Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Rationale of a Community At Large - Why I'm Voting No on the Franklin City Schools Levy

            Let me preface. I have no agenda. This is not a conspiracy. This is a concerned voter sharing information with the powers that be about what they can do to get done what they can get done. Likely what will happen, as has been done before and is already being schemed about, is that “cuts that hurt” will be made so that voters will be much more obligated to pass a school levy [And indeed I was correct, as the proposal if the May 2014 vote fails is that, under the pretense of saving money, the elementary schools will be rearranged by grade in two divided areas. This would allow a handful of positions to be cut, but would cost significantly more in transitioning and in busing. Might this just be a way to punish another failure?] It is true that those who do not have kids in the district are more likely to vote no on a levy.  It is also true that those who have an interest, such as working for the district, will most certainly vote yes. Point being, all humans serve their own interests, so don’t play yourself off as exempt.
            I attended Franklin City Schools my entire life. I enjoyed this experience, and would not have wanted it any other way. I could not imagine my life any other way than having grown up in this city and this school district. What it has given me is much, both in connections to hundreds of wonderful people, and in a good education. Not one that compares to wealthy districts, but it got the job done. I harbor no bitterness, and I have not voted no due to bitterness, but due to the reality of the situation around us.
            That being said, if I did not just alienate many of these people, I may in the ensuing essay. This is far from my intention. It is my desire to help you see where I am coming from, and many others are coming from, rather than get in an argument on Facebook or at a football game. This is one of few opinions I have kept to myself due to it being, literally, close to home. However, after reading dozens of comments, clearly not thought through, bashing and defaming any “stupid”, “ignorant”, etc. person who would dare “vote against our kids” has moved me to stand up for the MAJORITY of Franklin who begs to differ. Such ad hominem arguments and fallacies strewn into one sentence is impressive due to the lack of effort required. Why would anyone vote against kids? Rather, there are so many legitimate reasons to vote against our levy. Play it off as hating children or education; clearly those of you who cannot use the correct form of “too” or in various other ways have taken the metaphorical chainsaw to your grammar and syntax are not benefitting from the current education, and are not making an impressive case for further funding.
            Taxes are almost exclusively the argument brought up when it comes to any levy, with this being no exception. Indeed this tax increase will be difficult for many. Those that have owned homes for years and are currently in hard times (or on permanent fixed incomes, such as those pesky senior citizens) find it hard to budget the extra money necessary to pay for such a levy. But, since precious little of you have had any economics training, it goes beyond that effect. When owners of rental properties (which are large in number and growing in Franklin) are taxed, that tax is often then placed on low income renters. Not everyone has solid employment, including solid employment with the very institution they are sending the money to. Empathizing with others and seeing where they are coming from, even if it does not change your position, is a very powerful thing in politics. Perhaps you should try it.
            “But this isn’t political.” Isn’t it? How many are aware of this is unknown. It was not hard to see as an informed and alert (I mean, “ignorant”, “stupid”, scary future generation- I couldn’t get that exact quote because it was quickly deleted) student that there is an obvious spoils system throughout the Franklin school district. I will not mention specific instances, not because I do not have a plethora, but because that would simply be too personal. [I now relent from that. At the recent opening for athletic director and head football coach, there were plenty of outside applicants. But from the very beginning I predicted, correctly, who would get the jobs. Not that I have a problem with the individuals in the position; on the contrary, I don’t mind them. But it is yet another example of refusing to look at someone outside of this circle.] Nonetheless, nowadays, it is almost a must that one must be a Franklin graduate to be hired at Franklin, unless it is a position that requires special skills. But being a Franklin grad is not enough; one must have connections. If you do, by all means apply; regardless of your qualifications you will likely be hired. If you do not, don’t spend the ink to print a résumé. I have seen this issue with my mother, who with subbing experience and a master’s degree was several times passed over for candidates straight out of college with bachelor’s degrees. I have also seen it with a Franklin graduate who did not have the connections that another did, though she was a valedictorian (as was yours truly, if that increases my credibility at all). You say, “See, you are bitter.” No, I am not. It is sad that this is where we are at. We can’t reach outside of our cliques. But my mother is happy with where she is at. Having a retired father and unemployed mother taught me how to survive on less. (Situations like these cannot afford levies.) I’m not sure where this corruption started, or why it is believed it is okay, but this, far more than any levy failure, is “hurting our kids”. We are not choosing the most qualified candidates, but the most beloved, the most known to others. Instead of having principals hire teachers, decisions have before been left up to coworkers, other teachers, who can determine who they would most enjoy to have in the lounge with them. This sells short students and taxpayers, who trust the schools to give them the best education possible. They do not care if the teachers can go have a beer together on the weekend. They want to be educated. Give them that education. It does not start with a levy. You simply do not demand a levy and expect taxpayers to trust you with their ADDITIONAL money. You earn their trust, provide the education, and if the time comes that you truly need more money, they will provide. If they do not, I will be unhappy with you, though not in a bitter, angry, irrational way.
            While on the topic, another thing that hurts the kids is the terrible example set from the school board down in trying to sneak levies through. It has happened several times, the last time being this past August, 2013. Deny it all you want. It was not advertised. It was published once in a general article in the Middletown Journal. The chances of seeing that is low. It might have been in the Chronicle, but it rarely has Franklin news, so from what I hear its circulation is pretty low. There were few, if any signs put out, contrary to last time. I worked at a polling place in the library. My precinct had a 9% turnout, higher than the precinct on the other side with a 7% turnout. Many said that they had just heard about the levy the day before when their friend called them. Some even said that they just saw the “voting today” signs out and came in. This was not advertised. The desire was that supporters would go and vote, being aware of the levy, and that those who would not support would stay ignorant of it and not show up. This is unethical; it is wrong. Thankfully, it backfired.
            Further proving itself unable to be trusted with taxpayer money, Franklin schools has its priorities backwards. “It’s for the kids. You must not care about the kids.” If you cared about the kids, you would channel the funds you have toward them. Instead, you have funneled much of this money into the athletic programs, at the expense of academics. No, it is not a lie. Franklin’s excellent rating has fallen off. With the new report card system, Franklin earned a B in 2012-13, scoring all B’s and a C. [It was actually three B’s and two C’s, meaning we as a district were dangerously close to a C rating. (http://stateimpact.npr.org/ohio/2013/08/22/2012-13-ohio-school-district-report-cards/#table)] This is not excellent. By definition, A is excellent. There is room for improvement. [In addition, I have been asked to provide further proof that Franklin has fallen off in academic performance over the last few years. According to stateimpact.npr.org, it has been awhile since Franklin City Schools has had the “Excellent” rating it boasts about. Going back to its 2010-11 data, Franklin was rated “Effective”, as it was the following year before the new criteria was implemented.] Again many will bring up, “This is why we need a levy.” But before a levy was conceived, this performance was evaluated. It is not a need for new funds, but a mishandling of current funds. I am not against athletics. I am a Sports Business major. My current plan is to make a living off of athletics. I enjoy any sport, and participated in marching band and soccer in high school. But we must be clear about what the goal of an educational institution is. When push comes to shove, academics must takes precedence. What is the point of having a student body who can compete on the field or court if they cannot compete in college applications or once they get to college? Franklin is all about athletics, and I love sports. But how many people from Franklin have made a career of being a professional athlete? One. Frank Lickliter II, who lives in Florida now. The rest of the thousands of graduates must (at least this is the goal) make a living working in another field. What is most important?
            Apparently, football, basketball, and baseball are. The lopsided amount of attention paid to these sports, specifically the former two, was obvious to me and countless others. I am a football and basketball fan. I played pee-wee football here and enjoyed many football and basketball games. But due to them being the income-generating and popular sports, they received the special treatment. They received new uniforms twice before other sports received them once. (I watched this happen with these teams contrasted with the soccer team, for one example.) They often received their extra gear complimentary while others had to pay, and received much more of it. When special events happened, it was these sports that were the center of attention. I am not bitter about this; I understand the culture of the city. If the school were a business this would make complete sense. But it is not a business, it is a school, where all athletes should be treated equally. Even if this may not happen in the community or by other students, the district itself should. But it does not. When the position of soccer coach was vacated, there was no search. The candidate that applied was chosen, and that was that. Little thought is given to “minor” sports. Could this be why sports such as soccer, swimming, volleyball, and tennis have failed to see much success in recent years? Yet football, basketball, and baseball are always in the running. Where is the fairness? Where is the funding for these other sports and athletes? But above that, why not put some of the large budget given to the income-generating sports towards increasing academic success? Why are we more worried about a job candidate, who has the connections, being able to coach rather than teach? When my mother was rejected the first time, we suspected this. When rejected the second time, we asked. “Well, being a coach is not the reason we are hiring them,” was the response, “but it is certainly an added benefit.” [A special shortcoming can be seen in this area of 8th grade social studies, where my mother interviewed. Before the test was done away with, one teacher’s scores were at a 45% passing rate. He was then promoted to an easier position at the high school and his position was filled with, imagine, another coach.] Then it is a wonder we cannot compete with other districts in academics. The testimony of a student who came from one of the classrooms was that he [an 8th grade social studies teacher] never really went over anything, just talked about sports. We need coaches, but more importantly, we need solid teachers. We are destined for failure from the beginning if our priorities are incorrect.
            There were many complaints about Governor John Kasich’s school funding plan last school year. What many either were ignorant of or refused to acknowledge is that that plan was not final. Still in the works is another billion dollars going to Ohio school districts. Before Franklin’s school board and supporters insist upon further funding, should they not see where this funding will go? What is stopping them? Greed? Lack of research? If Franklin does get more funding, there are specific things the money needs to go to. The Junior High is fast approaching 100 years old, and is not in the best condition. Back in my father’s day (the 1970s) it had a reputation. A new junior high must be in order. Yes there was a ballot issue to build a new high school and make the high school the junior high. A junior high does not need the space of the high school, along with two gyms and an auditorium. Too much work has been put into the high school. Why should that much extra money, even at a discount, be spent to build a new high school and rehab the current one into a junior high? Again, it goes back to greed and wanting to be like other districts that have done the same. Some in the community want to say we are as good as other communities. But we are not those communities; we never will be. And I am glad we are not. We are Franklin, and we must be realistic with funding.
            [I feel it is worth noting as well the drug problem that has developed over the years at the high school, and even the junior high. A few students were arrested for dealing or purchasing drugs this past school year, and administration played it off as an isolated event. Ask any Franklin High School student- that was not an isolated event. Two people I graduated with have died over the past year. One was heavily addicted and experimenting with various drugs; the other died of an overdose. It is a rampant problem, one that having a resource officer could curb. But a resource officer was removed a number of years back, and, despite further funding, was not added back.]

