Questions from Finland


#1

Dear brothers and sisters,

this is my first post in the CAF. I’m 19, I live in Finland (a nominally Lutheran country, probably one of the most secularized and agnostic and depressed countries in the world and blind to the causes of its problems - that was just to give you the religious/moral situation, as a country it’s very beautiful and peaceful and lovable) and for the last few years I’ve been active in the Catholic faith and one day I hope to do apologetics big-time here. Anyway I have a few questions to which I’d like to get sound Catholic answers.

  1. Scripture. It’s funny how Christianity in America is almost like a thing in itself, something apart from “ordinary” Christianity, it seems like there’s a war of apologetics going on with all those denominations and everything there. One difference is the general acceptance of Scripture as wholly true and inspired in a very strict sense, I would say. The Bible is a presupposed authority, quite widely accepted (and thus most arguments use Scripture verses as evidence), and in a way that usually insists on quite a literal/historical truth interpretation. I read an article about a document by the Bishops of England that stated that the Bible is infallible when it comes to religious truth, salvation etc. but not in other areas. This article was written by an American Catholic apologist and it said that the document in question was contrary to the official Catholic teaching that there is no error in the Bible. Also on the Scripture sub-forums there have been discussions about how much is literally/historically true and what can be regarded as literal liberties or embellishments. My problem is answering this dilemma. How can we know if a particular detail or story in the Bible is definitely historically true or not? Ok, one would respond, if the writer intended to write historical truth, then it was, if he intended to convey the message in some more symbolical/abstract way, then that’s how we should see it. But how can we know the intentions of the writers? That’s sometimes not that simple. As far as I know there is no Church-authorized book or anything that gives the correct interpretations for every single thing the Bible says. How are we to decide then? Today I saw a book that claimed that most of the Old Testament was made up. It listed many examples of stories in the Bible that contradicted history (examples of cities that didn’t exist when the Bible says that someone came from there or nations that were not in a place the Bible says they were at a certain time in history, about Egyptian history not mentioning a word about any Jews held captive there etc etc). Can all such arguments be refuted by some other means than proving Jesus’s divinity and then the fact that he accepted the Scriptures so they must be true/proving the Church’s infallibility and then because the Church teaches the Bible is true, it’s true? Are we to believe as historical fact everything the Bible tells us about how long people lived in the times of the Old Testament and the genealogy from Adam to Jesus etc; when the Church teaches that it’s not necessarily 6000 years since the beginning of the world etc.? To make it clear, I believe the Bible is inspired and infallible, I’m just looking for an answer to the dilemma.

  2. The Body of Christ. We hold that the Church is the Body of Christ. We hold that Christ established a visible Church. We hold that that Church is the Catholic Church. We are baptised into the Church of Christ, to the Body of Christ. Now we also believe that Protestants and Orthodox Christians can be “in Christ”, in the state of grace, and they are baptised to the One Church Christ founded, just that they are exteriorly in schism with it, most of the time not of their own fault. And there are many Catholics who deny the faith, who are not in the state of grace, not in Christ, thus, not really Christians in their hearts even if they are Catholic on paper. Thus it seems to me that it follows that the Body of Christ is actually invisible, because being “in Christ” is not determined by the denomination but by having received the supernatural life of Christ. And this conclusion kind of contradicts the central apologetical/dogmatical point that the Church/the Body of Christ is visible. Again this is not an argument that would make me think it’s not that necessary to be Catholic, I’m just looking for clarification to the dilemma. I’ve heard that all baptised are the Body of Christ, that the Catholic Church is the Body of Christ, AND that the Churches that have apostolic succession are the Body/Church of Christ because of the apostolic faith&sacraments, especially the validity of the Eucharist we share. I think these are all true in a way but I can’t see the whole in a coherent and sensible way.

to be continued…


#2

the post was too long so I’m continuing it here…

  1. Confirmation. We say we get the Holy Spirit’s fullness in confirmation. Even ‘good’ Catholics who are in the state of grace don’t seem to be that transformed by confirmation not to mention any apostolic zeal that they’d have as a gift of the Spirit. On the other hand I see Protestants who believe they get the Holy Spirit when they’re ‘born again’ and it certainly looks like there’s a real change in their spiritual life after the regeneration. If we look at the action and effects of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, the Protestant teaching and experience seem to be accurate while the Catholic teaching/practise suggests the Holy Spirit is no longer doing His job. Sure we can argue for the Catholic position from the infallibility of the Church, but I can’t help having problems with the evident practical/empirical contradiction.

