Friday, July 24, 2009

Obama and the Church

I am not a conspiracy theorist and I am proud of it:
  • I do believe that we DID actually land on the moon
  • I am not worried about aliens and Area 51
  • I don't believe the President Bush intentionally struck the World Trade Center on 9/11
  • I don't necessarily believe that President Kennedy's assassination was in "inside job"
  • I don't believe the US government has secretly been back to the moon, and
  • I DON'T believe that the Pope, any of them past or future is the AntiChrist.
Having said all that, I am a realist and I do like to observe things that go on in the world, especially in the world of politics. And in the world of politics, I believe that every decision, even down to the most minute detail is planned and has purpose. I am afraid that in the day and age that we live in, the decisions we see going on are much less to do about the "good of the American people" and are more to do with securing voting blocks and instituting power structures. People want to be in power and to have power. And to have that power they must have people to influence their power over. Hence where we are in the US today.

The current debate about the health care system is not so much about health care as it is being used as a way to extend the role of government more and more into our lives. There are many reasons that I don't agree with the health care proposal that is being debated in Congress, but the main one is that our government--any government, gives nothing away free; they will always want something in return. In this situation, they want you to give your privacy away and give your medical records to the Federal Government so they can decide which procedures you will be able to obtain and which ones are too expensive. They want your doctors to give away their ability to refuse to perform procedures (such as abortive procedures) that go against their conscience while taking your tax money to pay for them.

And believe me, it will not stop there. If the Health Care plan passes that the President is trying to pass, the next thing that will be moving through in the next 5 years is the Hate Crimes Bill. Please don't misunderstand me on this issue. THERE IS NO PERSON AT ALL ON THIS PLANET THAT SHOULD BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST OR MURDERED DUE TO THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION, NATIONALITY OR COLOR, PERIOD! Every person is a child of God and they deserve the human dignity and ability to make their own choices. On the flip side of this, however, we are all equal under the law. No person's life is more valuable based on their sexual orientation, nationality or the color of their skin, yet this is what a hate crime bill establishes. Any crime that is prosecuted under a hate crimes statute would be prosecuted more severely than the same crime under a normal circumstance. My question is, when is a murder committed that is not out of hate?

A Hate Crime Bill will also punish any church who speaks the truth openly against homosexuality, abortion or anything else deemed as "offensive material". Don't think it can happen? It already is in Canada. Currently Canada has no freedom of speech and any pastor who dares to offend anyone by speaking of the sin of abortion or homosexual lifestyles can be arrested and pulled in before a Human Rights Tribunal. At this point, all violators would be responsible for all your legal expenses and can be imprisoned for future infractions against the Hate Crimes legislation.

Those of us who don't believe we can lose our freedoms need to pay very close attention to the history of Imperialist Russia and also France. These two countries have had very religious, spiritual histories and yet they lost it and today we can see the results.

But what are the obstacles to President Obama and the furthering of the Socialistic Agenda? Let's take a look at what has happened so far in the past six months of President Obama's presidency:

Candidate Obama nominated for his Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. Joe Biden has been long known as a liberal senator from Delaware who has backed the Pro-Abortion movement for many, many years--and by the way, he is Catholic. A Catholic however who believes that we have the ability to choose what we want to believe and trample over the core issue of every person's right to life.

Next, we have the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, also a professing Catholic whose nomination was questioned because of her questionable ties to George Tiller, the late term abortionist who was murdered earlier this year in Kansas.

Now after these two nominations, there were a couple interesting occurrences that happened. Both of them riled anger of Christians and Catholics nationwide. The first one got some press, but not as much as the second one. April 14th of this year, the President chose to give an economic address at Georgetown University. Now Georgetown is a Catholic University and the White House apparently made a request of the University to mask religious references that might be visible during his speech. There are two wrongs here: 1) the WH request and 2) the University's compliance with the request of censure. What was actually blocked? Looking at the picture below you can see the black drape behind the President covering the IHS on the top of the display. IHS is the first three letters of Jesus name in Greek, so that had to definitely be covered.

Since that time, we have also had the unfolding of the President's speech at Notre Dame. Once again, the ire and anger of Catholics across the nation were raised as Fr. Jenkins, the president of ND not only asked the President to give the Commencement address but also honored him with an Honorary Law degree. I really don't have time to get into all the details, but the short story is that the Catholic Church states that a Catholic University should not give this type of recognition to somebody whose political leanings and philosophy further allows and encourages the disrespect of human life, but it happened anyway.

The latest two incidences would be the nomination of Sonya Sotomayor as a replacement to the Supreme Court of the United States and Dr. Regina Benjamin to be the next Surgeon General of the United States. got it, both Catholics and both very much supportive of Planned Parenthood and the Pro-abortion Agenda they promulgate.

