Sunday, October 28, 2018

DID PETER KNOW THAT HE WAS THE ROCK?


“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

The Catholic Church officially teaches that Peter is the rock of which Jesus was speaking in the verse above.  Furthermore, according to the Catholic Catechism, it is Peter alone whom Jesus made the rock and foundation of His church:

“The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the ‘rock’ of his Church.  He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock…” [directly referring here to Matthew 16:18] (CCC #881).

But did Peter know this?  Did he believe all the things that the Catholic Church is saying about him?  If he did, how could we find out?  Except for Jesus Christ, who is it that would have surely known, better than anyone else, the truth about this special role that was assigned to Peter?  Wouldn’t it be Peter, himself?  No doubt.

But did Peter believe that he was the rock?  One sure way to find out is to look at his statements in Holy Scripture.  In the book of Acts, we see this same apostle Peter making a defense before the elders and rulers of Israel concerning his healing of the lame man at the gate of the temple.  Peter boldly tells these leaders: 

“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole.  This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby you must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12)

Here, Peter is referring to a very important foundational rock, or stone.  It is unmistakable that the stone of which Peter is speaking here is Jesus Christ, Himself.  No Catholic would disagree with us there.  But Peter didn’t equate this rock with himself, and he didn’t tell the elders that he (the apostle) was the stone upon which the church was built, nor did he ever mention this special role that the Catholic Church gives him.  It certainly would have been a great time to do so.  Peter could have said, “Hey, why are you guys harassing me?  Don’t you know that I’m the rock upon which the church is built?”  But apparently, Peter wasn’t even aware that he was the rock.  He points only to Jesus.

Furthermore, in his own epistle, Peter again mentions this same “stone of stumbling,” this “rock of offense” (1 Peter 2:8).  But again, it is the Lord Jesus Christ that he is speaking of here:

“Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.”  (1 Peter 2:6-7)

Ok, so nothing here about Peter being the rock or stone upon which the church is built.  Strange, if Peter really is that foundational rock, isn’t it?  A Catholic may object at this point and say that they don’t claim that Peter is the cornerstone, only Jesus is.  But again, here, in light of this “rock” and “stone” language above, in which Peter quotes Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 28:16 (who refers to Jesus as a sure foundation stone), he (Peter) had a perfect opportunity to mention his special role as the foundation of the church, but neglected to do so.  

Furthermore, his epistle (the book of 1 Peter) was written to the “strangers” (i.e., the church) “scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1), and it was written largely to instruct and comfort persecuted Christians.  But would a responsible apostle withhold such important information (i.e., how he is the foundational rock) from many who were facing martyrdom?  Isn’t this information much too critical to overlook? 

Why would Peter deny the members of the churches in these areas this special information about who he is, and how important this role is.  Why withhold the critical news that he (Peter) alone, was the very foundation of the church?  Isn’t that really important?  The Catholic Church certainly thinks it is.  So why did Peter never say to these people, “You must follow my church” or “Remember, I am the rock upon which the church is founded”?

Maybe… just maybe… it’s because that isn’t the case.  Maybe this “important” information was omitted because Peter is NOT the rock that the Catholic Church says he is.  Maybe the church was NOT founded upon Peter alone as claimed in the Catechism.  Maybe his role is greatly exaggerated by the Catholic Church, deceiving its members.  We believe that this is indeed the case.

In conclusion, the apostle Peter mentions Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone and Foundation of the church (as noted above) and he mentions all Christians as being “lively [living] stones” (1 Peter 2:5), but he never mentions himself as any special stone / rock, much less the lone foundation of the church.  Although the apostle Paul speaks of the prophets and apostles (plural) as the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20), Peter simply calls himself a “fellow elder” (1 Peter 5:1).  Obviously, Peter did not know that he, alone, was the rock because that’s NOT what Jesus was telling him in Matthew 16.

We have dealt with the concept of Peter as “the rock” in much more detail in a previous article that can be found here:




Sunday, September 2, 2018

“LET US PREY” (RAPE, SODOMY AND PEDOPHILIA IN THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY)


Recently, a storm has been brewing in Pennsylvania and it involves members of the Catholic Church.  But the focus wasn’t on the average Catholic in the pew.  The focus was on a Pennsylvania grand jury report, in “the most exhaustive investigation of the church taken on by a state,” accusing over 300 priests of sexual misconduct, abusing more than 1000 children. 

Not only were there priests involved, but there were monsignors, bishops, archbishops, and even cardinals, either directly involved in sexual misconduct themselves, or involved in a deliberate cover-up of the ordeal.

According to one website:

“Instead of contacting law enforcement, senior church officials would regularly shuffle offending priests from parish to parish, where they would continue to have contact with minors.”


