Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ray Comfort - Just another anti-Catholic.

I used to have a pretty good opinion of Ray Comfort. I did not agree with everything he said, but I thought he was a genuine man of God. Today, my opinion changed. What happened? I found his blog. And after doing a search on the word "catholic" I discovered he has absoulutely nothing good to say, and even tells some real whoppers about the Catholic church. Let's run them down, shall we?

His first one is from today, nothing major except his complete inability to understand how intelligent people can believe in both evolution and creation and see them as completely compatable.

His next post is a critique of the movie "Religuous" where he lumps Catholicism as a "manmade religion".

He then goes on to criticize the opinions of Athiests, with his "Athiest Starter Kit" he states number 9. Blame Christianity for the atrocities of the Roman Catholic church--when it tortured Christians through the Spanish Inquisition, imprisoned Galileo for his beliefs, or when it murdered Moslems in the Crusades.
The implication here, of course, is that everything evil done in the name of Christ, was ONLY done by the Catholic Church. Protestants are completely innocent of all of this and lead perfect exemplary lives. (Never mind that the Spanish Inquisition had nothing to do with Protestantism, many fundamentalists believe that Galileo was wrong, and Muslims have been killed by Protestants as well) Ray, if you are going to embrace the label "Protestant" you inherit all the baggage that goes with it.

The inquisition and Galelieo appears to be near-obsessions with Ray, he constantly brings them up to prove Catholics aren't Christian. But there were Protestant Inquisitions too Ray, and many fundamentalists believe Galileo is wrong.

Next, he writes an article calling Nostradamus a liar and a thief, and then hypocritically lies about the Catholic Church. He states that Nostradamus lifted his "predictions" from Scripture which he "read in secret". Why did he need to read it in secret? Because Ray claims that: "because in those days the Roman Catholic church forbade the reading of the Scriptures." Now, this is just a lie, there is no other explination for it. Because, if anyone does even a little research, they would see that at no time in its history has the Catholic Church forbid the reading of the Scriptures. They were then, as they are now, read in the churches every day. By Nostradamus' time there were any number of churches or libraries where an educated man like Nostradamus could read the scriptures.

He then creates and laments a percieved "double standard" between the way the FLDS child abuse was handled and the "sex scandal" was handled. He accuses the Pope of paying people off. Well Ray, the two cases were not remotely similiar, heres why. First, the FLDS abuse was occuring NOW, most of the abuse in the church happened 20 or more years ago. Yes, no Bishops were charged, but some did resign and others lost thier position (Cardinal Law). Of course no mention is made of the thousands of cases of abuse in Fundamentalist churches, but Ray needs to try to show that ONLY Catholics do these horrible things, all the better to scare people away from the Catholic Church.
In that same article he smugly asserts that Catholicsm is not Christian because its "official doctrine of justification by works flies in the face of the Bible" Never mind it is not the official doctrine of the Church that our justification is by works. The official doctrine of the Church is that we are justified by the Grace of Christ.

In his post "at the checkout" he repeats a common lie. That if you ask a Catholic if they are a Christian they will respond "No, I'm Catholic". He repeats this lie in "Our inventions", now, I'm Catholic, and if someone asked me if I am a Christian, my response would be "yes". Every Catholic I know would give this same answer, we KNOW we are Christians, it is fundamentalists like Ray who try to claim we are not. Here is a paragraph from this article:
Nator . . . please study your history. It was the Roman Catholic church (not the Christian Church) that arrested Galileo. I have spoken to hundreds of Roman Catholics, and when you ask them “Are you a Christian?” most say, “No. I’m a Roman Catholic.” They know the difference. One is steeped in tradition, and the other adheres to the Bible. And the Catholic church didn’t get their information “from the Bible” (it was a banned Book).
First error, Catholic is Christian, I am a Catholic Ray, and I am telling you that there is no difference between Catholic and Christian. Catholicism is steeped in Tradition AND it adheres to the Bible. And, the Catholic Church has never banned the Bible, it celebrates it. He also includes a ridiculous cartoon showing a Bishop wearing a "Dagon mitre", this reveals alot about where he gets his info about the RCC, and it is not from Catholic sources.

He later gives his definition of a "Protestant" which is: That means he protests that the Roman Catholic church imprisoned Galileo (even though he admits in another post that Galileo was actually in a spacious apartment during his trial and served his sentence in a Villa in Florence, some imprisionment). He protests that they killed innocent Christians in the Spanish Inquisition. (few if any Protestants were brought before the inquisition in Spain) He protests that they embarked on the Crusades that slaughtered multitudes in the name of God. (what of the "witch trials" that raged across protestant Europe? What about Cromwells slaughter of Catholic women and children in Ireland?)

