Is the Mass really a Sacrifice? A Primer on the Mass

by Steve Ray on October 14, 2016

In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul compares three sacrifices, that of Israel, that of the pagans and the sacrifice of Christians. He speaks of the Table of the Lord which the Old Testament prophets explained as an altar of sacrifice (Malachi 1:7-12). Look at the chart below and see if Paul didn’t clearly view the Eucharist as a sacrifice offered on the altars (table of the Lord) by the gentile nations from east to west in the Church.

For more on this issue, click here. Click here for my Primer on the Mass.

Sacrifice Sacrifices Participants Given to Altar
Israel Animals, etc. …in the Altar Yahweh Temple Altar
Pagan (Gentile) Things, even babies …in demons Demons Table of Demons
Christian Bread & Wine …in Body & Blood of Christ God Table of the Lord

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Sola Scriptura and the Canon of Scripture

by Steve Ray on October 12, 2016

Sola Scriptura and the Canon

When non-Catholics are asked to provide biblical support or their belief that the Bible Alone is the sole rule of faith for the believer, they usually cite 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which states that “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful”. However, they somehow miss the fact that the two verses immediately prior stress the importance of oral teaching and the teaching authority of the Church. Here is the entire passage with context added:

bible112 Timothy 3:14-17

Verse 14: But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of (Timothy had learned the Gospel and become convinced that it was true by Paul’s ORAL preaching and teaching. This oral preaching and teaching is known to Catholics as Sacred Tradition.), because you know those from whom you learned it (Timothy had learned the Scriptures first from his mother and grandmother, and then the full gospel from Paul, an Apostle (and Bishop) of the Church, and possibly from other Church leaders whom Timothy had heard preaching and teaching. The teaching authority of the Church is known to Catholics as the Magisterium.) ,

Verse 15: and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures (Timothy would have known only the Old Testament scriptures from his infancy since the New Testament had not been written or completed at the time Paul’s letter to Timothy was composed. However, the New Testament is recognized as part of the Bible, the written Word of God. This is known to Catholics as Sacred Scripture.), which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (Only after commending the Tradition “handed on” from the Magisterium does Paul go on to discuss the nature of Sacred Scripture in the following verses.)

Verse 16: All Scripture is God-breathed (referring exclusively to the Hebrew Scriptures) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Viewed this way, we can see that 2 Timothy 3:14-17 does not support the doctrine of sola scriptura at all. In fact, the opposite is true. (Compare: 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15, 3:6.)

Another point to consider is that Paul’s disciple, Timothy, was a Greek, and the Old Testament that Timothy would have been most familiar with from the time of his youth was the Greek Septuagint. Because of his travels outside of Israel, Paul, too, would have been familiar with and would have used the Greek version of the Old Testament writings. Eighty percent of Paul’s quotations of the Old Testament in the New are from the Greek Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible. Therefore, in this passage of scripture, Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in what he had learned from the Septuagint.

This has important implications for a controversy concerning seven books of the Old Testament now known collectively to Catholics as the “Deuterocanonicals” and to Protestants as the “Apocrypha”. Catholics consider the Deuterocanonicals to be inspired scripture while Protestants reject them. The Greek Septuagint contains these seven books while the Hebrew version of the Old Testament does not. (For more on this topic, see Gary Michuta’s excellent book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger).

There is no doubt that the Septuagint was known to and used by Jesus, Paul and Timothy and yet, in the 16th century, Martin Luther removed these seven books from the Bible because they contain passages that support distinctly Catholic doctrines like praying for the dead and purgatory—doctrines which he rejected. Luther justified his action in part upon the fact that the some Jews themselves rejected the Deuterocanonicals as part of their canon.

This development in the history of the Jewish canon is interesting in itself. Beginning as early as 90 A.D. some Jewish leaders began to re-think which books of the Bible should and should not be considered scripture. In the second century, the Jews questioned the Deuterocanonical books due in large part to the fact that the early Christian Church was using the Deuterocanonicals to support the Christian belief in the resurrection from the dead. The Jewish scriptures were being used to win converts to the Christian faith! Consequently, some two centuries after Christ’s death and resurrection, the Jews are often thought to have questioned the Deuterocanonical books which taught the resurrection. Martin Luther used their doubt to justify his own. (For more on the “Council of Jamnia and the collection of Old Testament books, read my article The Council that Never Wasn’t as published in This Rock Magazine.)