So what is my point in all these wild ramblings? The fact of the matter is that there is only one thing that keeps our President and his Administration from pushing forward on this radical agenda: Christianity and specifically the Catholic Church. With all the respect in the world for my protestant brothers and sisters out there, Protestant Evangelical Christianity does not threaten him and cannot stop the agenda. Why not? Because within the realms of Evangelical Protestantism there are so many divisions and schisms, there is no one uniting voice. There are protestant denominations that believe in Abortion, some that don't . Some denominations bless same-sex unions, others don't. Some ordain women, others don't. So you have Baptists, Assembly of God, non denominational, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and the list goes on and on and on. There is no ONE single voice that speaks for all of them and that all of the members can unite around.

Not so with the Catholic Church. Our President and his advisers know the teachings of the Catholic Church. They know that there is one voice that speaks for the Church and they know that if all the Catholic in the United States voted according to their faith, not only would his health care plans not pass, he would not have even be in office right now.
The problems lies within the Church itself right now. One of the major faults of the Church within the past 2 generations is that the Catholic Church has under catechised it's people. The re is a vast majority of Catholics that don't know what they believe, but they DO know that we should care for the poor and the other social issues that the President stands for. This works out very good for the President and therefore, he needs to keep this voting block, this segment of the population in his corner. The best way for him to do that is to mobilize confusion within the Church to "divide and conquer". If he can place high members of his Administration, visible as Catholics, yet backing his polices, then he realizes that will cause enough confusion and dissension within the ranks of American Catholics to give him a victory and a major obstacle will been overcome. At that point his Health Care plan will pass, more Supreme Court justices will be appointed and we will finally become the nation that he and his advisers envision. A country that truly will be socialistic in our health care, in our social polices and we will eventually loose all the freedoms our nation was based on.
Conspiracy, or smart decide

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Purgatory??? What the.....????

So now, I guess I am jumping into the fire with this post. There are so many teachings I did not understand about the Catholic Church when I was not Catholic, many of which were out of just plain ignorance and some out of misinformation that I was given; and the teaching of purgatory was one of those. I remember thinking: "There is no way that purgatory can be a valid teaching, it is not spoken about at all in Scripture. And there is no need for it: Christ paid it all on the Cross!" Out of all the Catholic doctrines that are disagreed with by Protestants, there are maybe 2 or 3 others that raise just as many questions and ire as the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.

I was on my way home this afternoon listening to Catholic Answers radio and Patrick Madrid was on today taking calls and one of the callers called in to ask about the Scriptural basis for Purgatory and also why as Christians and Catholics we are in need of Purgatory. After hearing the question and the explanation, it inspired me so much that I just had to set out a'bloggin' .

There are many questions that pop into a Protestants mind when you mention Purgatory. 1) Purgatory is a second chance for all those who die. 2) Purgatory is a place where souls "work" or "earn" their salvation, and also 3) a completely false doctrine that was conjured up by the Catholic Church and has no basis whatsoever in Scripture. There has been countless numbers of works written over the past two millenia on the subject and I hold no claim as an expert or a theologian, however I do come from a different point of view and want to give a clear view of what purgatory is....and is not and the SOLID Scriptural basis for the concept of Purgatory.

First, what is the need for Purgatory and what is it? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030-1031:
who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.

And in Revelation 21:25-27, speaking of Heaven:

During the day its gates will never be shut, and there will be no night there.
The treasure and wealth of the nations will be brought there,
but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any (one) who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Matthew 5:48:

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Hebrews 12:14

Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

So based on what we read here, Puratory is NOT a second chance for people to change their mind on their relationship to and with Christ, so let us be perfectly clear on that point first and for most. In what we see in Scripture and what we read in the previous paragraphs of the CCC, we see that Purgatory is a place of cleansing and purification and also the last part of our Sanctification (being made Holy and being purified from sin).

"Cleansing and purification from what?? Once I believe that Christ died for my sins, isn't that it? It is all done!" I can hear the responses now. The answer is ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY YES!!! (and NO). The reason I say No is that few people now realize that there are two dimensions of sin.

The first dimension is the eternal dimension and this has to due with our eternal destiny. The Sacrifice that Christ made for us once and for all upon the Cross is an eternal Sacrifice that purchased our eternal souls from Hell, this is true and this cannot be earned by us as Christians in any way, shape or form. This is a gift that is given to us as Christians and allows us to join the Father in eternity.

Now for the second dimension, the Temporal dimension. Ever since Adam and Eve and the fall in the garden, every sin has eternally separated us from our Creator, but they have also come with temporal effects (i.e. cause and result). I have two good examples for this:

1)Your child is out playing baseball in the yard and you know that he is an ARod Jr. because he hits a home run....right through your beautiful kitchen window! After your anger subsides you will always offer your forgiveness to your child. Why? Because they are your child and there is nothing they can do to earn it...IT IS THEIRS. But there is another side to this; you still have a broken window. Your child will have to work and work and forego allowances whatever it takes to teach them about reprucussions of their actions.

