clergy. I’m sure I drove some of them mad.

A few years ago I began noticing something: although the Protestants and Catholics I’ve been around most all speak English, we’re not speaking the same language most of the time. We’re not using words in the same way. As a Protestant, I might read something written by Catholics that raises alarm, and end up criticizing certain beliefs to my Catholic friends, but what I’ve come to realize is that we – Protestants and Catholics – often understand the exact same words in FAR different ways. It turns out, in the end, that we’re in agreement on at least 95% of theological issues, a realization I could not understand until I’d sat and read more books than I care to count right now, and spoke to Catholics who were once Protestants. As funny as it sounds, a translator was needed to put things into words I use and in ways I understand.

I now reject the idea that I was taught growing up: being Catholic doesn’t damn a person to hell. In fact, I’ve never attended services that are so consistently focused on Jesus and what He did on the cross. That happens to be what EVERY-SINGLE-MASS is about. I find so much about the church to be SO-INCREDIBLY-BEAUTIFUL.

I feel a burning desire to work within the Catholic Church. It’s something that I keep trying to push away, mostly because if I were to “convert” there would be so many Protestant doors that close to me, and certain family and friends will be incredibly disappointed. In fact, one of my aunts who knows about the work I’ve been doing with Catholic groups has already stated that I’m heading to hell. Knowing this response won’t be unique, I’ve looked for every reason to reject the pull I’ve felt. But I must admit that unless something really major happens to change my mind, I’ll likely “convert” during Easter Vigil 2014. The new Pope and many of the priests I’ve spoken with all agree that the Church is in desperate need of revival (Protestant term, I do believe). For revival to happen, workers are needed. I really want to be one of those.

This is the first post in what may become a series of posts in which I address topics with which I’ve wrestled.  I invite public feedback, either here or on Facebook.  Each of these posts will be linked to on my Facebook page, either as a link within the blog post itself or as a link in the first comment, as that seems to be where most people decide to get involved in discussion these days.

To start off with, here are some of the things I was taught as a Protestant:

  • Catholics are going to hell (this has been said from numerous pulpits, and often left at that assertion with no particular reasons to back it up)
  • Catholics worship Mary
  • Catholics Worship Idols
  • Catholics see Mary as a co-redeemer with Jesus, Queen of Heaven, and Mother of God
  • Catholics pray to Mary and the Saints
  • Catholics think they can buy their way out of hell
  • Catholics think they can pay to get relatives out of hell
  • Catholics don’t think Jesus’ payment on the cross was sufficient, and instead think we must do good works to be saved
  • Catholics think Baptism isn’t just an important symbol of our relationship with Jesus, like a wedding ring is to a bride and groom, but rather a requirement to be saved
  • Catholics believe the Pope is Infallible
  • Catholics believe priests can forgive sins when only God can do so
  • Catholics believe tradition is as important as the Bible
  • the list goes on and on… feel free to add to it on Facebook or in the comments area and I’ll come back and add some to this list

So… these are the things I plan to blog about.  I’ve honestly been scared to voice this struggle in public, because many of my Protestant friends simply refuse to associate with Catholics, and I was afraid that if I made it clear how drawn I am to the Catholic Church many would choose not to associate with me.  Unfortunately, that has indeed proven true in some cases.

Seems to me that if a person has an issue or area of concern they shouldn’t abandon but rather get in there and try to do something about it, but maybe that’s just me.

Let me list a couple of rational reasons that I’ve pondered while wrestling with my draw to the Catholic Church:

  • The Catholics Church gave us our Bible as we know it today (except for the few books Luther removed).  They canonized it in the 4th century.  If Catholics are wrong, how can a Protestant believe they gave us an infallible Bible?  Seriously, this is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around.  If Catholics are satan incarnate, heading to hell, how can we possibly trust the Bible they put together for us?
  • Almost all Christians were Catholic, right up until Luther broke away in the 1500s.  Do you really think Christians were sent to hell for 1500 years after Jesus physically left the earth?
  • If Catholics don’t put an emphasis on Jesus, why in the world does every single Mass focus on what He did on the cross?  By “every single Mass” I mean just that:  every single Mass (service, to my Protestant friends) ends with a focus on Jesus dying for our sins, which provided a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled with God.
  • The priests with whom I’ve conversed, and many of the laypeople I’ve met, are just as close or closer to God as any Protestant I’ve ever met.
  • Catholics don’t pray to Saints… they ask Saints to pray for them, just as Protestants ask each other to pray.
  • Catholics don’t worship statues, they instead use them as a reminder of important things, similar to how a person keeps photos in their house as a reminder of important loved ones.
  • Every time I ask a Catholic priest, informed layperson or apologist a scripture
  • If it wasn’t for the Catholic Church, scriptures wouldn’t have been preserved (yeah, this kind of repeats point one) and abortion wouldn’t be fight against as hard as it is now.  I list these together because these two things are very important to me.

That list, too, goes on.  But I’ll close for now, because the whole purpose of this series is to discuss these topics.  Where do you think I should start?