This leads to a couple of obvious questions: “Why would the Holy Spirit guide a group of rabbis on matters related to the Old Testament canon when there was already a Christian Church in existence that was under His infallible guidance as Jesus had promised? And why should Luther accept the revised Hebrew canon instead of the canon of the Septuagint that had been used by St. Paul and from then on in continuous use in the Church for over fifteen centuries?

Luther picked that truncated canon for the same reason the rabbis did:  in order to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church which did not fit his new theology.

For more, click here.


Homosexuals and Shellfish

by Steve Ray on October 10, 2016

I received a copy of an e-mail which was very sarcastic. The sceptic’s words are in red. He wrote:

“Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from you, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.”

I cannot give an answer that would satisfy the sarcastic interlocutor without a great deal of time and even then he will only listen if he wants to. But, one has to realize that God deals with different people in different ways within their times, their knowledge and their cultural confines. Also, much of the Mosaic Law was to punish the Israelites for their stubborn, stiff-necked rebellion against God which was not imposed on all men for all time. I suggest that the whole problem here is that our e-mailer has a bone to pick and has very little historical or biblical understanding, or he wouldn’t ask such things.

Here the first example from his list:

1) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

In ancient cultures slavery was a way of life.  Life was cheap and slaves were property that could be treated and disposed of any which way. That was a fact of life. The very fact that Moses wrote laws to protect the servant with certain legal and moral safeguards put the Israelites light years ahead of the neighboring nations. Slaves with rights—unheard of! But also, the e-mailer should realize that the term slave here can be misleading in that it may very well refer to a bond servant or maid. In early America, many people were able to afford immigration by selling themselves as bondservants for a time. In any regard, over time the full revelation of God impressed men with a more comprehensive understanding and practice of justice and dignity for human life.

shellfish2) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

Yes there are degrees and the differing extent of punishments reflected the degrees. The laws concerning shellfish were not part of the Noahide laws (Gen 9) relating to all men. They were only applied to the Israelites under the Mosaic Law. Shellfish laws were not applicable to Gentile Christians in the NT (see Acts 15). The Mosaic laws and proscriptions are not universal, they were local and for a specific people for a specific time. They were intended partly to make Israel separate from the nations. It was selectively applied to one people, not universally to all mankind.

But, homosexuality is prohibited both to the Israelite and in the NT to all people because it is a violation of natural law as well as the written Law of God. It is a universal prohibition. Shellfish are not part of the moral law. The MORAL commands apply to all men. They are universal axioms. They are declared in the Old Testament and carried on into the New. Homosexuality is condemned in the OT and also in the NT eating lobster is not.

The e-mailer must also realize that all 613 Laws of Moses are no longer binding on the Christian, or mankind in general, though the basic Ten Commandments are. Stealing, lying, murder are morally wrong and apply to all men. Jesus not only requires our obedience to the Ten Commandments but even ups the ante! I have a study on my website about our continuing obligation to the Big Ten.

3) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

Even a cursory reading of Leviticus makes it clear bulls were not burned in everyone’s back yard therefore offending neighbors. We do burn cow flesh in our back yards today though, in fact I have a prime rib grilling now. The sacrifice went to the tabernacle or the temple where such sacrifice would not effect the neighbor across the fence.

But, why kill bulls? Because Egypt worshiped bulls and Israel rejected God in their insane desire to continue “bull worship” which they learned in Egypt. They built a Golden Calf and bowed before it saying, “This is the god that brought us out of Egypt.” It was easier for God to get the Jews out of Egypt than to get Egypt out of the Jews. They were ordered to kill cattle to constantly remind them that cattle were NOT gods. Also, sin is odious to God and death shows just how horrible sin really is—it brings death. The death of Jesus eliminates the need for animal sacrifice both in back yards and in temples.

Does all this mean that God is confused or the Scriptures unfair? Of course not. It just means our questioner did not think clearly or deeply on these matters. The writer of this silly list of questions does not take any of this historical information into account. He just picks up a hammer and starts swinging it around to the detriment of himself and others.