  2. Baptism. Another practical/empirical question: if the child gets the theological virtues and the life of God in baptism, shouldn’t that be somehow evident exteriorly too? I don’t see a difference between baptised and non-baptised when it comes to being able to be Loving or Corageous for the Love of God. Another question: why is the criterion for a valid baptism a correct belief in the Trinity? Why is the baptism of a Lutheran child, baptised for tradition’s sake without any faith in the parents or the sponsors, valid, while the Baptism of Jehova’s Witnesses is not even if they raise the child to a living faith in Jesus, just because the Lutheran confession of the Trinity is the same as the Catholic whereas that of the JW’s is not?

  3. Why on earth did God have the Jews circumcised as the covenant sign in the Old Testament?

  4. Once I attended Mass in Latin and the priest said “quod pro vobis traderetur” instead of “tradetur” - did transubstantiation take place anyway? I think so because it probably wasn’t his intention to use the wrong tense (he hadn’t celebrated (m)any Latin Masses before), but just checking…

That’s it for now, pray for Finland and her Catholics, on the day of the Immaculate Conception the Bishop will consecrate the country and the diocese (we only have one) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it’s a big event:), hope to see some fruits soon:)

Thank you sooo much for your Catholic Answers, both as a whole and to these specific questions


#3

I’m a 21 year old here in the US, Texas to be more precise; I don’t know a whole heck of a lot and don’t have enough time to address every issue, but I will address the grace recieved from confirmation one(3.)

[quote=CCC]1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. The Father always hears the prayer of his Son’s Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power.

1128 This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: “by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that “the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.” From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.
[/quote]

Look in Acts and to the story of Simon Magus

How is it you can be at mass and see the person to your right in complete exctasy and the person to your left about to fall asleep?
To quote the Catechism: “The fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.”


#4

[quote=fineca]Dear brothers and sisters,

How can we know if a particular detail or story in the Bible is definitely historically true or not? Ok, one would respond, if the writer intended to write historical truth, then it was, if he intended to convey the message in some more symbolical/abstract way, then that’s how we should see it. But how can we know the intentions of the writers? That’s sometimes not that simple. As far as I know there is no Church-authorized book or anything that gives the correct interpretations for every single thing the Bible says. How are we to decide then?

Because we don’t or can’t know all truth doesn’t mean we can’t know some of it. I know the wind blows but I can’t explain why.

We can start from the rational premise that the Bible is an historically accurate document and it certainly is, in fact, it is more accurate than any other historical source ever written. If it is incorrect then rationally speaking, every other historical “source” is too. Those who want the Scriptures to be inaccurate believe any real truth isn’t something we can grasp; that’s nuts, that’s relativism; what Benedict XVl wrote against!

Truth isn’t relative, but can be known, certainly not in its entirety but that doesn’t mean it can’t be known is some sense.

I don’t have to fully know E=mc squared to know that a nuclear bomb is powerful and deadly because I’ve seen its effects.

I don’t have to uncap the sewer cap on the street to know that it stinks!

Perhaps no one will ever know for certain every single verse that was written, and as much as we can’t know for certain what Jesus’ parables are specifically speaking of, but that doesn’t mean we can’t know what they perhaps are saying and that doesn’t say that we can’t know what Scripture as a whole is conveying to us.

Today I saw a book that claimed that most of the Old Testament was made up. It listed many examples of stories in the Bible that contradicted history (examples of cities that didn’t exist when the Bible says that someone came from there or nations that were not in a place the Bible says they were at a certain time in history, about Egyptian history not mentioning a word about any Jews held captive there etc etc).

Don’t get caught up in worrying about non-Christian or non-Jewish sources. Of course some of them will have a true bias.

Can all such arguments be refuted by some other means than proving Jesus’s divinity and then the fact that he accepted the Scriptures so they must be true/proving the Church’s infallibility and then because the Church teaches the Bible is true, it’s true?

We all from time-to-time have that delimna you have. History can be twisted by so many sources and that’s not always worth arguing for if the person already has an a priori view of Christianity and Judaism. But Christianity is far superior to any other religion because of Jesus; that’s our whole argument. Jesus is everything above other “religions” because He is God, came to Earth to redeem us, He rose from the dead and “proved” He was God. If people don’t accept the Scriptures then perhaps I then focus on what “sin” is, if it is bad and people always agree it is bad, then how do we deal with and eliminate that “bad” called sin. Or focus on the natural law argument which is a way of explaining God without actually using the word God at first. The natural law is what makes people know what is right from wrong. After that, you can perhaps show them that the Bible is speaking of this argument and has insights that can help the void in their lives that they have. Everyone has a void of God whether they know it or not and we can show that they need Christs love; that is the only thing that can fulfill that need :slight_smile:

What the Church says of Scripture as a whole:

Catholic Catechism–781 “At all times and in every race, anyone who fears God and does what is right has been acceptable to him. He has, however, willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness. He therefore chose the Israelite race to be his own people and established a covenant with it. He gradually instructed this people. . . . All these things, however, happened as a preparation for and figure of that new and perfect covenant which was to be ratified in Christ . . . the New Covenant in his blood; he called together a race made up of Jews and Gentiles which would be one, not according to the flesh, but in the Spirit.”

