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    Loss and Gain

    This is a guest article by John Thayer Jensen. John was born in California in 1942 and raised in a non-religious home. At a time of emotional collapse in his life, John was influenced by several Evangelical Christians, subsequently leading to his committing his life to Christ in 1969. He eventually made his way into the Calvinist tradition, and joined a Reformed denomination in New Zealand. He converted to the Catholic faith during the Christmas season of 1995. He has a B.A. in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. in linguistics from the University of Hawaii. He lives in New Zealand, where he works at the University of Auckland and plays the horn in a local orchestra. He is also the author of a Yapese Reference Grammar and a Yapese-English Dictionary – Eds.

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September 16, 2019

St. Ambrose on Sola Fide

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: , , , , — Tim A. Troutman @ 10:00 am

Introduction

This brief post will show that St. Ambrose of Milan did not believe in salvation “by faith alone” as professed by the Reformers, condemned by the Council of Trent, and generally held by most Protestants today. There are two reasons I am focusing on St. Ambrose: 1. He is one of the few Church fathers who ever used the term “faith alone.”  2. There is a recent article published at First Things that claims that some of the things that he and St. John Chrysostom said seemed closer to the justification taught by the Reformers than by Rome.

The internet has given modern Christians unprecedented access to the early Church writings. In the past centuries, even up until quite recently, many of those writings would have been much more difficult to acquire. This is a great thing, but unfortunately it has also led to many people believing that merely copying and pasting lists of Church father quotes amounts to an actual knowledge of their beliefs. Catholic apologists have been guilty of this many times, of course, but it is possible to engage in such a practice and be correct.  For example, if two men disagree on whether the Church fathers believed in sola scriptura, and they both produce a ‘copy & paste’ list of quotations, one of them will be right and one will be wrong, even if it is the case that neither of them has a deep knowledge of what the fathers believed. Nevertheless, there are some quotations within the works of Sts. Ambrose and Chrysostom, and a few others, that can easily mislead those uneducated in these matters. And since those quotations are readily found on the internet these days, it seemed fitting to write this explanation.

Saint Ambrose, by Bartolomeo Vivarini

St. Ambrose on Sola Fide

St. Ambrose speaks at length about the necessary and primary role of faith in salvation. This should not be surprising since almost all of the Church fathers did the same thing and so do the Scriptures. But the doctrine of sola fide, as condemned by the Catholic Church, is not that faith is primary in salvation but that faith is the only contributing cause of salvation (to the arbitrary exclusion of other causes). I say arbitrary because they who hold it affirm its exclusion of works of charity, but do not affirm that it excludes grace. 

How are we to sort out this kind of confusion? In my previous post, I explained the causes of salvation as taught by the Council of Trent and how they are not in conflict with each other. I highly recommend reading that article before continuing with this one because it easily explains how and why the fathers said some things that appear to be harmonious with sola fide and other things that did not, as we will see below regarding St. Ambrose. 

Among the internet lists of Church father quotes, St. Ambrose is often erroneously credited with the following:

This is the ordinance of God, that he which believeth in Christ should be saved without works, by faith only, freely receiving remission of his sins. – Spurious St. Ambrose

The true author of this quote was Hilary the Deacon,1 who is also known to have held the heretical view that second baptism was required for e.g. Arians who wanted to re-enter the Church.2 This brings out another important point: Even if it were shown that any given Church father did actually believe in sola fide as condemned by Trent, it would mean at most that he was in error.3 

St. Ambrose does however say the following (which I have not seen on any of these lists): 

If you pardon an armed man who was able to fight, do you not pardon him in whom faith alone waged the battle?4

This quotation is certainly compatible with sola fide as believed by the Reformers, but it would also be compatible with the official Catholic position if “faith” in “faith alone” is not meant to be opposed to other necessary truths concerning salvation. For example, if he meant “faith alone” in a sense that excluded grace, he would be mistaken. If he meant it as opposed to charity, he would be mistaken. I made this point more thoroughly in my previous post where I also cited Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in support of the claim that there is a way of using “faith alone” that is not heretical.

WIth this in mind, how can we determine whether St. Ambrose means “faith alone” in the Protestant way that excludes such things as works of charity or whether he means it in the Catholic way?5 One option would be to assume that he means it in whichever way aligns with one’s own beliefs, to copy this quotation, and add it into a list of other fathers saying similar things, and then move along.  A better option, however, would be to study St. Ambrose himself and see if he ever said other things that would help us determine in which sense he meant “faith.” In fact, he does say other things that would help us understand what he meant here, as we will see below.  

First, by the time st. Ambrose writes, the Church already has a well-established dogma of soteriology that is thoroughly sacramental (including the infusion of grace rather than imputation) and the necessity of faith formed by love.6 This point alone is strong enough to prove that St. Ambrose could not have meant sola fide as taught by the Reformers unless he was a hypocrite. He would be actively serving, without critique or protest, as one of the Church’s most eminent bishops all the while believing that the Church was engaged in a sacramentalism that was essentially incompatible with the true gospel.7 But even if one does not know Church history enough to understand this point, the other writings of St. Ambrose himself help us understand that he cannot be using “faith alone” as a cause of salvation to the exclusion of certain other things like works of charity.

The above quote was taken from book I of his treatise on repentance. His primary audience is a group known as the rigorists who were the heirs of the Novation schism. These rigorists claimed that mortal sins committed after baptism could not be forgiven. St. Ambrose argues throughout the treatise that, on the contrary, Jesus gave the priests authority to forgive any sin and he urges his fellow clergy to grant absolution to the penitent so long as sufficient penance accompanies it. Again, this context alone shows that whatever St. Ambrose believed about justification, it was something quite different than the sola fide of the Reformers. Luther’s sola fide clearly has no room for post baptismal forgiveness of sins mediated by a priest.

But if that were still not enough to put the issue to rest, let’s examine a small selection of other things he is known to have written. This selection will be a mere representation; it will not be exhaustive by any means. While I do not know of any other place where St. Ambrose appears to lean Protestant, there are more quotations of strong Catholic implication than what I will produce here. In other words, the short Protestant leaning list above (one quotation) is, as far as I know, exhaustive. This longer Catholic leaning one below is only a sample.  