According to this same source, less than a week after the Pennsylvania grand jury report came out, Pope Francis formally apologized for the church’s mishandling of the sex scandal.  Yeah, that’s way too little, way too late.  Not impressive at all.  We don’t think that anyone that high up could be unaware of the things that are going on in his own church.  Pope Francis, as well as the previous popes, should have started weeding out these perverts long ago.  But now, hundreds and hundreds of victims have already been damaged. 

Another source states:

“It is time to face the horrible truth: The Catholic church is a pedophile ring.”

“… the grand jury report includes, but is by no means limited to, the case of a ring of pedophile priests in Pittsburgh, who raped their male victims, took pornographic pictures of them and marked them by giving them gold crosses to wear so that they could be easily recognized by other abusers.”

Concerning the Catholic Church’s cover-up of these crimes, this same source said:
 
“These strategies used to subvert stories of abuse were so common that the FBI reviewed a significant portion of the evidence collected and received by the grand jury and found a series of practices engaged in by church leaders to conceal the truth.  For instance, church authorities who documented the cases for internal use never used the word ‘rape,’ only ‘inappropriate contact.’  Investigations were conducted by other clergy members, rather than trained personnel.  Church-run health centers, not lay psychiatric facilities, were used to examine priests accused of pedophilia.  Housing and funds were provided for priests, even when it was known they were raping children.  Priests were moved from the area only if their communities found out, to other communities where the abusers and abuses were not known.  Most importantly, the hierarchy was instructed to not inform law enforcement about abuses reported by parishoners, but to consider any such case an ‘internal personnel matter.’”

And finally:

“What the now-multiple Pennsylvania grand jury reports show clearly is that the Roman Catholic church has treated the protection of its pedophiles, rapists and sexual abusers as their highest priority.”


One source sums it up this way:

“Mitchell Garabedian, who represented many of the Boston victims… added that the report, ‘lays out the standard blueprint of dishonesty, immorality, criminality and cover-up of the Catholic Church which has been previously revealed in Boston and archdioceses and dioceses worldwide.’”


Much more has been revealed through many media sources on this investigation, but sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Ok, so since there are so many problems with sexual perversion in the Catholic Church, could there possibly be something wrong with the Catholic system, itself?  Is there a problem with the structure of the hierarchy, or maybe with the environment that is produced therein?

According to the following Catholic source, there is indeed a problem with the environment in which priests are placed:

“Even if a seminarian’s homosexuality isn’t ‘deep-seated,’ it will likely become deep-seated when he is placed in an all-male environment for five to eight years, and sleeping in bedrooms with men.  Putting homosexuals in an all-male environment is what’s called ‘an occasion of sin,’ that is, it leads to deep-seated temptations.  You might as well put heterosexual men in the convent or a nunnery for five to eight years, and let them sleep in bedrooms with girls and women, and see how long they remain chaste.” 


A friend once asked me if I had ever seen a masculine looking priest.  Neither of us could honestly answer yes to that question, even though we both live in a heavily Catholic area.  We’re not saying that all priests everywhere are feminine looking, but it appears that at least the great majority are!  

But why is that?  Do they purposely ordain gay or feminine priests in the Catholic Church?  This is what one source revealed:

“According to a news story in The New York Times (Sept. 15, 2005), Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., the former Editor-in-Chief of America, said that ‘with the shortage of priests, the church can hardly afford to dismiss gay seminarians.’”


So, it seems that they don’t really have a problem ordaining gay men into the Catholic priesthood, in spite of the fact that homosexuality is a sin (Genesis 19:1-29; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Jude 7).  So with the type of men they are recruiting, and with the environment that these men are subjected to, is it any wonder that all these things are now surfacing?

Friday, August 17, 2018

POPE FRANCIS AND THE DEATH PENALTY


It is commonly known that Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) is a controversial figure.  He is more liberal than the previous popes, and he has made some controversial statements, even surprising and offending many within the Catholic Church.  The pope has also been on a campaign lately to rid the world of capital punishment, i.e., the death penalty.

On August 2, 2018, the pope has officially revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty, changing paragraph #2267 of the Catechism to reflect his belief that the death penalty is always wrong.

Of course, details and comments about this whole affair were all over the news, and anyone can easily check the online quotes below from many media sources.

Now, concerning this serious topic, no one can honestly claim that the death penalty doesn’t work to prevent serious crime, at least on the most basic level, since it is all too obvious that dead people can no longer commit crimes.  Not only is capital punishment functional, but it is also a biblical concept.

