Theology

king-james-bibleWhen is the first time the word love is used in the Bible? It is great fun to ask a million questions when you open the Bible. Good questions serve to unlock the treasure chest revealing untold riches.

Since the Bible is a book and books are made of words, it is great fun to see how God uses words and where they are placed in the sacred text. Nothing is random or by chance with the words of God.

When you search for the word love it first appears in the story of Abraham and his beloved son Isaac. As you read this verse ask yourself “Does this verse sound familiar — maybe similar to a well-known New Testament verse?”

009-009-abraham-taking-isaac-to-be-sacrificed-fullbAfter these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. (Genesis 22:1–2)

If John 3:16 came to your mind, then you had the same reaction that I did. God loved His only begotten Son.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

These passages belong together — calling back-and-forth to each other for a reason. God gave us a human story of a father sacrificing his only son so we would understand His great sorrow when sacrificing His only Son whom He loved.

The word love was saved for this crucial moment to describe the love of a father for his only son. Abraham prefigures God the Father as he takes his son to Mount Moriah for the sacrifice.

For the rest of this short article, click here.

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Was Abraham Save by Faith Alone?

by Steve Ray on March 28, 2017

Today I am flying to Franciscan University of Steubenville to be the guest for Franciscan University Presents, the one-hour TV show produced by the University for EWTN. Mike Hernon hosts the program which is a round-table discussion with a guest and panelists from their Theology Department, Dr. Scott Hahn and Dr. Regis Martin. 

Our topic will be Abraham, Father of Faith & Works. I am looking forward to recording this show. In honor of this event today I am posting this article on Abraham, a critique I made of a book falsely claiming Abraham was saved by “faith alone.”

Was Abraham saved by Faith Alone? By Steve Ray

imgres-1You say, “Of course Abraham was saved by faith alone! Doesn’t the Bible make that perfectly clear, especially in Paul’s letters? And didn’t Luther’s German translation inform the masses that the words “faith” and “alone” belonged together like bread and butter? Abraham was saved by faith alone!”

Well, maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t, but the Bible certainly throws some question on this well-known Protestant cliché. Let’s find out how and when Abraham was really “saved.” Fundamentalist Protestants like to tell us that we are saved at “one-point-in-time when we “simply believe.” In other words mental assent to the simple gospel gives us a free passage to heaven.

imagesSince Abraham is used in the New Testament as the quintessential example of justification by faith, let’s see if we can pin-point the moment when Abraham believed? Can we locate the exact moment he was “saved”? Since this was such a momentous occasion in the history of mankind, and in the drama of salvation history, it should be clearly shown when Abraham actually believed and was reckoned as righteous. From unbelief to belief, from no faith to saving faith.

Protestants (e.g., John Ankerberg in Protestants and Catholics, Do They Now Agree? [Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publ., 1995) like to say the word “justify” as used by James really means “vindicate,” and that “vindicate” has nothing to do with salvation, but has to do with the proving of the believer’s faith—Abraham’s faith. You really should have addressed the major weakness of this perspective: it is not the faith that is being justified by works—it is the man.

images-1How can we justify this? If our theory holds true shouldn’t we read, “Was not Abraham our father’s faith justified (vindicated) by works?” making it clear that it is his faith, and not his person. Instead we read, unfortunately, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works?” This observation does not set well with our interpretation.

In your book you say that it is always the faith that is proven by works, whereas the Apostle James seems to say it is the person. We should try to figure out how James could have worded this passage more carefully so Catholics don’t get the wrong idea and misunderstand the gospel. You also say in your book (p. 37) that “Paul is writing about a person being justified before God, while James is writing about a man being justified before men. Men cannot see another person’s heart as God can.”

imgresSomehow we have to more careful in this theory, or else we end up scratching a few verses out of the story of Abraham in Genesis. Was it men who were testing Abraham’s faith? The book of Genesis says, no. It was God who was testing Abraham in Genesis 22, not men. You write that James is referring to justification before men (p. 37), because God can already see the heart. I noticed in reading James & Peter, by Harry Ironside, that he agrees with you on this point.

But the problem seems to be that it was God who was testing Abraham in Genesis, because Moses wrote, “Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham . . . ” (Gen. 22:1) Notice it was not men who were finding out what was in Abraham’s heart— whether he had true faith—it was God.

For the whole article, click here.  To learn purchase our documentary on Abraham filmed in Iraq, Turkey and Israel, click here

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Did the Pope Change Doctrine with Amoris Laetitia?

by Steve Ray on February 24, 2017

I AM A LAWYER, NOT A MIND-READER
February 23, 2017
By Canon Lawyer Ed Peters,

Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ echoing of claims that Amoris laetitia changed no doctrines occasioned a question for me: Am I the only (or among the few) Amoris critics who agrees with Amoris defenders that Pope Francis made no doctrinal changes in Amoris?

