Question 67 - did Cardinal Schonborn really open a new hip youth church?
Question 66 - SSPX
Question 65 - SSPX-Not in Formal Schism
Question 64 - The Novus Ordo
Question 63 - Is the SSPX in Schism Considering Cardinal Hoyos' remarks?
Question 62 - Thank You
Question 61 - Matatics and Sedevacantism 2
Question 60 - Matatics and Sedevacantism
Question 59 - Ex nihilo?
Question 57 - Full Immersion Baptism?
Question 56 - Intelligent design
Question 55 - I need some help on something
Question 54 - Evolution
Question 53 - John 6:37
Question 52 - Question #37
Question 51 - Sedevacantism on Private Revelation
Question 50 - SSPX
Question 49 - SSPX - please explain
Question 48 - Vatican and evolution
Question 47 - "Alive" and Cannibalism
Question 46 - The Nature of God
Question 45 - Mammary Glands and Evolution
Question 44 - Regarding Scott Hahn
Question 43 - Best evidence for the canon?
Question 42 - Romans 3:25
Question 41 - Circumcision
Question 40 - Law versus Faith
Question 39 - LIST OF BANNED BOOKS?
Question 38 - "Jews for Judaism"
Question 37 - Society of St Pius X
Question 36 - Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus
Question 35 - no proof, just question- 3
Question 34 - circumcision, part 2
Question 33 - Huopstaseos Confidence or Substance?, Part 2
Question 32 - no proof, just question- 2
Question 31 - Huopstaseos Confidence or Substance?
Question 30 - no proof, just question
Question 29 - Types of grace
Question 28 - Catholics and Protestants
Question 27 - Traditio website
Question 26 - Traditional Latin Mass
Question 25 - Emotions in God
Question 24 - Father Ralph Wiltgen
Question 23 - Vatican and evolution
Question 22 - The Rapture
Question 21 - NASB vs. DRV, Part II
Question 20 - Salvation is from the Jews bk review; reconstituted sanhedrin
Question 19 - NASB vs. DRV
Question 18 - Question
Question 17 - Will this nonsense never end?
Question 16 - Transubstantiation before the Cross
Question 15 - Good luck!!
Question 14 - Athanasius
Question 13 - Seminary and CAI theories
Question 12 - Scott Hahn and Covenants
Question 11 - James White on you and Matatics
Question 10 - Pope says Catholics, Jews must give common witness of faith
Question 9 - Are you converting your tapes to C.D.s ?
Question 8 - Catholic Response to Calvinism
Question 7 - Dimond Brothers' webpage
Question 6 - The Calumny against St. Edith Stein
Question 5 - Matatics
Question 4 - Vatican II
Question 3 - Question on Vatican II
Question 2 - Gerry Matatics "Biblical Foundations" mission statement
Question 1 - Thank you again
Question 67- did Cardinal Schonborn really open a new hip youth church?
Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I heard that Cardinal Schonborn has opened a new "youth church" in Vienna, complete with flashing lights and a projection screen. I don't trust the site where I received this information (as it's schismatic), but it does make me curious. They included pictures that sure did look like the Cardinal supposedly talking on a cell phone during Mass and acception some shoes along with the gifts for Mass. Everything was in German. I can't find out if it's true. Can you shed some light on this? It doesn't seem possible that that it's true, considering Cardinal Schonborn is thought to be one of the voices of tradition and orthodoxy in the Vatican. Please find out any information you can to shed some light on this.
B. Douglass: Daniel,
The story is legitimate. You can visit the official website of Jungendkirche WienM.. Click on "Berichte" then the subtitle "Eroffnung" then click on the picture of Cardinal Schonborn under the title Sonntag 9. Oktober 2005. There are plenty more incriminating pictures where the ones you saw came from, including several of the Cardinal playing with cellphones and other electronic devices. There is also an article about this event on a website maintianed by the diocese of Wien.
Click on the picture on the right side of the screen, 12th row down, on the page full of pictures to which I just directed you. You will see in the background Cardinal Schonborn and a concelebrant praying over an altar containing the usual implements for celebrating Mass. For example there is a chalice covered by a paten. From this it seems clear that the Cardinal did, in fact, celebrate Mass on this occassion.
This doesn't come as a surprise to me. I haven't trusted Cardinal Schonborn since reading that he endorsed Zionism and that he taught that any Protestant who could say "amen" to the Eucharistic prayer could recieve Communion in the Catholic Church. See the following:
If this man is a voice for tradition and orthodoxy in the Vatican, then I can't imagine what the liberals must be teaching.
Svjatyj Boze, Pomiluj Nas.
Question 66- SSPX
I'm surprised to see you shooting from the hip about the SSPX. I have been reading the CAI site for two years now. I have learned so much from it. CAI take's on a issue with so much logic and common sense that when you guys are done proving your point what ever opposition there was, is left utterly shattered. I make a terrible Rad Trad was brilliant as is many of your articles, answers, etc.
B. Douglass: Thank you for the commendation. The Communion in the hand article doesn't tend to be the most popular among traditionalists. end.
However the most recent comment's by you regarding the SSPX are having the reverse effect on me. Usually that only happens when I'm reading something from the likes of Jim Akin, Diamond Bro, and the non-Catholic Answers Neo-cons. G.K use to say that the Critics of the RCC are the one's that converted him to the RCC. You Said "Sed contra, St. Augustine says: "whatever the Church says, is true; whatever she permits is lawful; whatever she forbids, is evil; whatever she ordains, is holy; whatever she institutes, is good" (I wish I had the reference for this quote, but I found it in the Haydock Bible, which doesn't give references for its patristic citations)."
I will use your own words. St Augustine was not the pope so what ever he says "is not authoritive". The Pope permitted the interfaith prayer meeting twice there for it must be lawful. The Pope agreed with the Lutherans on justification therefore it must be true. Bishop's ordained by the Pope who say the Bible contains errors therefore these Bishops are holy. Bishops ordained by the Pope forbid priest's to say the Tridentine Mass therefore the Tridentine mass is evil. The Pope consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart therefore it must be true.
B. Douglass: First, St. Augustine may not have infallible authority in and of himself, but in this case he is witnessing to the constant Tradition of the Church as confirmed by Pius VI, Gregory XVI, and Pius XII. Second, notice that St. Augustine does not say "whatever the Pope says, is true, etc." but "whatever the Church says, is true, etc." The Church did not call the Assisi prayer gatherings; John Paul II did. The Church did not replace "Russia" with "the world" in the consecration formula of Our Lady of Fatima; John Paul II did. Private actions of the reigning Pope don't bind the Church. Canon Law, on the other hand, does. end.
"You state that you have never heard that the Church is infallible in her universal disciplinary laws." Ben, St Joan of Arc was excommunicated by the Church. so was St Athanasius who as you know ordained bishops outside his jurisdiction for the same reasons Lefebvre did. Was St Athanasius wrong? St Athanasius looking around the Church saw so many bishops falling into heresy that he saw the need to ordain orthodox bishops. Lefebvre saw the same thing.All most all of the bishops in the world today are unorthodox and leading souls astray. Why are the pro-abortion Chinese G.I. bishops not excommunicated? Do you think that Lefebvre's vow against modernism had something to do with not going along with all the changes especial now after seeing the aftermath? If he had went along with the changes then would he have broken his vow? When a excommunicated person dies do they go to hell? If yes than please explain St Joan.
B. Douglass: First off, the situations of St. Athanasius and Archbishop Lefebvre are not at all parallel. St. Athanasius himself describes the circumstances of his "excommunication" by Pope Liberius: "But Liberius after he had been in banishment two years gave way, and from fear of threatened death subscribed. Yet even this only shews their [the Arians] violent conduct, and the hatred of Liberius against the heresy, and his support of Athanasius, so long as he was suffered to exercise a free choice. For that which men are forced by torture to do contrary to their first judgment, ought not to be considered the willing deed of those who are in fear, but rather of their tormentors" (History of the Arians 5:41). This is what Liberius had said about St. Athanasius previously: "How is it possible for me to do this against Athanasius? how can we condemn a man, whom not one Council only, but a seconds assembled from all parts of the world, has fairly acquitted, and whom the Church of the Romans dismissed in peace? who will approve of our conduct, if we reject in his absence one, whose presence amongst us we gladly welcomed, and admitted him to our communion?" (History of the Arians 5:36). John Paul II did not initially support Lefebvre's actions, then reverse himself when he was placed under the threat of physical violence.
Second, St. Joan of Arc was placed on trial by an ecclesiastical court conducted by one bishop (Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, a supporter of England). She was later acquitted. One bishop's ecclesiastical court is not infallible. The universal disciplinary laws of the Church are. end.
You say "I'm well aware that the SSPX continues to have dialogue with the Pope and other Roman prelates. But this too is irrelevant. Lutherans, Orthodox, Muslims, and Jews also maintain dialogue with Rome. So does Hans Kung". Ben shame on you, this is a tactic strait out of the play book from Jimmy Akin. You know full well there is a difference. So the SSPX are no different than the Protestants, Orthodox, Muslims, Jews or ever worse Hans Kung? What article of faith do the SSPX deny?
B. Douglass: I never said the SSPX are no different from the above. You're reading into my statement. All I was doing was a simple reductio ad absurdum. My interlocutor was attempting to argue: "The SSPX has dialogue with Roman prelates, therefore the SSPX is not schismatic." My response was "various groups which we both acknowledge to be schismatic also have dialogue with Roman prelates, therefore the fact that the SSPX has dialogue with Roman prelates does not prove that it is not schismatic." The SSPX denies no article of faith. end.
You say "Probably the most obvious example of the Society's schismatic acts would be removing Catholics from obedience to their local ordinary." I guess David was wrong for eating the alter bread. The SSPX does not go and remove anyone, people go to them. The people remove themselves. Why? because after going to a New mass where corn chips, pita bread passed around in a bowl, sugar cookie, hotdog buns, Pepsi and grape juice were used as matter not to mention Priests that do not use the words "I absolve you" But "God absolves you". In other words invalid sacraments. I won't even go into all the wacky masses with dogs and people dancing around the alter, which by the way James Likoudis told me I still have go.
B. Douglass: No one is obliged to attend illicit Masses. However, the kind of thing you describe is very rare. Chances are you can find a parish within a reasonable distance which offers Mass validly and licitly (e.g. conservative Novus Ordo, Eastern Rite, Indult/FSSP) without having to have recourse to SSPX or independent chapels. end.
Would Judus Machabeus go to where they sacrifice swine? I have 6 kids should I expose them to that or should I protect them? The people who go to SSPX and independent Masses are trying to save their souls which as you know is the number one rule, the supreme law, the highest Goal of the Church to save souls. Which is more important than following a bad Pope.
B. Douglass: Of course you should protect your children. But I think you are proposing a false dilemma. The Novus Ordo is not, per se, invalid or illicit, like sacrificing swine. Many of the people who attend independent and SSPX chapels believe that it is (indeed, the SSPX officially teaches that the Novus Ordo is illicit). That is why they believe their actions are necessary to save their souls. This is an error, and it has disastrous consequences. end.
Are the SSPX responsible for Catholics leaving their local (loco) ordinary? or is the local ordinary responsible for Catholics leaving because of sex scandal, money scandal, doctrinal scandal, morality scandal, liturgical scandal?
B. Douglass: Both are culpable. The bishop of course would fall under the condemnation of Matthew 18:6. But that does not exculpate the SSPX who takes advantage of betrayed and disaffected Catholics to "gather a harvest for tradition." end.
Can we talk about saving souls. What should David have done break the law and eat and probably live or keep the law and probably die? What should these Catholics do disobey their local ordinary and probably save their souls or obey their ordinary and probably lose their souls?
B. Douglass: Again, you posit a false dilemma. There is great merit in suffering patiently under evil rulers who nevertheless hold legitimate authority from God, as David did under Saul. The Lord's annointed is the Lord's annointed, no matter how utterly mad he may be. You may disobey specific commands which are contrary to moral law, but that does not take away the general obligation to obedience when his commands do not contradict moral law. This is how you will save your soul, not by taking the easy way out and throwing off the yoke of the local ordinary and placing yourself under the SSPX instead. end.
I have known many New Order priests and most deny articles of the faith. I know many Traditional priest and not one of will deny any part of the faith!! Which group of priests are doing their job, saving souls giving good council and correct information? Which group of priests are leading souls astray?
B. Douglass: The situation isn't nearly so black and white as you paint it. While it is true that most men who come out of the seminary hold objectively heretical beliefs, still, very many are in good faith and assent to the teachings of the Catholic Church in toto, as they understand them. So, it is simply a matter of demonstrating to them that the Catholic Church has condemned whatever heretical teaching they recieved in the seminary, and they will change. It took a few minutes of conversation and one e-mail to right my spiritual director's beliefs on biblical inerrancy. This is why we need orthodox laymen, and orthodox priests such as those of the Society of St. Pius X, to be working inside the Church. The SSPX will never be effective in resolving the present crisis in the Church, so long as they remain outside the Church. end.
How many times have you heard a misinformed Catholic say "but my priest says it ok". Which group do you really think God favors, the one's saving souls or the one's leading souls astray? It is a Catholic truth that obedience is at the service of faith, NOT faith at the service of obedience.
B. Douglass: When it's between heretics and schismatics, God doesn't favor either side. end.
You say "All we know is that God tells us that sin is never for the good, and hence an act of schism is not for the good." What about the Honolulu six that Bishop Ferrario excommunicated for being in schism only to be declared null and void by Ratzinger.
B. Douglass: Ratzinger declared that they had not committed the offense of schism, not that there was nothing wrong with what they did. end.
Does this prove that Catholics that go to a SSPX Mass are not in schism?
B. Douglass: No one here is arguing that every Catholic who goes to an SSPX Mass is in schism. end.
The SSPX only have two conditions for full communion with the Pope #1 lift the excommunication of Lefebvre and the other Bishops. Which Rome has agreed to. #2 allow all priests in the world to say the Tridentine Mass. Which Rome will not agree to.
B. Douglass: Rome also demands, as a condition of reconciliation, that the SSPX stop teaching that the Novus Ordo is illicit.
Can you explain the Papal Bull Quo Primum and if the Bishops of the world are disobeying it? Is the Pope disobeying it? Dr Droleskey told me "it means what it says".
B. Douglass: I'll let Cardinal Stickler explain it: "Those words of Pius V were common for an important decision of the Pope. He always said, "This is valid forever." But this was not a theological, it was not a dogmatic statement, this decree of the Pope promulgting his Tridentine Mass order. And so it could be changed by his successors... So what about a bishop forbidding the Mass in the case of a priest or a whole dioceses? You must realize that a bishop is the only one who has responsibility for his dioceses... Bishops have no jurisdiction over their collegues. A bishop in his dioceses, for his dioceses and his subjects, can find the arguments to forbid it. He can say, 'This is disturbing to the peace in the dioceses'" (Latin Mass Magazine, Summer 2005). end.
Can you explain to me why a papal commission of 9 cardinals one being the current Pope all agreed that priests are not obligated to celebrate the new mass even against the will of his Bishop? Which mass are they obligated to say?
B. Douglass: That was not one of the questions addressed to the commission.
If Rome loses the faith are we bound to follow Rome or what was handed down to us. Should I dismiss Our Lady of La Selette when she says "Rome will lose the faith and become the seat of the anti-Christ? if yes than should we also dismiss the consecration of Russia as well?
B. Douglass: When the Vatican is destroyed, when the man who was Pope yesterday has disappeared, and when someone else subsequently sets himself up in Rome and starts claiming to be the Pope, then you may believe that Rome has lost the faith and become the seat of the anti-Christ. end.
You say "Not that I am giving a compliment to the average American bishop, but he is far more obedient to Rome than the bishops and priests of the SSPX. Rome says to the SSPX: "Your Masses are illicit. Do not say Mass. It is a sin for you to say Mass." And they go on saying Mass. Only the most outrageous of the American bishops are this disobedient to the Holy See." Then why doesn't the Pope excommunicate them like he did Lebfebvre?
B. Douglass: Unfortunately, the previous few Popes have been far too lenient on dissidents on the theological "left" (e.g. Mahoney, Kasper, Daneels, Dowling, Kung, Lehmann, Keeler, et al), who deserve to be punished far more than Archbishop Lefebvre ever did. If you want to fault John Paul II for rewarding a man who cooperated in the guilt of abortion (Lehmann) with a red hat, you'll get no arguments from me. end.
Was the mass that the Pope said illicit or scandalous when he had clowns and dancing in front of the alter? Or what about when he said mass with Buddha on the alter? What about the readings in the new mass where they delete words about the Jews, sin, divorce and hell isn't this preaching another Gospel weren't we warned about that?
B. Douglass:I'm unaware of a papal Mass involving clowns. Having Buddha on the altar certainly was scandalous and sinful. The new lectionary does consciously avoid some of the harsher elements of the gospel, but they're still there to some degree. There is no new gospel in the new lectionary. end.
When you say "obedient to Rome" do you mean the Pope or the Roman Catholic Faith? Almost all the Bishops in the US are disobedient to the Catholic faith. Almost all the SSPX priests are obedient to the Catholic faith.
B. Douglass: You put a false dichotomy between obedience to the Pope and obedience to the faith. Unless the Pope commands evil, obedience to him and obedience to the faith are one and the same thing. The same goes for religious superiors, parents (for children), husbands, etc. end.
The Pope can make mistakes the Catholic faith is perfect. Was St Paul following the Catholic Faith when he corrected Pope Peter? Was Pope Peter not following the faith?
B. Douglass: There is a difference between rebuking the Pope for an error and disobeying a direct disciplinary order with a canonical warning attached to it. We do the former at CAI (e.g. with Assisi) but not the latter. end.