Christ is the best argument since He is everything!
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#5

[quote=fineca]the post was too long so I’m continuing it here…

  1. Confirmation. We say we get the Holy Spirit’s fullness in confirmation. Even ‘good’ Catholics who are in the state of grace don’t seem to be that transformed by confirmation not to mention any apostolic zeal that they’d have as a gift of the Spirit. On the other hand I see Protestants who believe they get the Holy Spirit when they’re ‘born again’ and it certainly looks like there’s a real change in their spiritual life after the regeneration. If we look at the action and effects of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, the Protestant teaching and experience seem to be accurate while the Catholic teaching/practise suggests the Holy Spirit is no longer doing His job. Sure we can argue for the Catholic position from the infallibility of the Church, but I can’t help having problems with the evident practical/empirical contradiction.

Can you give “THE” Protestant teaching on regeneration? The Holy Spirit is working in Catholicism since it is His Church, but can also works in Protestant Churches as well. Doctrinally speaking, those within Catholicism are Scripturally and rationally correct. Protestantism does’t have unifying doctrine, so how can you say they seem to have the correct doctrines? Which Protestants have the correct doctrine?

  1. Baptism. Another practical/empirical question: if the child gets the theological virtues and the life of God in baptism, shouldn’t that be somehow evident exteriorly too? I don’t see a difference between baptised and non-baptised when it comes to being able to be Loving or Corageous for the Love of God.

Because a person doesn’t live up to their baptism doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Because some men cheat on their wives doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be married. Don’t get caught up in the inductive subjective experiencialism fallacy, God sent Christ, He established a Church, one Church and that Church has the authority from Him.

Another question: why is the criterion for a valid baptism a correct belief in the Trinity?

[quote]

Matthew 28:19-20

Why is the baptism of a Lutheran child, baptised for tradition’s sake without any faith in the parents or the sponsors, valid, while the Baptism of Jehova’s Witnesses is not even if they raise the child to a living faith in Jesus, just because the Lutheran confession of the Trinity is the same as the Catholic whereas that of the JW’s is not?

[/quote]

You are forgetting Jesus gave the apostles all authority, Luke 10:16 that He has. The Church speaks as God speaks, and Matthew 28 says a valid baptism form is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that matter is water. If we are to be baptized in Christs body which is what baptism does, then we have to do so in a correct manner.

  1. Why on earth did God have the Jews circumcised as the covenant sign in the Old Testament?

To set them apart from all others. They were to be set apart. That’s why they couldn’t intermarry with other false religions. We are set apart as Christians and baptism now replaces circumcision, Col 2:11-14

  1. Once I attended Mass in Latin and the priest said “quod pro vobis traderetur” instead of “tradetur” - did transubstantiation take place anyway? I think so because it probably wasn’t his intention to use the wrong tense (he hadn’t celebrated (m)any Latin Masses before), but just checking…

Give him a break, Latin is difficult to read and learn let alone speak :slight_smile:

christi simus non nostri
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#6
  1. The Body of Christ. We hold that the Church is the Body of Christ. We hold that Christ established a visible Church. We hold that that Church is the Catholic Church. We are baptised into the Church of Christ, to the Body of Christ. Now we also believe that Protestants and Orthodox Christians can be “in Christ”, in the state of grace, and they are baptised to the One Church Christ founded, just that they are exteriorly in schism with it, most of the time not of their own fault. And there are many Catholics who deny the faith, who are not in the state of grace, not in Christ, thus, not really Christians in their hearts even if they are Catholic on paper. Thus it seems to me that it follows that the Body of Christ is actually invisible, because being “in Christ” is not determined by the denomination but by having received the supernatural life of Christ. And this conclusion kind of contradicts the central apologetical/dogmatical point that the Church/the Body of Christ is visible.