            I have put myself into my community for the extent of my life thus far. I have been successful so far, in part, due to it. I wish nothing but the best for Franklin schools and wish to see us compete, yes, in athletics, but more so in the area of academics, as I have seen with the test scores of several of those in the graduating class behind me. There are truly great minds in the upcoming generation of this district, but some are being limited by the practices of a few self-interested individuals. I am thankful for the many teachers I have had that have helped me to unlock my potential. I do not “not care about the kids”. I am not “stupid” or “ignorant”; in fact, looking at GPA and test scores, without the slightest bit of conceit or pride, I am likely smarter than you. I am however, observant. To a scary degree. And with what I have seen, I cannot, in good conscience, vote in the affirmative for any levy of Franklin City Schools under its current situation and the way it is managed. Drop me from Facebook- it’s already happened, as it has happened many times before. [And it happened for several people after this essays’ initial publication.] How dare anyone stand up for their beliefs in a credible way instead of whining and making sweeping generalizations. But I could no longer stand by and keep silent as so many were wrongly accused by people who misunderstood them or simply do not care about them- especially when it is the accusers’ side that is so boldly in the wrong. Perhaps I have opened eyes. Doubtless I have made people angry. But when the truth is revealed, anger is so often an unfortunate but realistic side effect. If the school board and those on down would implement these recommendations, I would happily vote for a reasonable tax increase. We may find that one isn’t necessary. Maybe I’m just part of a rare group that refuses to accept corruption. A more likely situation is that “cuts that hurt” will be implemented and voters, who will be blamed for these cuts that could have been made in other places, will cave and vote for the levy. [Again, I called it.] But when this time comes, know that I will be, with pride in my community, still be voting no. Because it is for this very pride that makes me want to see things changed.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Elyssa's Story

Meet Elyssa.

She, being from Connecticut, and I, from Ohio, crossed paths at Created Equal’s Justice Ride over this past spring break. It was easy to see from the start that this sweet girl had a certain sparkle in her eye, and, like so many of us, wants to live life to its fullest. Not the world’s version of living life to the fullest, but choosing to give of her time defending those who cannot defend themselves.

Why this life? Why the time? Abortion can’t affect us now, the lying left tells us. Why do you stand outside abortion clinics and show graphic signs to college students and in high-traffic areas?

I was always told protesting or otherwise speaking outside abortion clinics was a bad thing, so I generally held that opinion. Never again.

We are all unique, but Elyssa is particularly special. Why’s that?

Elyssa’s mother became pregnant at 19. Teenage pregnancies aren’t ideal, but they are hardly uncommon. Sexual activity levels begin to increase dramatically once teens hit age 15. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s statistical institute, in 2008 there were about 750,000 pregnancies among females age 15-19. Twenty-six percent ended in abortions.

This situation was where Elyssa’s mom found herself. Being at the stage of her life she was, and having a boyfriend that didn’t want a child, she chose early on to have an abortion. She made an appointment and went to the clinic. When she got outside the clinic, there were protesters there. They spoke with the perplexed young woman. Elyssa’s mom went inside the clinic, but after talking to the protesters, she couldn’t go through with the abortion and left.
Elyssa's compilation of her with various Justice Riders. She and I are in two photos at the bottom.
Elyssa was born, but still her mother could not take care of her at first. She lived with her grandmother temporarily until her mom took her back at age four. Her mother got married a couple years later, and Elyssa was adopted by her mom’s husband. Now her mom is her best friend, after all the circumstances they’ve been through. The child whose life Elyssa’s mom originally planned on taking is now her best friend.

“The things we had to face were not easy by any stretch of the imagination,” Elyssa told me, “but it wasn't impossible to get through. God used each roadblock in both her and my life to build us up, make us stronger, and draw us closer to not only each other but Him.”

Certainly Elyssa has not had an easy life, but she says she wouldn’t change anything because it has brought her where she is now. This young woman’s life is a stereotypical argument for the pro-choice side. “It’s better to kill a child than bring it into a tough life.” Who are you to make that decision? When people get into tough situations and choose to take their own life, you are upset about it. Yet every year, 1.2 million unborn children are killed, many for that exact same reason. Why are some entitled to the Life the Declaration of Independence declares as a natural right, while others are not afforded that opportunity and have no say in it?

According to pro-choice people, Elyssa should be dead.

Try to argue with that.

This healthy, joyful girl who is making a difference in other lives now should not be here.

I grew up in a nuclear family. My mother became pregnant on purpose. And according to the pro-choice illogic, my life is worth more than Elyssa’s. I should be here but she should not. In fact, they demonize the pro-life individuals that protested outside and convinced Elyssa's mom not to abort. They should not have been there and, it follows, Elyssa should not be either.

The issue at heart here is that, if a child from a rough situation can turn out like Elyssa, 1.2 million could too. Fifty-six million in 41 years could have.

But they should be dead, and Elyssa should be as well.

“That was her mother’s choice," you may argue, "And she chose to bear the child. She wasn’t human at that point, though.”

When did she become human? The traits Elyssa has in the photos were decided at fertilization when she received 23 chromosomes from each biological parent that created Elyssa’s unique DNA. The preborn are only “potential” in the sense that they can live up to the potential they received at fertilization, as Elyssa did.

How about Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived in rape? Or Melissa Ohden, who survived an abortion attempt and is now a mother herself? These women hardly comprise everyone in these situations.

But they should not be here. And neither should Elyssa.

When we decide to compartmentalize whose life is worth keeping and who we should get rid of, we are guilty of discriminating against those who are poor, or from certain families, or come from certain situations. We consider people noble if they fight for equality of other people groups, but one is frowned upon for defending the preborn. There is a clear parallel between abortion and other injustices in our nation’s history and all over the globe.

Sorry, but I know every life is precious from the beginning.

Sorry, but I know that Elyssa, and Rebecca, and Melissa, and many others should be alive regardless of the circumstances of their mothers.

Sorry, but I don’t think we should kill them for being in a situation they could do nothing about.

Sorry, but I choose to accept abortion clinic protesting as an effective method. The alternative, whether pro-choice or pro-life, is telling those like Elyssa they shouldn’t be here.

Sorry, but I don’t buy into the pro-choice redefining of who is human. Hitler said Jews and the handicapped were less than human. The Supreme Court in the Dredd Scott decision confirmed that blacks are property, not humans. Liberals today say there is a certain threshold that one has to hit to be a human. And few are in agreement on what it is.

Sorry, but I choose to respect all human life equally.

Sorry, but I can’t look Elyssa in the eye and tell her she doesn’t deserve to be alive.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pride: God's Solution

            I guarantee that you are more prideful than you think you are. I am.
            Sometimes I try to ease into subjects, but it’s late and I’m tired [it was at the time of writing], so let’s make a point and get out.
            We know that pride is a sin. But we don’t know how prevalent it is. Any sin, ANY sin, can be drawn back to pride. That is because when we sin, we are telling God that we know better than Him, that our plan is better than His, that our word is better than His Word. Nothing less than that.
            I used to live in open pride, taking assurance in the gifts God has given me. I thought that I had gotten myself there, and thought because I had intellect that I knew better. God humbled me with the mistakes I made.
            But even after I started living for Christ, I still find myself dealing with this issue. Don’t be surprised if you find the same. I continued to fail to realize that everything I am is a result of God, and without Him all I have is my sin.
            But now I have no sin to my charge, and receives blessings unnumbered. Why is it that way?
            God, and God alone, saved me. We know from the Bible that our salvation is “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We know there is absolutely nothing we can do for our salvation. Why, then, do we think there is something we can do afterwards? We rely solely on God on this all-important matter, but once He has delivered us, we think we can live apart from Him and succeed. How foolish.
            What, then, should we do? We should live our lives as we obtained our salvation. Sole reliance on God. Realize there is nothing (you’re going to hear this word a lot; don’t let it become any less important) we can do to live for God apart from God. God set it up this way on purpose. If we can obtain salvation, we have a reason to brag about our goodness. “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9). If we can live under our own power, we have reason to brag.
            That involves us getting glory. But that’s not the way it should be. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11). Where are we at in comparison to God? “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). We are inadequate to do anything on our own.
            It goes further than that. We can’t just not do it on our own. We have to let God do ALL of it. Leave nothing to our own strength. Where does our strength come from? God. Where do our gifts come from? God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17). Every gift we have is from Him. He, unlike us, does not change.
            Where does our next breaths come from? God. This is the perspective we have to have. There cannot be any percentage of reliance on ourselves.
            Because that is pride. And pride is sinful. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18).
            “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12). Any time we think we can stand on our own, we will fall flat on our faces. I think that is evident in anyone’s life.
            Not convinced? Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5). Nothing. There is no sliding scale of nothing. The only way we can accomplish anything is by abiding in Christ and having Him abide in us. Without Him- well, you get it.
            Why would we put any reliance on ourselves? A Holy, Sovereign God is offering to do all the work through us. Do we think we are good enough people to do it on our own?
            Isaiah painted this vivid picture: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6). Did you catch that? Our RIGHTEOUSNESSES are as filthy rags. Your BEST DAY is disgusting to God. The Hebrew behind these rags are rags of a woman’s ceremonial uncleanness- menstrual rags. Yes, I went there, because God did. THAT is your holiest day. We are like leaves blown away by our own iniquities, He says.
            Don’t miss this: God doesn’t care what you can do. He could not care. We are filthy to Him because of our sin that He hates. Pile up your best work, it will fall short of His glory. Show your worst, and there is further proof of your inadequacy. God isn’t interested in what you try to do. He’s interested in what He CAN do.
            Give up. Quit trying. Let God take the reins of your life. But there’s one condition. If God is working everything through your life, He gets all the glory. There is no room for you on the shelf. It’s nothing you’ve done. You’re a sinner that God by His mercy saved, and by His grace has given gifts and weaknesses so that He can get the glory through them.
            Yes, weaknesses. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (II Corinthians 12:7-10). God gave Paul a weakness so that Paul would not be exalted, and so God can show His strength through it. And God does the same with us.
            Do you have a sin you struggle with? Have trouble sharing the gospel? They are weaknesses you have to deliver up to God, and tell Him even though you don’t have the strength, you’re trusting in the One who does.
            I finished reading in Deuteronomy a couple weeks ago. Moses is one final time called a servant of God. I wondered what made him gain that title, given by God Himself. It is simple. Moses prayed for strength to lead, and God gave it to Him. Then, whenever something great happened as a result, he reflected all praise and glory to God.
            Remember in the beginning of Exodus, when Moses complained to God that he was “slow of speech”. The entire book of Deuteronomy is a series of speeches delivered by Moses before he dies.