Can Rome justly tell a priest "do not say mass" Does Quo Primum protect them?
B. Douglass: Yes, if a priest is not in good standing because he supports illegal episcopal consecrations and has joined himself to illegally consecrated bishops, Rome may justly forbid him from saying any Mass, whether the Tridentine, the Novus Ordo, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, of St. James, of St. Mark, etc. end.
It is a well known fact!!where I come from that if you pay the local ordinary enough money you will get your annulment no questions asked!! Priests marring people that did not get an annullment from a previous marriage. Why would any honest Catholic trust the local ordinary with a marriage issue?
B. Douglass: If you are accurately representing the situation, then I wouldn't trust him either. end.
I believe we must follow the Pope and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches But when the Pope bears bad fruit I think of this that Jesus said.
1 I am the true vine; and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.
When I went to the new mass all I saw was bad fruit, very few people very few children so many abuses but worse of all the lack of faith people going to communion after they told me they don't think abortion is a sin, contraception is ok and not just a few, if you ask most will disagree with the Church on something. There are very few obedient Catholics many people leaving mass before its over and the priest are very lax concerned with the world. I don't mind a sinner cause I'm one myself but when you sin and say its not that's bad fruit, souls that are lost. This is what I have seen at independent and SSPX masses very faithful and devout people many very many children, teenagers, babies, large families 6,7,11 kids per family, was it Pius XII that said large families are the sign of a healthy Church. after mass almost all the people kneel and silently pray, no abuses, modest dress people that live the faith 7 days a week. Traditional Catholics are being purged and they keep bearing more fruit. 28 years ago I went to my first Tridentine mass I was 14 it was full of mostly old people I remember they use to say "when we die the mass will die with us no young people want it." They were so wrong most of them have died but mass is so full that the priest has to say two masses on Sundays now. Nothing but Good fruit, souls being saved. Ben no amount of brilliant writing will ever erase that. You can play legalism all day long the devil's good at that game too, just look at the legalism that the Pharisees had. You can hide the truth but you can't destroy it. Jesus said by their fruit you shall know them. I know I asked way to many questions if you have the time to answer them I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you and God bless you.
B. Douglass: I'm sure a large number of the people who attend the SSPX are not in schism, and are simply looking for orthodox teaching and a reprieve from the ecclesiastical insanity which you describe. If they remain only in material schism, I'm sure they can achieve great holiness, just like the many Novus Ordo priests and laity who are in material heresy.
Question 65- SSPX-Not in Formal Schism
Robert, Several statements on your website say that the SSPX is in schism with Rome. Cardinal Ratzinger himself stated that the priests in the Society were valid priests, their sacraments valid, and attending their masses is not an act of schism, and it was acceptable to donate money to them! Now these statements from Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos.
I think CAI should recognize that if not for the SSPX their would be no Ecclesia Dei , no FSSP, Institue of Christ the King, etc.... The old mass would be gone and much more of traditional Catholic doctrine as well.
Just my thoughts. Take care and God Bless!
R. Sungenis: Terry, someone already forwarded the Remnant's assessment of Hoyos' remarks, so I will give you the answer that I gave him. Before I do, allow me to add that, the Vatican has never said that the SSPX priests or masses are invalid. That is precisely the problem! We have a group of priests with orders that are in schism. The very reason John Paul II forbid Lefebvre from consecrating the bishops was so that we wouldn't have a group of bishops and their priests working independently and not under the jurisdiction of Rome.
As for what good the SSPX has done, I never argued the point, but that is not the issue. Catholic morality says we don't do something evil to create something good.
Now, here is the answer I gave to "Matt":
R. Sungenis; Matt, CAI is always open to correction, but in cases like this we must base the correction on the facts, not on what one may read into Cardinal Hoyos' remarks. First of all, Cardinal Hoyos has no authority to speak for the Vatican on this issue. If he wants to relay a message from Pope Benedict XVI, that's fine, but Cardinal Hoyos represents nothing except his own opinion in this case; and there are many prelates who have voiced a similar opinions. If Pope Benedict is behind Hoyos' remarks, then Hoyos should have made that clear. As it stands, he did not specify, and thus the matter remains as it was. No Cardinal has the authority to turn over a papal edict (in this case Ecclesia Dei).
Second, the words of Cardinal Hoyos are dubious. Let's look at them:
"Unfortunately Monsignor Lefebvre went ahead with the consecration and hence the situation of separation came about, even if it was not a formal schism."
By "formal" Hoyos may simply mean that the schism and sentence was not ferendae sententiae but merely latae sententiae. Some argue that Ecclesia Dei did not mention a ferendae sententiae because Lefebvre was already excommunicated based on latae sententiae, which would make the schism less than formal.
Even if one puts the best light on Hoyos' remark, if Hoyos believes it wasn't a formal schism, he must believe it was a material schism. This is important because the SSPX has not even admitted to a material schism, let alone a formal schism.
But as I said above, all this is water under the bridge, simply because Hoyos has not been designated by Pope Benedict or any Papal Commission to be the authoritative word on the issue. If we were to take the word of a Cardinal as the definitive decision on the matter, then we might as well take the word of Cardinal Kasper that the Jews have their own covenant with God and don't need to convert to Christianity. Same difference. CAI will change its view if and when the Pope himself lifts the injunction of Ecclesia Dei. Rest assured, this is not a matter that is settled by a Cardinal's few off hand remarks.
Question 64- The Novus Ordo
Hi Mr. Sungenis, it's Donald Ramsey in Florida again.
Sorry to bother you.
I just read the article on sedevacantism that you have at your website written by the
SSPX priest. It is very thought-provoking and raises issues I had never known of before.
Maybe I am acting too hastily in believing that Benedict XVI wasn't validly elected.
This whole situation in the modern Church is EXTREMELY confusing for me and I have been praying about it a lot lately. What about the New Mass? I deliberately did not go last Sunday to my N.O. parish because I didn't want to offend God. Do you think I should not go to the New Mass? I'd really like your input.
Thanks & best,
North Miami Beach, Florida
R. Sungenis: Donald, we have an obligation to worship on Sunday, and this is not something that we can lightly pass by. Only in the gravest concerns of conscience could we forgo attending Mass. The Novus Ordo has its problems, but I doubt that any are so repelled that they find it an occasion of sin. Remember the bottom line: despite its problems, the Novus Ordo is a valid mass, and thus Jesus Christ is as present there as He is in any Tridentine mass. When you receive him at the Eucharist, that is all that really matters in the end. How anyone could bypass that opportunity, no matter how bad they thought of the Novus Ordo, is beyond me. I hope this helps.
Question 63- Is the SSPX in Schism Considering Cardinal Hoyos' remarks?
Bob and Ben,
I offer this article in the hopes that you will finally relenquish your misguided and illogical opinions concerning the SSPX and the Roman Catholic Church. It is difficult to abandon an intellectually comfortable opinion, but I know that you are honest men, and honest men admit when they are wrong. Ben, your specific 'arguments' against the Society are as old and tired as they are superficial. They have been answered time and time again so I suggest you should take the time to re-think your position. For instance, to posit that the Church is infallible in every specific and particular law, not merely universal disciplinary laws which derive directly or indirectly from the natural and eternal law, is absurd on its face. No canonist would admitt such an opinion. So there we have an example of abusing Church doctrine in mounting an attack on other Catholics. There are other examples and I would be glad to discuss them with you privately. I digress. Read and enjoy this good news below and hopefully you both will end your polemic once and for all. May God bless you both.
R. Sungenis: Matt, CAI is always open to correction, but in cases like this we must base the correction on the facts, not on what one may read into Cardinal Hoyos' remarks. First of all, Cardinal Hoyos has no authority to speak for the Vatican on this issue. If he wants to relay a message from Pope Benedict XVI, that's fine, but Cardinal Hoyos represents nothing except his own opinion in this case; and there are many prelates who have voiced a similar opinions. If Pope Benedict is behind Hoyos' remarks, then Hoyos should have made that clear. As it stands, he did not specify, and thus the matter remains as it was. No Cardinal has the authority to turn over a papal edict (in this case Ecclesia Dei).
Second, the words of Cardinal Hoyos are dubious. Let's look at them:
"Unfortunately Monsignor Lefebvre went ahead with the consecration and hence the situation of separation came about, even if it was not a formal schism."
By "formal" Hoyos may simply mean that the schism and sentence was not ferendae sententiae but merely latae sententiae. Some argue that Ecclesia Dei did not mention a ferendae sententiae because Lefebvre was already excommunicated based on latae sententiae, which would make the schism less than formal.
Even if one puts the best light on Hoyos' remark, if Hoyos believes it wasn't a formal schism, he must believe it was a material schism. This is important because the SSPX has not even admitted to a material schism, let alone a formal schism.
But as I said above, all this is water under the bridge, simply because Hoyos has not been designated by Pope Benedict or any Papal Commission to be the authoritative word on the issue. If we were to take the word of a Cardinal as the definitive decision on the matter, then we might as well take the word of Cardinal Kasper that the Jews have their own covenant with God and don't need to convert to Christianity. Same difference. CAI will change its view if and when the Pope himself lifts the injunction of Ecclesia Dei. Rest assured, this is not a matter that is settled by a Cardinal's few off hand remarks.
Question 62- Thank You
Dear Mr. Sungenis:
I was thinking of the things I have been thankful for this Thanksgiving eve, and two of those things were your books, Not By Faith Alone and Not By Scripture Alone.
I and my family were formally received into the Catholic Church last spring. I used to be a United Church of Christ minister, but could not accept many of the positions, both morally and theologically, that the United Church of Christ held. But more importantly, I found that I needed a more sacramental spirituality which Protestantism cannot offer. In my search I went back to the scripture and the history of the church, and found Matthew 16 giving me a clear vision of the church and my relationship to our Lord and his church. From that point I had to explore the position of the Catholic Church on many of the theological arguments of the Protestants. It was during this research that I found your books, and found them extremely helpful.
Anyway, I just wanted to express my appreciation to you, and let you know how helpful you have been in my journey to the Catholic Church, which, by the way, really does feel like I have come home.
R. Sungenis: Keith, thank you so much for letting me know this. Funny, I was just down in Florida debating a Church of Christ minister on Sola Scriptura last week. Unfortunately, he wasn't as open as you are :) He did a lot of hooting and hollaring, but didn't want to debate the real points of the discussion. But for you I am very happy that you have seen the light. If I can be of any help on your journey, please let me know. We are here to help. Now that you've tackled Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura, you might want to read Not By Bread Alone next to get a flavor of Catholic atonement theology. I think you'll like it. God be with you.
Question 61- Matatics and Sedevacantism 2
Mr. Sungenis, I don't know what else to say except that I don't know how you can say some of these things. You know very well that the laypeople of Constantinople refused to have anything to do with BISHOP Nestorius as soon as he started espousing his heresy that Mary was not the Mother of God. And they didn't WAIT for a juridical decision from Rome (or anywhere else) before they withdrew their allegiance to the heretic. A heretic by DIVINE law holds no jurisdiction in the Church. And the Church has never regarded the Catholic laymen of Constantinople as heretics or even as "uppity" for their withdrawal of obedience from Nestorius PRIOR to his being deposed or condemned as a heretic by the Church.
Donald Ramsey / North Miami Beach, Florida
R. Sungenis: Donald, objecting to and refusing to follow a false teaching is even something the Magisterium allows us to do. In fact, the Magisterium often warns us of such aberrations in the Church. But that has nothing to do with your insistence that a layman has the power to declare such and such a bishop as either invalidly elected or deposed of his office. The problem is that you are working under the false premise that the utterance of a theological aberration automatically deposes one from his office. That is simply not true. Nothing less than a magisterial canonical court of law could depose a cleric of his office, and in the case of a reigning pope, we are not even sure that would be the remedy, since the Church has never officially told us the prescription.
Question 60- Matatics and Sedevacantism
do we HAVE to be top-notch Theologians to recognize that a person espouses heresy when we see it with our own eyes?
R. Sungenis: No, you can be an average Joe as you and I are, but whether that allows you to say that a validly elected pope who is now reigning as pope is not really a pope at all is a completely different ball park.
DR: Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, taught that the 1870 Vatican I definition of the papacy's primacy of JURISDICTION ought not be binding on the Eastern Orthodox, and suggests that the primacy of Honor and charity alone may actually be the correct view !! Ratzinger has never recanted this belief, which is obviously heretical (or do I have to have a Ph.D and Th.D. and D.D. first in order to say so???), yet we are supposed to believe 100% that this man is a valid pope. Pope Paul IV taught in his apostolic constitution that a heretic can NEVER be VALIDLY elected pope. Who am I to believe? Pope Paul IV? or the defenders of Ratzinger? Pope Paul IV taught this very solemnly, yet you say the church has never taught this. How can you say that??
Ratzinger teaches that Judaism and Catholicism have a common Witness to give to God. That is insane on the face of it, since Catholics believe in Jesus Christ as God and Savior and Jewish people do not. How could we possibly have a common mission to give a common witness???
In my copy of Ratzinger's book INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY, Ratzinger goes on for several pages about how the resurrection has nothing "AT ALL" to do with the "restoration of bodies to souls at the end of a long interval," when that is PRECISELY what happens at the resurrection!! Who am I to believe? The Creed? The Bible? The 2000 year consistent witness of the Catholic Church? Or Ratzinger????? Who by the way says his theology has not changed since Vatican II.
Please tell me, Mr. Sungenis, how you can reconcile Ratzinger's professed beliefs with the orthodox Catholic Faith???
Donald Ramsey / North Miami Beach, Florida
R. Sungenis: In regards to his being pope now, it doesn't matter what Cardinal Ratzinger's personal views of the Church or theology were. It only matters if Cardinal Ratzinger was tired and convicted of heresy. If he was convicted of heresy, then he wouldn't be pope today, since the Church would never have elected him knowing that he was a formal heretic. And this also means that average Joes like you and I have absolutely no authority to convict Cardinal Ratzinger of heresy, either when he was a Cardinal or now that he has become pope. If you are troubled by some of the things he said, that's expected. Protect yourself and raise your objections, but don't place yourself as the authority above the Magisterium to determine whether his office is valid or not. That is solely for God and the Magisterium to judge, not you. There are numerous warnings in Scripture against laymen who transgressed those boundaries, no matter how legitimate they thought their case to be. I am here to say that you and I fall into the same category. A word to the wise is sufficient.
Question 59- Ex nihilo?
Me: Are we not also to believe that God started it all ex nihilo?
R. Sungenis: I would say so, based on these proclamations:
In 1215, Council of Lateran IV: “God...who by His own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual, and corporal, namely, angelic and mundane, and finally the human...”
In 1441, the Council of Florence: “God...is the creator of all things visible and invisible, who, when he wished, out of his goodness created all creatures, spiritual as well as corporal; good, indeed...since they were from nothing...”
In 1860, the local Council of Cologne: “Our first parents were formed immediately by God. Therefore we declare that...those who...assert...man...emerged from spontaneous continuous change of imperfect nature to the more perfect, is clearly opposed to Sacred Scripture and to the Faith."
Vatican Council I in 1870: "If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing, let him be anathema."
Question 57- Full Immersion Baptism?
Dear Mr Sungenis,
Firstly may I say that your work and Mr Douglass' are an absolute blessing to the world and strengthen my faith. I'm in the midst of reading your books and have learnt so much from them. I'm really enjoying my journey into the world of apologetics. This leads me to my question that I wish to ask. Today some mormon folk came to my house, and to cut a long story short, I was doing more of the preaching. I wasn't really aware of their doctrines, but they said something about "Full Immersion" baptism. I assume they think that full immersion is an absolute requirement, so I want to refute that doctrine by using biblical examples in which full immersion Baptism could not have taken place. Two examples I found are:
(Acts 9:17-18) St Paul's Baptism
(Acts 10:46-48) more info given in (Acts 11:11-14) Cornelius' Baptism
Both baptisms occur inside a house so I presume that full immersion could not be possible (no bath). Am I right in presuming this? Do these examples show that full immersion is not required? I would appreciate your help (If you have the time), because I assume that they will be back with reinforcements for round two, and I want a KO (of course with charity).
P.S. the pics for the feature articles are hilarious. Luther, with a name tag, reviewing your book... CLASSIC.
On another note, I was going to give you US$50 for the debate fundraising earlier, but I needed to acquire the funds first. I realise that you have now reached the target (and then some!) so the money can go directly to your apostolate. I bought books from you about a month ago, so you may have my credit card number already. If not, let me know and I can give it to you.
Dennis de Brito
B. Douglass: Dennis,
Glad you appreciate the graphics. Thank Jason Corsetti, our webmaster. He's continuing the fine tradition John Novotny began with "You Know Who's Favorite Version!?" and a picture of a goofy, grinning Satan, heading up my article on the NAB.
I certainly hope you have a round two, because no amount of reinforcement is going to do your Mormon interlocutors much good. Mormonism is thoroughly indefensible on absolutely every level: logically, philosophically, historically, archeologically, biblically, etc. Sometimes you will simply be amazed at the gross and utter incompetence of the founders of this Satanic cult (e.g. thinking Elias and Elijah were two different people, absolutely making fools of themselves trying to do Hebrew exegesis of Genesis 1:1, etc. etc.). It is probably the most manifestly false religion that exists. Fr. Brian Harrison has written an excellent article on Mormonism in Living Tradition no. 95, 96. There is also much good material at the Catholic Answers website, and even on some otherwise highly objectionable sites, like Jews for Judaism and aomin.org. If you can get these missionaries to look critically at their church, instead of insisting that it must be true because they feel it and they know it and they have the burning in the bosom that tells them so, you may very well win their souls to Jesus Christ.