In the very same treatise he writes:

He calls each blessed, both him whose sins are remitted by the font, and him whose sin is covered by good works. For he who repents ought not only to wash away his sin by his tears, but also to cover and hide his former transgressions by amended deeds, that sin may not be imputed to him.8

Further in the preface of book V on the Christian Faith, in the context of the parable of the talents, he concludes his opening commentary with the following:

This is the word of the Lord, this is the precious talent, whereby you are redeemed. This money must often be seen on the tables of souls, in order that by constant trading the sound of the good coins may be able to go forth into every land, by the means of which eternal life is purchased.9

According to his explanation of the parable, the talents (salvation) received from God (by grace) do not, by their mere reception, guarantee salvation (eternal life). After receiving the gift it is necessary to use the gifts properly or else they cannot “purchase” eternal life. One might argue that this is not the correct interpretation of the parable but that is not the point. The point is that this is St. Ambrose’s interpretation and no one who believed that salvation was by faith alone, in the way that the Reformers believed it, could possibly have such an interpretation. 

Even some kind of Reformed nuance could not save this interpretation in favor of faith alone. For example, perhaps one would suggest that the lack of good works is mere evidence that the servant never actually received the gift. But since St. Ambrose is commenting on this particular parable, such a move is impossible. This is because the parable would make no sense at all if we supposed that the servant had not actually received the gift. The point is that the servant is being condemned precisely because he did receive the gift and then did not use it well. Therefore, St. Ambrose explains, this means that the servant will not be able to purchase eternal life. And again, if someone were to try and wiggle out of this with some other clever sophistry, he says elsewhere even more explicitly: 

We have also noted already that the blessedness of eternal life is the reward for good works.10

Let these three quotations suffice.

Conclusion

We can easily fall into the trap of uncritically accepting propositions that align with our strongly held convictions. For example, when we hear a proposition that paints an opposing political party in a bad light, we are quick to believe it, even without good reason. I think most of us have, at one time or another, too quickly believed a proposition only to find out later that we were wrong. The stronger one’s personal conviction in a particular ideology, the easier it will be for them to fall into this error. 

For example, I might believe that the state of North Dakota has a larger population than the state of South Dakota. But I probably don’t believe this very strongly or have much of a “conviction” about it. A simple investigation, or perhaps even a statement from someone who seems to know, is probably going to be enough to overturn my conviction. I am also not likely to scour the internet for quotations or claims supporting my position. If I did find some sources that seemed to support me, I would probably be more likely to investigate their credibility. On the other hand, when it comes to politics, I am less likely to do all of this because my political conviction is probably much stronger than my conviction about state populations. But since our religious convictions are the strongest of all, it usually takes very little evidence to convince us that we are already correct about what we believe. This is why these lists of quotations from Church fathers are popular and are frequently used by people who do not understand them. 

We have seen that St. Ambrose cannot legitimately be used to support the doctrine of sola fide, as understood by the Reformers. This is for the following reasons:

  1. He is an eminent bishop of the Church operating within a sacramental framework that includes things that the Reformers viewed as incompatible with sola fide (including ongoing penance, alms-giving as meritorious, infused righteousness, etc.)
  2. He believes that it is necessary for salvation that post-baptismal sins be forgiven by priests.
  3. His own writings in several places illustrate that he holds views that are contrary to sola fide.

Finally, to reiterate, as I mentioned in this post and the previous one, it is possible to say that we are saved “by faith alone” in a non-heretical way. So where we find the phrase mentioned in the fathers (and we do find it, albeit sparingly) we might very much expect that they mean it in this way rather than in the heretical way that was condemned by the Council of Trent. Now, one might already guess that if we examine the other Church fathers who used the term in the same way we just examined St. Ambrose, we will come to the same conclusion about them (that is, that they are not using the term in the way that the Reformers used it). One would be correct in this assumption. I do not intend to go through every Church father in this manner but because he was mentioned by the post in First Things and because his mentions of “faith alone” are most numerous among the fathers, I do intend to examine St. John Chrysostom next. For the other fathers, the skeptic will have to either do their own honest research or trust the scholarly consensus that the early Church did not believe in the sola fide of the Reformers.11

  1. Bray, G. L. (2015). The Books of Homilies: A Critical Edition. Cambridge: James Clarke. Sermon 3, fn.17 []
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilary_the_Deacon []
  3. Take for example, St. Thomas Aquinas apparently denying the Immaculate Conception. This means that he erred on that point and means nothing more. []
  4. St. Ambrose, On Repentance 1.5.25 []
  5. Note: When the Reformed say “faith alone” they mean that faith is the “alone instrument” but it is not “alone in the person justified.” per Westminster Confession of Faith 11.2; i.e. they confess that other saving graces are there too. []
  6. Reformed also affirm that saving faith must be formed by love although they deny the infusion of God’s justice, and they reject the sacramental soteriology of the early Church. See Dr. David Anders on Tradition I and Sola Fide []
  7. See also Alister McGrath as cited in the previous article affirming that the justification as understood by the early Church was nestled within a thoroughly works-righteousness system. []
  8. St. Ambrose On Repentance 2.5.35 []
  9. St. Ambrose De Fide Book V, Prologue.15 []
  10. St. Ambrose On the Duties of the Clery 2.3.9 []
  11. See especially: McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) []

September 13, 2019

How Are We Saved?

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: , , , , , , — Tim A. Troutman @ 12:33 pm

There is no question more important for the Christian than the question of how we are saved.  But the Scripture answers this question in apparently various ways as does the Catholic Church from the beginning until now. 

Martin Luther

Examples of answers from Scripture include:

  • St. Peter giving the explicit answer, “repent and be baptized..” (Acts 2:38)
  • Jesus Himself saying that the one who “endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt 10:22)
  • St. Paul saying that we are justified by “faith apart from works of the Law.” (Rom 3:28)
  • St. James saying, “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)

Examples from the Catholic Church include:

  • St. Ignatius saying that the Eucharist is the “medicine of immortality.”1 
  • St. Augustine saying that God “does not without your action justify you.”2
  • The Council of Trent declaring that faith is “the beginning, foundation and root of all justification.”3

During the first fifteen hundred years of Christianity the Church theologians felt no need to isolate faith as the unique cause of salvation.4 Rather Christians followed the New Testament authors and continued to speak of the means of salvation in various interchangeable ways. This cannot possibly be because “faith alone” was so obvious that it was implicitly understood by everyone. First, such a case cannot be made even by Scripture alone apart from the Church fathers.5 Secondly, going back as far as the first extra-biblical texts, there is a clear and unmistakable sacramental soteriology that is utterly incompatible with the doctrine of Sola Fide (faith alone).6 Hence renowned Protestant scholar Alistair McGrath writes:

The first centuries of the western theological tradition appear to be characterized by a ‘works-righteousness’ approach to justification . . . The Protestant understanding of the nature of justification thus represents a theological novum.7

Yet in spite of this variety, there was no major controversy in the Church about how to understand these apparently different methods until Martin Luther’s theory of sola fide and subsequent schism.8 So how is it that such a pivotal question, with such a diversity of potential answers, could go so long without causing a major controversy?  This is the puzzle.