What the Church means by visible Church is the Bishop of Rome and the sucessors of the apostles who are the Bishops in union with the Pope. That is the Church militant and the structure of the visible Church. Is the Pope visible? Yes. Is the structure of the Catholic Church visible? Yes. Are there others that we don’t know of, who are also part of the Catholic Church, though not formally in it who aren’t visible? Yes and you have said so too correctly.

Now being baptized into the body of Christ brings us into Christs body. Christ is the head of the body and His Church, right?

“He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

But no one can separate the head from the body or the body is dead. Christ is alive His Church is alive and NOT separated.


#7

[quote=fineca]How can we know if a particular detail or story in the Bible is definitely historically true or not? Ok, one would respond, if the writer intended to write historical truth, then it was, if he intended to convey the message in some more symbolical/abstract way, then that’s how we should see it. But how can we know the intentions of the writers? That’s sometimes not that simple. As far as I know there is no Church-authorized book or anything that gives the correct interpretations for every single thing the Bible says. How are we to decide then?
[/quote]

The Catholic Church teaches that the Bible is completely inspired and that there is no inaccuracy in any part of it. The main difficulty we have is that the ancients did not write history in the way we currently think of it. The Bible is not a chronological listing of events but a story illustrating God’s relationship to His creation. It is a family story. Also, the human authors wrote in terms that would be easily understood by their contemporaries. Because some of these were written 5,000 years ago, we have sadly lost much of the knowledge of the types of expressions used.

Take, for example, a term used in American slang; hot. If I were to tell a friend that my neighbor has a hot car, he would understand me to mean that I like the style and performance of the car. If this were the 1940’s or 50’s, he would understand me to mean that the car is stolen. Neither of these has anything to do with the literal meaning of the word. This is why, when interpreting the Bible, we need to look at the whole context of what is going on. The Bible is God’s revelation to us and He inspired the authors to write only what He wanted. Therefore, when looking at any particular passage, we know that the meaning is consistent with the overall teaching of Scripture which is not only handed on to us in its pages but also in the teaching of the Church. It is in this way that we can derive the intent of difficult parts of the Bible.

[quote=fineca]The Body of Christ. We hold that the Church is the Body of Christ. We hold that Christ established a visible Church. We hold that that Church is the Catholic Church. We are baptised into the Church of Christ, to the Body of Christ. Now we also believe that Protestants and Orthodox Christians can be “in Christ”, in the state of grace, and they are baptised to the One Church Christ founded, just that they are exteriorly in schism with it, most of the time not of their own fault. And there are many Catholics who deny the faith, who are not in the state of grace, not in Christ, thus, not really Christians in their hearts even if they are Catholic on paper. Thus it seems to me that it follows that the Body of Christ is actually invisible, because being “in Christ” is not determined by the denomination but by having received the supernatural life of Christ. And this conclusion kind of contradicts the central apologetical/dogmatical point that the Church/the Body of Christ is visible.
[/quote]

Yes, we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ. However, the “visible Church” is not a description of the overall membership of the Catholic Church but a description of the institutional Church founded on the Apostles and continued on through their successors, the Bishops. The visible Church is the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ, the head of the Church, and the center of our unity, and the Bishops in communion with him. The Magisterium and its constant teaching is the visible Church.

In regard to our own part in this, you are correct. “Paper” Catholics are not true Catholics even if they remain members of the Church through Baptism. Like the Jews Paul was talking about, who were circumsized but who did not keep the law, they have placed themselves outside of the Church, at least to some extent. Likewise, those who are not formal members of the Catholic Church through no fault of their own but who strive to follow God to the best of their ability and understanding are loke the Gentiles Paul talked about who, although they were not circumsized, kept the law and were therefore, “circumsized” in their hearts.


#8

[quote=fineca]We say we get the Holy Spirit’s fullness in confirmation. Even ‘good’ Catholics who are in the state of grace don’t seem to be that transformed by confirmation not to mention any apostolic zeal that they’d have as a gift of the Spirit. On the other hand I see Protestants who believe they get the Holy Spirit when they’re ‘born again’ and it certainly looks like there’s a real change in their spiritual life after the regeneration. If we look at the action and effects of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, the Protestant teaching and experience seem to be accurate while the Catholic teaching/practise suggests the Holy Spirit is no longer doing His job. Sure we can argue for the Catholic position from the infallibility of the Church, but I can’t help having problems with the evident practical/empirical contradiction.
[/quote]

It is sadly true that many Catholics do not respond to the opportunities to improve their spiritual life. However, there are plenty of examples where this is the case within the Catholic Church. We must always remember two things about this, though. 1: The Holy Spirit grants the gifts He chooses to whom He chooses. The Bible teaches that not everyone gets the same gifts. 2: We always have free will. This means that each of us has the ability to choose to accept and use the gifts the Holy Spirit gives to us or not. I know many Protestants who have the fervent active faith you describe. I also know many who don’t.