As for the proper form of baptism, your Mormon friends are basically just arguing from silence if they want to propose that only full immersion is valid (incidentally, Mormons also believe the minister must hold the Mormon priesthood). The Bible doesn't tell us exactly what form of baptism the apostles used. We don't hear anything about form until the Didache, which endorses both immersion and infusion (pouring), and other early Christian sources which say the same thing (e.g. Hippolytus of Rome, Cornelius I).
If they attempt to argue from the etymology of the word baptizo, that baptism is by immersion only, you can point them to Luke 11:38 which uses baptizo to refer to just washing up before dinner. The word has a much broader range of meaning than solely immersion.
You are on the right track in pointing out the physical difficulties sometimes associated with immersion. Sure, when you're next to a river immersion is easy. But when you're in a desert city and 3,000 people want to get baptized (Acts 2:41)... well let's just say the citizens might not be too happy about that much pollution in their water supply. In general, in situations where water is scarce, as it certainly was in many of the areas in which the apostles preached, immersion is impractical. That having been said, I don't know that you can assume that the houses in which St. Paul and St. Cornelius were baptised did not contain baths.
Question 56- Intelligent design
Dear CAI experts
There has been a lot of media coverage of Intelligent Design in Australia recently, including a letter - critical of ID - said to be endorsed by many thousands of scientists and published in all major newspapers. This has been followed by numerous published letters from the public. The main claim is that ID is not science and should not be taught in schools, except, as one person writes, as evidence that "religion still harbours odd and quirky ideas in its darker corners".
There are a few themes:
1. "Evolutionary theory has developed over 150 years, with each new discovery strengthening it."
2. "No evidence has arisen to disprove it."
3. "ID advocates set up God for a fall: Humans have an unnecessary appendix. When cold they make goose bumps to raise the fur they don't have. Evolution explains these facts."
4. "There are doubts about the 'intelligence' of any 'designer' who is responsible for the AIDS virus, malaria, genetic diseases etc. There is a parasitic worm which does nothing but eat the eyes of humans. Any designer who actually designed these things is a warped sadist."
5. "The ID movement is a simplistic and erroneous pseudo-scientific view (sic) which does religion and philosophy a disservice. It diminishes God." (This one was written by a Catholic and refers to the "God of the gaps". She goes on to say, "I would dismiss any scientific 'theory' that specifies an element that is supernatural."
I know the first two are simply false, but can you help with answers to the others - answers which would satisfy an atheist, or at least induce him to wonder or doubt?
B. Douglass: Val,
Gladly. Let's go down the list, starting at 3.
3. The appendix is not vestigial. It is part of the immune system. Granted, we can live without it, but we can also live without a kidney and without much of our intestinal tract. That doesn't mean we're better off without them. Here are five references from secular, medical literature which teach that the appendix is a functional member of the lymphatic system: Zuidema, G., Johns Hopkins Atlas of Human Functional Anatomy, 1980, p. 86; Hartenstein, Roy, Grolier Encyclopedia, 2002, Grolier Interactive Inc.; Van De Graff & Fox, Concepts of Human Anatomy & Physiology, 1999, p. 837; Saladin, K., Anatomy & Physiology, McGraw Hill, 2001, p. 974; Martini, F., Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology, Prentice Hall, 1998, p. 899. (cited by Frank Sherwin of the Institute for Creation Research). Goosebumps too have a function. They force oil onto the surface of the skin which provides added insulation. Again, the coccyx, the tonsils, vestigial whale "legs" etc. etc. are all fully functional structures. See the books Vestigial Organs are Fully Functional by Bergman and Howe, and Body by Design by Gillen. Even some evolutionists admit that they cannot use vestigial organs in support of their theory (cf. S.R. Scadding, "Do `Vestigial Organs' Provide Evidence for Evolution?" Evolutionary Theory (vol. 5, May 1981), p. 173).
4. Proponents of ID don't claim that every organism that exists on earth today was created immediately, in its present form, by God. Actually, adherents of ID can be quite liberal in accepting that random genetic mutation and natural selection (i.e. evolution) are responsible for much of what we see today. The central thesis of ID is simply that some structures such as the cell, the flagellum, and the blood-clotting system require a certain threshold of complexity before they can function at all, and therefore they could not have come into being through a gradual upward transformation. It's all or nothing. It is these structures which proponents of ID assert were created by God.
The argument of proposition 4 seems to be much more applicable to a fiat, ex-nihilo, 6 day creationist like myself, so I'll answer it from that perspective. Not every modern organism (in fact no modern organism) exists exactly in the form in which it was created by God. Degenerative genetic mutations and the loss of genetic material through inbreeding and natural selection have caused significant changes in the physiology of many creatues (just remember that a Chihuahua is descended from a wolf; in this example the degeneration is forced by man, but the same thing also happens naturally, just slower). Who knows what the ancestors of that worm may have done before a few of them found a niche eating humans' eyes, and the eye-eating population subsequently inbred and lost the genetic material necessary for gaining a livelihood in any other way.
5. Pure sophistry. In what way does ID do religion and philosophy a disservice? Any why should she dismiss, a priori, any scientific theory which specifies a supernatural element? Is she a naturalist? I hope not, if she is Catholic. She should approach natural history the same way she approaches (I hope) human history: when a supernatural explanation better fits the available evidence, she should adopt the supernatural explanation. When the Church is miraculously indefectible in the face of immense external persecution, internal corruption, political upheaval, and everything the world is capable of throwing at it, she should conclude that it is divinely constituted and sustained. When vertebrates miraculously appear fully formed in the fossil record (fishes in the Ordovician) with absolutely no transitional forms from their alleged invertebrate ancestors, she should conclude that they were created ex nihilo by God. It's really rather simple. When supernatural causes explain that which natural causes fail to explain, the supernatural cause is the logically superior option.
Question 55- I need some help on something
I know you are extremely busy Mr. Sungenis, but I am dealing with two co-workers about the enclosed attachment. I am at a loss as to how to deal with this. If you don't have the time to help me could you direct me somewhere. This attachment and it's teachings are spreading here and need some ammo. Thank you sir.
Travis Findley in Boise Idaho
R. Sungenis: Travis, I'm sorry, but I don't have time to read the 112 pages. From skimming the pages I can see that he presents the same old tired arguments, most of which I addressed in the chapter on James in my book Not By Faith Alone. Rest assured that the Epistle of James is thoroughly consistent with the Pauline corpus. Don't waste your time with this. If you have a specific question from those you are bothering you, send it along and I will give a short answer. It will be easy, I can assure you.
Question 54- Evolution
In light of the Church's decrees at the Councils of Trent and Vatican I concerning the interpretation of Holy Scripture and the unanimous consent of the Church Fathers, can we conclude that Special Creation is true and evolution is false?
R. Sungenis: Yes, and now all we need is for the reigning pope to recognize it and reiterate it, which, unfortunately, may take a while, even centuries.
Question 53- John 6:37
I am in a bit of a debate with a Protestant over the Eucharist and have a question if you can find the time...
John 6:67 says that all that the Father gives to the Son, shall come to the son. On what basis however, does the father "give" to the Son?
Also, from the Biblical perspective what is the difference between the words will and shall? It seems that "will" means that it will definately happen whereas shall means that it might--no?
R. Sungenis: John, I think you mean John 6:37. Interestingly enough, many Calvinists assume passages such as John 6:37 mean that the criterion for the Father giving the people to the Son is that the Father chose them without reference to their free will, but the passage does not say that at all. It only says the Father gave them to the Son. It does not mention the means by which the Father himself chose them. However, we know from the rest of Scripture that the Father chose them based on both his predestination plan and their own free will. We could safely say, then, that the Father gave to the Son those whom exercised their free will to respond to the Father's grace. This is confirmed in the opening verses of John 6, as well as the context of John 5, 7-8, in which Jesus maintains that the people themselves determine whether they will believe or not.
"Shall" is an old English word. "Will" is the modern equivalent.
Question 52- Question #37
This is for Ben Douglass. Ben you answered questions regarding the status of the SSPX. Yes we all do know by now where you stand on the issue. Your opinion that they are right about 80% of the time does not include the ambiguous language in documents such as those written on Religious Liberty, Ecumenism. It is obvious to all who have eyes to see that the SSPX bishops are well aware of the inconsistencies and contradictions of the pre-Vatican II Popes and anyone who has read the Letter of St. Pius X on the Sillon will recognize that what is going on in Rome today is exactly what this Pope foresaw. You also forgot to mention that the Society continues to have dialogue with the Roman prelates and you also forgot to mention that these "marriage tribunals" were falsley portrayed by the so-called Catholic media. Could you please specify when the Society charged the infallible (?) laws (never heard of that one) of the Church with heresy and error? or any other number of schismatic acts (please specify)? It is this kind of speculating that causes problems for the average Catholic who has no idea what the Society thinks or does. If it wasn't for Archbishop Lefebvre there would not be an indult mass, period. Most of today's bishops despise the Latin Mass and fight tooth and nail to have it banished from their diocese. And it urks them to no end to have a Society Chapel in their neighborhood. Thank God for the SSPX!!
Vancouver, B.C. Canada
B. Douglass: Dear Sir,
The bishops of the SSPX are certainly correct in faulting the ambiguities in the documents of Vatican II. But they go further than that. Bishop Fellay maintains (and the rest of the Society follows him) that Vatican II contains both "errors and ambiguities which pave the way for even worse errors" (Christendom News, N 1, September/October 2005). I agree that it contains the latter, but disagree that it contians the former. I also disagree with what bishop Fellay says next: "What inspired the text and what makes it unacceptable, was a non-Catholic spirit."
You're going to have to offer concrete examples if you want me to give credence to the idea that Vatican II contradicts the prior papal magisterium on religious liberty and ecumenism. Dignitatis Humanae says near the beginning that it's not contradicting previous teaching, and I'm inclined to believe it. Certainly, the Council Fathers were sloppy in failing to reaffirm certain areas of the previous teaching (e.g. the duty of the state to profess religion), and in failing to explain how the previous teaching and the new teaching of Dignitatis Humanae were to be understood in harmony (they deliberately left this up to "the theologians" who they hoped would reconcile the two at some point after the Council; unfortunately about two theologians have taken up the cause (Fr. Most and Fr. Harrison)). However, that does not mean they taught error.
Yes, there is modernism in the Vatican today. At other points in history, there have been prostitutes. But this is all irrelevant to the canonical status of the SSPX.
I'm well aware that the SSPX continues to have dialogue with the Pope and other Roman prelates. But this too is irrelevant. Lutherans, Orthodox, Muslims, and Jews also maintain dialogue with Rome. So does Hans Kung.
How have the marriage tribunals of the SSPX been falsely portrayed in the media?
You state that you have never heard that the Church is infallible in her universal disciplinary laws. That is unfortunate. Pope Pius XII stated in Mystici Corporis Christi, 66: "Certainly the loving Mother is SPOTLESS in the Sacraments, by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate; IN HER SACRED LAWS IMPOSED ON ALL" (emphasis mine). See also Auctorem Fidei, 78; Mirari Vos, 9; and Quo Graviora, 4-5. St. Augustine said it best 1600 years ago: "whatever the Church says, is true; whatever she permits is lawful; whatever she forbids, is evil; whatever she ordains, is holy; whatever she institutes, is good."
On the contrary, the Remnant recently reprinted a letter co-signed by Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer in which they refer to the "errors and heresies" in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. I don't know exactly which canons they deemed heretical, except that Canon 844 §§3-4 was surely among them. See: Most Asked Questions About the Society of Saint Pius X, Angelus Press, Kansas City, MO, 1997, pp. 41-43. The Society's position today is exactly in line with that of it's founder on this issue. They also say, in the canonical Q&A section of their website sspx.org, that we should refuse to obey canons which contradict Catholic Tradition (i.e. are evil).
Probably the most obvious example of the Society's schismatic acts would be removing Catholics from obedience to their local ordinary. A story ran on freerepublic.com a while ago about Indian parishes throwing off their bishop (parishioners were referring to him as their "former bishop") and alligning themselves with the SSPX instead. Fr. Thomas Blute, SSPX added a comment in which he asked for prayers that they might gather as large a harvest of Indian Catholics as possible.
None of us know what the status of the Latin Mass would be without Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX. All we know is that God tells us that sin is never for the good, and hence an act of schism is not for the good.
Question 51- Sedevacantism on Private Revelation
Do you know what stance sedevacantists take in regards to Marian apparitions that have occurred and have been approved by the Church since Vatican II? In these apparitions, Mary usually requests that we pray for the Pope, bishops, and priests (without a hint of vacant offices in the papacy or in relation to bishops).
For example, in the messages of Akita, Mary instructs us to pray for the aforementioned people. Yet, she also reveals that the "work of the devil" will infiltrate the Church causing grave problems in both the clergy and laity. Your stance that a general apostasy has fallen upon the Church yet retains a Pope seems to be more in line with Mary's private revelations.
B. Douglass: Jorge,
Thank you for pointing this out. When you're in as precarious a position as CAI, and you disagree with just about everybody, it's nice to know that someone is on your side, best of all the Immaculate Mother of God.
To answer your question, Sedevacantism is not monolithic, so you'll have to ask individual sedevacantists what they think about post-Vatican II Marian apparitions like Akita. I can only answer with any certainty regarding one: every sedevacantist you meet will denounce the apparitions at Medjugorja as a fraud.
Sedevacantists may also denounce other post-Vatican II apparitions such as Akita, on the grounds you mention. If there were no Pope, and Mary asked someone to pray for the Pope, she would be lying. Also, if, say, Cardinal Siri were actually the Pope, and John Paul II were an anti-Pope, and Mary talked about "the Pope" without qualifying, any Catholic except for a few sedevacantists would assume she was referring to John Paul II, and she would again be perpetrating falsehood. I can't see how the message of Akita can be reconciled with the sedevacantist position.
Question 50- SSPX
I am wondering if Robert Sungenis is a member of the SSPX.
R. Sungenis: John, no, never have been and never will be. Although I sympathize with many of the SSPX's concerns over liberalism and modernism, I believe they have overeaceted in supporting a schism or even a semi-schism from Rome.
Question 49- SSPX - please explain
Dear Mr. Douglass,
The following is an excerpt from a recent Q&A answer you gave regarding the Society of St. Pius X.
"Rest assured, we at CAI hold the SSPX to be in schism. Where they disagree with the prelates of the modern Church, I'd say they are right about 80% of the time (e.g. Fatima, Assisi, the confessional state, biblical inerrancy, creation). However, this does not justify severing all juridical connection and obedience to the Holy See, charging the infallible universal laws of the Church with heresy and error, setting up their own parallel ecclesiastical structures (e.g. the marriage tribunals which you mention), or any other number of schismatic acts."
Please clarify regarding the following:
1. On what grounds in particular do you "hold the SSPX to be in schism"? Has Rome made a similar official and public pronouncement, or is this the private opinion of CAI?
B. Douglass: John Paul II declared in Ecclesia Dei: "In performing such an act [the 1988 consecrations], notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on 17 June last, Mons. Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law... Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church's law." Subsequent Vatican documents have followed the Pope's lead. Cardinal Hoyos has stated the contrary in various interviews, but his opinion is not authoritative, especially given that it contradicts the decree of the Pope.
2. What does it mean to sever "all juridical connection and obedience to the Holy See"? Who did this severing? And was it done in any official capacity? Are you certain that the SSPX does not turn to Rome in any juridical matters? Also, are you certain that the SSPX is not obedient to the Holy See in any way? Would you say the priests and bishops of the SSPX are more obedient or less obedient to the Holy See than, say, the average American bishop? And in what matters?
B. Douglass: Lefebvre did the severing in 1988 when he consecrated 4 bishops against the command of the Pope. Since then, the bishops and priests of the SSPX have not had permission to celebrate the sacraments, but they do so anyway.
Not that I am giving a compliment to the average American bishop, but he is far more obedient to Rome than the bishops and priests of the SSPX. Rome says to the SSPX: "Your Masses are illicit. Do not say Mass. It is a sin for you to say Mass." And they go on saying Mass. Only the most outrageous of the American bishops are this disobedient to the Holy See.
The SSPX may consult with Rome on some of its disciplinary matters, so perhaps my superlative language was out of order. However, "some" is not enough, in this case.
3. What "infallible universal laws of the Church" has the SSPX, as a society in an official capacity, charged "with heresy and error"?
B. Douglass: The Remnant recently reprinted a letter co-signed by Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer in which they refer to the "errors and heresies" in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. I don't know exactly which canons they deemed heretical, except that Canon 844 §§3-4 was surely among them. See: Most Asked Questions About the Society of Saint Pius X, Angelus Press, Kansas City, MO, 1997, pp. 41-43. The Society's position today is exactly in line with that of it's founder on this issue. They also say, in the canonical Q&A section of their website sspx.org, that we should refuse to obey canons which contradict Catholic Tradition (i.e. are evil).
Sed contra, St. Augustine says: "whatever the Church says, is true; whatever she permits is lawful; whatever she forbids, is evil; whatever she ordains, is holy; whatever she institutes, is good" (I wish I had the reference for this quote, but I found it in the Haydock Bible, which doesn't give references for its patristic citations).
4. Is the setting up of non-habitual marriage tribunals truly an official act of schism? Do you know whether the SSPX holds the judgments of these tribunals subject to the eventual confirmation of the Holy See? And if they do, would the tribunals still be considered a parallel ecclesiastical structure? What other parallel ecclesiastical structures does the SSPX maintain (by "parallel" I assume you mean NOT in acknowledgment of the primacy of Rome)?