Reformed systematic theology has a well developed soteriological framework with which to harmonize and prioritize these various potential answers to the question. This framework is composed primarily of two things: 1. The reduction of certain answers into the category of “evidence.” (e.g. righteous works are evidence of, not part of true justification. I will return to this issue below.) 2. A distinction between “justification” and “sanctification.” But this won’t help us solve the puzzle because, like the doctrine of Sola Fide, this distinction is another ‘theological novum.’ That is to say, even if it were a licit theological move, it was not held by the Church fathers and therefore cannot explain the absence of controversy in the 1500+ years prior to its appearance. 

The Causes of Salvation

The Council of Trent gives us an insight into this puzzle. When we ask, “how are we saved?” we are fundamentally asking, “what is the cause of salvation?” The bishops at the council explained justification in causal terms in chapter 7 of the 6th session. They divided the causes of salvation into the following types: final, formal, efficient, instrumental, and meritorious. 

Before applying these causes to justification, let’s use an example to illustrate the meanings of each type of cause. Imagine you and your young daughter are walking in the park and you see a family having a picnic. Your daughter asks, “why is that family having a picnic?” What she is asking, can be otherwise stated as, “what is the cause of that family having a picnic?” There are many correct ways to answer her because there are many answers that are correct in different ways.

The final cause is the ultimate purpose of the effect. This is also called the “cause of causes” because all of the other causes are themselves caused by it. In the case of the picnic, we could say that the “happiness of the family” is the final cause.  The ultimate reason that they went on a picnic is to increase their happiness. This in turn caused the other causes so as to bring about this particular effect.

The efficient cause is the agent who brings the effect about. In this case, the parents would be the efficient cause because they are the ones who planned and executed the picnic.  

The meritorious cause would be the labor of the parents. This is the way they earned the money to pay for the picnic and carried out its execution. The children received this benefit but they did not merit it.

The instrumental cause could be the food and the blankets and baskets or perhaps those along with the car that they used to arrive at the park.  The instrumental cause is that which is used by an agent to bring about an effect. For example, the carpenter, as agent, is the efficient cause of the nail being driven into the plank and the hammer is the instrumental cause.

I intentionally left out the formal cause because it would be easier to understand in a different example. Imagine the statue of David by Michaelangelo. In this case, the final cause is the enjoyment of the completed artwork, the efficient cause is Michaelangelo, the instrumental cause is the chisel he used, the meritorious cause could perhaps be the labor or money used to purchase the marble out of which it was made, the material cause would be the marble itself, and the formal cause would be the very form or image of David.9

The causes of justification are as follows:

Final: The Glory of God (this is why we are justified)

Formal: The justice of God (i.e. sanctifying grace)

Efficient: God Himself

Meritorious: Christ’s meritorious sacrifice on Calvary

Instrumental: Baptism10

Now where is faith in all of this? Isn’t faith a cause of justification? Of course. And there are many other causes such as repentance. But before discussing those questions, we should notice that the fathers of the council are dealing with justification on a broader level here.  We should also notice that none of these causes are in conflict or tension with each other. So if one asks “what is the cause of salvation” and we answer “baptism,” we are correct. We could also have answered, “the glory of God” or “God is the cause,” etc. The Reformed also are well aware that to say that we are justified “by faith” is not contrary to saying that we are justified “by grace” or “by God.” 

Formal, final, efficient, et al, are not only different types of causes but are also different ways of using the word “cause.” That is, “cause” is being used analogically among the different types, not univocally. Contrast this with four animals: dog, deer, bear, rabbit. These are four types of animals, but the word “animal” is being used univocally of each. But in the case of the different types of causes, we mean something different (but analogous) by each type of cause; they each are said to cause the effect in a different kind of way. This is why there is no tension in saying that God alone justifies us and grace alone justifies us. We could not say that dogs alone are animals and rabbits alone are animals; this would be a contradiction.  Hence, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once noted, the term “faith alone” can also be correct so long as it is understood to be a living faith (formed by love) and it is not said to the exclusion of other causes such as grace or repentance.

Faith & Other Causes

Now among the causes, some of them can be broken down into further causes. In the case of the statue of David, we could give additional causes for the chisel. In the case of the picnic, we could explain the instruments of the picnic by further causal explanations. For example, the parents needed to go to the grocery store to buy the food, etc. Likewise, we could easily say of baptism, the instrumental cause of justification, that faith is its “beginning, foundation and root” as it is necessarily the case that one first has faith in Christ before baptism can achieve its ultimate effect of conferring sanctifying grace.11 Repentance is also a necessary cause12 as is love for God as no man attains salvation without repentance nor is he justified who does not love God. It should be apparent already that we can continue on with other causes of varying types in this order: forgiveness, renewal, penance, etc. Again, none of these are in conflict with each other. 

The point to stress here is that this division of justification according to causal principles makes it much easier to see why the New Testament authors, the early Church fathers, the ecumenical councils, and Catholics to this day, readily answer the question of “the cause of salvation” in various ways. The answers are neither imprecise nor in tension with one another; they are all correct.

Yet faith has a certain primacy among causal explanation as is clear from Scripture, the Church fathers, and the Council of Trent. Martin Luther was correct to identify this. But to what is this primacy owing? Its order in time? It is true that one needs to have faith before he can have works of charity. But it is also true that one needs to physically hear the name “Jesus” before one can believe in Him. If we give faith primacy on these logically temporal grounds, then we would need to give the mere hearing of the name of Jesus primacy over faith since it is logically prior and necessary. Yes, without faith it is impossible to please God; but without hearing the gospel it is impossible to have faith. Shall we then say that the mere hearing is the sole cause of justification to the exclusion of other causes? If we are to isolate faith as a cause in exclusion to other known causes, we would need strong justification. We find it neither in reason, Tradition, the Magisterium, nor Scripture. Therefore it must be rejected. 