[quote=fineca]Another practical/empirical question: if the child gets the theological virtues and the life of God in baptism, shouldn’t that be somehow evident exteriorly too? I don’t see a difference between baptised and non-baptised when it comes to being able to be Loving or Corageous for the Love of God. Another question: why is the criterion for a valid baptism a correct belief in the Trinity? Why is the baptism of a Lutheran child, baptised for tradition’s sake without any faith in the parents or the sponsors, valid, while the Baptism of Jehova’s Witnesses is not even if they raise the child to a living faith in Jesus, just because the Lutheran confession of the Trinity is the same as the Catholic whereas that of the JW’s is not?
[/quote]

Once again, it is our free will that determines how our Baptism is manifested in our behavior. God always provides the Grace we need but we have to accept and work with that Grace. JW’s have the ability to validly baptize just like anyone else. Belief in the Trinity is the not requirement, form and intent are; just like with all of the Sacraments. We know the form and intent from the Church to whom Christ entrusted the Sacraments and through whom the Grace of the Sacraments is made available. In the case of Baptism, the form is the imersion of the baptized in water or the pouring of water on his head while saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The intent is to baptize. The reason a JW baptism would not be valid is that they don’t meet the requirements of form and intent.

[quote=fineca]5. Why on earth did God have the Jews circumcised as the covenant sign in the Old Testament?
[/quote]

In order to introduce them (and us) to the idea that He requires us to die to ourselves in order to be true followers of Him. Remember that the Jews were hard of heart, just as we are today. I think that one of my favorite ideas that I’ve heard is that the reason God inscribed the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone is that the stone represented our hard hearts and the Commandments are the Laws He has inscribed on the hearts of all of us in spite of how hard-hearted we are. Much of what God established in the Old Covenant was a preparation, in a greatly reduced form, for what Christ would ultimately do. The Jews were circumcized. Christ’s entire body was scourged and His side was pierced with a lance that released the Living Water which is the source of the Baptismal Graces.

[quote=fineca]6. Once I attended Mass in Latin and the priest said “quod pro vobis traderetur” instead of “tradetur” - did transubstantiation take place anyway? I think so because it probably wasn’t his intention to use the wrong tense (he hadn’t celebrated (m)any Latin Masses before), but just checking…
[/quote]

I’m afraid that I don’t know Latin so I couldn’t say. I would agree that if his mispronunciation was not intentional that it would still be valid. There is also the possibility that you misheard him. Maybe he got distracted and extended the vowel so that it sounded that way. Could be a number of things.

[quote=fineca]That’s it for now, pray for Finland and her Catholics, on the day of the Immaculate Conception the Bishop will consecrate the country and the diocese (we only have one) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it’s a big event:), hope to see some fruits soon:)
[/quote]

Will do. What a wonderful thing to have that consecration.


#9

Thanks for your answers!

  1. In terms of the Bible, what is the basis for the “rational” premise that the Bible is an accurate source of history and not unhistorical man-made religious writings? Your premise is exactly what needs to be proved, not presupposed, because very few people admit the historical accuracy of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and seem to have strong historical evidence for it (like the examples I mentioned in the original post). Sure Christ is all and we should approach people with various arguments and I do do that, but when it comes to people who simply can’t believe the Bible is true - well, people with a priori atheistic beliefs were mentioned - but to them our minds seem equally a priori set to believe the Bible, thus we should be able to show that if the Old Testament stories really happened, they’re historically credible. This is what I’m looking for; historical support for the Bible outside the Bible (especially the Old Testament). If everyone on the planet ultimately came from the same people, first Adam&Eve then Noah’s family, why don’t we see the same tradition anywhere else? We see the flood in other traditions and that was surely historical, but the people, the story, the religion…why the lack of extra-Biblical support? Or am I wrong?

  2. Another question came to mind about Scripture&Church authority. Our argument against Protestants is that the infallibility of the Bible could only be produced by an infallible Church. How else would we know the Canon if there was no infallibly Church authority to tell us…BUT how do we answer the counter-argument that in the Old Testament they had an infallible Bible but no infallible Church? The Jewish people of God was actually wrong in many ways about God at Jesus’s time, but they still had the infallible Bible.