B. Douglass: By parallel, I mean that they exist side by side with an ecclesiastical structure, of the same purpose, built and maintianed by the Catholic Church. Catholic dioceses have marriage tribunals. The SSPX has set up it's own, parrallel tribunals without the permission of Rome. Whether they hope the Holy See will eventually confirm their decisions is irrelevant.
5. Please name (and number) the other definite, schismatic acts to which you allude.
B. Douglass: Probably the most obvious example of the Society's schismatic acts would be removing Catholics from obedience to their local ordinary. A story ran on freerepublic.com a while ago about Indian parishes throwing off their bishop (parishioners were referring to him as their "former bishop") and alligning themselves with the SSPX instead. Fr. Thomas Blute, SSPX added a comment in which he asked for prayers that they might gather as large a harvest of Indian Catholics as possible.
Thanks very much.
B. Douglass: You're welcome.
Question 48- Vatican and evolution
Dear Mr. Douglas (or Dr. Sungenis):
What do you make of the recent pronouncements by Vatican scientists regarding evolution? When the Church does not speak clearly and with one voice, how are the faithful--let alone the world--to be led? How do you see the deep polarities within the Church resolving? How much can the Holy Father actually do to set things right, and does he even want to do the right things--at least as near as you can tell? Do you think the current state of confusion within the Church a sign of the Apocalypse?
I know these are big questions--and perhaps too vaguely stated to be answered effectively. Still, I would be interested in your analysis. I have found much on your site of great value, and I was pleased to receive recently my copy of the CA Study Bible: it looks excellent.
R. Sungenis: Michael, don't worry about Coyne and Poupard. They are thoroughly liberal. Pope Benedict XVI already gave us a sign that they don't speak for the Church when he quoted from St. Basil, the most thorough-going six-day creationist in the patristic era. He was giving us a hint that he is sympathetic to our cause. Coyne and Poupard will be removed by attrition, which is usually the way it goes down.
Question 47- "Alive" and Cannibalism
Mr. Sungenis or Mr. Douglass,
I have a question for you. First of all, have you ever seen or heard about the movie "Alive"? If not, it is a true story about a rugby team from Uruguay who were on a plane that crashed in the Andes' mountains. In order to survive, they resorted to eating the flesh off of dead human corpses. I have been debating the morality of this issue with a friend. I'm taking the position that to eat a human corpse, or pieces thereof, is immoral regardless of the circumstances. What do you say, and has the Church ever mentioned anything about the incident.
Thank you and God Bless.
R. Sungenis: I don't know if the Church has taken a position on this, but in my knowledge of Catholic morality, it would not be wrong to eat a dead person's flesh if it was a matter of survival. The body was made for man, not man for the body. Analogously, Jesus said that David ate the showbread when he and his men were hungry even though that bread was legally only for the priests.
Question 46- The Nature of God
Does what we can definitively posit about the existence and nature of God based on the proper application of human reason alone necessitate a belief in a Trinitarian God? I have always been taught that although the existence of the Blessed Trinity does not conflict with reason we could not have come to the knowledge of its existence without divine revelation. On the other hand, I have heard it argued that our knowledge about God based on reason alone would logically necessitate a belief in a Trinitarian God.
James B. Phillips
R. Sungenis: James, there isn't any Church doctrine that says we can come to know of the existence of the Trinity by reason, that is, without revelation. Our reason, with some revelation, may be able to come to the conclucion that there is a Trinity, but it can't do so without at least some revelation. The closest reason can give us, without revelation, is that there is a God.
Question 45- Mammary Glands and Evolution
One part of evolution I can never accept is how mammals evolved mammary glands. I can see how species could change color, and size over time, but for mammals to make the jump from reptiles is impossible.Mammary glands could never evolve over time they either work or they do not. What would start the process anyway? mutation would have to occur in one generation. I have been challenging people for years to explain how it possible so far no one has been able to prove it. It is very easy to shoot down any attempts to do so. What do you think?
R. Sungenis: Precisely, Xavier. You and I must have been sharing the same wave patterns, since I was thinking precisely the same thoughts about mammary glands this past week. What mutation would know that it has to produce milk for its young?? Evolution is absurd, and so are the people who hold it. The bottom line is: they don't want God in their life. God will do them the favor of returning the favor. They will have an eternity without God.
Question 44- Regarding Scott Hahn
Hi Mr. Sungenis !!
My name is Patrick Yaeger and I've some questions to ask you about Scott Hahn (SH) and his weird ontology. I have an aquaintance who's quite prominent in Catholic circles and when I told him about SH's feminine Holy Spirit et al he didn't believe it and asked for specific references to prove that SH does/did indeed advocate such a thing. I don't have any of SH's materials up here so I can't fulfill his request. I very much would like to because SH is the favored son down at EWTN and if anyone called them to protest anything negative about him I'm quite sure it would never get on the airwaves. I see SH as influencing many people for the good in most of what he says, but he can adversely influence them with the feminine Holy Spirit stuff and the Original Sin nonsense. Does SH still advocate these things or has he recanted them? I don't want to pursue this if he has.
If he hasn't, could you possibly give me some references to specific pages and paragraphs from his materials where he advocates this stuff so I can send them along to the fellow I mentioned above. If you'd like, I wouldn't mention your name - unless you wanted me to and then I'd be glad to. I strongly feel that there's enough foolishness on the liberal side already out there without spreading more of it from the supposedly orthodox side. Thanks for whatever you can do for me, Mr. Sungenis. God bless you and your work.
R. Sungenis: Patrick, I and Chris Ferrara have written extensively on Scott Hahn's errors regarding the Holy Spirit and the Garden of Eden. You can read about them at this link.
I think that will give you all you need.
Question 43- Best evidence for the canon?
If it wouldn't take up so much of your time I would write you a long list of thank-you's for you for what you've done for the Church and apologetics in general. But in short - thank you. Love the website.
I'm recently became Catholic from Evangelicalism as of 2003, and have gone through the typical trials of family and friends. Throughout that time, the one issue which I think intriuges me the most (from an argumentative standpoint) is the issue of the Canon of Scripture.
What is the best evidence (or where do you suggest I look) for the Catholic perspective on the Canon of books? How are authors like William Webster refuted? Because overall throughout Christian history it seems as though the authority of the Dueterocanonical books has been accepted by some and rejected by some. For instance, was Hippo and Carthage's "canon" a broad version or narrow version - meaning, when they said "canon" did they mean fully divinely inspired, or did it also include solely "edifying" books, not necessarily useful for confirmation of doctrine?
Anyway, that's the basic question.
Best of luck with your debate tonight!!! I've been praying that this goes well, and was also upset by his email to you - very arrogant.
God Bless, sir...
R. Sungenis: Lance, the issue of the canon is really very simple. All the councils prior to the Council of Trent were merely setting up the authoritative Tradition. This includes the local councils of Rome (382), Hippo (393) and Carthage (419), as well as Pope Innocent's decree in 405. Later the Council of Florence gave an even stronger statement on the Canon, but not the definitive or infallible one. The Council of Trent, with its use of the word "canon" and its accompanying anathemas, laid out the final and only infallible declaration of the Canon. However, in doing so, Trent said that it was bound to the Tradition that went before it. In other words, Trent abided by the decisions of all the previous councils, which were unanimous in their decision as to what comprised the Canon of Scripture.
As for the debate, it went very well. My opponent, unfortunately, was more interested in ranting and raving about the Catholic Church and making all kinds of unsubstantiated and distorted charges rather than really engaging in a debate about the issues. Personally, I don't think he really understood the real issues of the debate. The DVD will be out in a couple of weeks and we will make it available on our website. God be with you.
Question 42- Romans 3:25
Mr. Sungenis, I cannot express to you how grateful I am for your service. I had a question about the word hilasterion. It seems as if there are some conceptual precursors in for the Protestant notion of propitiation in 4 Macc. 6:27-29 (also possibly 2 Macc. 7 and 14:37-46) where Eleazer's death is said to have "satisfied" God's punishment.
R. Sungenis: Keith, the word hilasterion is not used in 4Mc 6:28. It is the word arkestheis, from the root word arkeo, meaning, "to be enough, or sufficient or satisfied."
Question 41- Circumcision
Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I read your response that circumcision is ok as long as it is not done with the belief that it is required for salvation. This agrees with the answer my traditionalist priest gave me. However, a friend referred me to the "apologia" website which states that pursuant to "Cantate Domino", signed by Eugene IV at the Council of Florence, it is strictly forbidden. You can read her argument, but although in one place it seems to mesh with your position, it ends with an absolute blanket prohibition. Is this document still in force? If not, why not?
Thanks, and God bless you,
R. Sungenis: Tim, Eugene did not "strictly forbide" circumcision in all cases. His context is clearly for religious reasons, and he does not address the medical or social reasons one may opt for circumcision. And contrary to the website you reference, there is a prevalent medical opinion that circumcision helps to combat disease, since the male organ does will no longer have crevices for germs to hide. I know this because my father is a doctor. Moreover, with circumcision, unination is a simple process, since it doesn't involve pulling endlessly on the foreskin; and for that matter, copulation is also made easier.
Question 40- Law versus Faith
I'm currently reading your book Not by Faith Alone. I'm very interested in the distinction you make between the system of law and the system of grace. What I'm curious about is your statement that "the Jews were given the same gospel of faith that is now present in the Christian era." How explicit was God's urging to "live out the way of faith" in the Old Testament? Were these requests few and far between amidst a sea of moral and ceremonial laws? I don't understand how so many of the Jewish people could have been so wrong with respect to their means of justification. What was the purpose of "the Law," and if it wasn't possible to live up to its requirements, why would God ask the impossible?
R. Sungenis: Andrew, according to Deut 30:11-14, it wasn't difficult at all for them to obey the Law, at least the original Ten Commandments. And the call to faith was constant in the Old Testament. Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham are the first representatives (Hebrews 11:1-19). The Jews, by and large, just refused both faith and obedience to the Decalogue. And you'll notice that St. Paul's treatment of Deut 30:11 in Romans 10:6-8 he replaces the word "commandment" with "faith." Thus, neither faith nor obedience are difficult. But since the Jews refused to obey God, then God answered by heaping more and more laws upon them (Ez 20:25). They loved laws instead of God so, being the dynamic God he is, God gave them more laws, even laws they couldn't keep! That is why the Pentateuch is filled with so many nonsensical and tedious laws. But unfortunately, the Jews never got the message (which usually happens when you are deep in sin). They kept basing their religion on the accummulation of laws God gave them, but never realized that the accummulation of those laws was actually a curse God was putting on them. Religion is simple: love God and your neighbor as yourself. That is all a man of faith really needs.
Question 39- LIST OF BANNED BOOKS?
Is there now, or has there ever been, a list of books that are/were banned by the Catholic Church? Is so, what is the history behind it and where can I get a list of these banned books? If not, where did my Protestant friends get the idea that there is such a thing? Thank you in advance for your time in answering this question! I have searched some Catholic websites about this and have come up empty handed so any info you can provide is greatly appreciated!
Mary C. Weller
B. Douglass: Mary,
Yes, it is called the Index Liborum Prohibitorum (Index of Forbidden Books). You can see last edition (1948), before the Index was abrogated, here.
The principle behind the Index is fairly simple. Bad books are poisonous. They have the potential to corrupt the faith and morals of those who read them. Therefore, as a good shepherd makes sure to keep any wolves away from his flock, so must the Catholic Church, and Catholic states under her direction, safeguard her faithful from all authors who would promulgate among them perverse and depraved doctrines unto the ruin of their immortal souls.
The wikipedia article on the Index contains a good historical summary
Question 38- "Jews for Judaism"
I recently ran across an organization called "Jews for Judaism." They make many claims (on the internet) about the Faith. Is there any responses available to these groups? Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Sincerely in Christ,
B. Douglass: Kris,
Jews and Christians have been debating Biblical prophecy and whether Jesus is the Messiah for 2000 years, so while I am not familiar with any material written specifically in refutation of the arguments of "Jews for Judaism" (if it exists, it is most certainly written from an Evangelical Protestant perspective), I can certainly direct you to a large body of Christian literature on these subjects. Outside of Scripture, St. Justin Martyr's dialogue with Trypho would probably be the earliest. St. Isidore of Seville and St. Peter Damien also wrote books for the purpose of converting Jews to Catholicism. St. Peter's book on the Jews is available in English as part of his collected works, translated and published by the Catholic University of America. St. Isidore's book, unfortunately, you will have to find somewhere in the ponderous Latin tomes of Migne's Patrologiae. I wish I had the time to learn Latin and translate it for CAI (so many projects, so many statically indeterminate structures demanding my time and attention instead). To jump ahead a bit in history, you can find some good articles on Dave Armstrong's Judaism and Catholicism page. Also, regarding Jews for Judaism's claims that Christ did not live up to his own teachings, you can find responses to these charges on any Christian apologetics website, or in any Christian book or Bible commentary, that deals with alleged biblical contradictions. On the authority of Sal Ciresi, I will recommend the Protestant Gleason Archer's Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties.
Though not directly related, The Conversion of Ratisbonne (Roman Catholic Books, 2000) should also be helpful in evengelizing the members and supporters of such groups. Finally, the Talmud will furnish a Catholic interlocutor with more than enough material to go on the offensive against Judaism. For example, Sanhedrin 58B teaches that gentile slaves who undergo a ritual purification in order to work in Jewish homes enter into a middle state where they are neither Jew nor gentile, and that in this state they may lawfully have sex with their mothers or daughters (for prudential reasons, not reasons of principle, the rabbis banned full blown converts from having sex with their mothers or daughters). There's more where that came from. That having been said, some claims against the Talmud made on the internet are spurious. Be careful to check references, read commentaries, etc.
Question 37- Society of St Pius X
I am writing to congratulate you and all at CAI for a truly fantastic Catholic website that is true to its mission of sound Catholic apologetics (ie not shying away from the genuine crisis within the Church) yet retaining a sense of balance and perspective when dealing with overreactions to the crisis such as your rebuttal of sedevacantism in addition also to your work of exposing the errors of so-called "bible Christianity".
With regard to overreactions to the crisis in the Church, please would you tell me the stance of CAI regarding the Society of St Pius X? I notice that in your dialogues with sedevacantists on your website, you rightly charge them with taking the law into their own hands when they deem past popes of having fallen from office through - in their opinion -having fallen into heresy. I have always regarded the SSPX of having done the same thing (ie taking the law into their own hands) regarding the decision of Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 to consecrate 4 of his priests as bishops without pontifical mandate, an action which to me called into question the belief of the Archbishop in the divine constitution and indefectibility of the Catholic Church.
I note that you gave a very positive review to the book "The Great Facade" by Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods in which they describe the status of the SSPX following 1988 as a "putative schism" regarding the consecration of the four bishops but without looking at the subsequent schismatic action of the SSPX in setting up their own marriage tribunals to grant decrees of nullity. I do regard the SSPX as schismatic and would like to know if you agree with me.
God bless you and all you do for Our Lord and His Church,
Stephen M. Smith
PS I also agree with you about the consecration of Russia not having been done
B. Douglass: Stephen,
Thank you for the commendation. Rest assured, we at CAI hold the SSPX to be in schism. Where they disagree with the prelates of the modern Church, I'd say they are right about 80% of the time (e.g. Fatima, Assisi, the confessional state, biblical inerrancy, creation). However, this does not justify severing all juridical connection and obedience to the Holy See, charging the infallible universal laws of the Church with heresy and error, setting up their own parallel ecclesiastical structures (e.g. the marriage tribunals which you mention), or any other number of schismatic acts.
Question 36- Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus
Dear Mr. Sungenis,
I have an apologetics question. Aside from teaching Confirmation, I do a bit of Apologetics lessons for them. While I was trying to shed some light on what the church teaches on Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus some people asked about how non-Christians are saved, if at all. I explained to them that Salvation outside of the Catholic faith is dependent upon the presence of invincible ignorance on the individual's part, lacking a formal rejection of the Catholic faith. Furthermore, for those who are saved outside of the Catholic faith, their rewards are proportional to the truth which they possess, abiding by their conscience.
I used the following passage illustrating a similarity about how Paul described that Gentiles were following the Law written on their hearts, the Natural Law. Also, elsewhere there is a similar teaching using circumcision as a reference to one's identification.
Romans 2:11-16 DRB For there is no respect of persons with God. For whosoever have sinned without the law shall perish without the law: and whosoever have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. For not the hearers of the law are just before God: but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these, having not the law, are a law to themselves. Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them: and their thoughts between themselves accusing or also defending one another, In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
Is it appropriate to be using the above passage as a defense for the potential Salvation of those who have never heard the Gospel? If not, what are the best passages to reflect upon?
Thank you, Sir.
Laurence A. Gonzaga
B. Douglass: Laurence,
That is exacltly the right passage to use. Blessed Pope Pius IX follows the thought of this passage very closely in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore 7: "There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments."
Your statement about rewards is a bit unclear. Like anyone else, those saved in invincible ignorance will be rewarded in proportion as they have performed meritorious works by cooperating with actual grace, in a state of sanctifying grace.
Question 35- no proof, just question- 3
R. Sungenis: No, it exists
LH: OK, you agree that gravity exists. Next question is, has the sun the mass astronomy tells us?
R. Sungenis: Yes, the mass is much more than Earth, but the point you're missing is that it is not just the mass of the Sun we are concerned about, but the mass of the whole universe, for only then can we find the center of mass.
LH:Anyway, when NASA send space ships to different planets, and from one planet to the other, they use the gravity of the sun. They have it in their calculations, otherwise they would miss the goal, and they use it as a force when to reach the next goal, for exampel another planet.