In the case of the picnic example above, it would be absurd to say that the picnic was caused by the presence of the food and blanket to the exclusion of the action of the parents or to the purpose of increasing the happiness of the family, etc. It would be similarly impossible to claim that the statue of David exists because of Michaelangelo to the exclusion of the marble out of which it is made or the image it bears.  Likewise it was Martin Luther’s error to hold faith as a cause of salvation in exclusion to other causes such as the sacraments (primarily baptism but also Holy Communion, penance, and last rites), repentance, works of charity, etc. Nor can one say, “we don’t hold faith as the cause of justification to the exclusion of those” because if that were the case, then he affirms the Catholic doctrine of justification and has insufficient reason to remain in schism. 

Finally, to refute the Reformed classification of certain causes as mere evidence, we need to make a distinction between what would count as a cause of something and what would count only as evidence of a prior, truer cause. This is not as easy to do as it might sound. Take our picnic example again. If we saw that the family was happy and enjoying the picnic,  could we say that was merely an effect, or an evidence of some prior cause? We have said already, in fact, the happiness of the family was not only a cause but was the ultimate cause (the final cause). Likewise, God is not glorified because we are saved; rather, we are saved in order that God might be glorified. So are the Reformed justified in relegating holy works of charity to the category of “evidence” rather than “cause” of justification? It should already be obvious that the answer is, at best, “probably not.” As we will see in upcoming posts, the Church fathers regularly counted works of penance and almsgiving (for example) in the category of “cause” rather than “evidence.”  

Conclusion

I have not disproved Sola Fide here. In spite of all the above, it might be true. But if it is true, it must be, as Luther and the Reformers believed, the absolute sine qua non of the Christian gospel. This thought is quite disturbing as, per above, it implies that the entire Church was ignorant of the very gospel core for 1,500 years, and the majority of those calling themselves Christians until this day remain in such darkness.13 It stretches credulity too much for me. On the other hand, the Catholic Church has an unbroken tradition of how to answer the question, “How are we saved?” This Tradition reaches all the way back to the apostolic Church fathers, and is the most robust and satisfying synthesis of the relevant Biblical passages. Therefore it is many times more likely to be correct than Martin Luther’s “theological novum.”

  1. St. Ignatius Letter to the Ephesians, 20. Here he is speaking of “immortality” as shorthand for eternal life i.e. the salvation that Christ offers. []
  2. St. Augustine Serm. clxix, c. xi, n.13, also cf. Mcgrath re: infusion, “In Augustine’s view, God bestows justifying righteousness upon the sinner in such a way that it becomes part of his or her person.” (1993) Reformation Thought: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. []
  3. Trent, l.c., cap.viii []
  4. The term “faith alone” does appear sparingly. I intend to address this in a subsequent post. []
  5. See 

    Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide” by Dr. Bryan Cross. []

  6. See “Tradition I and Sola Fide” by Dr. David Anders and also “The Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration” by Dr. Bryan Cross []
  7. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 34,215 []
  8. One possible exception being the heretical teachings of Pelagius that man could merit salvation without God’s grace. []
  9. Now this formal cause has two different nuanced modes of being. 1. As exemplar cause (this pre-exists in the mind of Michaelangelo as the blueprint exists in the mind of the architect before he builds the house) and 2. As particular, i.e. the form in the actual statue.   []
  10. The council fathers at Trent did not specify a material cause for justification but I would take it to be man himself since marble is the material cause of David because it is that which receives the form (of David). The form of justification being God’s own justice, what else but man could be the matter that receives it? []
  11. St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae 3.68.8 []
  12. Luke 18:9-14 []
  13. cf. “Did the Fathers Know the Gospel?” by Dr. Bryan Cross []

August 28, 2019

The Catholic Feminine Part IV – Mary & the Church

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: , — Tim A. Troutman @ 10:00 am

This is the fourth and final essay of a series exploring the feminine principle or dimension of Catholic Christianity. In this final part, I will explore the motherly role of Mary and the Church in the Catholic life. The previous parts were:

(Continue Reading…)

August 25, 2019

The Catholic Feminine Part III – Sex and Virtue

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: , — Tim A. Troutman @ 10:00 am

This is the third essay in a four part series on the Catholic feminine. Part one can be found here and part two can be found here. In this part, perhaps the most abstract of the three, I will be reflecting on various aspects of the feminine principle by observing how women actually are in the world, especially in relation to men by juxtaposition. These are of course my private opinions and do not represent Catholic dogma. Nor do I attempt any proof of these opinions, but I do believe them to be true and hope that the reader will gain some insight by thinking about these important things.

(Continue Reading…)

August 22, 2019

The Catholic Feminine Part II – Philosophy

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: — Tim A. Troutman @ 10:00 am

In this second part of our four-part series on the Christian feminine, I will explore the proper role of philosophy in relation to theology. I will also define certain terms that I have been using, thereby increasing our philosophical precision. This will enable us to contrast the proper philosophical Christian tradition against philosophical errors both modern and ancient. Finally, I will show how these errors lead to certain moral and theological errors especially as those errors lead to a dangerously mistaken view on human nature and sexuality. 

(Continue Reading…)

August 19, 2019

The Catholic Feminine Part I – The Good Mother

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: — Tim A. Troutman @ 10:00 am

(Continue Reading…)

April 29, 2019

Classical Theism

Filed under: Blog Posts,Podcast — Tags: , , — Tim A. Troutman @ 10:00 am

Followers of Called to Communion may be interested in an excellent podcast titled, “The Classical Theism Podcast” hosted by John DeRosa. DeRosa explores topics of philosophy and apologetics from within the Catholic intellectual tradition. From his About Page:

(Continue Reading…)

March 6, 2019

Called To Communion’s Ten Year Anniversary

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: , , , — Bryan Cross @ 8:19 am

Called To Communion’s first essay was posted on Ash Wednesday in 2009. So today on this Ash Wednesday we give thanks to God for ten years, and ask for His continued grace for sanctity and gifts for service. (Continue Reading…)

January 18, 2019

The Justice of Worship

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: , — Beth Turner @ 12:00 am

This year’s theme for the International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Justice, and Only Justice, You Shall Pursue,” and the biblical text from which the theme comes is Deuteronomy 16:11-20. (Continue Reading…)

August 21, 2018

Jeremy Tate on the Journey Home

Filed under: Blog Posts — Jeremy Tate @ 3:01 pm

Jeremy Tate, a graduate from Reformed Theological Seminary, was recently on The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi. Jeremy spent seven years as a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) before converting to the Catholic Church in 2010. Jeremy lives in Annapolis with his wife and four kids and currently serves as President of the Classic Learning Test.