  3. About confirmation and baptism: I thought you’d all say that, and that’s what I’d say too but that wasn’t quite the point. We assume that sacraments and the faith of the receiver work together - that God doesn’t do magic to us without our faith, but that the sacraments however truly do effect what they signify, give us the supernatural life etc. Now my question was about the lack of God’s work, not the lack of people’s cooperation. We see that all do not cooperate, sure. But those who do - how do we know they aren’t just doing it themselves, because it seems to me that unbaptised and unconfirmed people can be just as fervent and loving etc. without the sacraments. How is the effect of the sacraments visible? If the receiver is open and willing to cooperate, they should effect a change, but I don’t see any difference. That was the point.

  4. Circumcision - dying to oneself, ok. Not marrying people of false religions, ok. but why cut a piece of flesh away from the male genital organs? and why wasn’t there a common covenant sign for both sexes?

  5. Baptism - but the JW’s do have the correct form and intent, they use water and they baptise and want to baptise and they say in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Why isn’t it valid according to the Church? Because they don’t have the faith of the Church concerning the Trinity. When infants are baptised, they are unable to decide for their faith, so they are baptised under the faith of the parents and sponsors who promise to teach the faith to the children. But well, even most Catholic couples don’t really mean that, they don’t really have the faith of the Church. So why is the baptism valid? Because the child is baptised to the faith of the Church in general? Well then why is the Lutheran baptism valid because the child is not baptised to the faith of the Church? Well, because they have a valid baptism anyway, correct intent and form. But the JW’s apparently don’t, because of the difference of belief concerning the Trinity. But my question is, why is this the ultimate criterion? Shouldn’t baptisms be unvalid also if a person is baptised to a heretical view on salvation or the sacraments?

Again many thanks for your help!


#10
  1. There are different apporved ways of interpreting the scripture, the historical critical method being one of them. As long as you continue to believe in the inspiration of the Bible, I don’t see this as a problem.

It should be noted, however, that many historical evidences against the Bible are false. For example, Abraham’s birthplace was once a “proof” of the Bible’s inaccuracy because it didn’t exist. 10-20 years ago, when they discovered it, it hardly stood as a valid proof. As far as the Egyptians not having a record of the Jews, you may be interested in the research of David Rohl and his “New Chronology”. My apologetics teacher showed this to my class last year, and I found it to be very interesting.

  1. The body of Christ is visible because of the Magisterium. What is truth? Pick up a Catechism. How much more visible could it get?

  2. To begin with, confirmation is Biblical. If you ever want to find the biblical basis for something, go to scripturecatholic.com/. Also, realize that born-again Christians start from nothing, while Confirmed Catholics were already Catholic (with the exception of RCIA, but then again, converts would show the same type of enthusiasm as a “born again” christian). Of course the transition from non-Christian/apathetic Christian will be stark. But one thing to realize is that Protestants pay little heed to developing in the faith. To them it’s a matter of accepting Jesus and leading others to accept him. For Catholics, it is a continuous process of growing in faith. It’s not always in leaps and bounds, but real progress is made.

  3. The Bible tells us to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If a devout, sincere person were to be baptized in the name of Buddha, Jesus, and Allah; would you accept the baptism as valid? No, because they are not accepting the true Christ.

  4. Circumcision is a permanent and mobile sign. The Jews had a permanent reminder of their covenant with God. I could be wrong, but I believe the Jews stopped circumcision during the 40 years in the desert because they had the ark of the covenant with them. Once they finally got to the promised land, they reinstituted circumcision because they wouldn’t always be in the presence of the ark of the covenant. I could be wrong about this because I didn’t bother to look it up, but I’m pretty sure it’s accurate.

  5. Yea, Transubstantiation would still have occured.


#11

While we will try to answer your questions as best as we can, there are some for which we might simply have no answers because we do not fully know and understand God. I’ve had a similar conversation with a friend recently. “Why did Jesus have to suffer and die in the flesh to provide our salvation? Because that’s how God chose to provide our salvation. But why that particular method? Well, you’ll just have to ask Him when you meet Him.”

[quote=fineca]In terms of the Bible, what is the basis for the “rational” premise that the Bible is an accurate source of history and not unhistorical man-made religious writings? Your premise is exactly what needs to be proved, not presupposed, because very few people admit the historical accuracy of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and seem to have strong historical evidence for it (like the examples I mentioned in the original post)
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Well, why is it considered “rational” to presuppose the historical inaccuracy of the Bible. Other historical writings and archaelogical evidence does more to support the historical accuracy of the Bible than to disprove it. There is, unfortunately, in our own day this assumption of intellectual superiority among people. We just assume that we know more and understand better than the ancients. That may be true for some things, but not necessarily for all. Therefore, I would counter that, it is not rational to assume that the Bible is unhistorical, nor is it even reasonable. This is one of the products of Modernism that is plaguing our so-called “intellectual elite” these days. The only evidence that has been offered is the “apparent contradictions” in the history recorded in the Bible. However, as I stated in my previous post, the ancients didn’t write history in the way we think of it today. Therefore, it is more reasonable to conclude that they probably don’t understand what was written than that it is completely made up.

