Apologetics for the Masses - #384

Bible Christian Society

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General Comments

     The Balaam's Ride television program is rockin' and rollin' on HTV10 in Houma, Louisiana.  You can watch it from anywhere, though, by downloading the HTV10 app on your smart phone or smart TV, or by going to the HTV10 website: www.htv10.tv, then clicking on the "Religion" page, and you'll find all the episodes archived there. 

     I just recorded 4 episodes the other day, to be aired in December.  The episode airing this week is on the Marian dogmas.  Next week is all about Sola Fide.  If you want to ask a question to be answered on the show you can call one in: 833-632-4253 (833-63BIBLE) - just give your first name and where you're from and then ask the question - or you can email me: john@biblechristiansociety.com (put "Balaam's Ride" in the subject line).

     All questions, especially the phoned-in ones, are greatly appreciated!



     This week I am reaching back into my email inbox and pulling out a few questions from the last several years.  I have a lot of people send me questions they would like answered, but, unfortunately, I simply don't have the time to answer them all, so they just get backlogged in my inbox and the backlog grows with more questions every week.  I have several hundreds, possibly even into the thousands, in the backlog right now.  So, I'm going to pull out 3 or 4 of them and answer them here in the newsletter. 

     And my apologies to all of you who send in questions that go unanswered, but since I seem to always be working 3 or 4 jobs, there just aren't enough hours in the day to be able to answer all the ones you send in.  If I could ever find that $50,000 - $100,000/year donor (wouldn't that be nice!), I could retire from all of the other jobs and just do the Bible Christian Society full-time.  Maybe one day... 



     With respect to the question in your newsletter that you asked the Protestant pastor: "Where in the Bible does it say that public revelation ended with the death of the last apostle?" you are not implying that public revelation did not end, are you?  Because my impression is that it did, based on paragraph 73 (et al) of the CCC, which states: 
     "God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant for ever. The Son is his Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him."
     So, am I understanding that paragraph correctly (public revelation DID end with Jesus), and likewise, that I assume you are implying that it did not with your question? Your confirmation/clarification would be much appreciated, because this is a very important issue.
Brick, NJ
My Answer

     Brandon, the reason I asked that question of the Protestant minister is because he believes all things worthy of belief as a Christian are found in the Bible.  He further believes that the Catholic belief in Sacred Tradition runs contrary to the Bible.  He goes by the Bible and the Bible alone...or so he believes.

     So, with that question, I was merely showing him that he actually does not go by the Bible alone because he believes, as do Catholics, that public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle (St. John).  Yet, nowhere does the Bible say, "Public revelation ends with the death of the last Apostle." 

     Now, he will respond by saying that Rev 22:18 does indeed tell us we are not to add to the Bible - "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book..."  "See," he'll say, "we are not to add to the words of the Bible."  Just one small problem, that verse is not talking about the Bible as a whole, it is talking about the Book of Revelation. 

     We know that first because it mentions the "plagues" described in "this book".  Revelation is very specific about plagues.  Three plagues are mentioned in Revelation 9, then the final 7 plagues are mentioned beginning in Revelation 15.  These are the plagues of "this book".  So, that's the first point.

     The 2nd point is that if the Protestant interpretation of Rev 22:18 is correct, and that language means no more books can be added to the Bible, then you've got a problem.  That's because in Deuteronomy 4:2 it says, " You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."  That's essentially the same language as found in Rev 22.  Yet, they added a whole bunch more books to the Word of God.  So, if it means add nothing more to the Word of God in Rev 22:18, then it must mean add nothing more to the Word of God in Deut 4:2.  In which case you need to start throwing out some books...lots of books. 

     The third point is that when John mentions adding to "this book," this "book" would have actually been referring to a scroll.  A scroll which would have contained the Book of Revelation and the Book of Revelation alone.  The Bible was not canonized and put together as a bound book as we now have it for a few hundred years after Revelation was written. 

     So, no, I was not implying that public revelation has not ended.  It has ended, with the death of the last Apostle.  I was implying that the minister does indeed believe in traditions...traditions that are not in the Bible...whether he wants to admit it or not. 

I'm in a discussion with a very learned Calvinist and I'm not sure how to handle one of his arguments.  Here is what I'm talking about - this is a quote from him:
     "In fact, I should be asking you if you think I'm a Christian, Rob! I have been studying it, and I violate every single Canon of the Council of Trent. By our own in-person conversations with others, I know that you include traditons such as the Canons of Trent as equal with the Scriptures. So by the determination of the Council of trent, I am indeed anathema or cursed unto Hell.  So, I ask you Rob: Am I a Christian?"