            Don’t ever think God can’t do something through you. Don’t ever think you can. And don’t ever take the glory for what He does.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Created Equal on Campus- Responses to Victim Imagery

            I am asked many questions every day: professors, family, friends, people who disagree with me, people who agree with me but want to know more. Allow me to pose a question of my own.
            Why is it that we allow abortion to occur, but don’t want to see the results of it?
            Created Equal came to NKU’s campus, and it was abuzz before we had ever set up.          People are disgusted by us, by what we do, by what we show them. They believe they, at the expense of first amendment rights, can censor what comes to THEIR campus.
            There are two types of these people: pro-choice and pro-life. Let me define terms. If you are against abortion in all circumstances, you are pro-life. Otherwise, you are pro-choice. Let me first address those who are pro-choice.
            Why is it wrong to have photos of abortion on YOUR campus, but okay for the practice that creates those photos to go down in your community and all over the country, times 3,300? To say that is to commit a most hypocritical fallacy. If there is nothing wrong with abortion, then why is there something wrong with the photos of it? It is just a “parasite”, a “blob of tissue”- not a human, or at least not a valuable one. You should have no problem with photos of it. In fact, they just show OUR campus what you support, and how humane and painless it is.
            Obviously, that is not the case. You don’t want the pictures here. Perhaps you are afraid they expose many people who had no idea to the barbarity of the practice you support. Perhaps you are trying to ignore your conscience that tells you this is wrong, but that’s going to be much tougher to do with images of victims burned into your mind. Perhaps you want the ability to kill people, but don’t want to deal with the mess. I’m not sure, but I’d be interested to hear the reasoning behind such a position.
            “But there could be children that see it.” How prevalent are children on YOUR campus? There aren’t that many, especially in the middle of everything. The target is not children, nor is it just women that we are forcing ourselves on (actually said). The target is adults- faculty, staff, and college students who can’t ignore what they are seeing. Many have dodged it for a while, but they are now being exposed and offered the opportunity to make a choice. Will there be some children that see it? Probably. Which is worse: children seeing abortion, or children being aborted? And what is so bad if abortion is perfectly acceptable?
            A guy in passing yesterday summed it up well: “I’m just want to say, not for or against, but I really respect what you all are doing out here. It is a perfect example of exercising your First Amendment rights. Displays like this must be controversial, but you all are using your freedom of speech perfectly.” You’re telling me we shouldn’t use victim imagery? You’re using your free speech rights to tell me mine should be limited. Where is the logic in that?
            Pro-life people against what we do are also an obstacle. I used to be where they were. Then I saw the effectiveness. Victim imagery works; we’ve seen it. Don’t tell me you can get the message across without images. Any murder trial will use pictures of the murder, so everyone there can see what has happened. It would not have the same affect if we left out the images and details of the crime. There wouldn’t be a case. You say abortion is wrong, but you need to show them abortion is wrong. Debate all day, it may mean nothing without them seeing it.
            Force pro-choice people to defend what they support. Ask them if they support abortion while pointing to a dismembered fetus. See what their response is. They don’t want to know; they won’t seek out the truth on their own. We have to bring it to them.
            Would the Holocaust Museum be the same without seeing the victims? Do you support people having to see the effects of drugs, tobacco, alcohol or STDs to prevent them from making bad choices? How about the victims of other genocides? Tell a child who has been brutally beaten to go away and let you tell their story for them. It’s not the same; it’s not fair. Let their injuries tell the story. Why is abortion any different? Let the victims tell their stories. Allow them to have the voice they never had. You are not protecting the unborn by telling someone life begins at fertilization. They want proof. Give it to them.
            The double-standards would amaze me if I didn’t expect them. You believe in tolerance, yet won’t tolerate an opposing view? You cling to free speech, then try to stifle anyone that would dare to effectively disagree. You are disgusted by images, then get angry at the people who dare to show them on YOUR campus, rather than at the practice that creates them.
            If this didn’t work, we wouldn’t do it. Stay ignorant of the subject if you wish. But knowing 1.2 million innocent people are legally killed in a multi-million dollar industry in MY country makes me uneasy. So I’m doing something about it. Continue to pursue your own passions. But at least give me a logical, unselfish reason why we shouldn’t mobilize to protect others.
            Please, give me a reason. I think you’ll have trouble coming up with one.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jesus is coming - What are we doing about it?

            I always hear older folks talking about Heaven. They can’t wait to get there. They’re “longing for home.” It’s like they want to be done with their time on Earth to get to their eternal home (and many do).
            Don’t take that wrong. The Bible tells us that this world is our temporary home, and that we should look forward to our eternal home. I think as age and pain increases and people get closer to Heaven (to try and put it nicely), they are more ready.
            I am excited for what Heaven will have in store. Who shouldn’t be? It will be great up there. But “to everything there is a season.” When it is my time, I will be confident in going, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to go just yet.
            There are two things I want to address along this route. The first is something I hear from many Christians. They see the way the world is, see the way our nation is, and say something along the lines of “well the Lord just needs to come back and take us out of here.” If that was God’s purpose for us, He would have translated us straight to Heaven at the moment of salvation. I don’t know about the rest of you, but even though the world is a depraved place, I’m not ready to give up on it just yet. In fact, that means it needs us (or rather, our Savior) that much more.
            We see things going south. Yes, I believe we are warned of that by nearly everyone in the Bible. The world isn’t getting any better, and don’t plan on it getting any better overall. But you know what will bring no improvement at all? Christians who stand back and complain about it instead of having compassion and making a difference (Jude 22).
            “You’re being harsh.” And I’m enjoying it. I’ve been guilty of this before. But I have never said, “Just take us out Jesus.” Maybe part of that is because I am young and haven’t gotten the chance to experience everything in life. “But it pales in comparison to Heaven.” It’s not as if I’m not aware of that. But God has us here for a reason. I’m afraid if all of these Christians’ prayers for God to whisk us out and drop the hammer on these wicked people get answered, we won’t be able to fully fulfill it.
            But I cannot think of all of this without having an extreme amount of conviction and guilt myself. When we sing songs about Heaven (and there are many, and they are good songs) I should be more excited. There should be more longing. Instead I’m left thinking, “Who do I know that won’t be there with me?” Heaven is a great place, made possible by a great Savior who loved us enough to die for us. The alternative is eternal torment and separation from God. And every person will immediately and forever go to one of those two places. We celebrate our homes in Heaven, which we did nothing to earn, when there are others we know that can’t celebrate with us.
            Let us not pray for Jesus to come, but for Him to tarry His coming. He WILL come, but we should desire ample time to bring as many people with us when He does. Do we realize the magnitude of what we’re facing? We are no better than any person who we might be sinful enough to judge- we are simply redeemed by God’s mercy. Don’t think that we were deserving of the gospel while someone else is not. Don’t pray for God’s judgment on them, pray for Him to soften their hearts that we can witness to them effectively. Don’t say they’re deserving of Hell while we aren’t- we all are. Tell them how you’ve been spared, and how they can too.

            Jesus is coming. What are we doing about it?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Conversation with Catholics

To true Christians out there, we must remember that just because a religion is grouped under Christianity does not make them Christians. Placing our faith in Jesus Christ alone makes us Christians; this is with or without a denominational tie. It is no church that saves us, but what Christ did. Be careful to assume that a moral person who claims Christianity is a Christian. Anything we trust in apart from God will lead us, no matter how moral, on a path to Hell.

It may be noteworthy that while the gap between responses to me was often a day or longer, I responded at the latest within a few hours.

Post (Catholic #1): Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Catholic Church, is dead. He was a very hateful man to the very end, yes, but it is also our duty to forgive hatred that love may take its place. Is Fred Phelps in Hell right now? Maybe, maybe not, only God knows what the true state of his soul was and whether he eventually repented of it all at the end. For all we know, he could just be in Purgatory for a very long time. Either way, I will be praying for the repose of his soul, as much as his hate angered me in life, for we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
“We should pray the repose of Fred Phelps’ soul” (“Catholic Memes” photo)

[Two comments not pertaining to discussion]

Me: "And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." (Luke 16:26)
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:18, 36)
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:15)
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Rom. 8:1)
Clearly the Bible shows two options: Heaven, permanently, or Hell/the Lake of Fire permanently. There is never a mention of purgatory. Don't mean to undermine your religion, but credit shouldn't be given where it doesn't exist. I hope he did know Christ as his Savior and was just messed up, but since "by their fruits ye shall know them", he is probably in Hell. No praying can change his decision.

Catholic #2: Purgatory does exist. Only the perfect, the sinless are in Heaven. When we die, we aren't perfect, so we have to undergo the process of perfection in Purgatory. I believe that St. Paul eludes to Purgatory in one of his letters, but I forget which one.

C2: Since when is the Bible the only source of truth? Ah, yeah, it was the shamed rebel Martin Luther who concocted "sola scriptura." The Bible makes no mention of "sola scriptura." St. Paul and St. James mention multiple times that our faith is based upon tradition as well as other things. Tradition includes non-scriptural means of teaching. Christ Himself set St. Peter as the leader of His Church in St. Matthew's Gospel and also told him that He would be with His Church until the end of time, clearly establishing that Catholic teaching is infallible, and Catholic teaching includes Purgatory.