R. Sungenis: That's right, Lennart, but you need to understand that the same equations for sending up rockets are used in the geocentric system as in the heliocentic, since all the proportions of distance and masses are the same.
Question 34- circumcision, part 2
I have to take issue with your statement that it is perfectly fine to circumcize (you totally surprised me!). From the document, "Cantate Domino" from the 11th session of the Council of Florence:
[The Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the Old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our Lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the Passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ's passion until the promulgation of the Gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the [Jewish] sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.
The Church teaches against the mutiliation of the body, and Catholics were never routinely circumcized until they came to America where the medical profession and religious ethos were, frankly, Judaized. There are also no health reasons to routinely circumcize. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society, the Canadian Paediatric Society (among others) don't see value in routine circumcisions (if there is a medical anomaly that circumcision would ease, then circumcision, of course, would make sense). This page has more information.
Sit Nomen Domini benedictum,
R. Sungenis: Tracy, the Council of Florence has little to do with this discussion, since it was only concerned when people circumcised for religious reasons, not practical reasons. As regards the health benefits of circumsion, that, indeed, is a debatable subject with varying opinions on either side. If one believes and can show evidence that circumcision has health benefits, then it is certainly not to be classed as a "mutilation of the body," any more than having heart surgery for an aneurysm would be a mutilation.
Question 33- Huopstaseos Confidence or Substance?, Part 2
Thank you for your help on this. I am sure this is WAY down on your list of important things you are working on. So I do appreciate your time. But the gist of your argument is an indictment of St. Jerome. Isn't it? HE is the one who, being fluent in Latin and Ancient Greek and having access to the ancient (perhaps original manuscripts) translated "hupostaseos" as "substantia" in Heb 3:14. So when you say I am "forc[ing] a context" into the passage, your words are equally applicable to St. Jerome. But I honestly don't understand why you see it that way. It's the exact opposite.
R. Sungenis: Joe, no, the "gist of my argument" is that the context and grammar of the Greek won't support using "substance" as a translation, at least if your understanding of "substance" is the same as used in Heb 1:3. The passage in Heb 1:3 is speaking about the nature of Christ's being, therefore we translate it as "substance." But the context of Heb 3:14 is not talking about Christ's being, but about our salvation and the hope we have of keeping it. The Greek grammar requires that it be translated as a first person plural, not a first person singular, since the only verb in the inspired Greek is "we hold fast."
As regards to your comment that my analysis is "an indictment against Jerome," I don't think you want to go there, Joe, not only because I have the highest regard for Jerome. Jerome often complained about how hard it was to translate the ancient languages, and after doing this for 30 years, I can vouch for his sentiments. He would never have claimed, however, that his translations couldn't be improved upon. But I think I can clear this up. See more below.
I am saying the context DOESN'T dictate the translation of hupostasis as "assurance (NASB)" or "confidence(KJV)." So, I am taking into consideration the context and affirming that it doesn't dictate that "confidence" be used here. I understand that the context is at least as important as the lexical definition of the word. So your example of Math 5:32 is not analogous to what I am doing. In Mt. 5:32 the context DOES dictate against using the meaning of "Christ" for "logos." But in Heb 3:14, the context does NOT dictate against using "substance" for "hupostasis." In fact, I hope I showed in my last email how the translation "substance" for "hupostsis" actually fits beautifully and theologically into that context. And it certainly fits into the broader context of Hebrews as a whole (which we both agree is Eucharistic). The immediate context is one of the Israelites losing their status as being "saved" in the desert by 1) disbelief and 2) sin. The immediate context is not about one who has "an un-confident heart of unbelief to depart from confidence (3:12)." Nor one who has been "hardened by un-confidence (3:13)." But it is an "evil heart of unbelief to depart from the living God" or we could say, "to depart from the substance of God" or maybe, "to not hold firm to the substance of God." So one could say 3:14 is a re-statement of 3:12 using different words.
R. Sungenis: But again, Joe, the "substance of God," at least in the ontological sense, is not an issue in the context, but falling away from the faith certainly is. In fact, the whole book of Hebrews is about the potential of falling from the faith (cf., 2:1; 3:1,6, 12-14; 4:1, 11-14; 6:4-6, 11-12; 10:26-27, 35-38; 12:1,3, 14-17, 25-29). What I think you mean to say is something closer to "foundation," and that would be acceptable. That is, we won't fall away if "we hold onto" the "foundation" until the end. In this way, the "foundation" would be the essence of our Christian faith, the bedrock of why we believe. If, in the application of that "foundation" you wanted to add in that God is our foundation, I would have no problem with that. But it is just as important in exegesis as to HOW you get to that understanding.
So I am not arguing that the immediate context by itself definitely and plainly sets "hupostasis" to mean "substance." But neither does it set the meaning to be "confidence." I am saying "substance" COULD be used, soley based on the IMMEDIATE context, but perhaps so could "confidence." Therefore, in this case, it is proper for exegesis to look at Heb 1:3 for help. Unless of course you are Martin Luther. Luther would love the translation "confidence" in 3:14 since he espoused sola fide and thought all you had to do is show confidence in your Once Saved Always Saved status. But as you so eloquently pointed out in Not By Faith Alone, when Paul talks about Faith (or losing faith) he is not simply meaning "belief" or "confidence." He always has in mind a "walk with God" and an "obedience of faith" both of which as St. James points out in his letter mean that faith and works of faith are required.
R. Sungenis: Good analysis. In that light I understand the motive for your concern, and I concur. However, I would say that both "substance" and "confidence" are improper translations, for the reasons I stated above regarding "substance," and that "confidence" certainly does reek of Lutheranism. Again, I think "foundation" is more of what you are looking for, since you can relate this directly back to God as the foundation of the Christian faith.
So while losing faith certainly has an aspect of losing confidence (how can you be confident about what you no longer believe in?), but equating losing of faith to a loss of confidence is over-simplistic -- and I'm not suggesting you are doing this, but some people would. Therefore, if St. Paul was going to use only one word to capture this notion, the word hupostasis is perfect since it is so profound and multi-faceted. But the best Latin translation of that word is "substantia" which St. Jerome picked. Because that word best captures the profound and multi-faceted undersatnding of faith which is primarily a grace from God that inter-acts with our wills. So faith has an aspect of something soley from God, but so too it has an aspect of something soley from within ourselves (the dialectic of grace and free will). By losing faith we are not just losing confidence(our part of the dialectic), but we are losing the "substance" of our salvation (God's part). So how does one capture this notion? St. Paul did it perfectly in 3:14: If one does not "hold firm" (our part) to His "substance" (God's part). Saying one does not "hold firm" to his own "confidence" is too one-sided. As if man's salvation ONLY had to do with man's holding firm to man's confidence.
R. Sungenis: Yes, but my only caution is that you not make Hebrews 1:3 or God's "substance" the screw upon which the interpretation of Hebrew 3:14 turns. Hebrews 1:3 has nothing to do with Hebrews 3:14. We are only interested in word definitions here. If you take the meaning of a word from a totally different context and force it into another context, you would be doing a grave injustice to biblical exegesis. One context is speaking about the nature of Christ; the other is speaking about holding on to our faith. Both contexts can use hupostatsis, but for different reasons.
It would be similar to the word "soul." On the one hand, I can say that each man has a "soul." But I can also say that, in discussing this topic with you, I want to get into the "soul" of the arguments. The first usage of soul is ontological; the second usage is a synecdoche.
So, to sum-up, I think we agree that a muti-faceted word like hupostaseos is intended in 3:14, but you apparently like the word "confidence" to translate/capture this notion while St. Jerome picked "substantia" and I like "substance." Perhaps we all have the same intent here, but I just think St. Jerome's word is more proper. Using "confidence" or "assurance" here would too easily lend itself to a Protestant theology. And it would miss the opportuniy to present very concisely a statement on the dialectic of grace and free will. Just like Catholics have a duty to try our best, like the Church Fathers and medievals, to reconcile APPARENT errors of Scripture (and you have shown that is entirely possible), so too we must try our best to support the Vulgate which the Church has for her official Bible.
Yours In Christ,
R. Sungenis: Agreed, and thus in that case I would opt for "foundation" as opposed to "substance" or "confidence," since there are dangers in both the latter two. In fact, I'm almost certain that Jerome meant "foundation," now that I think about it a little more. He would not have confused God's Substance with Hebrew 3:14, but he would have seen the strength of hupostasis to refer to the entire complex of our Christian faith.
Question 32- no proof, just question- 2
Is it gravitation that keeps the sun in its orbit? Has the sun the size that science tells us? What is the firmament? ~ Regards Lennart Hedlund
R. Sungenis: According to both Newton and Einstein, gravity would be the cause, but neither Newton nor Einstein could tell us what gravity is, so it would be presumptuous to say that all motion of celestial bodies is caused by "gravity."
LH: If we can´t tell what something really is doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, right? Do you fully understand what God is? Don't you accept Einsteins description of gravity?
R. Sungenis: No, it exists, but it is somewhat presumptuous to say we know what makes things move in an inward radial direction if we don't know the nature of what is causing it. It could be a push instead of a pull. And no, I don't accept Einstein's description of gravity, because it wasn't a description. It was a mathematical equation. Mathematical equations don't prove anything physical. By the way, God and gravity are two different subjects. I suggest you don't confuse them.
RS: Newton's physics (as well as Einstein's) is local,
LH: The point and the succes of Newtons theory of gravity is that it involves all mateial bodies, celestial included. And Einsteins theories is for sure not local.
R. Sungenis: Sure, Newton included all material bodies, but only in their own local frames. And if you think Einstein's theory was not local, you better reread him. In order to deal with Mach's equations Einstein invented the "local gravitation potential."
RS: but if it were to include the rest of the universe, then the Earth could certainly be positioned as the center of mass, and the sun and stars could revolve around it. Furthermore, Einstein's principle of equivalence demands that this be so.
LH: If you have two magnets, one tiny and one huge, which one will move move to the other?
R. Sungenis: That's the trouble with Einstein's relativity theory -- it can't explain magnetism's reaction in the local environment. Magnetism, as James Clerk Maxwell found out, assumes an absolute reference frame. Thus, you can't use the analogy of magnetism as a description for gravity.
LH: The mass of Earth could not capture the much bigger mass of the Sun. If not for the gravity, all the satellites that are moving round the Earth would disappear. The Earth could not possibly revolve around a satellite.
R. Sungenis: You're assuming something you haven't proved. Where does Newton teach that one mass "captures" another? Newton himself said he didn't know what the nature of gravity was. All he said was that he could calculate the force between two objects. He didn't know quite what to do with three objects, but the principle still holds, that is, that in order to calculate the force on one object you need to know the mass of ALL the objects in the universe. If you do, then all the objects will have one center of mass.
RS: The firmament is the substance which comprises space. It is not a vacuum. It is particulate. Even modern science believes this to be the case, with sizes of the particles ranging in the 10^ -33 cm in length, 20 orders of magnitude smaller than the electron.
LH: How do this agree with the Bible's description of the water above the firmament and the water under it?
R. Sungenis: Easy. There is water above the part of space we call the firmament, and there is water below it in the form of oceans and rivers. That water is in outer space is a proven scientific fact.
LH: And that God opened the firmament to let the water above fall down at the flood? And as far as I know these particles you mention fills up all universe down to the surface of the Earth, and some of them go right through it. Then we have no under and above.
Regards Lennart Hedlund
R. Sungenis: No, because the Bible defines its own meaning. The firmament is understood as the depository of the heavenly bodies. There are no heavenly bodies in the water above the firmament.
Question 31- Huopstaseos Confidence or Substance?
But the immediate context does not dictate that hupostasis be translated as "confidence." St.Paul already used the word hupostasis in Heb 1:3, clearly meaning "substance" (of God) in that case. So, exegesis would require one to take Heb 1:3 into account when trying to translate hupostasis in Heb 3:14 since the immediate context of Heb 3:14 does not fix the meaning of hupostasis. Since Christ is mentioned in the sentence of 3:14, then "the hupostasis" could very easily mean "the hupostasis (of Christ)" since no pronoun is given. This would be the case if you assumed, like St. Jerome, that hupostasis meant "substance." It makes sense. Why would St. Paul say something ambiguous? In other words, if he had not previously defined what he means in this letter when he uses the (uncommon) word hupostasis, then Heb 3:14 is ambiguous:
R. Sungenis: I'm sorry, but this is simply not good exegesis. It is not the word's usage in another unrelated passage (Heb 1:3) that rules or takes precedence in deciding the meaning and application of a word in the context under discussion (Heb 3;14), especially in light of the fact the many Greek words have various shades of meaning. You simply cannot force a context that is speaking about Christ's nature into a context that is speaking about our efforts not to fall from the faith. They are completely different contexts, and they require the various meanings of hupostasis to play a part in the translation.
If this principle is not accepted, then you will run into all kinds of problems. For example, one could then say that because the Greek word logos is used in reference to Christ (John 1:1), then whenever we see the word logos in the New Testament it refers to Christ. But this would make nonsense of passages such as Mt 5:32 which would then read, "Saving for the Christ of fornication," or Mt 7:24, which would read "he who hears these Christs of mine, and does them..." You must understand that the context is just as important as the lexical definition of a word when deciding what the translation should be. This is why Bible translation is often very difficult.
Question 30- no proof, just question
Is it gravitation that keeps the sun in its orbit?
Has the sun the size that science tells us?
What is the firmament?
R. Sungenis: According to both Newton and Einstein, gravity would be the cause, but neither Newton nor Einstein could tell us what gravity is, so it would be presumptuous to say that all motion of celestial bodies is caused by "gravity." Even if we do opt for "gravity" as the cause for the sun's revolution around the earth, your question implies that, if the sun is larger than the Earth then the sun could not revolve around the Earth. Not so. Newton's physics (as well as Einstein's) is local, but if it were to include the rest of the universe, then the Earth could certainly be positioned as the center of mass, and the sun and stars could revolve around it. Furthermore, Einstein's principle of equivalence demands that this be so. The firmament is the substance which comprises space. It is not a vacuum. It is particulate. Even modern science believes this to be the case, with sizes of the particles ranging in the 10^ -33 cm in length, 20 orders of magnitude smaller than the electron.
Question 29- Types of grace
A few friends of mine are tossing out ideas as to what terms the Catholic Church uses when describing grace. I'm under the impression that there are two types of grace. Sufficient grace which is given to every person, and can't merit [reward] salvation and efficacious grace which is *only* given to those who cooperate with God through their free will and which rewards eternal life.
Since I haven't read "Not by Faith Alone" (I will when it soon arrives) I'm not sure what theological terms are used when describing the differing types of grace.
Have you written an article something you could point me to that best describes grace?
Thanks for everything.
christi simus non nostri
p.s. I really enjoy your apologetics study Bible on Matthew!
B. Douglass: The distinction between sufficient and efficacious grace is only one of many distinctions in the Catholic theology of grace. Grace can also be classified as created or uncreated, internal or external, actual or habitual, etc.
Sufficient grace enables one to perform a meritorious act, whereas efficacious grace secures that the meritorious act is performed. Merely sufficient grace is rendered inefficacious by the resistance of the will.
Thomists and Molinists disagree over whether the difference between these two types of grace is intrinsic or solely extrinsic. Thomists assert the former, that there is a substantial difference between the two. Molinists assert the latter, that they are the same except that in one case the will cooperates whereas in the other case the will resists.
Yes, God gives all sufficient grace for their salvation, but only the elect receive the efficacious grace which effects it. As to what exactly this means, that depends on whether you ask a Thomist or a Molinist. See above.
I'm going to sound like a broken record here, because I seem to refer everyone to these, but to better understand the nature of grace, please see the Summa, the Catholic Encyclopedia, and Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (esp. pp. 219-267).
PS- I'm glad you enjoyed the Matthew CASB. Please consider supporting CAI's apostalate with a donation.
Question 28- Catholics and Protestants
Can you please elaborate on this- "Catholics believe God's justice prevents him from being able to condemn and punish an innocent man for the crimes of another, and protestants don't". Can you give an example?
*Also, if a Protestant is Baptized with water in the name of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet believes it to only be symbolic, are the still baptized according to the Catholic Church?
* And, is it only Anglicans and Lutherans who, like Catholics, believe in infant Baptism and that we are infused with Sanctifying Grace at Baptism? Or, do they not believe in infused grace with Baptism or throughout the life of each person?
*Lastly, Which denominations do not believe in "Once saved, always saved"?
B. Douglass: Amy,
I can certainly give you an example of where Protestant theology has God condemning an innocent man for the crimes of another: the cross of Jesus Christ. Most conservative Protestants believe that God credited Christ with the sins of the world, that is, He regarded and treated Christ as if He were guilty of them, even though He was not. God then proceeded to pour out His wrath over these sins on Christ by brutally executing Him. In Catholic theology, this is the kind of thing only Satan and his servants are capable of, not the all holy God.
The minister of a sacrament does not need to intend what the Church intends in order for the sacrament to be valid, but merely to intend to do what the Church does. This is an important distinction. So, in the case of baptism, the minister need not intend the remission of sins (what the Church intends) but need only intend to perform a baptism (what the Church intends to do). So, baptisms performed by those who believe it to be only symbolic may still be valid. That having been said, there is often question of the validity of Protestant baptisms due to improper form and matter (e.g. done in the name of Jesus, or by aspersion, etc.).
Anglicans, Lutherans, and also Methodists believe in baptismal regeneration. However, many Protestants who on the one hand acknowledge baptismal regeneration will on the other hand deny baptismal justification. Don't ask me how they reconcile this, because I don't know.