     How should I respond?


Boise, ID


My Answer

     Essentially, the general response to such a statement should be: "If you have been properly baptized, then you are a Christian no matter what."  Baptism puts an indelible mark on a person's soul that cannot be removed, regardless of how much one may sin and through that sin be then separated from the Body of Christ. There are Christians in Hell.  Christians who, through mortal sin, have separated themselves from the Body of Christ and have earned for themselves a place in the eternal fiery furnace.  They still have the mark of their baptism as Christians on their souls and they are, undoubtedly, singled out for special punishment by the demons. 

     So, you can say to him, again, "Yes, if you have been baptized, you are a Christian; however, through your denial of certain Catholic doctrines and dogmas, you may have separated yourself from the Body of Christ...the Church.  But, it is not my place to judge the state of your soul."

     You could also add that he seriously misunderstands the "anathemas" of the Council of Trent.  They are not blanket condemnations to Hell of each and every Protestant.  They are a specific type of punishment that at one time was used by the Church in specific circumstances.  In addition, the phrase, "Let them be anathema," that was used a number of times by the Council of Trent, is language that was also used to point to the infallible nature of a particular pronouncement. 

     For more on that, check out this very good article on the word "anathema" by Jimmy Akin: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/anathema



     My wife & I have been debating our 16 year-old daughter about homosexuality. Could you please tell me whether the Church believes that homosexuality is defined by someone who merely has sexual thoughts/tendencies toward the same sex...or instead the Church believes it is defined by someone who consummates their thoughts by performing an actual physical act with someone of the same gender?



My Answer

     Here are two statements from the Church regarding homosexuality:

1) "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. (CCC #2357)

2) "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homoseuxal tendencies is not negligible."  (CCC #2358)

     So, to apply those statements to your questions, I would say that, first of all, the Church doesn't necessarily have a doctrinal or dogmatic definition of the word.  Secondly, Jesus makes it very clear to us that thoughts have, essentially, the same consequences as actions - from a spiritual point of view.  Looking at a woman with lust in your heart makes you guilty of adultery, as the Bible tells us in Matthew 5, even if you do not follow through with actual physical relations with that woman. Hating your brother in your heart makes you guilty of violating the Commandment: "Thou shalt not kill," even if you never lift a finger to physically harm your brother.  So, there would be little distinction, if any, for purposes of a definition, between sexual thoughts/tendencies and the actual actions.  That is true whether your thoughts/tendencies/actions are heterosexual or homosexual in nature. 

     However, as noted above in paragraph 2358 of the Catechism, to be truly considered "homosexual," it seems the same-sex attraction (SSA) would need be "deep-seated," as opposed to temporary or occasional.



In one of your newsletters you stated:

"The Church teaches us that the Sacrament of Baptism is for the living, not for the dead, because the Church teaches that the state of your soul at the moment of your death, is the state of your soul for all of eternity (either in a state of grace and headed to Heaven, or not in a state of grace and headed to Hell).  So, if one’s eternal destiny is set at the moment of their death, then baptism of the dead is completely pointless. The Church teaches that when you die, you immediately face your particular judgment (Heb 9:27).  So, again, if you are judged at the moment of your death, how could baptism of the dead be of any use to you after you’ve already been judged?" 

I'm curious how this is reconciled with the teaching on purgatory?  I thought that purgatory did, in fact, change that state of the soul after death; so what you've stated above confuses me.

Could you please help clear this up?

Thank you,



My Answer

     When you die, your soul is in one of two states - a state of grace, or a state of mortal sin.  If it is in a state of mortal sin, you will spend eternity in Hell.  If it is in a state of grace, you will spend eternity in Heaven.  If it is in a state of grace, though, it may not be sufficiently free from the stain of sin (venial sin), or you may not have fully requited the temporal punishment due to sins you have committed in your lifetime, to be able to go straight to Heaven upon dying.  You may need to spend time in Purgatory to be sufficiently "purged" of the stain of sin, or of your attraction to sin, or, again, to fully requite the temporal punishment due to sins committed during your time on Earth. 

     But, Purgatory does not change the state of your soul.  Again, you are either in a state of grace or a state of mortal sin when you die.  That does not change.  There is no such thing as a state of purgatory, in terms of your soul.  You could say, I suppose, that Purgatory perfects the state of grace of your soul, but it doesn't change the fact that you are in a state of grace when you enter Purgatory and you are in a state of grace when you leave Purgatory. 


Closing Comments

I hope all of you have a happy and holy Thanksgiving.  Remember, the word "eucharist" means...thanksgiving.  So, you could say that this is a very Catholic holiday!


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Apologetics for the Masses