Me: There are no perfect, sinless people (Rom. 3:23), hence by your reasoning no one would be in Heaven.
"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." -II Tim. 3:15-17
"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." -James 1:21
"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." -John 20:30
These verses directly contrast the Catholic church's teaching on the Bible. Christ set Himself as the head of the church: "Thou art Peter (Greek word "Petros", meaning a stone), and upon this rock (Greek word "Petra", meaning foundational rock) I will build my church. Jesus said He will build His church, not Peter will build Peter's church. And Jesus spoke of Himself as that Rock. Peter himself said, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 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," (I Peter 2:5-7). Christians are lively stones, copying what Jesus named him, but Christ himself is that cornerstone.
It is true Christ is with His church. But at the same time He said, "Lo, I am with you alway," He also said, "All power is given unto me." The Greek behind that word "power" means authority. Hence the authority is Christ's, not a church's.
"Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." -Ephesians 1:22-23
"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." -Colossians 1:18
Christ is the head of the church, not any man, and Christ has authority over it. God has given us all the teachings He wanted us to have in the Bible.
"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." -I Corinthians 13:8-10
God ceased to give new revelations when His Word was completed. And since "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8) that doctrine does not change.
Jesus did not create His church infallible. There are many predictions in the New Testament of a great falling away. Paul mentions it to Timothy and in other books, Jude is written for it, and Peter mentions it in II Peter. The church isn't fallible; it's head, Jesus Christ is. And He gave us His infallible Word. To follow after the words of man, who is sinful and imperfect, is to follow in error when God has given us the way to salvation and His truth through His Word.

C2: God made Blessed Mother Mary sinless from the moment of conception. Nowhere does the Bible say that scripture is the only basis and form of teaching and faith. The verses that you've presented don't contradict my statement. The Bible doesn't contradict Catholic teaching because Catholic teaching doesn't contradict the Bible. Exactly how do you assert that the Bible does contradict Catholic teaching? I never said that St. Peter would build St. Peter's church. I said that Christ made St. Peter the leader of His Church, which is what Christ did. Christ spoke of St. Peter as His rock, that is, the leader of His Church. "Christ" has no reference to rock or stone, nor has "Messiah" or "Jesus." Christ is the Head of the Church, but the earthly head of His Church is the successor to St. Peter. Christ has authority over the Church and guides Her in teaching through His Holy Spirit, Who speaks through the successor to St. Peter. God continually speaks to us through the successor to St. Peter. I never said that Christ created His Church to be infallible. I said that Catholic teaching is infallible. There's a difference. Man needs a guide for infallible teaching or else such evils as abortion, contraception, and the practice of homosexuality pervade and run rampant. Sadly these things still exist because the rejection by Christians of the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church.

C1: Tempted to delete this and repost it without that horrible typo [mentions who pointed out that he had called them “Westboro Catholic Church”] but don't want to interrupt the conversation that now seems to have started.

Me: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."- Romans 3:23
Included in all is Mary. Obviously, and the Bible tells us, she was a good woman, but not sinless.
That is one of many teachings of the Catholic church that contradict the Bible.
Christ is called the "chief corner stone". Peter had a leadership role in the first century church but in no way was his teaching infallible. In fact, Paul had to rebuke him at one point.
"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." -Galatians 2:11
How does an infallible "pope" need rebuking?
Evils in the world exist because of man's sin nature. There are plenty of Christians that find these wrong. However, as half of professing Catholics voted for president Obama last election, perhaps many of them need to know these issues.
Sinful man cannot be infallible; the only infallible teaching comes from God's Word. Traditions outside of the Bible run contrary to that.
And you have failed to give me any scriptural references for your position.

C1: >implying all "Professing Catholics" are actually professing Catholics in communion with Rome and practicing their faith

Me: Correct, however, when many Catholics don't follow the Catholic church's teaching, others should not be held to it. I prefer to follow the Bible's teaching.

Me: Allow me to show you what the most important thing the Catholic church is wrong on:
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” –Romans 3:20-28
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.” –Romans 4:1-9
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” –Romans 5:1
“Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on…Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” –Luke 7:39-40, 47-50
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” –Luke 8:36-39
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” –Acts 2:21
“Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” –Acts 16:29-32
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” –John 3:14-18
I know that “faith without works is dead”, as it says in James, but works is a result of faith in Christ and the change that He works in our heart.
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” –Romans 6:6-14
Working alone, or a mix of works and faith, does nothing for us. I would live and let live, but this is the difference between Heaven and Hell; it is of the upmost importance. One must place their faith in what Christ has done. Do with it what you will.

C2: Joe, I don't necessarily read long comments/posts, and I admit that I didn't read all of you last one. I'm too exhausted from [a trip]. By the way, [C1], I'm going to post something about my morning prayer/meditation from this morning on my wall in a few minutes. Take a look at it. It's a bit humorous. Everywhere St. Paul writes about "works," he's referring to works of the law (Jewish law). These are the 601-ish things that the Pharisees established that are burdensome to which Christ calls all the weary from having to perform these works. St. James in 2:14-26 says, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?i If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.”l See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route?m For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." If you believe in the Bible, Joe, you have to believe that simply saying that you're Christian without acting in accordance with the teachings of Christ and in charity (love) for others, you'll end up in Hell. Oh Blessed Mother Mary was sinless from the moment of conception. Christ made her sinless so that He could come into the world by means of a virtuous person. Divine revelation gives us this teaching through the Catholic Church, which Christ established as His Church. All other Christian churches are man-made.

C2: [C1], I'll let you address the rest of Joe's comment. As of now I feel that your better at apologetics than I am. If I see something that I can add, I'll do that, but I need to learn more about the Old and New Testaments for now. The course that I'll be starting at the end of the month is on the Old Testament. Sometime later I'll be studying the New Testament.

C1: Joe: I am sick and tired of the old trope that Catholics apparently don't read the Bible. Every single Catholic teaching is based in or older than the Bible, and need I mention that Catholics didn't remove any books from it, unlike a certain Martin Luther did. The biggest Protestant error of them all that contradicts the Bible is this: To believe any of the Protestant churches, one must accept that for 1500 years the gates of Hell prevailed against the Church, which we are told in the Bible will never happen.

Me: Paul spoke on the idea of God's act of declaring one righteous. Many Old Testament and gospel usages involved demonstrating one to be righteous, including James. They addressed different crowds: Paul Judaizers who were trying to prove that Gentiles could be saved by works of the law, James to nominal, professing Christians. He sought to show them that their profession was not enough, but that (as Jesus said "by their fruit ye shall know them") their works should be behind it. If the two were in conflict, circumcision would have came up, since it was always in Paul's discussions. Though the Catholic church does not teach the Jewish law, it does teach its own law that works are needed for salvation- exactly what Paul spoke against (and Peter, and Philip, and Jesus, etc.).

Me: I never said Catholics don't read the Bible; it is misinterpreted and added to by tradition. The Apocrypha was never part of the canon of scripture except in the Catholic church. In fact, Rome didn't add it to your Bible until 1546. James and Hebrews were also initially rejected, then added. How can an infallible church be wrong on that?

Me: The Protestant movement had its obvious merits, such as breaking away from indulgences and torturing and burning dissenters in Inquisitions. But not all "Protestant" churches came from that movement. The Baptist church traces its line to the first century church. And it has never followed traditions above the Bible; that is never what Christ's apostles would have taught.

C2: Joe, indulgences weren't Church-wide. No teaching promoting them has ever existed; it was a practice only in individual parishes and dioceses. My recollection of the Inquisition was not that the Church led it but that individual kings, like the king of Spain, led it. It wasn't Church teaching. I've heard the false claim that Baptists trace their roots back to the first century, but that's false. Only one Christian church existed for centuries, and that is what is the Catholic Church now.

Me: Let me offer a slight correction. The name "Baptist", as the denomination, has not always been around, but churches who believe the Bible's teaching on salvation through faith and baptism as an outward sign of that faith have- because that is what Christ and the apostles taught.

Me: Many popes were actually heavily involved in Inquisitions. The 1233 Papal Inquisition was instituted by Pope Gregory IX, The 1478-1834 Spanish Inquisition by Pope Sixtus IV, the 1542-1700 Roman Inquisition by Pope Paul III. Pope Innocent III stated, "Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with church dogma must be burnt without pity." Pope Innocent IV authorized the creation of torture chambers. These chambers involved some of the worst forms of torture mankind has ever seen. The Rack, The Pear, The Branks, The Heretics Fork, The Wheel, The Breast Ripper (used for just that purpose on women)...The list could go on. Many especially liked to go after women in "witch hunts". Clement of Alexandria: "Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman." Odo of Cluny: "To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure..." Thomas Aquinas: "nothing [deficient] or defective should have been produced in the first establishment of things; so woman ought not to have been produced then." (Accusing God of making a mistake?) Going after witches did, however, allow them the church to continue to profit on the Inquisition. Eymeric had complained, "In our days there are no more rich heretics... it is a pity that so salutary an institution as ours should be so uncertain of its future." Accused witches were stripped down and looked over for birthmarks or freckles that would give them off as being witches. When the men found themselves sexually aroused, they assumed it came from the woman and attacked her breasts and genitals with pincers, pliers, and hot irons. All this can be confirmed historically, and it was done by those in the church with permission of popes at the time. Does this sound like an infallible church to you?

C2: The Inquisition hasn't been Church teaching. Where do you get these claims that popes tortured and murdered? Granted, all people are sinful, and some popes have been mortally sinful. This doesn't mean that their behavior is Church teaching. That's not how Church teaching operates. Your sins aren't what disqualify your argument, Joe, and no pope's behavior disqualifies the fact that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ started. What disqualifies your argument is the words that you speak/write/otherwise convey. St. Paul said that wives are to be subordinate to their husbands. That doesn't disqualify his preaching otherwise. Where do you get your quotes for Pope St. Clement and St. Thomas Aquinas? I'm noticing that you're a lot of "...;" that appears to me to be taking the quote out of context. Please provide the entire quote if you're going to provide any of it. Many Protestants carve their quotes out to support only their argument and leave out the context of the writing. Catholic teaching is infallible. Your behavior, like all anti-Catholic bigotry, certainly isn't, though. I add, too, that St. Paul writes in 1st Corinthians, 13:13, "So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love." Faith isn't the greatest. Hope isn't the greatest. Love, that is, charity, is the greatest. We cannot simply believe that Christ is the Savior of mankind; we must act on our love for one another. Faith without good deeds will land us in Hell. Our charitable acts, along with repentance for our sins, will turn Christ's Mercy toward us.