All Calvinist denominations believe in "once saved, always saved" e.g. Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, Reformed Baptist. Some Arminians also beleive in it, though I am aware of no entire Arminian denominations.
Question 27- Traditio website
What do you think of the Traditio.org website? Is it reliable or something to avoid entirely? The author is extremely critical of the current Church leadership, etc. On the other hand, there seems to be a lot of very good traditional source material there as well.
Thanks for any cautions or insights you can give.
B. Douglass: Dana,
The author is beyond critical of the current Church leadership: he is a sedevacantist who believes that the central act of worship of Catholicism has been changed into an act of idolatry for all but about 1% of Catholics (Eastern rites, SSPX, Campos, SSPV, etc.). I would avoid the website as much as possible. Of course, there would be nothing wrong with printing out the liturgy of the hours from the traditional breviary, which is hosted on traditio. It's unfortunate that the only two websites which host the traditional breviary are both sedevacantist.
Question 26- Traditional Latin Mass
Would you have any way of knowing if the following story is true? For reasons I think are obvious I find much of what Traditio posts dubious. A good rule with them is to not believe anything on their site unless you can verify it with other sources. If this story is true, then all those stories about the mass being restored are really meaningless. Thanks Robert.
Ecclesia Dei Commission's Instruction Missa Conventualis Cantata Commission's Instruction Abandons even the Modernized 1962 Rite And Imposes Novus Ordo Changes
Didn't TRADITIO warn you that Newvatican and its Ecclesia Dei Commission have been hankering to dump the 1962 Missal? Now it turns out that the Ecclesia Dei Commission has issued an instruction, Missa Conventualis Cantata, which directs that sung Conventual "Indult" Masses, i.e., the principal daily Mass of "indult" religious orders, be conducted in full-blown Novus Ordo style:
1. the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (Introibo ad altare Dei....) must be omitted
2. the celebrant must sit on the sidelines away from the altar for the entirety of the Mass up to the Credo
3. the "Liturgy of the Word" must be conducted facing the congregation, not the altar
4. the "Liturgy of the Word" may be conducted in the vulgar tongues
5. the Novus Ordo Bidding Prayers may be inserted into the "Indult" Mass
6. the Secret prayer must be chanted aloud
7. the celebrant must chant the Minor Doxology (Per ipsum...) with the choir breaking the canonic silence by responding Amen
8. the Gospel of St. John must be omitted
Every single one of these changes is an aberration of the Roman Catholic Mass that instead reflects the practices of the Novus Ordo Mess. Is there any doubt that Newrome, while deceiving the SSPX's Fellay and the indultarians by a few meretricious words, is really intending to impose the Novus Ordo on the Fraternity of St. Peter, on the Institute of Christ the King, on Campos, and all the other indultarians at the earliest possible opportunity? And after these "indult" societies, that the Novus Ordo style will be imposed upon the "indult" at Newchurch parishes. Good Catholics, don't put your eggs in the "indult" basket. The fox intends to wolf down those eggs -- and you "chickens" along with them. Traditional Catholics need to hang tough, to hang traditional, to eschew phony "indults," and to eschew phony "negotiations" with the New Order -- 100%.
B. Douglass: Dear Sir,
The only other source I can find online concerning this Ecclesia Dei instruction is a French site:
The French site says that this document was compiled for a group of monasteries which follow a hybrid rite, not that it will be imposed on indult traditionalists at large. Also, traditio is clearly misrepresenting instruction #1 of this document. It says only that the prayers at the foot of the altar must be ommitted when Mass follows on part of the Divine Office, not that they must be ommitted altogether. You are quite right not to trust the traditio website.
Question 25- Emotions in God
Dear Dr. Sungenis,
I am presently a graduate student in *philosophy*, but I am equally interested in Catholic *theology*. In the latter vein, allow me to say how much I admire your work in soteriology. Your NOT BY FAITH ALONE is indeed seminal – I doubt that there has been any book in the past four centuries that is as comparable in quality with respect to this issue.
Such admiration notwithstanding, however, I possess a good amount of confusion concerning one aspect of your view on the ‘presence’ of emotions in God – namely, how this view is capable of reconciliation with Thomas, the Scholastic tradition, and, more or less, the ‘usual’ way Catholic doctrine on God is elucidated by traditional Catholic philosophers, theologians, and catechists.
As I understand the issue, there are presently two main ‘popular’ models (at least in so-called contemporary ‘analytic philosophy’) concerning how one ought to view God’s nature. One, coined ‘Perfect Being theology’, is widely held by Protestant philosophers and generally rejected by their Catholic counterparts. One reason for the rejection is that Perfect Being theology *prima facie* asserts that the difference between God and creatures is merely one of degree -- clearly problematic with respect to the Catholic doctrine of God’s transcendence! Among orthodox Catholic philosophers, the primary or most popular philosophical model for God (in my opinion) is *more or less* akin to that which is argued in Fr. Barry Miller’s A MOST UNLIKELY GOD. This model emphasizes (in continuity with the Thomistic position) the absolute simplicity and transcendence of God. Miller, for instance, would view God as the *limit case* of existence (where a limit case is that which a certain *set* of items is tending toward but is *not itself a element of the set*). Existence and essence are ‘necessarily’ non-identical in creatures – each instance of existence for creatures is a ‘property’ of the creature (in the contemporary sense, not the Aristotelian sense); God, on the other hand is (*analogically speaking*) THE case where Existence just is the subsistent Entity (so not a mere property of that entity). The account provides much the same with respect to all pure perfections. Of course, all of this talk is merely a contemporary way of expressing Thomas’s Ipsum Esse Subsistens.
Now, in light of the latter model, I agree that in some very 'real' sense (that is often underestimated or ignored) emotions are super-eminently 'contained in’ the unfathomable reality that is God. This seems readily compatible with the tradition, as I understand it. Is this all you mean by your talk of emotion in God? *Or* do you wish to invoke a stronger thesis, something like ‘God is actually being *affected* (and has been affected, and will be affected) by His creatures’. Wouldn't this latter thesis contradict the immutability and unchangeableness of God that Catholics (or certainly those of the Thomistic persuasion) hold as metaphysically and doctrinally certain?
So, to reiterate, I’m hoping for a fuller description of your view with respect to this emotions issue – or, rather, how your emotions in God thesis relates and is reconcilable with the traditional way Catholic doctrine has been explicated, both by Thomists and many others. I do indeed appreciate your wanting to take seriously the way the Bible speaks about God; you need not emphasize that on my account. Indeed, I readily share the sentiment that one ought to thoroughly ‘ground’ one’s theology in a way that is in accordance with the language of the Bible (and, more generally, I hold that one’s theology must take noetic precedence over one’s philosophy). What I do need emphasized, however, is how your view fits in with Church doctrine and the philosophical concept of God usually set forth by orthodox Catholics.
R. Sungenis: Jeremy, no, it would not affect God’s immutability because immutability has never been defined by the Church to say that God cannot change his mind or be affected by man’s free will decisions. I’ve checked this out. The Church never uses “immutability” to deny that there is an affective nature in God. Immutability means God, in his essence, cannot change. Obviously, He cannot become something other than what He already is. But this just begs the question as to just what constitutes God’s essence that cannot change. If God’s essence already incorporates that He can “get angry,” and thus be affected by man’s free will decisions, then there is no “change” in God when he is affected. He is merely displaying what is already his unchangeable essence. Unfortunately, as you will see in the propositions I’ve copied and pasted for you below from various dialogues I’ve had with others, passages such as Malachi 3:6 (“For I, the Lord, do not change”) have been used to support ideas of God that are neither germane to the context nor supportable by sound philosophy. The context of every passage in Scripture that speaks of God “not changing” is concerned only with His divine integrity, his inability to sin, in this case, his inability change his offering to take care of the Jews merely on a whim. Malachi is simply trying to tell us that God will be true to himself in every case and never pull the rug out from us, as it were. In contrast, the Greek and Roman gods would always change their mind about their sentiments toward human beings, and they would do so out of unbridled whims and emotions that had nothing to do with what the human beings were doing. Our God is not like that at all. He only “changes his mind” about how he will deal with us when we show him either good or bad behavior. Of course, in one sense, we could say that in changing his mind God is not really changing his mind, because the ability to change his mind is an unchangeable aspect of the divine essence when that essence is dealing with imperfect human beings endowed with free will. In one sense, it all depends on how one is using the words, and this is where it sometimes gets confusing.
By the same token, however, I do believe there is more to the Scripture’s statements concerning God’s “anger” than the common way of explaining it as merely a metaphor for punishment. I have proved by citing Scriptures that separate God’s anger from punishment that it is fallacious to define anger solely by punishment (eg., Exodus 4:14ff). So yes, I do believe there is an affective change in God when he confronts our sin, but this affective change does not change God’s essence. It does not change God’s essence any more than God’s decision to create the world changed God’s essence, even though we can say that the creation of the world was, indeed, a change from what God did previously. In another sense, God’s creating the world is not a change if we understand that, in God’s essence He had always contained within Himself the prerogative to create something other than himself. Again, it depends on how one uses the words.
If we assign intelligence and will to the essence of God, I see no problem in assigning emotion to the essence of God, provided that we understand that the emotion is as perfectly suited to His divinity as his intelligence and will, that is, that His emotion is perfect, without perturbation, whim, capriciousness or biased sentiment. Whereas our intelligence is often faulty, our wills are often weak, and our emotions often capricious, God’s intelligence, will and emotions are always perfect and just, and therefore there is no problem in assigning emotion to God.
From another perspective, as we look at nature we see that higher order creatures contain higher degrees and sensitivities. Accordingly the higher we go up the scale of nature, the more we see emotions as part of the creatures internal makeup, just as intelligence and will are noticed in greater degrees. A paramecium does not have any emotions, but a dog which is higher up the scale and has some degree of emotion. Humans have the highest degree of emotion, as well as the highest degree of intelligence and will. Above us are the angels who are also said to have emotion (Lk 2:9-10). If we model our Creator (since we are made in His image) by our intelligence and will, then why would we leave out emotion as part of that modeling? Doesn’t God require us to have the emotions of pity and compassion that He says He has and wants us to model (Ps 103:13)? Don’t we get angry at sin just as God says He does (over 200 times, often with varying degrees of anger) in Scripture? I’m afraid that those who are reticent to assign emotion to God have done so based on their experience with imperfect human emotions. Somehow they have not been able to separate the image of a man with a raging out-of-control temper tantrum from someone who has feelings of anger when he sees evil. END
You wrote: “I have a similar concern with respect to your views about the relationship between God and time (e.g., those expressed in NOT BY BREAD ALONE). Do you believe God is outside of time, as traditionally thought? Or do you hold to a temporal God – or some third possibility?
Thank you very much for clarifying. As a *Catholic* graduate student in philosophy, I strive to be vigilant in ensuring that my philosophical views are in accordance with a sound and biblically based theology. Your biblical theology is invaluable in my attempt to fulfill this goal.
R. Sungenis: If by the classical understanding of “time” we understand that God does not change in his divine substance, then I can accept the “outside of time” concept. God is wholly different in regards to substance than any created thing, otherwise God could not be eternal. But I don’t necessarily equate time with change. One would have to prove that time necessitates change in order for me to accept that proposition. I think it is thus perfectly valid to understand God’s divine existence as an infinity of time as opposed to saying there is no time with God. Although I have no problem with believing that God knows and sees the past, present and future all at once, I maintain that there is a difference between God’s knowing of these things as opposed to God actually being in them. God cannot inhabit the past because the past does not exist. It only exists in our mind’s memories. God cannot inhabit the future, because the future does not exist yet. God inhabits the present, and exists, from moment to moment, but He certainly has the ability to peer infinitely into the future and infinitely into the past in order to make his decisions in the present. This eliminates the confusion caused by those who say that “with God all things happen at once,” and the corollary, “there is no time with God.” No, they do not all happen at once, otherwise Jesus would be a God/man from all eternity past. The Incarnation proves to us that God exists moment by moment into infinity; but it also proves that God knows about every moment in all eternity so that Jesus could come “in the fullness of time.”
Question 24- Father Ralph Wiltgen
Dear Mr Douglass,
I read your piece on "The Beauty of the Novus Ordo" and was surprised to read the name of Father Wiltgen lumped in with the other trad others that you listed.
Actually Father Wiltgen was not traditional at all which makes his book "The Rhine Flows into the Tiber" about Vatican II all the more valuable to traditional and orthodox fully-believing Catholics who assert that Vatican II was used to push a progressivist agenda despite the fact that it was protected by the Holy Ghost from formally promulgating error.
B. Douglass: Stephen,
Actually, it was Jesse Romero who lumped Fr. Wiltgen togehter with the other trad authors in his list. I point out in my response how irresponsible this is. He's taking someone whom he probably knows absolutely nothing about, except that he wrote a book that is often cited by traditionalists, and putting his name in a list filled with sedevacantists, feeneyites, and people who believe that the central act of worship of Catholicism has been replaced by an act of idolatry for all but about 1% of Catholics. You're absolutely right: Fr. Wiltgen does not belong on that list, and putting him there borders on slander. The same goes for Michael Davies.
Question 23- Vatican and evolution
I have been arguing with the author of the "First Teachers" column in the Wanderer about his acceptance of evolution as fact in his writing. Then I read the following:
"THE Vatican has issued a stout defence of Charles Darwin, voicing strong criticism of Christian fundamentalists who reject his theory of evolution and interpret the biblical account of creation literally.
Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution were "perfectly compatible" if the Bible were read correctly."
Is it time to give up??? How can I debate with these catholics when such statements pour out of Rome?
R. Sungenis: Walt, don't be distressed by Fr. Poupard. He's been at his campaign for many years now. He's a liberal through and through, and he doesn't speak for the official Vatican position, one iota. The Evolution gang, however, will try to make his opinions into the official Vatican position.
Question 22- The Rapture
Having looked under EWTN for Catholic position on the Rapture, I was referred to you. Will you be able to answer the Catholic position and why?
Port St. Lucie FL
R. Sungenis: Mr. Quinn, I have written a study on this issue and it is included in my Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, Matthew, vol. 1 in the section of Apologetics Commentaries, Matthew 24:40, The Rapture. It is on pages 371-380. There are other related sections in the book on eschatology on pages 351-370 and 381-394. If you want a copy, you can purchase it from us for $27.95. Please let me know. I'm sure you will find it a valuable source of information.
Question 21- NASB vs. DRV, Part II
What about the word "our" vs. "his" in Heb. chpt. 3?
R. Sungenis: The correct translation would be "our," not "his." This is because the only verb of the conditional clause is kataschomen ("we hold fast"), which is a first person plural verb. This verb requires an object, and the only object in the conditional clause is tes hupostaseos ("the confidence"). Moreover, tes hupostaseos is a genitive feminine singular noun attached to a genitive feminine singular article. There is no pronoun preceding hupostaseos, and thus there is no distinguishing between "our" and "his," except for the verb "we hold fast."
Question 20- Salvation is from the Jews bk review; reconstituted sanhedrin
Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Thank you for all of your work for the Catholic Church. I hope my donation will help you on your way to debating Mr. Polk.
I just finished your article in Latin Mass, and it was an excellent article. I appreciate that and all of your writings exposing the Protestant-zionist connection, and how they've wooed Catholics through the medium of voting "conservative" in American politics.
I have only two questions for you, I don't want to detract from your busy schedule.
1) Is it wrong for parents to circumcise their children today (as most do it not because they believe its necessary for salvation but because its just a "thing to do")?
2) Have you kept up with the news of the reconstituted Sanhedrin? I was reading that they plan to re-institute the levitical priesthood and rebuild the temple officially, and take steps to reconstituting itself as a legal body in Israel. Can they prove the links to a levitcal priesthood? If so, would the majority of secular Jews living in Israel submit themselves to a religious authority?
Thanks and God bless you and your apostolate. when I hit the jackpot you are first on my donation list :)
in cordibus Iesu et Mariae,
R. Sungenis: Ryan, it's perfectly fine to be circumcised. Health reasons alone would lead one to do so. It makes life a lot easier, if you know what I mean. But if one were to do it as a matter of continuing the Old Testament law, then he condemns himself under the Law (Gal 3:10-12).
As for the Jews and their temple, no, they have no way of legitimately reconstituting the Levitical priesthood barring a divine intervention from God. This is all just make believe. They are as deluded about true religion as they were in the first century. It's like a person who gets divorced and remarried and claims that they only have one spouse. In the eyes of the civil law this may be true, but in the eyes of God's law, they have two spouses and are committing adultery.
Question 19- NASB vs. DRV
Can you comment on the attached in your Q&AJames,
Will you ask Robert Sungenis to make a brief comment if he has time. I am saying the NASB blatantly mis-translates Heb 3:14 for obvious reasons. They even carry this mis-translation into other quotes (except Heb 1:3) in order to "cover their tails."
Here is Hebrews 3:14 from The Textus Receptus; base text is Stephens 1550, with variants of Scrivener 1894.
The Vulgate has:
"Participes enim Christi effecti sumus, si tamen initium _substantiæ ejus_ usque ad finem firmum retineamus."
The DR has:
"For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of _his substance_ firm unto the end. "
But the NASB has:
"For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of _our assurance_ firm until the end,"
Now, this Greek is found one more time in Hebrews 1:3:
"qui cum sit splendor gloriæ, et figura _substantiæ ejus_..."
"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of _his substance_..."
"And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of _His nature_..."
So, clearly, the NASB intentionally mis-translates it in Heb 3:14. Neither the word "our" nor "assurance" is contained in the Vulgate or Greek texts.