In light of all of the miraculous events that have occurred throughout history down to our own times that provide monumental support for the truth of the Catholic Faith, it is simply unreasonable to conclude that it and the Bible are man-made religious fiction. I recently had a discussion with a co-worker about the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. He was convinced that it was a UFO and that the apparitions were aliens. I pointed out to him that, even if he were correct, those aliens were Catholics based on the messages they delivered. He has no response to this.


#12

[quote=fineca]This is what I’m looking for; historical support for the Bible outside the Bible (especially the Old Testament). If everyone on the planet ultimately came from the same people, first Adam&Eve then Noah’s family, why don’t we see the same tradition anywhere else? We see the flood in other traditions and that was surely historical, but the people, the story, the religion…why the lack of extra-Biblical support? Or am I wrong?
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Well, the reason for the different traditions is found in the Bible itself; the split of the family of man caused by sin. This is a case where the historical record is in perfect accordance with the Bible. The problem is that people (modernists) just assume that the Bible was made up to explain things after the fact and then claim that we have no evidence to prove otherwise. The fact is that they have no evidence to prove their own position.

Take a look at the “reasons” given by modernists for dating the writings of the New Testament after the destruction of Jerusalem and even into the mid to late second century. They claim that beause the Gospels, Hebrews, and Revelation speak of the destruction of the Temple that they must have been written afterward. However, they were written as prophecy of a future event and as warnings of an immediately impending event. We know that the Gospel of Luke had to have been completed prior to when the Temple was destroyed because of Acts. Acts was “part two” of Luke’s Gospel. Acts primarily records the events surrounding Peter and then Paul but does not mention their martyrdom. Why would Luke leave this out? After all, he included the martyrdom of Stephen, who was a deacon, so why would he skip the martyrdom of two of the Apostles; especially Paul whose assistant he was? The only logical answer is that he completed it prior to their deaths in the mid 60’s and, thus, prior to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.

Modernists insist that, not only was Mark’s Gospel written first, but that Matthew and Luke copied his to write theirs. There is no historical or reasonable basis for this conclusion but they insist on it. In fact, the early Church often claimed that, not only was Matthew’s Gospel written first but that it was originally written in Aramaic and then later translated into Greek. Additionally, why is it that Mark’s had to be first and the other’s copied him. Why could not Luke’s Gospel have been written first and Matthew and Mark have copied his? There is no sound evidence to support the one and not the other proposition but the modernists insist away and, if you should question them, they insist that it is you who must provide the proof despite the fact that they have absolutely no proof for their own position.


#13

[quote=fineca]Our argument against Protestants is that the infallibility of the Bible could only be produced by an infallible Church. How else would we know the Canon if there was no infallibly Church authority to tell us…BUT how do we answer the counter-argument that in the Old Testament they had an infallible Bible but no infallible Church? The Jewish people of God was actually wrong in many ways about God at Jesus’s time, but they still had the infallible Bible.
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Because the Jews had not been given the complete revelation of God and this fact was part of their religion from the beginning. The prophets spoke of the Messiah who would come and reveal the mystery of God. Also, only some of the Jewish people were wrong about God in Jesus’ time. Remember that Mary, Joseph, all of the Apostles, all of the disciples, the first converts after the resurrection, and most of the first Christians were Jews. If we accept that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of by the prophets, then we also accept that He has delivered the rest of God’s revelation about Himself. Jesus gave guarantees about His Church that were never given to the Jews. “Whatever you bind on Earth, I will bind in Heaven.” “If someone refuses to listen to the Church, regard him as a Gentile and a tax collector” (this is excommunication), “I give you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.”