I think the words of St. Augustine are appropriate when he said that believing is necessary for understanding. Honesty and a bit of historical and biblical understanding are helpful too.


Church’s Name: Sad or Humorous?

October 9, 2016

I was driving down the road the other day and had to turn around and get a picture of this sign (click on the picture for a larger image). I had to chuckle when i thought how silly such denominationalism is — and the series of infighting and splits that must have brought this name […]

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Kissing Statues

October 8, 2016

We are in Jerusalem today ready to pick up our group of 50 people at the airport in a few hours. When I woke up this morning to the Muslim “call to prayer”, church bells ringing and horns honking I read this email that came from the United Kingdom… It read, “Hi Steve! I know […]

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St. Paul did NOT Write for Us!

October 6, 2016

When arguments about salvation arise between Catholics and Protestants, the Bibles are usually opened to Galatians and Romans. Are we saved by faith alone or are works involved? Protestants quickly accuse Catholics of teaching a salvation based on works and Catholics quickly point out that Protestants have swung the pendulum too far in the other […]

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C. S. Lewis and the “Apologetics of Longing”

October 5, 2016

I did not write the article down below, following my intro here – I wish I had. It was written by Daniel Morley about C. S. Lewis who has always been one of my favorite authors both in my Protestant years and now in my much fuller and richer Catholic experience. Lewis was brilliant. He […]

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Absent from the Body = Present with the Lord?

October 4, 2016

I realize now — that as a Protestant — I misquoted the Bible when challenging Catholics about Purgatory. Catholics taught that there was a “transition” between earth and heaven—a place or state of final purification called Purgatory. “But how can there be a Purgatory?” I asked. “Doesn’t St. Paul teach that ‘to be absent from the body is to […]

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What Do We Mean by “Unanimous Consent of the Fathers”

September 28, 2016

Unanimous Consent of the Fathers By Steve Ray The Unanimous Consent of the Fathers (unanimem consensum Patrum) refers to the morally unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers on certain doctrines as revealed by God and interpretations of Scripture as received by the universal Church. The individual Fathers are not personally infallible, and a discrepancy by […]

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What Does “Water and Spirit” Mean?

September 26, 2016

Since we are at the VERY place where Jesus was baptized in water and the Spirit came down, I thought I would share this post again. A while ago a Protestant friend tried to prove that Born Again by “water and Spirit” did not mean baptism. Here is one paragraph that he sent me: In John, chapter […]

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Do the Fathers Claim the Eucharist is a Symbol and Not the Real Presence?

September 8, 2016

A man sent a challenge that the Fathers of the Church claim the Eucharist is a symbol and therefore NOT the Real Presence of Christ. Is that true? My friend Gary Michuta answers the question. Thanks for including me in on this conversation. Brian, there are three issues that commonly trip up non-Catholics when they read […]

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Was Jesus a Homosexual? Some say “Yes” and try to Prove it from the Bible!

September 6, 2016

After posting my blog entry “Jesus and Homosexuality” I received a correspondence from a Harry H. McCall, a self-proclaimed ex-reverend, on June 4, 2012. He referred me to his blog “Debunking Christianity.” His post was entitled Jesus the Homosexual: Evidence From the Gospels. It is despicable to even say or suggest this of Our Lord […]

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Homosexuality in Genes and in Animals?

August 31, 2016

A while ago I had a heated discussion about homosexuality with some good liberal friends. They contend that 1) homosexuality is seen among animals (certainly not proved and if it is – it is only in unnatural situations; more in my response) and, 2) since God “made people homosexual” it must be natural, normal and accepted. The discussion […]

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Differences Between Catholic and Protestant Approaches to the Bible

August 21, 2016

“Bible Christians” (a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises: 1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone; 2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their own […]

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Why Protestants Reject 7 Books of the Bible – the Short Answer

August 19, 2016

Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean. Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from […]

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The Cross & the Crucifix: Letter to a Fundamentalist

August 17, 2016

The Cross & the Crucifix (From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix) Dear Evangelical Friend: You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the […]

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