Greek variations exist in two other quotes, but the context clearly shows that the Vulgate/DR is correct and the NASB is wrong:
2 Cor 9:4:
"ne cum venerint Macedones mecum, et invenerint vos imparatos, erubescamus nos (ut non dicamus vos) in hac _substantia_."
"otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we--not to speak of you--will be put to shame by this _confidence_."
"Lest, when the Macedonians shall come with me, and find you unprepared, we (not to say ye) should be ashamed in this _matter_."
2 Corinthians 11:17:
"quod loquor, non loquor secundum Deum, sed quasi in insipientia, in hac _substantia_ gloriæ."
"What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this _confidence_ of boasting."
"That which I speak, I speak not according to God, but as it were in foolishness, in this _matter_ of glorying."
R. Sungenis: The Greek word hupostasis is a combination of "hupo" and "stasis." The prefix "hupo" points us to the origin of something, while "stasis" refers to a foundation or ontological existence. "Hupostasis" thus refers literally to that which undergirds something else. In the extended or metaphorical meaning, it can be used to refer to the groundwork or subject-matter, or even the foundation, hope, confidence, subsistence, reality or nature of a certain thing. Since it is a somewhat flexible word, its exact meaning will depend more on the context in which it is placed. Thus the NASB's translation, considering the context is about perserverence in salvation, is much more appropriate than the DR's translation, at this point.
Question 18- Question
I am Juan Bustamante, and have a question for you .
I am Catholic, a very devote one, so you don't have to convince me of anything concerning our Doctrine.
I read your article about the earth being in the middle of the universe, and my point is that even if science proves that the earth is not in the center (just imagine so, because you can always switch the point of reference and that's it) , our dear Bible and precious Doctrine will lose nothing. If the Doctrine doesn't say that you can't take something literally, it doesn't mean that you can do so. Did a star actually show the 3 kings where Jesus was ? (when he was born) , did the episode of Noe's Arc literally occur? I think that if you take the Bible always literally, you can be lead into quite a few contradictions, and although fortunately we have the Church to serve as supreme Judge for these matters, setting up a defiant position only creates in the non-Catholics that read your website a feeling that the Church is against science ( that's what a friend of mine is telling me now, using your website as proof ). I suggest you to clarify a little bit more that The Church is not against science, and what you intend with your challenge.
Please respond to me, because I am writing to you not as a judge, nor complaining, nor criticizing you, but as a brother in Christ hoping to help you make the most out of your talents, and most important, increase the fruits of the work that you try to do with your website.
R. Sungenis: Juan, first of all, I'm not setting up a "defiant position." The Father of the Church, the medievals, three popes and their sacred congregations and many Jesuit astronomers all believed and taught geocentrism, and they said that Scripture required us to believe it. Thus geocentrism is not my invention. Second, I am not against science at all. In fact, I use science to prove that geocentrism is the preferred model of cosmology, considering all the evidence we have from science. The first volume of Galileo Was Wrong shows in 700 pages why science supports geocentrism. We are against pseudo-science passing as legitimate science, and there is plenty of it out there today. And there is much more to tell. Thank you for your patience.
Question 17- Will this nonsense never end?
Robert: You've probably seen these news stories, but just in case you haven't. What is wrong with these "catholics" and their stupid actions? It seems like every day there is another looney story about something the church or a bishop has done.
R. Sungenis: Don, get used to it. The true Church is where the devil concentrates his attack. This is nothing new. It's been happening for 2000 years. Read 2 Peter 2 and Jude for the predictions, and expect a lot more.
Question 16- Transubstantiation before the Cross
I have quick question that will probably be easy for you to answer: How was it that Christ was able to transubstantiate Himself into the Eucharist at the Last Supper before He died on the Cross? I can see how since God is timeless he can trans-chronologically sacrafice Himself...however this would also mean that the Apostles received forgiveness before the death of Christ. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter.
Thanks for your consideration.
B. Douglass: Remington, The Catholic position here doesn't even depend on God being timeless (which is to my knowlegde still an open question of Catholic theology).
The sacrifice of the Mass consists in Christ presenting Himself to the Father in a form as if He were slain (cf. Apocalypse 5:6), as if His body and blood were separated. I think Pius XII explains it very well in Mediator Dei 70. This has the effect of calling the sacrifice of the cross to the Father's immediate attention. Masses celebrated after the cross call to the Father's mind the sacrifice which He remembers, whereas the Last Supper would have called to His mind the sacrifice which He foresaw. This is the only difference.
Yes, the apostles, and for that matter everyone else, were capable of recieiving forgiveness prior to the cross (cf. Isaiah 1:18). God would give this grace in anticipation of the sacrifice of Chirst.
Question 15- Good luck!!
I am so glad to see that you have attained your goal in order to debate with Mr. Polk. You are by far the best apologist out there. Go get him! I will be praying for you, good luck.
in cordibus Iesu et Mariae,
R. Sungenis: Ryan, thank you for the commendation! I'll do my best. Please say a small prayer for me on the nights of Nov 15 and 17.
Question 14- Athanasius
Hello Robert, Peter Porcellato here hoping to get some help from you. I cannot access the 1-800 number from Calgary,Alberta Canada. Would you please help me respond to the essay directed to me below. I had tried to show this pastor that he had quoted Athanasius out of context. I didn't do a very good job I fear. I could sure use a quick response as I am on the hotseat.
(I was the fellow who called you regarding the alleged deep disagreement on tradition between you and Patrick Madrid.)
The words below are the pastors."Thank you Gloria Dei for you well thought out response.
You are correct in stating that I quoted Athanasius 39 Festal Letter, given in 367, according to the Egyptian calendar, not the Julian. I believe you are incorrect in my taking this out of context. Here is the letter in its entirety, from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Volume 4, Philip Schaff (1819-1893) (Editor).
1. They have fabricated books which they call books of tables, in which they shew stars, to which they give the names of Saints. And therein of a truth they have inflicted on themselves a double reproach: those who have written such books, because they have perfected themselves in a lying and contemptible science; and as to the ignorant and simple, they have led them astray by evil thoughts concerning the right faith established in all truth and upright in the presence of God.
2. But since we have made mention of heretics as dead, but of ourselves as possessing the Divine Scriptures for salvation; and since I fear lest, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, some few of the simple should be beguiled from their simplicity and purity, by the subtilty of certain men, and should henceforth read other books—those called apocryphal—led astray by the similarity of their names with the true books; I beseech you to bear patiently, if I also write, by way of remembrance, of matters with which you are acquainted, influenced by the need and advantage of the Church.
3. In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: ‘Forasmuch as some have taken in hand,’ to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine; to the end that any one who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led him astray; and that he who has continued stedfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance.
4. There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament.
5. Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.
6. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews, saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me.’
7. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.
In paragraph 6 Athanasius states “In these ALONE (emphasis mine) is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness.” This may be used to state, not only what IS Scripture, BUT also the Scriptures effectiveness(efficacy). While it is true that he was laying down a directive for his flock, he was also confronting a REAL NEED in his day, defining what is and what is not Scripture. People were being lead astray by other writings claiming to be Scripture. Scripture was to be the ONLY authority, while other writings would have their value.
On traditon, Athanasius writes:
"Again we write, again keeping to the apostolic traditions, we remind each other when we come together for prayer; and keeping the feast in common, with one mouth we truly give thanks to the Lord. Thus giving thanks unto him, and being followers of the saints, ‘we shall make our praise in the Lord all the day,’ as the psalmist says. So, when we rightly keep the feast, we shall be counted worthy of that joy which is in heaven" (Festal Letters 2:7 [A.D. 330]).
In this festal letter he is speaking of keeping the Passover that has been their tradition. So I may argue that you are taking this out of its context. The reason he does this is to counter the heretics that have no tradition to look back to. IN NO WAY is he putting tradition on par with Scripture here. Find me a passage in the Scripture that claims tradition is on par with Scripture, then we can talk. Quoting a Church father saying it is like having a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You also stated..
I am no Calvinist. I do reject baptismal regeneration because the Scripture does not teach it. I could care less if Athanasius believed it.
"[A]s we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened" (Four Discourses Against the Arians 3:26 [A.D. 360]). Even if he was a hard core advocate of sola scriptura (which he is not) then you would have to admit that he saw the concept of baptisimal regeneration in scripture.
In this discourse, he is teaching against the Arians, who were denying the fact of Jesus being both God and man. When you read IN CONTEXT(you are looking guilty of the same thing you accuse me of) what Athanasius is saying, he is speaking of being “born again”, not baptismal regeneration. Else, what is “being regenerated from above of water and SPIRIT”(emphasis mine) all about?
You finally wrote:
"Papias [A.D. 120], who is now mentioned by us, affirms that he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, and he, moreover, asserts that he heard in person Aristion and the presbyter John. Accordingly, he mentions them frequently by name, and in his writings gives their traditions [concerning Jesus]. . . . [There are] other passages of his in which he relates some miraculous deeds, stating that he acquired the knowledge of them from tradition" (fragment in Eusebius, Church History 3:39 [A.D. 312]).
You seem to take that when a church father writes of tradition, that he is speaking of that tradition being on par with Scripture, that it is somehow sacred because it is a tradition. A tradition is a way of doing things that has been passed down. The church fathers used tradition to show that they were not making it up as they went along. They pointed back to Jesus and the Apostles to prove that they were in line with the common faith. So much of the Catholic faith today has no Scripture to back it up, only tradition for traditions sake.
If Scripture and tradition conflict, side with Scripture.
Thank you for your time."
R. Sungenis: Peter, we cover this issue in our book Not By Scripture Alone, pages 317-323 and 424-427. You need to get the book, otherwise I will be excising things that you need to see. You can purchase it from us. It would be much better for you at this point. God be with you.
Question 13- Seminary and CAI theories
Greetings! If a man were admitted to a seminary to commence priestly studies, and if he agreed with your stances on the Third Secret, geocentrism, a young earth, the qualities of the NAB, and various liturgical observations, do you think he would be well-advised to keep his thoughts to himself, to reduce the risk of being thrown out of the seminary?
R. Sungenis: In all things one must use wisdom and finesse. Never compromise your convictions (unless someone can prove you wrong), but use wisdom in disseminating those convictions. Don't cast pearls before swine. Be as cautious as a snake and as gentle as a gove, Jesus says.
Question 12- Scott Hahn and Covenants
Dear Mr. Sungenis,
Once again, I have to thank you for your quick and detailed response to my question on covenants. It was very informative and clearly explained. I had this topic described to me recently by an Opus Dei member when he took a theology course given by Opus Dei on the East coast that used one of Dr. Scott Hahn’s books. This man, a former professor of mine, described Hahn’s theory that as time passed, from Creation to the Present, the covenants form concentric circles which have progressively evolved towards outer “rings”. That is, from “family” to “tribe” to “nation” to “world” or something like that. I thought it sounded interesting and wondered if you had a critique of Hahn’s teaching in regards to covenants.
San Bernardino, CA
R. Sungenis: Laurence, yes, we can certainly say that there was an outward progression of the scope of the covenant, each scope being addressed by another covenant that would be established at a particular time. But in the end, all the covenants would fit under one of two overarching covenants: the covenant of grace or the covenant of law. These are the two categories of covenant that persist in the New Testament interpretation of the Old Testament. As such, the New Testament doesn't address, for example, the covenant of Horeb or the covenant of David, but only speaks of Abraham and David as being recipients of the covenant of grace (Romans 4:1-8; Gal 3:1-29). All other covenants were under the law and were temporary.
Question 11- James White on you and Matatics
Subject: White on Matatics
Greetings from Ontario, California. I will be speaking here tomorrow and then getting back to Phoenix Monday and staying there for all of November, DV. Doesn't mean I'll ever catch up, but a month away from airports will be a true blessing.
I do not regularly look at Robert Sungenis' website, but I saw a reference to it in Karl Keating's e-letter, and just found this article posted there. If the cited e-mail is authentic (it surely looks like it is), Matatics has taken the logic of Rome's position to its ultimate conclusion: and in so doing, proved that his conversion was an error. If following Rome's claims to their logical conclusion results in your rejection of the current Roman Church, then the arguments Gerry used for years to substantiate his conversion are proven wrong, are they not? It would surely seem so. In any case, there would be much benefit in pointing out the inherent self-contradiction in the response offered as well, given the odd positions Sungenis espouses, but time does not allow for such luxuries while traveling. It will be interesting to read Matatics' "manifesto" if he ever gets around to posting it. But do not hold your breath! Gerry claimed his book for Tan Book Publishers was coming out in the early 1990s, and it is still nowhere to be seen.
R. Sungenis: Unfortunately for White, the same would be true for his little group. In fact, isn't it White's denomination which believes that if a person falls away from their faith, then that person was never saved in the first place? Hence we could say that their "conversion was an error," or we could say, "If following the Reformed Baptist claims to their logical conclusion results in your rejection of the current Reformed Baptist denomination, then the arguments a Reformed Baptist used for years to substantiate their conversion are proven wrong, are they not?" There are leaks in any system. Mr. Matatics departure from the Catholic faith only proves the Catholic faith that much more, since we hold that people do, indeed, fall from the faith they originally had. White's denomination tries to cover it up by claiming they never had faith in the first place. Anyone with the least bit of theological sense can see the subterfuge in that kind of theology. Of course, that is one of the "odd positions" White is stuck with.
Question 10- Pope says Catholics, Jews must give common witness of faith
Just a few questions. Is the pope telling us that the Jews can be saved in the Old Covenant and they don`t need to convert to the Catholic Church? What is the point of this article? I mean the whole document is on the relations with non-christians right? Why won`t the pope tell them that they need to become Catholics to save their souls.What is he afraid of? Don`t the Jews deserve to have Christ preached to them? Why doesn`t the pope love the Jews as any other group of people that need Christ and his Church? They keep saying the Jews have a convenant with God that is still in force. Is it? If it is not what does all this mean? Won`t there always be tensions between Catholics and Jews as long as Jews keep denying Christ is God and the Catholic Church is his church. Besides we all know there is "No Salvation Ouside the Catholic Church" right? Pope Benedict said the anniversary was a time to thank God for the progress made in fostering reconciliation and understanding. Understanding what? That the Jews still reject Our Lord and his church. I know when I wrote you when the Pope was just elected and you told me to give him a chance and if he was headed in the wrong direction like John Paul II did for 30 years you would address it. Is it time yet?
Pope says Catholics, Jews must give common witness of faith
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said Catholics and Jews not only must respect and understand one another, they must give the world a common witness of faith in God and in his commandments.
In a message read at a Vatican commemoration of the 40th anniversary of "Nostra Aetate," the Second Vatican Council declaration on relations with non-Christians, Pope Benedict called for "an ever more compelling shared witness."
The pope particularly urged joint efforts for the protection of "the sanctity of life, the promotion of human dignity, the rights of the family and the need to build a world of justice, reconciliation and peace for future generations."
The Oct. 27 event, sponsored by the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, looked at progress made in Catholic-Jewish dialogue and on paths to follow for the future.
Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, declined to attend the ceremony because the Vatican chose as one of the main speakers Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the retired archbishop of Paris who converted to Catholicism from Judaism as a young teenager.
Rabbi Di Segni told reporters that, on a symbolic level, the choice seemed to contradict the fact that dialogue requires respect for the identity of others and a renunciation of attempts to convert them.
Oded Ben-Hur, Israel's ambassador to the Vatican, attended the ceremony along with rabbis and Jewish scholars from other parts of Europe and North and South America.
Cardinal Lustiger and Rabbi David Rosen, president of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Relations, delivered the keynote speeches.
Rabbi Rosen said "Nostra Aetate" and updated information about the Catholic Church's official teaching regarding Jews and Judaism must be given more attention in Catholic education programs, especially in seminaries.
He also said the church must deepen its reflections about the implications of saying God's covenant with the Jewish people is still valid.
Within the church, he said, there still is debate about whether Catholics should relinquish all attempts to convert Jews to Christianity, causing concern among Jews and fueling a reluctance to dialogue with Catholics.
"These 40 years since the promulgation of 'Nostra Aetate' have seen a remarkable reckoning of the soul on the part of the church," as well as a rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity, the rabbi said. Members of the Jewish community are beginning to rethink their relationship with Christians, setting aside many of the fears and suspicions of the past, he added.
Members of both communities, he said, are aware they must work together for the good of the world.
In his message, Pope Benedict said the anniversary was a time to thank God for the progress made in fostering reconciliation and understanding, "despite a complex and often painful history, and especially after the tragic experience of the Shoah, which was inspired by a neopagan racist ideology" espoused by the Nazis.
"Nostra Aetate," the pope said, encouraged Catholics and Jews "to recognize their shared spiritual roots and to appreciate their rich heritage of faith in the one God, maker of heaven and earth, who established his covenant with the chosen people, revealed his commandments and taught hope in those messianic promises which give confidence and comfort in the struggles of life."
German Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican commission for relations with the Jews, said "Nostra Aetate" proclaimed the church's "no" to anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism and its "yes" to the Jewish roots of Christianity.
"It is a tragedy of history that the 'no' as well as the 'yes' were expressed only after the terrifying experience of the Shoah, an atrocious and -- until then -- unimaginable crime," he said.
Cardinal Kasper said the Vatican II document was "just the beginning of the beginning" and required further Catholic theological reflection on God's covenant with the Jewish people and its continued validity, as well as Jewish theological reflections about Christianity.
The new relationship, the cardinal said, also calls for serious collaboration in promoting faith and morality, justice and peace, "especially in that land which is holy for both."
Cardinal Lustiger said that as believers in God and as those who follow his commandments, "Jews and Christians together have a responsibility to civilization and the whole of humanity."