Reasons

But the pope’s objections to capital punishment rest more on emotional grounds, rather than on biblical or practical reasons.  He is willing to sacrifice scriptural principles in order to cater to the “increasing awareness” of the “dignity” of hardened criminals.

But note carefully the reasons for this pope’s desire for change:

  • He stated that “today capital punishment is unacceptable, however serious the condemned’s crime may have been.” 

  • The death penalty, regardless of the means of execution, “entails cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.” 

  • He has said that “no matter how serious the crime that has been committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”  
  • “Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.”

  • “It must be strongly confirmed that condemning a person to the death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.” 

  • The death penalty “is in itself contrary to the Gospel because it is voluntarily decided to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which God only in the final analysis is the true judge and guarantor.”

  • Another reason it is to be rejected is “due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error.”

  • From an earlier letter in 2015: “The Church’s Magisterium, based on the Sacred Scripture and the thousand-year experience of the People of God, defends life from conception to natural end, and supports full human dignity inasmuch as it represents the image of God.”

Gee, all this sounds quite lofty, and really tugs on the heartstrings of our bleeding-heart liberal friends, but the truth is, these prisoners are on death row for a reason.   

The innocent victims of these murderous criminals also used to have dignity, but they don’t have it anymore – you see, it was stolen from them when they were brutally murdered by the very type of people whom the pope is insisting must now be protected at all costs!  One must wonder, is he willing to work as hard to protect the families of innocent victims left behind as he is with mobsters, criminals, and perverts? 
 
Those on death row are still able to receive visits from their families.  But the families of their victims will never see their loved one again. 

One Example

In the following link, the author gives an example of the effectiveness of the justice system in America for one American mass murderer:

“Jeffrey Dahmer raped, killed and ate parts of at least thirteen men.  As punishment, the government was planning to feed, clothe, educate, medicate, entertain, and legally represent him for the rest of his life in an expensive climate-controlled facility.  Families of his victims would pay taxes, in part, to keep Dahmer comfortable, warm in winter and cool in summer.  That type of punishment is supposed to scare and deter other potential mass murderers.  Even though Dahmer eventually did truly repent, the New Testament verses below indicate that regardless, he still should have been executed.  However, an inmate interrupted the governments plans for Dahmer to have a long life and instead he was beat to death in prison.”


Sad to say, but this example illustrates the fact that, in some cases, there is more justice delivered by hardened criminals themselves than by the weak, criminal-coddling justice system in America. 

Questions for the Pope 

The person who reportedly killed Dahmer in prison was one Christopher Scarver, also a convicted murderer.  So, what would the pope say about Scarver?  How should he now be punished?  Or should he be punished at all?  Even though Scarver murdered Dahmer, isn’t Scarver also made in the image of God, just as Dahmer was?  

And what if Scarver continues to kill people in prison?  Do we just keep adding new meaningless “life sentences” to his account?  What also becomes meaningless in all this is the term “made in God’s image” being thrown around.  This phrase simply sets people apart from the animals.  Being made in the image of God does not automatically entitle you to escape punishment for your crimes.  But if you persist in your criminal ways, then this just puts you in the “animal” category, according to your behavior.

The Cure

Withholding capital punishment from hard-hearted criminals does not necessarily produce repentance in them (Proverbs 19:19; Isaiah 26:10).  

King Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever live, gives us the solution to dealing with these evil people:

“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) 

When our proper, God-ordained governing authorities do their job of dealing swiftly and decisively with criminals, as Israel did in the past, they are indeed doing the will of God.  Rather than these cases being dragged on year after year with appeal after appeal, the death penalty, appropriately administered and done as soon as possible, would work wonders for our society.  And setting the example for other lawbreakers, many of our problems with hardened criminals would be solved.

The pope insists that because man is made in the image of God, we should do away with the death penalty.  But God, Himself, says that it is for this very reason that we should KEEP the death penalty!

Genesis 9:6 – Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God He made man.

Read it again.  Yes, all men are made in the image of God.  And it is for that very reason that the blood of the murderer must be shed.  God is focusing on the rights of the VICTIM here, while the pope is focusing on the “rights” of the criminal.   Pope Francis misses the whole point of the death penalty because his logic is perverted.  He is trying to override what God says.

God also said that “… the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it” (Numbers 35:33).  Sometimes it’s the only way.  And the execution is to be done by the governing authorities, and not God.

Arguments Against Capital Punishment

It is obvious that God used the death penalty in the Old Testament, but some will argue that we are no longer under the Law today, but under grace.  That’s true, but notice that the death penalty was established in Genesis 9:6 (as mentioned above) long before the Mosaic Law came about.  So our accepting or rejecting the death penalty really has nothing to do with this dispensation of grace.