 

Comments can be left on this article, or posted on Facebook here or here.


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Did Jesus Exist?

Have you ever had someone challenge you as to whether or not the man we call Jesus Christ actually existed?  Have you had doubts of your own about His existence?  Today I listened to a radio broadcast on the matter with Trent Horn from from Catholic Answers Live (click here for the article about it).  In it, Trent shares information and has conversations with callers on the topic of Jesus’ existence.  If you’re a Protestant listener who has issues with certain Catholic Doctrines – as I do – don’t worry!  The information shared is not from a “Catholic” perspective, and shouldn’t conflict with your beliefs in any way.  This audio file simply shares information that you will undoubtedly find interesting and useful on the topic of Jesus’ existence.

Click here to listen:

After listening:

  • For more information on the writings of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus on Jesus, you might find this wikipedia article interesting.
  • For more information on the writings of Roman Historian and senator Tacitus on Jesus, you might find this wikipedia article interesting.


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Was Peter the Rock Upon Which the Church was Built?

My opinions on this matter have drastically changed since this was written, yet I leave this posted so that I can look back on it.

I’ve made no efforts to hide the fact that I’d love to convert to Catholicism.  I love many things about the Catholic Church.  The problem is that I will not pretend to believe things I don’t actually believe.  I have a hard time with the importance given to Mary.  I cannot accept the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.  Scripture indicates that Baptism is NOT necessary for salvation, but Catholic belief is that it is.  Catholics also believe that we are justified by works, whereas I’m convinced that scripture shows that we are justified by faith, that our justification has nothing to do with what WE DO, but everything to do with what JESUS DID.

And then there is the Catholic belief that it is THE Church Jesus built.  This claim is made in the following way:  Jesus told Peter that he (Peter) was the rock upon which He’d build His church (and Catholics believe Peter was the first Pope – perhaps I’ll get to that claim another time, because it’s not necessarily true).  The verse used to back up this claim is from Matthew 16:18:

Matthew 16:18: And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

But wait… let’s read more of that passage starting back at verse 13 and going to verse 20:

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

There are a few things that indicate Jesus is not calling Peter the rock upon which He will build His church, but instead calling Himself that rock.  First of all, it should be known that Simon Bar-Jonah was called Peter long before this.  When Jesus first met Simon-Peter, He said he would be called Cephas, which is Aramaic for “rock” or Peter, which is Greek for “rock.”  Back to the passage in Matthew 16:

  1. In the original language, the word Petros was used when Jesus called Peter by name (“you are Peter”), but petras (notice the change) was used when He mentioned the rock upon which He would build His church.  In other words, Jesus seemed to be telling Peter he was strong like a rock, and congratulating him on recognizing who Jesus was, then going on to say that He would be building a church on Himself.
  2. Ephesians 2:19-22 sheds some light on how Paul understood things: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF BEING THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE (rock), in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

#2, along with the change in Greek words in the Matthew 16 passage, make it pretty clear who the rock is upon which Jesus will build His church.

1st Corinthians 3:11 also makes it clear that Jesus is the foundation (it reads, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”). Also, David tells us about Jesus being the rock upon which the church will be built, back in Psalm 118:22 where he wrote, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (rock).”

We also need to consider this: in the Matthew 16 passage, building His church was a yet-future work of Jesus, for He had not yet started the process. He said, I will build (future tense) My church, but His mission for the nation Israel had to be concluded before another mission could be set in motion. This is probably why Jesus said not even the gates of hades would overcome this mission. Jews would understand hades’ gates to refer to physical death. When He stated that the gates of hades would not prevail against it, Jesus was therefore telling the disciples that His death would not prevent His work of building the church. On Himself. The Cornerstone. He knew He would be crucified and resurrected, but that would not stop Him from building His church on the rock (Himself).

But what about that part where Jesus gives Peter The Keys to the Kingdom?   Peter was told he would possess the keys and be able to bind and loose, forgive sins, etc. However, those same keys were given to all the Apostles.  John 20:20-23 says, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

One very common thing that Catholics seem to believe, at least when I’m discussing things like this with them, is that the early church was uniform in belief and tradition right up until the splits around 1000AD.  The truth is that the early church was NOT uniform. It was quite diverse right up until Constantine became a Christian. After that, those he favored were given more power and possessions. Those he didn’t faded away, and many of their writings were destroyed. That’s an historical fact. The church was-not-uniform despite what Catholic teaching wishes to be true. There were disagreements right from the very beginning.

Even when the disciples walked with Jesus, their understandings varied. That didn’t magically change after He ascended. In fact, the Gospel of John is believed to have been inspired by John’s need to correct some of the things Thomas believed. Other early Christians argued all the time, which is why you see people being labeled heretics in the first century. That doesn’t mean they necessarily WERE heretics, mind you… it just means that one person or group held a position or positions that was at odds with the beliefs of another group.

In conclusion, scripture seems to make it clear that the rock upon which Jesus built His church is… HIMSELF.