In a world where "good" too often is defined as whatever makes an individual or nation happy or rich, Christians and Jews remind people and rulers that "good" has a higher, objective standard, Cardinal Lustiger said.
As people who recognize God as creator of all, Christians and Jews can be a force for building unity among peoples based on respect and on the obligation to provide special care for society's weakest members, he said.
"The balance and peace of the world are at stake here," the French cardinal said.
Cardinal Lustiger said he had no doubt the future of Catholic-Jewish relations would include tensions, but he said he hoped the faithful of both communities would allow their differences to "become a goad for reaching -- carefully and obediently -- ever deeper into the mystery of which we are the joint heirs."
U.S. Archbishop William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, attended the ceremony, as did U.S. Cardinals William H. Keeler of Baltimore and Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington.
R. Sungenis: Jim, you have a right to be concerned, since silence often speaks louder than words. The Jews need to be told that in order to go to heaven they must accept Jesus Christ as the Savior. The only thing that excludes the pope from admonishment here is that he hasn't denied that the Jews need to convert, and he has never said they still have a covenant with God. Interestingly enough, I could say "the Jews still have a covenant with God" and be totally correct, because God has offered to them the New Covenant just as he has to everyone else. But until if and when someone says that the Jews' Mosaic covenant is still active and in force, we can't pin anything on them. As for now, the word "covenant" is kept open ended and general.
Regarding the reference to the "common witness of faith in God and in his commandments," this is another one of those statements that is hard to fault, at least from a face-value reading. Since the Jews do believe in the God of Abraham and teach the Ten Commandments, they have a certain degree of affinity with the Catholic Church, and thus, in that sense, we have a commonality.
Nevertheless, I agree with you that, not to follow this up with the fact that the Jews, no matter how close they are to us, need to reject Judaism and accept Jesus Christ, otherwise, what we have in common has no unified and ultimate purpose. Let's pray that Benedict XVI has the courage to give this half of the truth as much as he does the other half.
Question 9- Are you converting your tapes to C.D.s ?
Dear Mr. Sungenis,
Will you be converting your taped selctions to c.d.'s? If I were able to buy and then download your audio offerings onto my Ipod, I would be one happy fledgling apologist.
P.S. I am half-way through your work against sola scriptura--masterful; I should, however, get some greek under my belt in order to retain many of your scriptural clarifications.
I give thanks to God for your strong witness!
R. Sungenis: Joe, yes, we are converting some of our tapes to CDs. Here is a list of them at present:
General Apologetics: Robert is interviewed for 80 minutes in a professional studio recording, on various subjects, including Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Purgatory, the Papacy, Mary, and many other topics. 1 CD, $6.00
A Primer on the Apocalypse: An introduction by means of outline to the last book of the Bible. Robert shows you the seven dramas of the Apocalypse and where to place them in the history of Christianity. Indispensable to understanding this puzzling book. 1 CD, $6.00.
How to Answer Protestant Objections: There is an art to answering objections from Protestants. Robert shows you the technique by focusing on two subjects: Baptism and Justification. You will see how to debate from a whole different perspective. 2 CDs, $10.00
Robert Sungenis versus James White Debate Set: A compendium of 5 debates between Robert and James from 1996-2003. The topics are: Justification, Papal Infallibility, the Mass and Purgatory. 12 CDs. $40.00
Predestination and Free Will: Are we predestined to eternal life or does it depend on our free will, the question that divided Luther and Calvin from the Catholic Church. Robert shows you the true Scriptural and dogmatic teaching. 1 CD, $6.00
What is Going on at the Catholic Mass? : Robert shows you the drama that is taking place at each and every Mass. We’ve all heard about “sacrifice,” but why is a sacrifice necessary, and why so often? 1 CD, $6.00.
What Really Happened at the Cross? : We all know Jesus died for our sins, but most don’t know how Christ’s death deals with sin or why only the cross would suffice for the Atonement. Robert explains it to you in one simple lesson. 1 CD, $6.00
Why Can't Catholics Divorce & Remarry? : Protestants divorce and remarry, but why can’t Catholics? Robert shows you the biblical basis for the Catholic position on Scripture by a detailed exegesis of Mt 5:32 and 19:9. 2 CDs, $10.00
Mutual Submission of Spouses? : Beginning in the Protestant churches, husbands were told that they should submit to their wives. Some of this has seeped over into the Catholic Church as well. Robert shows you biblically and dogmatically why it is wrong. 2 CDs, $10.00.
A Chat with Robert Sungenis: A video recording at a Maryland television station of Robert being interviewed by Mark Masters on four topics: Justification, Scripture, the Papacy and his conversion to the Catholic faith. 1 DVD, $15.00
What Have They Done to God's Word? : A live video recording on DVD of Robert’s speech at the International Conference on Biblical Inerrancy. Learn why there are so many problems in the Church today. It all starts with a dilution of Scripture’s authority. Your eyes will be opened 1DVD, $15.00.
Catholic Doctrine of Creation: Unfortunately today, many Catholics have accepted the tenets of Evolutionary theory, but there is no evidence for it, and the Church and Scripture do not teach it. Allow Robert to fill you in on the details. 1 CD, $6.00 or 1 DVD, $15.00 or 1 VHS, $15.00.
How To Get Involved in Apologetics: So you want to be a Catholic apologist? Here is where Robert suggests you start. If you can pass the test, you’re on your way. 1 CD, $6.00.
Problems in the Church
Tongue Speaking and the Charismatic Movement: Today, many Catholics are caught up in seeking for the experience of tongue speaking, but is the search a blessing or a deception? Allow Robert to fill you in on the details. 2 CDs, $10.00
The Assisi Interfaith Prayer Meetings: Is there something seriously wrong when the Catholic Church invites pagan religions to pray to their own gods and allows them to believe that they are praying to the true God, while the message of salvation is squandered and world peace never comes? 4 CDs, $20.00
Fatima: Consecration or Coverup? : Did the Church faithfully perform the consecration of Russia requested by Our Lady in 1929? Robert shows how our last six popes, although some tried, failed to do this simple task. Follow the intrigue and devilish forces that are involved in this massive coverup. 4 CDs, $20.00
Was God Behind the Ambiguities of Vatican 2? : Although a legitimate ecumenical council requiring our assent and obedience, Vatican II, by the admission of those who attended it, is filled with ambiguities that were later on to be exploited by modernists and liberals. 1 CD, $6.00
All orders post paid within the United States. Foreign orders add $12.00. Send check, money order or credit card information to CAI, POB 278, State Line, PA 17225, USA, or call 1-800-531-6393, or write to email@example.com or use PayPal by clicking on your desired CD or DVD.
Question 8- Catholic Response to Calvinism
Are there any Catholic apologetic books you can recommend that provide a thorough theological response to five point Calvinism?
Anything you can recommend would be appreciated.
R. Sungenis: There are a few, but not many. I would recommend you get a copy of my book, Not By Faith Alone, Chapter 7. In there I not only show the flaws of Calvinism, but I include a bibliography of the relevant material.
Question 7- Dimond Brothers' webpage
I was reading your article on Matatics and linked to the Dimond Bros. webpage. Have you read their article on the "....30 astounding and amazing heresies of Benedict XVI from his 1982 book "Principles of Catholic Theology"? If so what are your thoughts? Thank you in advance.
R. Sungenis: No, I haven't read it, but if you want to send feel free to do so. I don't go to the Dimond Brothers' website. I just respond to request from my patrons to answer their claims. As for Cardinal Ratzinger, nobody ever said he was perfect, and I've also questioned some of his theological stances as well as rejected others. But the question is not what incorrect ideas Cardinal Ratzinger may have held, but whether the Dimond Brothers have the authority to declare him a non-pope. I assure you that their error is much greater than his.
Question 6- The Calumny against St. Edith Stein
I've noticed that a few of our questioners have expressed a desire to get into the apologetics business, so I'd like to propose a project to anyone who'd like to pick it up (I'll do it myeslf eventually, if no one does).
In a recent Q&A on the supercessionist "heresy," a patron directed you to a webpage of reviews of a book by Dr. Freda Mary Oben: The Life and Thought of St. Edith Stein. One of the reviews claims that this book proves that St. Edith wanted Jews not to become Catholics, but merely to become better Jews. If this review is accurately representing this book, then Dr. Oben is imputing heresy to a saint of the Catholic Church, and someone ought to clear her name.
I can give a few preliminary points to whomever would like to write this essay. First, St. Edith, quite obviously, herself converted from Judaism to Catholicism, even though her mother was absolutely opposed and took it as a deep, personal betrayal. Their relationship never recovered. Second, St. Edith was quite supportive of her sister Rosa's desire to follow her into the Catholic Church. Third, although St. Edith had a tremendous love and sympathy for the Jewish people, she pulled no punches in pointing out the errors of the Jewish religion. In one point of her autobiography she states that Judaism's lack of focus on life after death conduces Jews to suicide when their temporal fortunes take a serious turn for the worse, and in another place she refers to the hair splitting, legalistic distinctions of orthodox sabbath-keeping as "the Talmudic sophistry which I so despised."
Please put this up on the Q&A board.
R. Sungenis: Good work, Ben. She sounds like a real saint to me. I think she's calling you from heaven to clear her name for her. Set the record straight.
Question 5- Matatics
Mr. Sungenis, I recently read your article on Gerry Matatics. I was pretty disappointed that you would post such an article on your front page. Not that I agree with Mr. Matatic's position (I have admired you both). Do you think that people are more in danger following him or the vatican? Also, he doesn't say in his article that bishop Sheen held his position. Everybody knows that. He merely states it as do the authors of the book exposing world youth day. He doesn't use it to back up his claim that there is no pope. Anybody who has really looked at the facts can see that the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are heretical. Most of the time they cloak there words a bit in ambiguity, but their actions speak louder than words. You yourself have written a paper exposing John Paul II as a universalist. Benedict XVI was suspect of heresy under Pius XII for crying out loud. I don't think Mr. Matatics should be stating that there is no pope, but I also don't think that you should make him your front page either.
R. Sungenis: Jaime, my job is to protect my Catholic patrons from anything harmful to their souls. One of the most harmful is for them to give up the faith, to turn their back on the Catholic Church, and they would do so by declaring that there is no pope. And they would put themselves in a very precarious position and more or less bring damnation on themselves for making such a judgment when they have no authority to do so. This is very serious. It is one thing to raise objections to what someone teaches; it is quite another to declare that person is out of the Church and not even a legitimate holder of the office the Church has given him. This is the most destructive weapon the devil can use against us. And of course, he will come looking like an angel of light while he is doing it. Not only will I expose Mr. Matatics for who I think he really is, I will do so with a vengeance. To me he is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and I know much more about him than you do, and more than I will reveal in this Q&A board, at least for now. I'm sorry, but this is the way it has to be, for everyone's sake.
Question 4- Vatican II
Not withstanding the question of V2's validity or the liberties taken in its translation(or tranlations), what would the condition of the Church be today if it never happened? Better or worse? As always thank you for your wonderful contribution to Catholic teaching.
R. Sungenis: Art, in some areas it would be worse, in other areas it would be better. When the slate for Vatican II was originally drafted, it only called for six areas of concern. Those concerns were necessary to address. But somehow the Council was blown into one of the most heavily-worded documents the Church has ever produced. Moreover, Vatican II's added observations took on a much more optimistic viewpoint of the world than was warranted, and the optimism often clashed with the warnings of Fatima -- an event that the liberals wanted to silence as best they could. Of course, the balance between idealism and realism has always been a difficult one throughout Church history, and Vatican II showed us that it is still alive and well.
Question 3- Question on Vatican II
Point 5 of your SCS Agreement says, "We agree to accept all the official and binding teachings of the twenty-one ecumenical councils, including any binding teachings from the Second Vatican Council."
I didn't know there were any binding teachings from the Second Vatican Council. Can you tell me what they are? Thank you and God bless you.
R. Sungenis: Peter, the first "binding teaching" is to accept Vatican II as a legitimate ecumencial council confirmed by the reigning pope, Paul VI. That would also mean, whenever Vatican II reiterates a dogmatic teaching from Tradition or gives us a development of doctrine relating to faith and morals (such as Dignitatis Humanae), then the teachings are implicitly binding.
Question 2- Gerry Matatics "Biblical Foundations" mission statement
I heard over the weekend that Gerry Matatics announced that he is now a sedevacantist. I have not found proof of this anywhere, but found this statement of his organization's purpose. Bishop Sheen's prophecy would be good to show your novus ordo friends & family of goodwill.Our Mission, and Archbishop Sheen's Prophecy
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
The mission of this apostolate, Biblical Foundations International, is two-fold:
1) To demonstrate the Biblical foundations of the Catholic Faith, in order to vindicate authentic Catholicism, not Protestantism, as the real "Bible-believing Christianity," and to expose the varieties of Protestantism as man-made frauds.
2) To equally expose the "neo-Catholicism" that has taken over the structures of the Catholic establishment since the Second Vatican Council as being a counterfeit Catholicism, whose radical departures from traditional Catholic teaching, worship, and life have over the last forty years (a biblical "generation") successfully robbed millions of Catholics of the faith of their fathers.
This second aspect of our apostolate is no less Biblically based than the first. In the famous eschatological (end times) discourse He gave on the Mt. of Olives, Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us that in the last days false teaching, even among self-described Catholics, would be so pervasive and persuasive that (if it were possible) even the elect themselves would be deceived (St. Matthew 24:4, 11, 22, 24).
In this same passage our Lord further warned us that another feature of this final apostasy would be the appearance of "the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place" (St. Matthew 24:15). This phenomenon has, according to Our Lord, three distinct elements. First, it will be "standing in the holy place," that is, placed right in the very heart of the Church. Second, it will be "abominable" or abhorrent in the eyes of God -- though certainly not in the eyes of the multitudes who will be spiritually seduced into thinking it is validly Catholic. Third, as deceived Catholics embrace this clever counterfeit, which necessarily entails their rejecting the valid version, they will thereby fall out of the Church, rendering the Church "desolate" -- again, only in the eyes of God: outwardly, the Church might seem to be as populated as ever.
Scripture indicates (and the teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church confirms) that the combination of these two factors -- the near-universal acceptance of pseudo-Catholic doctrine, and the near-universal acceptance of the abomination of desolation -- would constitute a counterfeit Catholicism so cunning and compelling, a spiritual seduction so successful, that, according to Our Lord Himself, when He does finally return, He will hardly find anyone still holding to the true Faith (St. Luke 18:8), and therefore still in the true Church -- only a tiny remnant.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-11 St. Paul also speaks of the unprecedented apostasy (verse 3) which will characterize the last days prior to the return of Christ (verses 1, 8). He, too, mentions these exact same two factors: error masquerading as truth (verses 10-11), and something or someone falsely enthroned in the heart of the Church (verse 4). The Apostle states that the conjunction of these two factors will result in the loss of the authentic Catholic Faith among all those who do not love the truth above every other consideration (verses 10-11).
Though many neo-Catholics of our day dismiss this as the overly pessimistic (if not paranoiac) speculations of "extreme traditionalism," they forget (or perhaps, in their "extreme ignorance," these neo-Catholic critics never knew) that the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (the darling of many mainstream Catholics) predicted the same scenario, long before the current crisis:
"He [Satan] will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ. . . .But the twentieth century will join the counterchurch because it [the counterchurch] claims to be infallible when its visible head speaks ex cathedra" (Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1948, pp. 24-25).
R. Sungenis: Many of the things Gerry says are true. In fact, they are so true it can be said that one of Satan's deceptions in the "great apostasy" is leading people to believe that the Church hasn't had a pope for over 40 years, which would mean that, contrary to Jesus' promise, the gates of hell have prevailed. Fortunately, as astute as Bishop Sheen was in recognizing the coming apostasy, he did not seek a solution by declaring the pope of his day was not a true pope, and he never advocated sedecavantism as a mark of the great apostasy. Sheen was smart enough to realize that, if there is no pope there is no Church. If Gerry Matatics is now advocating sedevacantism, he is no follower of Bishop Sheen. Rather, he has become a follower of "Bishop" Luther, for Martin Luther said the same thing in his day about the pope that Gerry Matatics is saying about the popes of the last half of the twentieth century. I hope the rumors are untrue. But if they are, Gerry Matatics is to be warned and then shunned if he does not change his view. It is one thing to point out the errors of the Church in our day (as Canon Law 212 allows us to do) but it is quite another to assume to oneself the authority to declare that the vicar of Christ is no longer the vicar of Christ. God help him.
Question 1- Thank you again
I have spent several more hours reading the content on your site. I can't help but think - the more I read - that you are a Godsend. I think it says a lot that you were not willing to cave in on certain points of the Faith for the sake of keeping a job. I am now more aware of the unfortunate situation in regards to Catholic Apologetics today. Now I realize why you depend so much on patron support.
Please stay true to the Faith so that I may continue to be encouraged. I recommend you and your needs to Our Mother in Heaven. I particularly think you would like patience when dealing with those who are secretly trying to undermine you while they make themselves look good as they pass off bad theology as something official. God must be awesome to be able to allow such evil and not be overcome, and in fact, to be planning something even more blessed to outshine it forever. Apoc. 13:10, 14:12
Thank you again for your work.
Guy N. Hurst
P.S. I am quoting some of your material for the 9th grade religion class to counter some misleading statements about scripture inspiration, inerrancy, and interpretation, in the text "Path through Catholicism" by Mark Link, SJ.
R. Sungenis: Guy, I'm so glad we have been able to help you. That is precisely why we are here. Thank you so much for the commendation and for the support you have given us. As long as God keep us here, we will be here. And with people like you behind us, we have every reason to stay at it. God be with you.