Me: A pope telling us that anyone who contradicts church views should be burnt isn't church teaching? How does any of the above qualify as charitable acts? Could you tell me exactly how much charitable action you have to do to make it to Heaven?
What do you qualify as repentance? Peter said, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." That's a one time deal. When the Catholic church does not correctly interpret James 2, Matthew 16:18, or other such verses but ignores the many verses that tell us sinful man cannot work his own way into Heaven, I respectfully ask you not to speak to me on context.

Catholic #3: If I may interject into this conversation, reading through this discussion I see that Joe you really don’t know what Catholic actually believe and practice or why. Using random Bible verses out of context is a desperate attempt to prove your point of view right and doesn’t prove anything at all. Evil attacks that which is most good and holy, so no, its no surprise that there have been evil people masquerading as holy people in the Church, but the evil actions of these individuals are not a reflection of what the Church actually teaches or believes. By the way, The Pope is only considered infallible when he speaks from the Chair of Saint Peter and this has only happened about twice in the 2000 years of the Church.

Catholics didn’t add books, Protestants removed them because they supported thing Protestants didn’t want to believe in such as Purgatory, which comes from II Maccabees one of the removed books. Our translation comes from the Septuagint, which is what Christ, the Apostles and the Early Christians used. Purgatory also called the Final Theosis by the Orthodox Christians and Eastern Catholics is simply the cleansing area before entering heaven, where Gods grace and mercy are at work.

The belief that faith with out works is dead simply means the truly faithful do good works anyway simply because they love Christ not out of trying to by their way to heaven as is a common misunderstanding Protestants make about Catholics. If a person doesn’t put their faith into action they can say they have faith all they want but it doesn’t make it true. So yes faith with out works is dead.

Me: We seemed to be on the same page in your last paragraph. Perhaps the one significant variance is that you are placing your faith in yourself and a church as well instead of the One who created you. I have met some Catholics who believe in salvation through faith alone; I pray you are one of them.
The Apocrypha was actually added, as I stated before, in 1546. The Catholic church never had any Biblical proof for many of its teachings such as salvation through sacraments and Purgatory; hence when the "heretics" of the Reformation began to question it, it had to cover itself, and allowed in non-canonical books that are contrary to true scripture. It was the Jewish Christians in the second century that has determined the canon of scripture based on strict guidelines; Catholicism altered this.
On a side note, could you tell me the correct context of the verses I've used?

C1: You've never studied the Church Fathers, have you?

Me: If you mean your church's, no, not much. "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." -Matthew 23:9

C1: Aaaaand that favorite verse of Protestants to take out of context appears. Keep in mind the Church Fathers were leaders of the Church in a time even Protestants acknowledge as the canonical "early Church".

C2: Joe, you should provide all answers to our existing questions before you ask of us questions. I asked you where you got your quotes by Pope St. Clement and St. Thomas Aquinas. I want answers. If you want to continue down the road of faith without works, what did Christ say throughout the Gospels? "Repent and sin no more." What did He say about charitable acts? "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matt. 25.40). "Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me" (Matt. 25.45). What did He say would happen, respectively? Those that did charitable works will join Him in His kingdom, and those who neglected charitable works will go off to eternal punishment.

C2: May I note, please, that I like the story of St. Nicholas' slapping a heretic. Slapping heretics is a holy act, but one should do so also by legal means. A verbal "slap" is just as good as a physical slap.

Me: Those who don't have answers usually avoid answering questions posed- or add books to the Bible. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican29.htm

Me: You failed to read the beginning of Christ's teaching in that part of Matthew 25- "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:" (Matt. 25:31-32). Jesus spoke of the judgment of the nations after the tribulation, not our judgment. And the people were already separated when He gave his judgment- He just makes a point of saying that they had not treated the "least of these" (the saved of the tribulation) well. Again, you are taking passages out of context. As to your other reference, Jesus does want us to repent and sin no more. But that starts with repentance- Biblical repentance, not what a church hands down by tradition.

Me: [C1], we do acknowledge it as the early church, but we, per Christ's teaching, do not call them "Fathers". And we deny that He established the Catholic church as the one true church. The church is the body of believers in Christ; that is not limited to any denomination or ties. When Christ first established His church (on himself, not Peter, as I established) there were no meetings at first, and definitely no mass. But there was a body of believers who trusted in Him. THAT is what the gates of Hell will not prevail against; because it is created by Jesus and trusts in Jesus. Anything that teaches otherwise or leans on anyone or anything else is not only being prevailed against, but is wrong.

C3: If the books Protestants call the Apocrypha were not included until 1546 can you please explain why the Guttenburg Bible the first book ever printed in 1454 nearly 100 years prior contains these books just like the Catholic Bibles do? No you can’t explain that because what you are saying is historically inaccurate.

Regarding context, let me show you how easy it is to take scripture out of context. For example: Ephesians 2:8-9 is commonly used to “prove” saved by faith alone idea.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

However, this completely ignores the context by excluding Ephesians 2:10. Ephesians 2:8-10 actually supports the doctrine of saved by grace through faith and works.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The surrounding verses form the immediate framework for it’s meaning. Using one or two verses to attempt to prove a point is a common tactic I have seen among Protestants in an attempt to “evangelize” Catholics because in their minds we need to be “saved.” Never understood what the point of sheep steeling is when there are plenty of people who actually could benefit from being evangelized, such as atheists.

Also, with all due respect Christ established the Mass at the Last Supper, which was foreshadowed in Exodus by the Passover. By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus' passing over to his father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom. Sunday, the day of Jesus' resurrection, is when the Christians met "to break bread." From that time on down to our own day the celebration of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in the Church with the same fundamental structure. It remains the center of the Church's life and it breaks my heart so many a separated from it.

Me: The Apocrypha was not "officially" added to your Bible until 1546; I figured you knew Catholic history. The books existed before, and were occasionally included in translation of the Septuagint- a completely inaccurate Bible translation that came out of Alexandria, Egypt ("the hotbed of heresy"). Most of these books were written during the intertestimental period- the 400 years between the Old Testament's completion and the coming of Christ when God did not directly speak to man. Thus to put them in the Old Testament would be incorrect anyway. They are never mentioned or quoted from by anyone in the New Testament. They are full of historical and geographical inaccuracies. They teach doctrines in contrast to true scripture. They are not found in any ancient manuscripts. They are not in the style of the Bible, such as prophetic power. Christ established the Lord's Supper at the Last Supper, "as oft as ye do it, do in remembrance of me." If the Catholic church wants to design a mass around that, that is their business, but Christ has never established a mass. The Eucharist is based in traditions that are against the Bible; God has exalted His Word above His name (Psalm 138:2), and hence would not want us choosing our traditions over what He gave us as ultimate truth. As to Ephesians 2, you have entirely murdered it. God has made Christians His "workmanship" and has created them unto good works. "Before ordained" has to do with the doctrine of predestination- not as Calvinists construe it, but as God puts it. Since a sovereign God knows who will accept Him, he has literally prepared those to walk in good works. But this comes from Him, not of ourselves, as verses 8-9 so plainly tells us. How you can get past "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." I have no idea. It is of faith, not anything we can do. If it was works, we could be able to brag that we got ourselves there. But we can't because it is God's gift. This isn't "sheep stealing"; sheep are of the flock. Only those that have a personal relationship with God can have merit with God through His Son and, at the end of it all, gain entrance into Heaven. Whether someone doesn't believe in God or is deeply stooped in religion but still apart from Him, they all need evangelized.

C2: Joe, what are the credentials of the website that you posted. I saw none. Anyone can develop a website and include false things on it. in Matthew 25:40 Christ spoke of our own judgments. There are holy people in every nation. Judging the holy based upon that acts of the evil would be unjust, but Christ is the Just Judge, so He was referring to our own personal judgments. I'm not the one taking verses out of context; you're the one doing that, and now you're wrongly accusing me of that which you've been doing. Such behavior is that of the heretics. St. Paul numerous times speaks of Church Tradition in a favorable light. He encourages Tradition. We do call the early Church leaders "Church Fathers." That's their official title. The Church that Christ started is the Catholic Church. However, anybody truly pursuing Truth is part of the Body of Christ, His Church. Christ established His Church on St. Peter. No evidence suggests otherwise. The Catholic Church is that to which Christ said that the gates of Hell wouldn't prevail. Where do you get your claim that the Apocrypha wasn't part of the Bible until 1546. A simple online search gives information otherwise on Wikipedia. You obviously don't know Catholic history. Throughout your last comment you make statements that you don't back with evidence, something else that heretics often do. The Eucharist is the Last Supper. Thus, it is the Mass. Please stop lying and giving heresy. Why can't you get past "For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).

C2: I'm still waiting for a valid source where you got the quotes that you claim are from Pope St. Clement and St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Nicholas, slap the heretic.

Me: I gave you that source awhile ago. If you're trusting Wikipedia as a source, I'm not sure how much of an intelligent conversation we can have. Matthew 25 is the judgment after the millennial reign of Christ; us living at this time will have already been decided based on the choice we made in our lives, and will either be ruling with Christ or in Hell. You, in counter, are blatantly denying the evidence I am presenting you while offering none of your own. You keep going back to one verse we agree on: "Faith without works is dead." The problem is, you are missing the faith. This is faith in Christ, not in a church or a pope or sacraments. You are presenting no evidence of your own, few Biblical references, and throwing what your church teaches you at me all while calling me a heretic for disagreeing. If you want to do that, fine by me, but don't expect yourself to be taken seriously.