[quote=fineca]About confirmation and baptism: I thought you’d all say that, and that’s what I’d say too but that wasn’t quite the point. We assume that sacraments and the faith of the receiver work together - that God doesn’t do magic to us without our faith, but that the sacraments however truly do effect what they signify, give us the supernatural life etc. Now my question was about the lack of God’s work, not the lack of people’s cooperation. We see that all do not cooperate, sure. But those who do - how do we know they aren’t just doing it themselves, because it seems to me that unbaptised and unconfirmed people can be just as fervent and loving etc. without the sacraments. How is the effect of the sacraments visible? If the receiver is open and willing to cooperate, they should effect a change, but I don’t see any difference. That was the point.
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My point is that there is no promise that the result of the Sacraments will be visible. God’ work is complete whether or not we cooperate. Baptism removes all sin and the temporal consequence of sin from the baptized. It does not, however, remove free will so the person can still cooperate and continue to sin after Baptism. This is why we have Confession. Confirmation instills extra graces of the Holy Spirit within us but, again, we still have free will. The only way that God can “force” us to externally manifest the gifts of the Sacraments is if He removed our free will which He has will never do because He wants us to choose to follow Him. At the same time, the Holy Spirit works in everyone (not just the baptized and confirmed) providing them with graces. If He didn’t conversion would never be possible. God acts first and then we have the choice to cooperate or not. To insist that it must not be so unless we can see some external manifestation of the Sacramental graces is to require from God something He never promised and which is contrary to the Catholic Faith. You might as well ask why we cannot see Jesus in the Eucharist.

Jesus is really present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist but all we perceive (except in the cases of Eucharistic miracles) is a small piece of hard, dry, dull tasting bread and ordinary wine. God has provided Eucharistic miracles in order to remind us of what the Eucharist is but He never promised to do such miracles. These are provided to aid us in the weakness of our faith but, we cannot refuse to believe simply because we have never personally witnessed the miracle. This is another area where the modernists are inconsistent but the Faith is completely consistent and reasonable.


#14

[quote=fineca]Circumcision - dying to oneself, ok. Not marrying people of false religions, ok. but why cut a piece of flesh away from the male genital organs? and why wasn’t there a common covenant sign for both sexes?
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I cannot provide the reasons for this except to give you my own guesses. Why cut a piece of genital flesh? What better way to show a willingness to die to one’s self? Why not a common sign for both sexes? Possibly because the Old Covenant was incomplete while it waited for the Messaiah and the sign on only one sex was a symbol of that. When the Old Covenant was completed through the establishment of the new, the sign of the Covenant was changed to one that is used on both sexes (baptism) symbolizing the completeness of the Covenant by applying the sign to the entire human race.

[quote=fineca]Baptism - but the JW’s do have the correct form and intent, they use water and they baptise and want to baptise and they say in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Why isn’t it valid according to the Church? Because they don’t have the faith of the Church concerning the Trinity. When infants are baptised, they are unable to decide for their faith, so they are baptised under the faith of the parents and sponsors who promise to teach the faith to the children. But well, even most Catholic couples don’t really mean that, they don’t really have the faith of the Church. So why is the baptism valid? Because the child is baptised to the faith of the Church in general? Well then why is the Lutheran baptism valid because the child is not baptised to the faith of the Church? Well, because they have a valid baptism anyway, correct intent and form. But the JW’s apparently don’t, because of the difference of belief concerning the Trinity. But my question is, why is this the ultimate criterion? Shouldn’t baptisms be unvalid also if a person is baptised to a heretical view on salvation or the sacraments?
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I guess I would have to research this one more. I thought that the JW’s used a different form. The issue of valid Baptism among those with heretical views was dealt with centuries ago. There was a movement in the Church to require those Baptized in a heretical movement to be Baptized in the Church in order to be part of the Church. This movement was condemned as false. If the heretical movement provides a valid Baptism, then they cannot be re-baptized. This is why we “acknowledge one Baptism for the forginess of sins” in the Creed. Ultimately, because the Sacraments and their validity is something determined by the Church, it is up to the Church to determine whether or not a particular group’s Baptisms are valid. I have not seen an official document stating why the JW’s baptisms are not valid but this is where I would direct you to research the issue. Possibly your bishop or someone else in the form could provide you with the answer. You could try posting this particular question in the Ask an Apologist section.


#15

Wow, another Finn! (Well, at least someone who lives in Finland.) Since I’m not Catholic, I’ll leave answering the tough questions to others, but I must say Finland isn’t that bad a country morally, etc. Our Chaplain, who’s British or Irish depending on his mood ;), says Finland is significantly less secular than, e.g., the United Kingdom. Sure we have our fair share of problems, but all is not lost :slight_smile: Most Finns have at least been exposed to Christian teaching and values. Complaining about the moral decay of the country is, however, a revered tradition in Finnish Christianity…

On the other hand, what do I know, I’m only an Anglican (albeit a very conservative one) :wink:

We now return to the regularly scheduled thread.

In Friendship

Glac


#16

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