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    August 17, 2015

    A Catholic Assessment of Gregg Allison’s Critique of the “Hermeneutics of Catholicism”

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , , , , — Guest Author @ 12:58 am

    This is a guest article by Eduardo Echeverria. Eduardo was born in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, in 1950. His family immigrated to Manhattan, NY, in 1952. He was raised Roman Catholic, but only responded to the Gospel in the summer of 1970 through the ministry of L’Abri Fellowship,  founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and located in the small Alpine village of Huémoz, Switzerland. His journey home to the Catholic Church took him from Evangelical Protestantism to Reformed Christianity (particularly, Dutch neo-Calvinism), on to Anglican Catholicism and from there ahead to Catholicism. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, and an S.T.L. from the University of St. Thomas, the Angelicum, Rome, Italy. He is the author of dozens of articles and several books, most recently, Berkouwer and Catholicism: Disputed Questions (Brill, 2013), and Pope Francis. The Legacy of Vatican II (Lectio Publishing, 2015). He is Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology, Graduate School of Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI, and a Fellow in the Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. He is also a member of the American ecumenical initiative, Evangelicals and Catholics Together.  – Eds.

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    November 8, 2014

    The Shaping of Biblical Criticism: A Catholic Perspective on Historical Criticism

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , — Casey Chalk @ 6:31 am

    Reformed Protestantism and Catholicism share common ground in their centuries-long interaction, and often battle, with the historical-critical method of Scriptural interpretation. Protestants and Catholics alike have often viewed this method as a direct threat to the historical and theological integrity of the Biblical texts. Many other Protestants and Catholics have alternatively embraced historical criticism to varying degrees, either by appropriating it to replace traditional interpretive methods, or attempting to harmonize it with those same methods. This article revisits the history of the historical-critical method through a summary and review of Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker’s 2013 book Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300 -1700. We also seek to present a Catholic perspective on this controversial and still potent force in contemporary Biblical scholarship. This article was written by Ray Stamper and Casey Chalk. (Continue Reading…)

    August 3, 2014

    To Enter the Sanctuary by the Blood of Jesus: A Literal Account of Becoming Catholic

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Andrew Preslar @ 6:00 pm

    What follows is the story of how I became a Catholic, as best as I can remember it. I have called this a “literal account” in order to distinguish it from a more ambiguous and allusive telling of the tale that was offered here several years ago as “The Last Road.” In neither version do I say anything about many of the specifically Catholic practices and doctrines that Protestants tend to find particularly objectionable. Instead, I have focused on describing landscape. This reflects the nature of the development of my own theological convictions, which was less a matter of piecemeal deduction than of an entire picture slowly coming into resolution, in which process the various objects became distinctly intelligible. Most of this narrative, therefore, is devoted to describing the contours of the biblical, theological, liturgical, ecclesiological, and soteriological considerations that would lead me to Catholicism. I will also briefly recount the final steps that I took towards and then into the Catholic Church, including the process of navigating through some of the confusing and troubling aspects of her recent history.

    (Continue Reading…)

    June 8, 2014

    The Bishops of History and the Catholic Faith: A Reply To Brandon Addison

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , , , , — Bryan Cross @ 3:00 am

    On March 24 of this year we posted a guest article by Brandon Addison titled “The Quest for the Historical Church: A Protestant Assessment.” We had invited Brandon some months earlier to write an essay for Called To Communion on the topic of his choice, and we are very grateful for his generosity, trust, and yeoman work in putting together such a thorough essay. Brandon’s essay is one of the first posts we have published written from a Protestant perspective, and we hope it leads to further, ever-more fruitful exchanges of this sort. (Continue Reading…)

    August 11, 2013

    The Freedom of the Church: A Review of Hugo Rahner’s Church and State in Early Christianity

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , — Guest Author @ 10:04 pm

    This is a guest post by Michael Rennier. Michael received a BA in New Testament Literature from Oral Roberts University in 2002 and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in 2006. He served the Anglican Church in North America as the Rector of two parishes on Cape Cod, Massachusetts for five years. After discerning a call to conversion, Michael and his family moved to St. Louis. On October 16th, 2011, he and his wife were received into full communion with the Catholic Church by the Most Rev. Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis. Michael tells the story of his conversion in “Into the Half-Way House: The Story of an Episcopal Priest.” In May of 2012 he wrote another guest post for CTC titled “Immortal Diamond: The Search of Gerard Manley Hopkins for Beauty. He currently works for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

    (Continue Reading…)

    January 27, 2013

    Holy Church: Finding Jesus As a Reverted Catholic; A Testimonial Response to Chris Castaldo

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: — Casey Chalk @ 10:01 pm

    This is a guest article by Casey Chalk. Casey was born and raised in a Virginia suburb of Washington D.C. Casey was baptized into the Catholic Church and received the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion before leaving the Church with his parents for evangelicalism at the age of eight. Casey attended the University of Virginia, where he was introduced to Reformed theology. Upon graduation in 2007 (B.A. History, Religious Studies; Masters in Teaching), Casey became a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and enrolled in Reformed Theological Seminary. However, an intensive period of study of the “Catholic question” ultimately resulted in Casey’s reunion with the Catholic Church in October 2010. He was confirmed at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia at the Easter Vigil in 2011. Casey works for the federal government, and joyfully also received the sacrament of marriage in August 2012 with his wife Claire. (Continue Reading…)