2)On a more adult scenario, let us suppose that a man goes out and has an affair on his wife and then realizes the error of his ways. He would go to confession and be forgiven absolutely of all his sins. Later he finds out that he has contracted some sexually transmitted disease such as Herpes or AIDS. Does this mean that he is not forgiven? By no means. What this means is that he is suffering the consequences of his actions.

This principle is set forth in Scripture from beginning to end. Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden for their disobedience. Cain was set out as a wanderer as a result of his murder of Abel. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land after is disobedience. David's son died after his adultery with Bathsheeba. Consequences follow actions. Whenever we willingly choose to disobey the laws set in place by God, there is never a null effect and there is a bit of a stain that is left on our souls. Though our forgiveness is bought and paid for, the stain and effects of sin still have to be accounted for and this is the purpose of Purgatory. It is kind of like a "heavenly mud room" Your mama wouldn't dare let you play in the house after you have been out rolling around in the mud, you have to get clean first. To sum it up, if you are in Purgatory, you are going to Heaven....PERIOD.

Now for the Second Part. Is Purgatory scriptural? Obviously there is nowhere in Scripture that will obviously describe Purgatory. Is it a physical place? Is it a process? Do you spend years or eons there? These are all details that aren't provided for us in Scripture. What we do know is that when we die, if we have these attachments to sin still with us, stained on our soul, that we must be made perfectly clean prior to being presented to Christ. So whether Purgatory is a physical place, an instantaneous process and how it is done, we don't have the answers. Having said that, this is what we do know from Scripture about Purgatory:

Now I realize that some of you don't have the Maccabees in your Bible, but it was there 600 years me! :-) And this was what 2Macc 12: 43-44 states:
He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view;
for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death.

So, here is the question. If the soldiers Judas Maccabeus was collecting an offering for were in heaven, why would Judas be praying for them. If they were in Hell, there would be no use for them either, so why was he collecting an offering for them? (Purgatory) Even if you don't belive in the authority of the Deuterocanonical books, it is worth much attention that the early Jews believed in a final purifcation before they stood before God and furthermore, they believe that Judas Maccabeus acted in "a very excellent and noble way".

I Corinthians 3: 13-15:
the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one's work.
If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage.
But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.

Now this is an interesting passage that Paul writes. So at "The Day" each person's work will come to light and at the end, "the person will be saved, but only as through fire". Again the Scripture begs the question: If you are in Heaven, why would you pass through the fire? And we know that if one is in Hell, then they do not what is Paul referring to here. We must be made spotless and holy before Christ

Matthew 12:32
And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Now in this verse we have Christ speaking about the Unforgiveable Sin. Again, in Heaven there is no need for sins to be forgiven, but Christ is definitely alluding to the fact that there will be a place will sins WILL be able to be forgiven "in the age to come".

And finally 1Peter 3:19:
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,

Here Peter speaks of Christ preaching to the "spirits in prison". Where were they? Heaven? Nope, because if they were in Heaven, Christ would have had no need to preach to them. Hell? Nope, because we know that repentance is not possible in Hell.

All this leads us to believe that yes, there is a Purgatory and THANK YOU LORD that there has been a way provided to remove all imperfections and attractions to sin from our souls before we come face to face with our Blessed Lord.

Finally....can you avoid Purgatory? I think that is for another blog..................

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Obama Closely representing American Catholics???

OK....So I just read this article in Newsweek that states that our new President more closely represents American Catholics better than the Pope. Here is the link, so if you want to read it prior to reading further, here you go:

The summary of the article is that because our President holds a view of allowing abortion, gay marriage, the status of women in the Church and stem cell research that he is a much closer representation of American Catholics than the Holy Father. Let's take a look at a couple things: 1) There technically no "American Catholics". There are Catholics that live in America, but the Catholic teachings are the same in America as they are in England, South Africa, South America and anywhere on the planet. 2) As Catholics, we are not looking, nor do we need to be "defined" by any other person than our Lord.

I may be reading into the article more than it has, but it seems to me that the entire purpose of the article was to paint the Catholic Church as "behind the times" and "outdated" and even more dangerous, "intolerant".

The Holy Father is who we as Catholics believe is the earthly head of the Church that Christ established and he is given special gifts (charisms) that lead that Church and protect the Church from attacks and intrusions of moral and theological dangers. In the day that we live in, it is very refreshing to know that the Church does not falter and does not fail on the moral and theological issues that have guided her for the past 2,ooo years. Not many are aware, but until 193o or there about, ALL Christian churches considered artificial birth control a sin and it was to be avoided at all costs. Now, only the Catholic Church with a handful of others still recognize the danger of artificial contraception. (For more on this issue see Pope John Paul II's encyclial, Theology of the Body.)

If Catholics are more closely represented by President Obama, then I would suggest that as Catholics in America that we re examine our positions and submit them to Christ and the teachings of His Church. We do NOT have the ability to pick and choose what we believe and what we don't. There are certain non negotiables that we must stand behind and if we are having difficulties, May we carry this prayer on our lips and in our hearts with humility and openness: "Lord, help my unbelief...."