Theology

Tears welled up in my eyes — again — at Mass last Sunday. It was not always so. As a former Baptist I used to think the Catholic Mass was a sacrilege and an abomination. How could anyone worship a piece of bread? Really!

However, last Sunday I was overcome with emotion while sitting in an older Catholic church in a relatively poor area of town during a “normal” Sunday Mass. Why? Let me explain.
Dad reading
(Picture: Me on the right with the best dad in the world and brother David after going to Joy Road Baptist Church)

But first I have to take a step back in time to my delightful childhood.

The door of our Baptist church opened and the early arrivers stepped in with well-worn Bibles under their arms and colorful ties snugged up tight around the neck. Children with cute bow ties and frilly dresses were herded in and dropped off at Sunday School. Women adjusted their hats and smiled at all their friends.

It was always the same — enter the church with chattering friendliness accompanied by the organ or piano to set the mood. Everyone takes their place in the padded pews. The pastor steps up to the front and welcomes everyone, especially any visitors. They are asked to fill out the “Visitor Card” in the pews in front of them.

Then we all stand as he opens in a solemn and often wordy prayer.  A number is called out and we all grabbed our hymnal and proved we were real Christians by belting out the song, not just the first verse, but verses 1, 2 and 5.

For the rest of the story, click here.

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Can You Spot the Errors?

by Steve Ray on December 20, 2014

This is a typical non-Catholic Creed. It was forwarded by a Catholic asking if they could agree to it in order to get a new job.

What do you think of this creed and could you sign onto it? If you think there are errors, what are they?

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Catholic World News – November 14, 2014

In a letter written three days after the conclusion of the recent Synod of Bishops, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirmed St. John Paul II’s teaching on absolution for those who have remarried outside the Church.

Asked by a French priest whether a priest may “grant absolution to a penitent who, having been religiously married, has contracted a second union following divorce,” Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer responded that “we cannot exclude a priori the remarried divorced faithful from a penitential process that would lead to a sacramental reconciliation with God and, therefore, also to Eucharistic Communion.”

He continued:

Pope John Paul II, in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (n. 84) envisaged such a possibility and detailed its conditions:

“Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

Archbishop Ladaria then outlined the steps in the penitential process:

“Verify the validity of the religious marriage in the respect of truth, all the while avoiding giving the impression of a kind of ‘Catholic divorce.’”
“See eventually if the persons, with the aid of grace, can separate from their new partners and reconcile with those from whom they had separated.”
“Invite remarried divorced persons who, for serious reasons (for instance, children), cannot separate from their partner to live as ‘brother and sister.’”
“In any event, absolution cannot be granted if not under the condition of being assured of true contrition, that is, ‘a sorrow of mind, and a detestation for sin committed, with the purpose of not sinning for the future’ (Council of Trent, Doctrine on the Sacrament of Penance, c. 4),” Archbishop Ladaria concluded. “In this line, a remarried divorcee cannot be validly absolved if he does not take the firm resolution of not ‘sinning for the future’ and therefore of abstaining from the acts proper to spouses, by doing in this sense all that is within his power.”

Archbishop Ladaria’s letter was published in L’homme nouveau, a French Catholic biweekly entrusted by the Vatican with the distribution of the French edition of L’Osservatore Romano; and an English translation appeared on the Rorate Caeli blog. The Catholic daily La Croix also reported on the letter.

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My Updated Article on Infant Baptism

October 29, 2014

Even among Evangelical Protestants there is much debate about Infant Baptism. My old Baptist tradition rejected it as a Catholic tradition of men. Dr. Francis Schaeffer, my favorite Evangelical Presbyterian theologian wrote a booklet entitled Infant Baptism in favor of the practice – my wife Janet was raised Presbyterian and baptized as an infant. It [...]

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“The Sinner’s Prayer” – All You Need to Get to Heaven?

October 9, 2014

When I was a kid, the “Sinner’s Prayer” was a big deal. It was at the heart of everything we knew about Jesus and getting saved. It was almost used as an incantation. My mom coached me to pray the Sinner’s Prayer when I was 4 years old. We knelt together in front of the [...]

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Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love Our Spouses in Heaven?

September 4, 2014

My dad died almost two years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will no be married” in heaven. I wrote the following to comfort my Mom. Giving talks in Steubenville Ohio and stayed up until 2:00 AM doing a bit of work on this. [...]

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Interesting Explanation of Baptism from Protestant Dictionary – “baptism…in itself is unimportant”

August 18, 2014

I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they [...]

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A New Creed for the Modern World

July 8, 2014

Everyone knows the ancient Christian creeds are outdated and passé. It is time we have a new creed that fits everyone.  We believe that God is in all of us; He has been created in our image We believe that each one must find the truth that is right for him. Reality will adapt accordingly. [...]

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A Talk with 2 Purposes: Teach Foundations of our Faith & Demonstrate Verbum Catholic Software

June 23, 2014

Last month I gave a talk in Ann Arbor entitled “The Foundations of our Faith: Scripture, Tradition & Magisterium.” (Watch the video below.) As I love to do, I tied the Old and New Testaments together and showed the continuity that lays the foundation for who and what we are as Catholics today.  But my [...]

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2nd Joyful Mystery, More Joyful than Most People Realize, Feast of Visitation

May 31, 2014

Today is the Feast of the Visitation. At the Visitation Mary traveled about 100 mile to visit her relative Elizabeth – pregnant! Very few Catholics (and almost no Protestants) understand the Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant with the Word of God inscribed in flesh in her womb. (see Chart below.) Here is [...]

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Is DOGMA an Oppressive Catholic Word?

May 13, 2014

When I was an Evangelical Protestant, I thought DOGMA was a dirty word. It had bad connotations. It represented unbiblical teaching forced down people’s throats by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. They invented new doctrines not found in the Bible and then called them dogmas and told Christians if they didn’t believe them — [...]

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Purgatory? Doesn’t that Deny the Work of Christ?

May 11, 2014

What’s the Deal with Purgatory? by Steve Ray Isn’t the finished work of Christ sufficient? Didn’t he pay for all my sins? Why the heck do Catholics teach that we have to suffer in Purgatory for our sins? Plus, the Bible never mentions purgatory so it must be an unbiblical doctrine, right. Wow! Sounds like [...]

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The Bible out of Context

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 [...]

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Are You Born Again?

February 16, 2014

 It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way – with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following: 1) The first creation came from the the earth which was covered with WATER and the SPIRIT hovered over the waters and from the water emerged [...]

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Response to an Ex-Catholic, now Baptist

January 26, 2014

I received an e-mail from a Southern Baptist and decided to take a few minutes to respond. Thought others might be edified by it so I have posted it here without using his name. His e-mail is contained in regular text and my response is in CAPITAL LETTERS. **************************************************** HELLO FRIEND: I WILL ANSWER BRIEFLY [...]

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Simple Chart on Hierarchy of Authority, Infallibility, Dogma and Doctrine in the Catholic Church

November 15, 2013

From Jimmy Akins’ Secret Information Club: Periodically, I’m asked what the difference is between dogma and doctrine. People have the idea that they are kinds of Church teaching, but they’re not sure precisely what the difference is (or even if there is one). To help folks understand this, I’ve created an infographic that shows how [...]

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