Me: I did, however, forget to give you a non-exhaustive list of things that Catholic church contradicts the Bible on:
As before mentioned, Purgatory, salvation through works, Peter not being established as the head of the church but Christ, and calling church leaders "father".
Canonization- the process is not in the Bible, and in fact, all true Christians are called saints. "Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints," (Colossians 1:4). "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints," (Ephesians 1:15). Even more references are in the Old Testament. "But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight." (Psalm 16:3). "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15). "They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord." (Psalm 106:16). Before the church was established and the Catholic church existed, the assembly and specific people were called saints. Everyone Paul wrote to was included in this label. Because sainthood isn't a title given, it refers to anyone who has trusted in faith in God.
The use of the office of priest is not accurate, as all Christians have priesthood. "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" (I Peter 2:5,9).
Making confessions is unnecessary. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" (I Timothy 2:5). The man Jesus is the only go between. There used to be priests, but now Christ is our High Priest. "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:11-15, 21, 28).
Baptism is supposed to be by immersion after salvation. The Greek word that it comes from, "baptizo", means to dip or to immerse. "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." (Colossians 2:12). "Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." (Acts 8:35-38).
The making of images and praying to/worshipping them is prohibited. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;" (Exodus 20:4-5).
The immaculate conception is against the Bible's teaching. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23). "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Romans 5:12). And Mary didn't stay a virgin. "While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee." (Matthew 12:46-47). The books of James and Jude were both written by Jesus' half brothers.
Mary is not to be worshipped either. "And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28).
The consumption of alcohol is also against scripture. The word translated wine is "oinos", which simply means fruit of the vine. Jesus would not cause people to go against the Bible. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." (Proverbs 20:1). "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again." (Proverbs 23:29-35).
Bishops are to be married. "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)" (I Timothy 3:2, 4-5).
Clerical dress is taught against. "But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments," (Matthew 23:5).
Either the Catholic church is wrong, or every writer of the Bible and the God who inspired them is a heretic.

C3: So you ignore historical fact, insisting on sticking to your made up history, and claim I am the one who doesn’t know history? The Septuagint is indeed valid considering it has been in use since the second century BC. Orthodox Christians also use the Septuagint and as I said before please explain why the Guttenburg Bible the first book ever printed in 1454 nearly 100 years prior contains these books just like the Catholic Bibles do?

“Canization was still a concern in the sixteenth century, when Protestant reformers decided to exclude the books of the Deuterocannon from the Old Testament, and the Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1546) reaffirmed the canonicity of most of the “Apocrypha” “ quoted from An Introduction to the Bible Journey into Three Worlds 5th Edition by Christian E. Hauer and William A. Young page 10. The Council of Trent was only called to address the heresies of protestant reformers trying to remove these books from the cannon. You have no evidence to support your claim and your false history has fallen like the walls of Jericho.

Truthfully your latest post makes you come off as one of those anti – Catholic bigots who is so blinded by your own hatred towards us that you are too lazy to even learn what we actually believe and practice. Instead you believe the lies you have been told by false teachers.

Here are several examples of how you don’t know what you are talking about:

Catholics don’t worship statues or icons. Do you have pictures of your family and friends hanging in your house? Bet you do, so you must be an idol worshiper! See how ignorant that sounds, and you sound just as ignorant making your false accusations. We don’t worship Mary or the Saints either because prayer and worship are, not the same thing. Prayer means to ask for, Catholics believe that the dead are alive in heaven presently and when we pray to the Saints or to Mary we are simply asking them to ask God for our intention just as we would ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us. Worship is more than a prayer; it is to praise our creator and worship is reserved for God alone. Catholics also refer to all of the faithful as saints but also recognize holy individuals who are mortal role models to inspire us to strive to have such a close relationship and trust with the Lord. The Catholic Church is made up of 23 different churches whom all share the same doctrines and theology. Of the 23 only one, the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t allow married men to be ordained into the Priesthood at this time although that could change as it is not against church teaching for married men to be ordained its just the current practice. So yes we do have married men that are Priests with families!

Scripture warns us of false teachers with no authority twisting the Word of God and inventing their own views through their individual interpretation of scripture without taking into account the authority of the Apostles.

“ For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Christ said, as they hate me they will hate you. Like I said before evil attacks that which is most good and holy. Wild interpretations are simply not helpful to anybody, they lead astray and simply confuse.

Please educate yourself and stop spreading false witness against us, accusing us of believing something we don’t is extremely offensive and makes you look ignorant. Here is a resource if you actually care to learn what we actually believe: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

Me: There is no need to pray to anyone in Heaven but Christ (I Timothy 2:5). I hate no one; I am trying to help you see the truth. God doesn't care what men say, He cares what He says. I'll look over it when I get time. Let me remind you, however, that if you consult any speech textbook, it will tell you that an appeal to tradition is a common fallacy. Using the Orthodox church to defend yourself is interesting because they are fairly similar in their incorrect use of tradition, yet Catholics don't consider the Orthodox church legitimate, and the Orthodox doesn't consider the Catholic church legitimate. Which traditions are correct? Which will actually get one to Heaven? Which was actually established as Christ's church?

C1: >equating Orthodox to "incorrect use of history"
>expecting any Church historian to take you seriously

C1: Next you're probably going to say the Catholics had a time machine they used to rewrite early Church tradition. Because you cannot claim that Protestants follow the full tradition of the early Church as established by Christ.

Me: Christ gave us His Word, not His traditions. In fact, He was the Word in the flesh (John 1:14). Any time the apostles gave their words for "traditions", it became part of the Bible. Show me any proof that your traditions are apostolic in nature.

Me: If the Catholic and Orthodox churches both claim to be THE church, the pillar and ground of the truth protected from error, why do they differ so much on their doctrines? Who are we to believe?

Me: The Orthodox church claims apostolic tradition too, but theirs is different. Who's right?

C1: Both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox can trace their succession of bishops and priests back to the Apostles through Holy Orders, which can't be said for Protestant pastors. Also watch your terms: Eastern Orthodox churches are in fact Catholic. This is because that split happened long before a certain Martin Luther was ever born.

Me: But the Greek Orthodox church is not. But I'm glad you mentioned Eastern Orthodox: the synod Carthage in 393 AD stated, "But let Church beyond sea (Rome) be consulted about confirming this canon." If Rome had to confirm the canon, that would mean it had no part in creating it. Carthage later became part of the Eastern Orthodox church- if anything, I would think that they would have a better claim at having determined the canon than the Catholic church.

C3: I mention the Orthodox Church because until the Great Schism of 1054 were in full communion with the Catholic Church and their Bibles also contain the “Apocrypha” books you claim weren’t part of the cannon till 1564. Still haven’t seen an attempt to disprove the Guttenburg Bible issue that conflicts with your inaccurate history.

Is this a bad time to mention that Eastern Catholics such as the Melekite Catholics and the Ruthian Catholics celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom which is what the Orthodox Church also uses yet are also in full communion with Roman Catholics? The Eastern Catholic churches are actually encouraged to cultivate their own distinctive theological expressions. They do agree with the Roman Catholics on fundamental matters of doctrine, except it is approached from the Eastern perspective relying almost exclusively on the Eastern Church Fathers. This difference, rather than rupturing the unity of the Church, further expresses the true universality of Christ's Church.

Also I find it interesting that “oinos” a Greek word is your evidence for why alcohol is not allowed to be consumed after all the only books originally written in Greek are the very books you don’t accept as scripture. The word you are looking for is “yayin” which is used over 130 times in the Hebrew Bible to mean fermented wine, not grape juice. Plus, Christ’s first miracle was to turn water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. So to argue that alcohol in moderation is no ok is silly and is an unbiblical belief.

Catholics are already Christians and we already enjoy the fullness of truth. We don’t need to “get saved” and energy could be spent trying to convince non-believers because there is no point to proselytize people whom are already believers in Christ. I believe you are genuine in your concern for our souls and I truly appreciate it, but I think I will stay at the banquet feast of the Lord and you are always welcome to join us. I wish you the best of luck on your spiritual journey and where ever that road may take you. God Bless.

Me: Most of the New Testament was written in Greek.
I mention the Greek Orthodox church because it does not agree with you, but also claims apostolic roots, that its traditions are correct, and that it gave the world the Bible. The answer to "Why are you right?" for both sides boils down to "because we say so". The Catholic church is right because we're the true church; we're the true church because we're right. It's circular logic you can't get past. This is why God gave us His Word. Traditions change as they are passed down or based on who's in charge. Does this mean the qualifications to get to Heaven change? " Jesus Christ the same today, yesterday, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8). The Bible doesn't change (not the true one, at least).
You don't use the term believer correctly. The Bible is clear on what a believer is. A simple belief in Christ and fulfilling your religious duties means nothing- James tells us "the devils believe and tremble." I certainly go after others as well, as they are less stubborn, being not as deeply indoctrinated by ritual and tradition, but all lost souls need Jesus.

C1: You do know early (Catholic) Christians lived out their faith before the Bible even existed right? If sola scriptura was the only way to salvation, Jesus would have said, "Here, take this book and take everything in it completely literally and you will be saved."

C3: Considering you don’t know what we believe not sure how you think you can compare what Catholics believe with the Orthodox. Truthfully I’m not sure you even comprehend the basics of the Orthodox either or you would know Greek Orthodox isn’t separate from the rest of the Orthodox Church. So what is your point? The Orthodox Church is really not significantly different from the Catholic Church.

What part of all of the Orthodox Church and all of the Catholic Church were one in the same till 1054 don’t you get? Is historical fact really that hard to grasp? Still waiting on for the Guttenburg Bible explanation that you completely ignore. The true Biblical Cannon hasn’t changed you just don’t accept it and would rather believe myths about Catholics to justify it because your entire belief system would crumble if you accept what history clearly shows as the truth.

The only thing you have proven is that you don’t believe Catholics are Christians because you have been mislead about what the Catholic Church actually teaches and believes. You are so blinded by the false teaching of sola scriptoria and personal interpretations of scripture therefore in your mind we are all a bunch of lost souls whom could not possibly think for themselves and whom actually have chosen to believe.

Your history is inaccurate and your reject scripture when placed in its context because it no longer agrees with what you desire and wish it actually said. The truth is always true whether you accept that truth or not is your choice. By all means continue to believe in false history. I honestly can’t take you seriously when you can’t even rise to the challenge of a question that shouldn’t be difficult if you had the truth. So, I prefer to follow the teachings of the One True King and trust in the guidance of those whom he entrusted to teach us rather than false beliefs.