Ok, but isn’t Christianity supposed to be all about love and forgiveness, rather than vengeance?  Don’t we see this in the Sermon on the Mount?

The context of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) is not about the responsibilities of the governing authorities concerning punishment of criminals.  But it is about the responsibility of individual believers to make sure their hearts are right.  It is to prevent our personal desire for vengeance.

It is not the job of individuals to “forgive” those people who have violated the laws of society.  Individuals can only forgive those who sin against them, personally.  It is the solemn duty of the governing authorities to determine, through fair trial and the evidence of truth, whether the law has been broken and what the penalty will be.  Man must be accountable for his own actions.  So, again, the Sermon on the Mount does not address capital punishment.

Someone may object that the Old Testament allowed the death penalty, but things changed in the New Testament, because it now says “avenge not yourselves” (Romans 12:19) and “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).  They may say that these are the “new Christian values,” as opposed to the “Old Testament values.”

But the context of these passages is in no way canceling the death penalty.  In fact, these “avenge not yourselves” and “love thy neighbor” concepts are actually in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18), as well.  These concepts didn’t negate the idea of the death penalty in the Old Testament, so neither do they negate the idea in the New Testament.

Some will say, “But what about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11)?  Jesus forgave her and let her go, so didn’t Jesus teach us here that He is against the death penalty?”

No, this was not a rejection of capital punishment (which would have been a rejection of the long-standing law in Israel), but Jesus did this to expose the hypocrisy of the religious leaders.  They purposely set a trap for him (John 8:6), knowing that He would be compassionate toward the woman.  But He also knew that in the case of adultery, the Law required both the cheating woman and the cheating man to be executed (Leviticus 20:10), and since the man wasn’t brought forth with her, Jesus sensed that she was very likely set up by the mob.  He detected their trickery and forced them to look at their own evil hearts, causing the crowd to slowly disappear.  So, again, this was not a rejection of the death penalty at all.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul was ready to fully accept the death penalty for himself, if the authorities thought he deserved it (Acts 25:11).

Also, in Romans 12:19 Paul tells believers not to avenge themselves, but to “give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, sayeth the Lord.”  Yet, a few verses later (Romans 13:4), he says that it is the proper civil authorities who “beareth not the sword in vain” to execute wrath and establish justice.  It is God’s will for the government authorities to execute His wrath on criminals.  So, we see clearly that capital punishment is both an Old Testament and a New Testament concept.

Ulterior Motive?

It is interesting that the pope has long denounced the death penalty and even opposes life sentences, which he has called “hidden” death sentences.  If that’s really how he feels, then where is this going to end up?  Will he next push for no jail time at all for criminals?  It is reported that Pope Francis remains in touch with a group of Argentine inmates that he ministered to during his years as archbishop of Buenos Aires.  It almost seems that he is trying to protect some “old friends” with all this anti-death penalty talk.  Could it be that he is just trying to get certain people “off the hook”?  Time will tell.

Some have even questioned the timing of this change in capital punishment, as well, and seem to suspect that all this could be a smokescreen to evade the clerical sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in the Catholic Church, to which the pope seems to have given little attention. 

But whatever the pope’s motive, he is wrong about the death penalty.

Conclusion

This change by the pope may appear, on the outside, to be very noble and compassionate for the “down and out,” but it rings hollow when almost nothing is mentioned of the victims of such people, and when all the focus seems to be on the plight of the “poor” criminal.  The victims are hardly an afterthought in the pope’s statements.

Pope Francis, since he is the head of the Catholic Church, may have the right to change the Catechism of his Church, but he has no power to change the principles of Scripture (which actually support the death penalty).  We believe that this change on the death penalty will have long-term effects.  It will be especially frustrating for the many living families’ victims of these horrible crimes.  It is this type of frustration and failure to responsibly deal with dangerous criminals that causes lawlessness in our society to abound.  Jesus spoke of this same frustration concerning the last days:

Matthew 24:12 – “And because iniquity [lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

The more criminals that get away with serious crime, the colder the hearts of the people in society will be.  We will be seeing much more of this in the coming days, thanks to Pope Francis and his disregard for those affected by criminals.

Just to be clear, no one is suggesting a “wild west” approach to the death penalty, where mere suspects are hung on the spot.

Capital punishment is never to be taken lightly or casually.  Each case should be investigated carefully, fairly, and thoroughly.  The death penalty should never be enforced unless there is ample evidence of the crime and every reasonable precaution is taken to ensure the guilt of the person first.  But once the guilt is clearly established, the penalty should be carried out swiftly, as an example to future lawbreakers.

Romans 13:

v. 1) Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

v. 2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

v. 3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

v. 4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.