    December 12, 2012

    Three Frameworks for Interpreting the Church Fathers

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , — Guest Author @ 2:50 pm

    This is a guest article by Dr. Kenneth J. Howell. Dr. Howell earned an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, an M.A. in Linguistics and Philosophy from the University of South Florida, a Ph.D. from Indiana University in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Science, and a second Ph.D. from Lancaster University (U.K.) in the History of Christianity and Science. He was a Presbyterian minister for eighteen years and a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary for seven years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1996. He taught in several universities until 2012, the last of which was a decade at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) where he also was the Director of the Institute of Catholic Thought. He now serves as the Resident Theologian and Director of Pastoral Care of the Coming Home Network International. He continues his work of translating and commenting on the early Church Fathers, having already authored Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna: A New Translation and Theological Commentary and Clement of Rome and the Didache: A New Translation and Theological Commentary. In June of 2010 we posted the video of his talk titled “The Issue of Authority in Early Christianity,” which he delivered at the Deep in History conference in 2009. (Continue Reading…)

    September 23, 2012

    I Fought the Church, and the Church Won

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , — Jason Stellman @ 9:00 pm

    This is a guest post by Jason Stellman. Jason was born and raised in Orange County, CA, and served as a missionary with Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa in Uganda (’91-’92) and in Hungary (’94-’00). After becoming Reformed and being subsequently “dismissed” from ministry with Calvary, he went to Westminster Seminary California where he received an M.Div. in 2004. After graduation he was ordained by the Pacific Northwest Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America and called to plant Exile Presbyterian Church in the Seattle area, where he served from 2004 until resigning in the Spring of 2012. He is the author of Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not Yet (Reformation Trust, 2009), and The Destiny of the Species (forthcoming from Wipf and Stock Publications). In 2011 he served as the prosecutor in the trial of Peter Leithart in the Pacific Northwest Presbytery of the PCA. He currently resides in the Seattle area with his wife and three children. He was received into full communion with the Catholic Church on September 23, 2012. (Continue Reading…)

    May 27, 2012

    Joshua Lim’s Story: A Westminster Seminary California Student becomes Catholic

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Joshua Lim @ 8:02 pm

    This a guest post by Joshua Lim. Joshua graduated this Spring from Westminster Seminary California, where he earned his MA in historical theology. He was born and raised in the PCUSA. He spent a few years in college as a Baptist before moving back to a confessional Reformed denomination (URCNA) prior to entering seminary. He was received into full communion with the Catholic Church this year on April 21st, the feast day of St. Anselm. He plans on continuing his studies in systematic theology.

    (Continue Reading…)

    March 14, 2012

    “Have you been Born Again? Catholic Reflections on a Protestant Doctrine, or How Calvin’s view of Salvation destroyed his Doctrine of the Church”

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , , — David Anders @ 9:44 pm

    When I first began to study Calvin in earnest, I was puzzled by what seemed a glaring omission in his writings and sermons. He never counseled his readers and listeners to be “Born Again.” This struck me as odd because I knew our denomination (PCA) considered Calvin to be our true founder. I also knew that the evangelical doctrine of “New Birth” (regeneration), understood as the moment of personal, conscious conversion, was the linchpin, the central dogma of our congregation. As an Evangelical Presbyterian, I had grown up constantly hearing these exhortations to be “Born Again.” My pastors and teachers revered evangelistic luminaries like Billy Graham and Bill Bright right along with the great Lion of Geneva. (Continue Reading…)

    For older posts, visit the archives.

    Called to Communion Podcast

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    April 29, 2019

    Classical Theism

    Filed under: Blog Posts,Podcast — Tags: , , — Tim A. Troutman @ 10:00 am

    Followers of Called to Communion may be interested in an excellent podcast titled, “The Classical Theism Podcast” hosted by John DeRosa. DeRosa explores topics of philosophy and apologetics from within the Catholic intellectual tradition. From his About Page:

    (more…)

    March 23, 2015

    John Calvin and the Reformation: A Catholic Perspective

    Filed under: Podcast — David Anders @ 1:46 pm

    Here is a talk I gave last night (3/22/15) at The Church of the Holy Spirit in Montgomery, AL.

    The talk was titled “John Calvin and the Reformation: A Catholic Perspective.”

    Download the mp3 by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here by clicking on the play button below:

     

    August 31, 2014

    Radio Maria Interview with Tom and Jessica Brown

    Filed under: Blog Posts,Podcast — Tags: — Tom Brown @ 7:38 pm

    Our very own Tom Brown and his wife Jessica recently were interviewed on Rebecca Cherico’s program on Radio Maria, Conversion Keeps Happening. They discuss aspects of their conversion from the PCA to the Catholic Church. The interview is available here. (more…)

    April 16, 2014

    An interview with Dr. Thomas Madden on the Medieval Catholic Church

    Filed under: Podcast — Casey Chalk @ 7:52 am

    Protestant criticisms of the Catholic Church frequently target the medieval Catholic Church as a prime example of the Church’s problematic relationship with politics and the secular order. These critics often claim that the medieval Church was ruled by a greedy hierarchy bent on increasing its power in Europe and abroad, eager to silence or even eliminate its detractors or opponents, and rocked by internal scandals, corruption, and ultimately confusion. The seeds of the Reformation, so many Protestants believe, were sown during this tumultuous period where attempts at reform, like conciliarism, were destroyed underfoot by power-hungry popes. (more…)

    November 11, 2012

    How the Church Won: An Interview with Jason Stellman

    Filed under: Podcast — Bryan Cross @ 6:16 pm

    Jason Stellman

    In July of this year, Jason Stellman wrote a Called To Communion guest post titled “I Fought the Church and the Church Won,” in which he explained briefly why he was becoming Catholic. Last week I had an opportunity to talk with Jason about this paradigm change, and the four years of internal wrestling that preceded it. (more…)

    June 17, 2012

    Podcast Ep. 17 – Jason & Cindy Stewart Recount Their Conversion

    Filed under: Podcast — Tags: — Tim A. Troutman @ 6:14 pm

    In this episode, Tom Riello, a former PCA pastor, interviews Jason Stewart, a former pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and his wife Cindy on the topic of their conversion to the Catholic faith in 2011. Jason earned his Master of Divinity from Mid-America Reformed Seminary (Dyer, IN) in 2005, and subsequently served for five and a half years as pastor of Trinity OPC in eastern Pennsylvania. Jason and Cindy currently live in Rockford, IL, and have four children. He is completing a two year course of study with the Diocese of Rockford’s Diaconal Program.