C2: Joe, you never gave a credible source for your claims of quotes by Pope St. Clement or St. Thomas Aquinas. I didn't even bother reading that website that you posted, if that's what you meant, because I found no credentials for it. I was "trusting" Wikipedia; rather, I was pointing to how easy it is to find a source. Wikipedia does have requirements for posting, though. If you think that you can't have an intelligent conversation on Truth, look at your own methods of presenting your points, as I've critiqued a few times. You haven’t provided any legitimate “evidence” for any of your positions because it’s not there. You’ve been perverting the Word of God to suit your own beliefs against His Word and the Church that He started. I’m not missing faith. I’ve presented my evidence and cited it in most cases, and most of my evidence comes from St. James’ epistle and St. Matthew’s Gospel. I’m pointing out the truth that you’ve been presenting heresy because it is. Untruth is heresy. You’re presenting untruth and therefore heresy. Take note that I didn’t bother reading beyond the first five lines of your next comment, Joe, because those topics are there, as I’ve already presented about Purgatory. When Christ instructed us not to call anyone “Father,” the context is “Father” as in “Creator.” We’re allowed to call our male parents “Father” in that context, and Church Fathers such and priests “Father” in the proper context. Joe, your words show that you hate Christ by means of hating the Church that He started. As I’ve stated already St. Paul speaks affirmatively through multiple epistles about Tradition. The Second Council of Nicaea in the late 700s permitted icons, so your claim against that is void. Here’s my citation. http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum07.htm
It’s in the “Definitions” section before you get to “CANON.” Anyone who has good intentions and seeks Truth will receive Christ’s mercy. This goes back to something that I’ve said before. Sadly, your comments throughout haven’t shown good intention, but a great hate for the Truth in Christ and for the Church that He started. It sounds like somebody brainwashed you as a child to spew these lies.

C2: Once again, Joe, please provide a credible source for your quotes of Pope St. Clement and St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Nicholas both slap and pray for the heretic.

C2: Suggesting that you don't need the intercession of the saints and angels in Heaven with Christ in order to receive His mercy hints at sinful pride, Joe. We all need their intercession, for Christ is under no obligation to grant mercy to our souls. He does so out of love for us and as a result of the intercession of His saints and angels.

Me: The Greek Orthodox church varies more, including on the method of baptism, very important to you. If both churches are based on tradition, how can they be divided on this teaching. Which tradition do we hold to?
I don't care what councils say, if they go against biblical teaching.
"Sola scriptura" is not what saves, nor did I ever claim that. It was faith that saved before Christ came, and it is faith that saves now.
I've been getting pestered about Gutenberg for awhile. This shows the lack of knowledge about one's own history. Gutenberg was a Catholic and translated a version of the Vulgate (translated by the linguist Jerome, who actually objected to the Apocrypha being in it). The books were not firmly declared divine until the Council of Trent in, yes, 1546. Of course they were used before then because they existed before then. It is interesting to note that there is never a direct references to the Apocrypha in the New Testament. It's okay to use the term "Apocrypha", as Jerome himself created it. "The most influential benefactor of the Apocrypha was Augustine (354-420 A.D.), the "Father of corrupt theology." He influenced the Councils of Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 A.D.) to declare the Apocrypha canonical. In his usual form, Augustine also saw to it that any opposition to the Apocrypha was suppressed." [Robert J. Sargent, Canonization: The Apocrypha]. Origen (AD 200), stated, "It should be observed that the collective books, as handed down by the Hebrews, are twenty-two, according to the number of letters in their alphabet. These twenty-two books, according to the Hebrews, are as follows ..." and he then lists the books as we know them from the Hebrew Bible. He did know about the Apocrypha because he said, "Separate from these are the Maccabees." [Bibliotheca Sacra, p. 296] Athanasius (AD 330), stated, "The books of the Old Testament are twenty-two, which is the number of the letters among the Hebrews. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, of Kings four, two books; of Paralipomenon (Chronicles) two, one book; Esdras two, one book; Psalms, Proverbs; twelve prophets, one book; then Isaiah, Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and epistles; Ezekiel and Daniel. Then there are books uncanonical, but readable, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit." Though odd to add Baruch and reject Esther, it is still significant to note that a distinction was maintained between canonical books and books of interest. The Apocrypha as a whole were rejected as being inspired literature. [Bibliotheca Sacra, p. 297]
You continue to call me a liar without any real proof of your own, just a "because I said so" attitude. "Why is the Catholic church infallible?" "Because it says its infallible." How do you buy into this?
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20). This is not me calling you false or heretics or having a slapping fetish, this is the Bible saying it is the authority. "Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:27-31). Where are the words of Moses and the prophets? Not in your traditions. What makes you think when Paul uses "tradition" he is referring to something a council or pope writes up and passes on? Or even "apostolic" traditions. He refers to the traditions of the Bible.
In a sense, Jesus doesn't have to offer us His mercy. However, since He came to die to take away our sins, and made this promise, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37), He has obligated Himself.

C2: Joe, we've explained more than once why Catholic teaching is infallible. Christ Himself said so. Refer back to our relevant comments. Christ did come to offer us His mercy. He came not to take away our sins, but to offer to the Father an acceptable sacrifice for us so that we can properly repent of our sins and turn back to Him. Faith alone does not save us, for as I've said more than once in other ways, faith by itself is no better than the corruption of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. Faith didn't save man before Christ came, for all that died in proper relationship with God before Christ were dead until His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. These people had great faith, but they refused to act upon it. They were full of corruption, as are all who believe in faith alone as the method of salvation. Christ is God; He has no obligation to us at all. All Council teaching is consistent with the Bible, as it is Catholic teaching. You couldn’t possibly truthfully call me a heretic, for a heretic doesn’t have Truth with him, and as I’ve been trying my best to relate Truth to you in sincerity, using what I understand of Catholic teaching, what I say isn’t by any means heresy.

Joe, after I commented yesterday, the Holy Spirit moved me to pity for you and for all like you. As I mentioned yesterday, you’re brainwashed. All fundamental Protestants are brainwashed. The practice of brainwashing starts when the child is young, forcing him to memorize individual Bible verses without learning the context of the verses and how they relate to the Old Testament. Many such Protestants refuse to acknowledge the Old Testament at all, against Christ’s word that He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5.17). The New Testament is entirely related to the Old Testament, and those who deny this are missing out on a tremendous amount of salvation history. Granted, you’ve used a few verses from the Old Testament, so I in no way am suggesting that this is in your belief system. Nonetheless, you’re a victim of brainwashing. The above method of brainwashing perpetuates ad infinitum, as it is the only way that fundamental Protestantism can subsist. It’s oppression against the young. In Catholicism, though, we teach our children about the faith, Church teaching to the extent that they can understand (without brainwashing), and as they grow older and can make deliberate choices to learn more about the faith, they do so and learn more about it. People convert to the Catholic faith by means of the free will that God gave man, not by oppression or brainwashing, like fundamental Protestantism does. We want our children willfully to choose a relationship with Christ, not impose a relationship with Him upon them. Your comments clearly show that your Biblical and theological understanding has likely come by means of this oppression and brainwashing, as your comments reflect that same oppression. Lying, heresy, and imposing what appears to be guilt trips fall into such brainwashing and oppression, as does claiming things against those who don’t agree with fundamental Protestantism (falsely, might I add, too) that the fundamental Protestant himself has does (e.g. hypocrisy, which I’ve implicitly mentioned that you’ve practiced). I sincerely pity you, Joe, for the sake of your own salvation. I pity those who may have been a victim alongside you as well as any possible victims at your own hands. I prayed for you yesterday because of this. I asked the Blessed Mother to intercede for the sake of your own salvation. I prayed for your conversion. Because God gave man free will, your conversion is in your hands, not mine. If you refuse to convert, that’s your own business, but I know that my prayers will not go unanswered, for as long as I pray with sincerity, the Lord will return my prayers to me with blessings, even if you do refuse to convert, but I will continue to pray for you.

I realize that this comment has been long, as I’ve mentioned that I don’t necessarily read your long posts, but I still chose to make it because I’m truly concerned for your spiritual safety.

Me: There have been many people over time that Catholics have forced to follow their sacraments. Recall the history of most of Latin America. Contrary to that, faith cannot be forced on anyone; it is a heart issue, not an actions issue. You call me brainwashed, yet I have taken the time to examine my beliefs as I was raised, as I know that chances are low of being raised in the "correct" faith. Have you done the same? Catholics are discouraged from questioning their beliefs, as I have been told by Catholics. What is there to hide? You pray to Mary for my conversion, but never in the Bible does in mention praying to anyone but God in Jesus' name. You use the term "Protestant" and you don't know what it means. You use it out of bitterness that people dissented from your "infallible" church (which also is never mentioned in the Bible), but just because groups broke off of the Catholic church doesn't mean they teach correct doctrine. Some preach a works salvation, some add baptism to it, some teach one can lose their salvation, while some teach the Biblical truths of salvation through faith and eternal security. Now if you would like to explain to me EXACTLY how you think you are going to make it to Heaven, not in the abstract, I'd be sincerely interested in hearing it.

Me: http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/reading/ortho_cath.html And if you'd like to know some differences between the Orthodox and Catholic church...Among them is that the Orthodox church denies "immaculate conception".

C3: Protestants who reject the Catholic Bible are following a Jewish council that rejected Christ and the Revelation of the New Testament. The Jewish canon was decided in 90 AD where the deutrocanonical (Apocrypha) books were left out of their canon because they were trying to take out the references to Jesus as the Messiah. Christ even makes references to the deutrocanonical such as in Matt. 7:16– 20 Christ is referencing Sirach 27:4 – 7.

“ Your talk shows your faults; it is like a sieve that separates out the rubbish. The way you think shows your character just as surely as a kiln shows any flaws in the pottery being fired. You can tell how well a tree has been cared for by the fruit it bears, and you can tell a person's feelings by the way he expresses himself. Never praise anyone before you hear him talk; that is the real test.” Sirach 27:4 – 7

“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.“ Matt. 7:16 – 20

I think Christ who is the Word made flesh would probably know the Word of God backwards and forwards.

Joe, everyone here knows the Orthodox have differences from the Catholics otherwise we would be united at this time. Some of these claimed differences by the Orthodox mentioned in your article are inaccurate and do not reflect what Roman Catholics actually teach, practice, and believe as you would see by reading the Catechism. These differences do not change historical fact that until 1054, the Catholics and the Orthodox were all one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. As stated earlier the Catholic Church is not just Roman Catholic, as the Eastern Catholics such as the Melekite Catholics whom are very much like the Orthodox in spiritual and theology expression. I see a lot more similarities than differences between Catholics, particularly the Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox as I have already pointed out at least once before.

