Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Trail of Blood or Baptist Successionism

by Steve Ray on May 3, 2014

The Trail of Blood

by Steve Ray

What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct?

There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving behind a trail of blood.

I used to believe this premise and now that I have looked more carefully I wrote an article about this booklet and this the idea Baptists are the true Christians that have survived Catholic attempts to destroy them. Here is how my article begins:

“When Baptists attempt to discover the origins of their tradition they are faced with a historical dilemma. The search for Baptists roots hits a dead end in the sixteenth century. Most acknowledge that Baptist tradition is a tributary flowing out of the Protestant Reformation, but others attempt to discover a line of historical continuity, of doctrine and practice, back to Jesus and even John the Baptist. These Baptists are commonly referred to “Baptist Successionists”. . . “

-For my full article on the Trail of Blood, click here (pdf).
-For other articles and references, click here.
-For more such articles and letters, click here.

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The Bible out of Context

by Steve Ray on May 3, 2014

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it.

or put otherwise,

A text without a context is a pretext.

I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and theology without a clue what they are talking about or what the Bible is talking about. We had a classic example of this in our family this week. A Fundamentalist condemned us Catholics for emphasizing the need for good works (cp. James 2:24) using verses like Romans 3:28 that says, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.”

IMGP0964.JPGWith great ignorance the Fundamentalist said “This verse proves you Catholics wrong. We are saved by faith alone and not by good works.”

Such blithering nonsense has nothing to do with Romans 3:28 — which is not a Catholic-Protestant debate but a Jewish-Gentile debate. But in an argument like this the Fundamentalist ignores the historical and textual context. He uses the Bible verse as a club–as a proof-text to promote his Fundamentalist traditions of men. He creates his OWN context to the detriment of the historical and textual context. It is his argument to trip up Catholics who are not well catechized in their faith.

In Romans and Galatians (and Acts 15) this is the argument: Can an uncircumcized Gentile become Christian (follower of the Jesus the JEWISH Messiah) without first becooming a Jew by being circumcized and obeying all the Laws of Moses and regulations of the Pharisees?

circumcision.gif“Works of the Law” is a technical term. It refers to those actions that made Jews distinct from the Gentiles. Paul says we are not justified by “works of the Law” or Mosaic circumcision and prescribing to all the 613 laws of Moses, but rather by faith.

This is how the Catholic Church understands the New Testament and why the Fundamentalist who takes verses out of their context plays the fool and twists the Scriptures to their own confusion and the confusion of all those who are foolish enough to listen to them.

For more on this read my earlier blogs “Flint Knives and the Gospel” and “St. Paul Did Not Write to Us.”


20140503-161024.jpgWe started the morning pretty early. You’re probably glad you were not here with us because the wake up call came at 4:30 AM. The bus left at 5:00 and we started the Via Dolorosa at 5:30 AM.

Why in the world would we do that? Because the streets of Jerusalem are empty and we own the place at that hour. We can pray, stay together as a group and arrive at the Holy Sepulchre before the crowds.


After praying the Stations of the Cross we all went up and touched the top of Calvary. I told our pilgrims that if they had touch that spot 2000 years ago their hands would come up sticky with the blood of Jesus.

We had a Mass scheduled for the Crusaders Chapel. But at the last minute my friend, one of the Franciscan Brothers, rushed up and said “A group is late; quickly move your people into the Tomb, you can have Mass in there.”

What a joy that was! People were in tears and overjoyed to have a private time inside the Tomb with no interruptions.


What did I mean that Jesus came out of the tomb for us today? Think about it. When Fr. Courtney brought us the Eucharist, Jesus came out of the tomb for us again today in the form of the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus comes out of the tomb again for us every day – for our healing, spiritual nourishment, forgiveness and eternal blessing.

20140503-161206.jpgAfter walking back to the Notre Dame hotel for breakfast and a bit of rest we boarded the bus again to visit Mount Zion and the Mount of Olives. Today was a rich blessing for everyone.

We gave everyone the afternoon off to go out exploring, shopping, praying at the holy sites or whatever the else they wanted. Teresa Tomeo is taking a group out to a nice restaurant in the old city of Jerusalem and Janet and I are taking a group up to the rooftop restaurant to eat overlooking the city of Jerusalem. We also have a Holy Shroud of Turin exhibit planned for the whole group this afternoon. What a joy all of this is!

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