    (more…)

    February 17, 2012

    David Anders on Catholic Answers: February 13, 2012

    Filed under: Podcast — David Anders @ 11:45 pm

    David Anders

    Open Forum for Non-Catholics
    David Anders on Catholic Answers, Monday, February 13, 2012.
    (more…)

    August 2, 2011

    Episode 16 – Stephen Beck’s Conversion Story

    Filed under: Blog Posts,Podcast — Tags: , , — Jeremy Tate @ 8:00 am

    Stephen Beck

    Stephen Beck was raised Evangelical, but read his way into the Reformed world. He became a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and then the Presbyterian Church in America. Stephen and his family were received into the Catholic Church on the Easter Vigil of 2011 at St. Andrew’s by the Bay Catholic Church in Annapolis, Maryland. He has a Master’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Greek and Latin at the Catholic University of America. Stephen is a brilliant thinker with a deep love for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. In this episode, Stephen’s personal friend and regular CTC contributor, Jeremy Tate, interviews him to find out the reasons behind his conversion.

     

    Right click here to save the MP3 file.

    July 16, 2011

    David Anders on Catholic Answers

    Filed under: Podcast — David Anders @ 8:23 am

    David Anders

    On Friday, July 8, I was the guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, taking calls and questions from non-Catholics. The one-hour broadcast featured the following questions and discussions:

    7′ A discussion of John Calvin’s view of his relation to the Catholic Church, the Catholic positions he affirmed, and his rejection of denominationalism.

    15′ A discussion of the Catholic doctrine of communion of the saints, and whether the saints can hear our prayers.

    22′ A discussion of legalism and scrupulosity among Catholics.

    28′ Why is it difficult for Protestant leaders who recognize the truth of the Catholic Church to become Catholic? Wouldn’t remaining Protestant, in order to hold on to reputation, livelihood, etc. be contrary to Protestant theology?

    33′ What are some resources for non-Catholics who want to understand the differences between Calvinism and Catholicism?

    36′ What is the Catholic understanding of the relation between divine sovereignty and human freedom?

    41′ How does the Catholic understanding of justification address the Reformed claim that the scriptural evidence supports the Protestant notion of justification by the imputation of the alien righteousness of Christ to the believer?

    51′ What is the Catholic position on eternal security and the possibility of apostasy, and what is the support for that position?

    Listen to the program:

     

    Or download it by right-clicking here.

    November 24, 2010

    Episode 15 – The Conversion of Annie Witz (OPC)

    In this episode, Tom Riello, former PCA minister, interviews Annie Witz, a convert from the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church).  Annie’s father is an elder in the OPC church and serves on the board of Westminster Seminary California.   Annie shares her personal conversion story from being a devout OPC member to a Catholic in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church (an Eastern Catholic Church).  Of particular interest is the role that the women saints, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, played in her conversion.  We are thrilled to have our first female guest on the show!

     

    To download the mp3, click here.

    For older posts, visit the archives.

    Called to Communion Radio

    CTC Radio can be heard Tuesday through Thursday at 2:00 PM Eastern, available through the following media: Live with video, Podcast, EWTN.COM, Sirius Sattelite, Iheart Radio, The EWTN app, Short wave, and, of course, through the local catholic affiliate radio stations.



    December 1, 2014

    CTC Radio Update

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 1:59 pm

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    Called to Communion Radio is now available four days a week.
    CTC Radio can be heard Monday through Thursday at 2:00 PM Eastern, available through the following media:

     

    EWTN Youtube Channel

    Live with video

    Podcast

    EWTN.COM

    Sirius Sattelite

    Iheart Radio

    The EWTN app

    Short wave,

    and, of course, through the local catholic affiliate radio stations.

    October 20, 2014

    Divorce & Remarriage Revisited

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 10:29 am

    A few weeks back I wrote an article titled: “Marriage, Divorce, & Communion: The Upcoming Synod on the Family.” In the article, I discussed the Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and what it means for civilly divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. Based on the teaching of Christ, the Church’s longstanding practice has been to deny communion in these cases.  As to whether the Church could change her doctrine on marriage or her discipline based on that doctrine, I wrote this:

    The Church has no power to change this teaching, because it is the teaching of Christ. (Matthew 19:11-12) This is something the non-Catholic media often misunderstand. The Church’s dogma on marriage is not a “policy” that can be changed, any more than the Nicene Creed is a “policy.”

    In the weeks since I wrote that article, the Synod of Bishops generated a lot of media attention and, quite frankly, a lot of confusion. Did the Synod suggest a change to the Church’s doctrine or practice in this matter? Some media outlets would have you think so.  The main source of confusion was a “midterm report” supposedly summarizing the discussions at the Synod. The document suggested that “some synod fathers” were in favor of a change of “present regulations.” The report was neither seen nor approved by the Synod Fathers prior to its release. Instead, it provoked vehement protests among the bishops. (The most controversial statements of the report were not concerned with divorce and remarriage.)

    Days after the release of the relatio, the synod Fathers insisted that their objections be made known.  Reports of each of the discussion groups (organized by language) were published on the Vatican’s Website Thursday, October 16.  The following selections are some of the remarks from synod Fathers on divorce, remarriage, and the sacraments.

    Circulus Gallicus A (French language group) wrote:

    On the connection between the divorced/remarried and the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist . . . it is important not to change the doctrine of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage and the non-admission of the divorced/remarried to the sacraments.

    Circulus Angelicus A (English language group) wrote:

    We did not recommend the admission to the sacraments of divorced and re-married people, but we included a very positive and much –needed appreciation of union with Christ through other means.

    Circulus Angelicus B (English language group) wrote:

    On the subject of the admission of the divorced and remarried to the Eucharist the group stressed two principles flowing directly from God’s Word: 1) the clear affirmation of the indissolubility of a valid sacramental union, while humbly admitting that we need a more credible way of presenting and witnessing to that teaching; 2) The strong desire to invite and embrace sincere Catholics who feel alienated from the family of the Church because of irregular situations.

    Circulus Italicus A (Italian language group) directed attention on this issue to the teaching of St. John Paul II in his Familiaris Consortio, section 84. In that document, the Saint wrote:

    The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.

    It is true that the traditional doctrine and practice of the Church are were not universally acclaimed at the Synod.  The final version of the Relatio (released October 18) ackowledged this. Clearly, some of the Synod Fathers were searching for a way to “soften” the Church’s position.  In his final speech, Pope Francis also acknowledged division among some of the bishops. Strangely, he did not make his thoughts plain on the controversies in question. He did, however, conclude the Synod by beatifying Pope Paul VI. Of his predecessor, Pope Francis said:

    Before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.