Here is a great website for learning some basics about the Eastern Catholic Traditions: http://www.east2west.org/doctrine.htm But we all know you’re just going to keep on twisting history to fit your agenda. Overall this discussion has become an endless loop because you insist on attempting to rehash things we have already discussed. Frankly, it’s an annoying waste of time.

Any proof we provide that contradicts what you believe, no matter how many sources written by well respected individuals in the field of Theology and Theological Studies disagree with you; will never be enough and you ignore or discredit them all as if garbage because they couldn’t possibly be true. You have failed to provide proof in many cases and what little proof you do provide is seriously lacking in credibility or you don’t provide enough information to even find the source.

You have presented your view of Christianity as a Sola Scriptura view because you reject the tradition of the Apostles. Sola Scriptura meaning by Scripture alone is the doctrine that the Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian and the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. This is how you have represented your faith thus far.

Also, since when are we not allowed to question our faith? I have never been discouraged to question because without questioning you simply cannot grow and learn. Not saying it doesn’t happen, I am sure it sometimes does because an educator doesn’t know the answer themselves however it is not Catholic teaching to discourage the faithful from questions.

There is plenty more I could argue and defend but there is no point. It is painfully obvious that you don’t know what you are talking about and are unwilling to learn actual history so I am done wasting my time here, its just not worth it to continue. Never joined this conversation to try and convert you to Catholicism but I hoped you would at least want to know what we actually believe not the myths and lies you’ve been taught.

C1: " Now if you would like to explain to me EXACTLY how you think you are going to make it to Heaven..."
Oh look, he dropped that cliche Protestant "Catholics are going to Hell" trope! Sometimes I think Protestant anti-Catholic bigotry and denial of history is theologically worse than even atheism.

C2: Joe, the Catholic Church does not force people to receive the sacraments. From what do you get the idea that She does? Your own words have contradicted themselves. Earlier you spoke of “faith alone,” but after I repeatedly mentioned St. James’ famous words, you recanted “faith alone.” I’ve examined my sinful ways, and that’s why I’ve striven more strongly toward the Catholic faith. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach to impose Her teachings upon anyone. You continually speak of “Catholics” in their practice but refuse to acknowledge Catholic teaching. Not all Catholics follow the Church’s teachings. I don’t “pray to” the Blessed Mother. I ask for her intercession. There’s a huge difference. Many Protestants don’t understand that. I do know what “Protestant” means, Joe. I’ve given nothing to indicate otherwise. I have no bitterness. I pray out of fraternal concern for you, Joe. I never said that the Catholic Church is infallible. Rather, Her teaching is infallible. That seems to be a concept that Protestants have trouble grasping. The concept is in the Bible, and I’ve mentioned its roots more than once. Refer to my appropriate comments. I’ll be entering the Kingdom of Heaven through repentance for my sins, thereby being receptive to Christ’s mercy, and after due time in Purgatory. Repentance will take the form of charity in the form of corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. Corporal acts of mercy take many forms, among them being helping the poor and praying for others, including their intentions.
Also, Joe, bigoted and condescending comments are no effective way to try to persuade another person to your belief or position. It’s no different than bullying.
[C1], I in no means like to correct you on your profile page, but sarcasm isn’t to best. I think that Joe needs a lot of prayers.

Pacifist #1: Pardon me.......but wouldn't it be easier to agree to disagree......and move on? Arguing over religious beliefs isn't going go anywhere except frustration for both parties

Me: I must have missed when I recanted faith alone. I said faith should be backed up with works. But works are not added to faith, they are a result of it.
The Catholic church, to my knowledge, does not force its views on anyone today, but has repeatedly over time. Most conquistadors came under the facade of spreading their religion (Catholicism) to those they conquered.
Praying for the intercession of the dead- also not in the Bible.
The article I gave was by the Orthodox church. I believe they would know their own beliefs, and if they really are that similar to you, would know yours. The idea behind looking at them compared to you, and even compared to something like Traditionalist Catholic teaching, is that all of you claim to be following the apostles' traditions, and all claim to be the true g church as Christ set it up. Yet there are differences, leading us to the conclusion that at least all but one of you has to be wrong. And you can't prove why your traditions are right and theirs are wrong, or why you are truly the real church. Hence I reject the claim that traditions are something to be relied upon. God gives no more revelations to man (see appropriate comment), hence extra-biblical teaching is not infallible. You mention a verse that sounds a little similar to another passage and say Jesus quoted from it. This offers no real proof to someone who isn't seeking to justify claims.
You want to try and do things through your church to earn God's mercy. God tells us: "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7). Why isn't it our righteousness? "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6). Later in the chapter they call upon God to remove their iniquity.
Continue your ad hominem attacks, I don't care. There is no weight of good deeds that can outweigh your sin. You have to trust God alone and give up relying on yourselves. God designed it that way so that He would receive all the glory.

C2: Joe, at one time you said that you didn't disagree with "Faith without works is dead." That's the same as disagreeing with "faith alone." Regardless of how one believes in the relationship between faith and works, there's no way to believe that "faith without works is dead" without disbelieving in "faith alone." The Catholic Church has not forced Her teaching on anyone. The conquistadors' actions were not Church teaching. Take a read of this article, Joe. It explains the roots of praying for the intercession of the saints and angels.
Gaudium Et Spes also talks about the intercessory power of the Blessed Mother. It’s in the last chapter.
All but one Christian religion is wrong in some way. Those that aren’t in communion with the Catholic Church don’t follow the full Truth in Christ. We’ve been showing you time and again, Joe, why the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ started. I’ve talked about the references to Tradition in the Bible, mentioning St. Paul’s praise of Tradition. Christ constantly reveals Himself to us in some way. He’s not some distant God that leaves His creation alone because He doesn’t care about it. Particularly, He reveals Himself through Catholic teaching. Catholic teaching is infallible for the reason that I mentioned earlier.
I never said anything about “earning” mercy. Christ gives us His mercy if we’re repentant. Refer to my previous explanation of the examples of repentance. I haven’t studied this particular verse, but similar verses by St. Paul in his usage of the word “works” refer to the 601 “laws” that the Pharisees and Sadducees instituted, as I’ve mentioned before. It in no way condemns as pointless charity. I haven’t attacked you, Joe, and you know full well. You’ve been the one attacking the Catholic Church. My sin is elsewhere, Joe, not in this thread, as far as I know, and neither Joey nor Michelle has corrected me, so I have no reason to believe that I have sinned in this thread. If I were you, though, I’d pull the plank out of my eye before suggesting that a splinter is in a Catholic’s eye. We cannot receive Christ’s mercy without first showing repentance for our sins, and that cannot come with “faith alone.”
I’ll continue asking the Blessed Mother to pray that Christ forgive you for your sins in this thread against Him, His Church, Joey, Michelle, and me, as the Blessed Mother has Christ’s ear.

Me: God reveals Himself to us in different ways, yes. Through the Catholic church, no. It is prideful and exclusive to claim that yours is the only way to trust in Christ, especially when you lack in evidence and have a shady past you are dancing around or outright denying. To say that salvation through faith alone, and that faith not leading to works shows it dead, is contradictory, shows that one accepts what they have been told, starting with your church's teaching is infallible and is the true church. You are leaning on it more than the God you claim created it, and it is all for nothing. Any idolatry of anything other than God is an abomination, and it seems the Catholic church is an is an idol for many, as is the pope and a number of "saints". Examine your heart. Christ has God's ear, nowhere, apart from human teaching, does it claim that Mary has Christ's ear or that you can earn his mercy by following your church's teachings, which is what you are doing. And since all humans are inherently sinful, our teaching, apart from the only infallible thing given to us, God's Word, is wrong. We're simply going in circles now. I will pray as I have been for God to prick your hearts and take you from religion to true faith in His Son. I won't be saying "I told you so" on Judgment Day, but I don't want to have the opportunity to. I've done what I can to present to you the gospel as clearly as possible. You are now accountable, but the choice is yours.

[After this an Orthodox parishioner jumped into the conversation via invite from one a Catholic friend. He had nothing really new to add, but took a very long time doing it. He made sure to “spread the truth in LOVE” by repeatedly stating claims I had never made and calling me “proud and arrogant and bigoted, and most of all, vastly uneducated and ignorant”. He also made the error (among many) of considering “Protestantism” all one religion, and equally clinging to tradition, though admittedly different traditions, playing right into my argument. As his comments do not pertain to this discussion on Catholicism, I did not include them; and as I said before, they are extensive and grammatically painful. When I reiterated that I was through with the conversation and that extra-biblical tradition means nothing, I was accused of not being able to answer him. I was also told, in the third person, that I am young (coming from a peer) and “he’ll probably be Orthodox or Roman Catholic in a few year.” Please, do not hold your breath.

C2 had the last words from the three for me: Joe, Truth is never prideful. The simple fact, as Christ spoke, is that the Catholic Church is the Church that He started, and thus when She teaches, She does so infallibly. I’ve presented the evidence to this end already. “Faith alone” and “faith without works is dead” are contradictory. That’s logic, Joe, aside from Truth. I haven’t spoken of idolatry whatsoever. The Catholic Church isn’t an idol; She’s the Church that Christ started. The Blessed Mother does have Christ’s ear. I’ve experience it myself. As I’ve said before, I’ve never said anything about “earning” Christ’s mercy. Refer to the appropriate comments that I’ve made. Since the Holy Spirit speaks through the teaching of the Catholic Church, Her teaching is infallible. You won’t be saying “I told you so,” on Judgment Day, because what you’ve been saying simply is heresy. I won’t be saying “I told you so,” either because I’ll still be asking the Blessed Mother to pray for the forgiveness of your sins in this thread and for your conversion to the Catholic faith. You, likewise, Joe, are accountable to repent of your sins in this thread and to convert to the Catholic faith.
Andrew, I fear that Joe has departed from this thread because, like the atheists and other anti-Catholics, he has realized that he can’t “win” this discussion. You, having much more knowledge certainly than I, have presented a knowledge that Joe can’t counter-argue, and in his sinful pride, he would rather depart in washing his hands of this discussion than try to learn and to understand the Truth of Christ. I deeply fear for his judgment by Christ and will continue to pray for him.

All of this with no proof as to why the Catholic church is Christ’s church, and why its teaching is infallible. He is correct one on point: I can’t “win” the discussion. It takes an infallible God to break hearts hardened by years of teaching by false religion.