I do not think that Francis changed any doctrines in Amoris (or even purported to change any doctrines—assuming a pope could have changed doctrines this way, which I would dispute) and thus I regard the kind of correctives routinely offered by Nichols, et al., as superfluous. But I’ll go a step further: I do not think that Francis changed any disciplines in Amoris (or even purported to change any disciplines—assuming a pope could have changed disciplines this way, which I would also dispute, though less vigorously than above). In short, I hold that the few who claim Francis changed doctrine via Amoris, and the many who claim that he changed disciplines therein, are wrong.

That said, though, I still regard Amoris (or at least its eighth chapter) as seriously flawed, not because of doctrinal changes it never attempted and not because of disciplinary changes it never effected, but because of the ambiguity and incompleteness with which it discusses certain key, doctrinal and/or disciplinary factors that go into making real world, concrete, Yes-you-can or No-you-can’t decisions regarding Penance and holy Communion. All of this I have discussed many, many times.

As for why the pope (assuming my characterization of his document is correct) chose to write ambiguously and/or incompletely about these factors, I do not know. I am a lawyer reading texts, not a mind-reader divining motives, and the lawyer in me has concluded that: (1) no doctrines are changed in Amoris; (2) no disciplinary norms are changed in Amoris; but (3) several factors vital to considering requests for and administration of sacraments are ambiguously and/or incompletely presented in Amoris.

Even this much, though, prompts some additional conclusions, including:

(1) all of the canons governing sacramental administration, notably Canon 915, remain in full force;

(2) the Maltese, the Germans, and Cdl. Coccopalmerio (but, I say again, not the Argentinians, not quite) go well beyond what the pope actually wrote in Amoris, though some of his phrasings in Amoris frustrates one’s appealing to it as a corrective; and,

(3) bishops such as Chaput and the Western Canadians can also invoke Amoris to justify their sacramental polices even though their policies are the polar opposite of those being pushed by the Maltese et al.

That is why I say that Amoris, a papal document so framed that it really can be plausibly invoked by diametrically opposed schools of sacramental practice, is itself what’s flawed and is itself what must be addressed.

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Ironic Twist to a Devastating Story; Why Did God Allow Sin?

February 21, 2017

A while ago I wrote the Study Guide for Catholic Scripture Study — on Genesis. This section I wrote was so exciting and ironic I had to share it, especially since this is Christmas when God became Man. Here is a small section of what I wrote: But why didn’t God prevent Adam and Eve from […]

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

February 18, 2017

A while ago 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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Salvation by Faith Alone?

February 15, 2017

Since the days of Martin Luther it has been popular to reduce salvation to a sound bite. Salvation is not by works but by “faith alone.” However, the Bible seems to have another idea. In my book CROSSING THE TIBER I mention a few passages from Scripture to give a more biblical perspective. Here is […]

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

February 14, 2017

Happy St. Valentine’s Day. This is for my mom. My dad died almost six years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will not be married” in heaven. I wrote the following to comfort my Mom… Mom, I know it is important to you since […]

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Follow up by Dr. Ed Peter’s: “The Maltese directive makes answering the ‘dubia’ urgent

January 1, 2017

The Maltese Disaster, by Canon Lawyer Dr. Edward Peters as I reported yesterday. Here is his follow up related to the dubia and the Pope. January 15, 2017 When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that confusion is the ecclesiastical order of the day, and that such confusion has as its […]

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A Baptist Friend Asks: The Bible Says “All have sinned” so how can Mary be Immaculate?

December 8, 2016

A Southern Baptist writes: I am a Southern  Baptist who has a lot of respect for the Catholic faith. The Immaculate Conception is a hard concept for me. Does it also include the belief that Mary never sinned? How does that pass muster with Rom. 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the […]

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Petition to the Holy Father for Clarification. I Signed Today with over 800,000 other Catholics

December 4, 2016

I received and signed this petition today… On the eve of the Ordinary Synod on the Family held in Rome in October 2015, we delivered to the Holy See a “Filial Petition to His Holiness on the Future of the Family” signed by 879,451 persons, including eight cardinals and 203 archbishops and bishops, asking for […]

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Crap, Castration & Two Creations – Colorful New Testament Wording

November 2, 2016

Since we are in Philippi Greece today, I thought I would post this colorful blog :-) We miss a lot when reading the English Bible. We’re at a great disadvantage. The early Christians read the writings of the apostles in the original language – they understood the words and expressions must better than we do. […]

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Why Did God Allow Man to Sin? “O Happy Fault of Adam”

October 31, 2016

This is a question that has puzzled people from the beginning. If God is good and all powerful why didn’t he stop Adam and Eve from sinning? Fair question. Of course we all know that he took the risk of giving us free will so that we could choose to love him. I don’t want […]

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

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 […]

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Sola Scriptura and the Canon of Scripture

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 […]

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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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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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