    To what was Pope Francis referring when he spoke of Paul’s holding fast in the face of a secular and hostile culture? He didn’t say. But we we remember Blessed Paul today mostly for his courageous stand on behalf of the Church’s long-standing tradition on human sexuality and the necessity of openness to life.

    Neither the the Synod nor the Pope issued any teaching documents, nor has there been any change to Church law. The final message of the Bishops, published on October 18, ended on a postive note of continuity:

    Conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education.

    September 25, 2014

    Marriage, Divorce, & Communion: The Upcoming Synod of Bishops

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 9:31 am

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    Listeners to CTC Radio often ask about the Catholic teaching on marriage, divorce, and communion in the Catholic Church. With them in mind, I have attached a brief article I wrote for One Voice, the newspaper for the diocese of Birmingham.

    To listen to CTC Radio, tune in to EWTN at 2:00 PM Eastern Tuesday through Thursday.
    Podcasts are available here

      Here is the Article:

    There will be an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops in October to discuss “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” No doubt the synod will discuss many issues, but none has garnered more media attention than the status of civilly divorced and remarried Catholics. In particular, the media have focused on the question of their eligibility to receive communion. Cardinal Walter Kasper encouraged speculation about a change in the Church’s discipline by asking a consistory of cardinals in February whether or not the Church should continue to refuse communion to civilly divorced and remarried Catholics. As the synod approaches, it seems appropriate to reflect on what the Church can and cannot change about her doctrine and discipline.

    What is the rationale for barring the civilly divorced and remarried from Holy Communion? The answer to this requires an understanding of Christian marriage. According to the teaching of Christ and the Catholic faith, Christian marriage is by definition a lifelong union, effected by a promise of fidelity and the intent to raise a family, elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. It is always indissoluble under any and all circumstances.

    To understand the current discussion, the key point to emphasize is the indissolubility of a valid Christian marriage. The Catechism states:

    Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God’s fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom. (CCC 1640)

    The Church has no power to change this teaching, because it is the teaching of Christ. (Matthew 19:11-12) This is something the non-Catholic media often misunderstand. The Church’s dogma on marriage is not a “policy” that can be changed, any more than the Nicene Creed is a “policy.” In this regard, the Church’s Magisterium is a servant of the truth, not its master. The Catechism says, “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it.” (CCC 86)

    Because marriage is indissoluble, a validly married Catholic who obtains a civil divorce from a judge and then contracts another civil marriage is objectively in the state of ongoing adultery. Jesus said, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12) Again, following the teaching of Christ and the words of Sacred Scripture, the Church has no choice but to withhold communion from those deemed to be in grave sin. (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; Matthew 18: 17)

    Some have asked whether or not a person could “repent” for a failed first marriage, receive the sacraments of reconciliation, and then be admitted to communion while remaining in an invalid second marriage (i.e., a relationship the Church deems adulterous). This proposal fails to take into account the doctrine on Christian marriage and the doctrine on reconciliation and penance. By definition, there is no forgiveness of sins and no reconciliation as long as one intends to persist in grave sin. St. John Paul II explains, “Without a sincere and firm purpose of amendment, sins remain ‘unforgiven,’ in the words of Jesus, and with him in the Tradition of the Old and New Covenants.” (Dominum et Vivificantem) If a valid marriage exists, all subsequent unions are adulterous by definition. “Repentance,” in this context, must mean repentance for the subsequent union, whatever else may be involved.

    The Church does recognize some situations in which reconciliation with a spouse is impossible and in which subsequent civil unions have resulted in children being born. In these cases, the Church sometimes permits the parents in these unions to remain together for the sake of the children, provided they agree to live as brother and sister. This is not a tacit recognition of the subsequent marriage, but rather an unusual and, quite frankly, difficult concession that Catholics must make for the sake of children.

    What then could the Church change? Theoretically, some change is possible to the process by which Catholics obtain annulments. It is highly unlikely, however, that such changes could dispense with canonical expertise or judicial process, since the declaration of nullity is a finding of juridical fact and requires moral certainty on the part of the judge. The most likely outcome to the Synod is a deepening pastoral emphasis on the means and the virtue of chastity, and a renewed catechesis on the meaning of Christian marriage. A good deal of ink has been spilled on this topic and I fear that many people may have unfulfilled expectations for what the Church can and will do. Let us remember the Bishops and the Holy Father in our prayers, and ask that they have wisdom and grace to communicate the Church’s teaching with compassion and clarity.

    September 11, 2014

    Television Interview with Johnette Benkovic

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 5:00 pm

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    My television interview on Women of Grace is now available here.

    We discuss the new radio show, Called to Communion, as well as my path to the Catholic Church.

    September 9, 2014

    Do We Really Meet Christ in the Sacraments?

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 7:53 am

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    Catholics and some non-Catholic Christians disagree about the nature of the sacraments. Are they merely signs? Do they really conform us to Christ? (more…)

    September 4, 2014

    Scripture and Tradition

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 9:09 am

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    How do we know the will of God for the Church? On CTC Radio today, I hope we can generate discussion about Scripture and Tradition.

    I welcome your emails at ctc@ewtn.com

    There is also live video feed from the Radio Studios at https://www.ewtn.com/radio/radiolive.asp

    Here, finally, is a short text I prepared for One Voice, the Diocesan paper for the Diocese of Birmingham. (more…)

    September 2, 2014

    Called to Communion Radio

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 12:33 pm

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    Dear Friends,

    Today at 2:00 PM Eastern, we launch the new EWTN Radio Show Called to Communion.

    We hope to encourage collaboration across media (internet and radio) as we continue to discuss what divides us as Christians and as human beings. (more…)

    For older posts, visit the archives.

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Reformed Protestantism and Catholicism share common ground in their centuries-long interaction, and often battle, with the historical-critical method of Scriptural interpretation. Protestants and Catholics alike have often viewed this method as a direct threat to the historical and theological integrity of the Biblical texts. Many other Protestants and Catholics have alternatively embraced historical criticism to varying degrees, either by appropriating it to replace traditional interpretive methods, or attempting to harmonize it with those same methods. This article revisits the history of the historical-critical method through a summary and review of Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker's 2013 book Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300 -1700. We also seek to present a Catholic perspective ...



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