Does Comfort also embrace the sins of Protestantism just as he expects Catholics to accept the blame for past Catholic sins? Of course to listen to Ray, you would never know Protestants sinned at all.

Next comes a post directed at Catholics, and the ignorance flows, he states:
Joel, that’s a good question (I don't know if you're an atheist. Many people who are now high profile atheists are ex-Catholics--see my book Hollywood Be Thy Name for details). The Second of the Ten Commandments forbids paying homage (bowing down) to any graven image of any likeness, anywhere. The Roman Catholic church got around it by removing the Second Commandment and splitting the last one into two Commandments, to make up the ten. It sounds hard to believe, so check it out for yourself on the Vatican web site:
First, there are quite a few high-profile athiests who were Protestants as well, so that means nothing. Next, he talks of the 2nd commandment as if it is specifically enumerated in the Bible, it isn't. As a matter of fact, there are three different divisions of the 10 commandments in use today. Also, he tries to make his point by linking to the Vatican website and going "see!". Nope Ray, first of all, look at the very Catechism you linked to, you would see that Catholics put that with the first commandment where it belongs, and we do not break up the last commandment. We refuse to equate a mans wife with his chattle.

Well, that is enough, I hope Ray repents of his deceptions. Things like this are the rotten fruit of OSAS. Ray himself admits that "If someone doesn’t fear God, they will lie to you (if they think that they can get away with it)" Well, obviously Ray, you thought you could get away with it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Woman rides the beast - Part II

This section is interesting because it has absolutely no outside references (other than the Scriptures) AT ALL. Which means it is all Mr. Hunts interpretation or opinion.

Who Is the Whore?

The first thing we are told about the woman is that she is a "whore" (Revelation 17:1), that earthly kings "have committed fornication" with her (verse 2), and that "all the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication" (verse 3). Why would a city be called a whore and be accused of having committed fornication with kings? Such an indictment would never be made of London or Moscow or Paris-or any other ordinary city. It wouldn't make sense.

This is obviously his thesis statement, let's see where he goes with this.

Fornication and adultery are used in the Bible in both the physical and the spiritual sense. Of Jerusalem God said, "How is the faithful city become a harlot!" (Isaiah 1:21). Israel, whom God had set apart from all other peoples to be holy for His purposes, had entered into unholy, adulterous alliances with the idol-worshiping nations about her. She had "committed adultery with stones and with stocks [idols]" (Jeremiah 3:9); "and with their idols have they committed adultery" (Ezekiel 23:37). The entire chapter of Ezekiel 16 explains lsrael's spiritual adultery in detail, both with heathen nations and with their false gods, as do many other passages.

Ok, so far so good.

There is no way that a city could engage in literal, fleshly fornication. Thus we can only conclude that John, like the prophets in the Old Testament, is using the term in its spiritual sense. The city, therefore, must claim a spiritual relationship with God. Otherwise such an allegation would be meaningless.

Ok, a city must claim a spiritual relationship with God, ok.

Though it is built on seven hills, there would be no reason to accuse Rio de Janeiro of spiritual fornication. It makes no claim of having a special relationship with God. And though Jerusalem has that relationship, it cannot be the woman riding on the beast, for it is not built on seven hills. Nor does it meet the other criteria by which this woman is to be identified.

And here's the build-up....

Against only one other city in history could a charge of fornication be leveled. That city is Rome, and more specifically Vatican City. She claims to have been the worldwide headquarters of Christianity since its beginning and maintains that claim to this day. Her pope enthroned in Rome claims to be the exclusive representative of God, the vicar of Christ. Rome is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, and in that too she is unique.

Correct (almost) on Rome, wrong on Vatican City. Two different cities. They cannot be used interchangeably. Yes, Vatican City is where the Pope resides. The Vatican is located inside the City of Rome (now, but not in Johns time). Rome itself is NOT the headquarters of the RCC, just like the City of New York is NOT the UN.

Numerous churches, of course, are headquartered in cities, but only one city is the headquarters of a church. The Mormon Church, for example, is headquartered in Salt Lake City, but there is much more to Salt Lake City than the Mormon Church. Not so with Vatican City. It is the heartbeat of the Roman Catholic Church and nothing else. She is a spiritual entity that could very well be accused of spiritual fornication if she did not remain true to Christ.

And, there is much more to Rome than the Vatican. Literally thousands of different companies are based there and operate there, it is the seat of the Italian Government as well. The fact is, by itself, the Vatican City, meets some, but not all of your critera, specifically it only sits on ONE hill, not seven.

Now, Imperial Rome which was in existence at the time John wrote, fits all of Mr. Hunts criteria exactly. Each hill had a significance in the Government. Imperial Rome had committed massive fornication with the then Kings of the Earth (see Antony and Cleopatra) and Ruling was Romes sole function.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Back to Work!

Sorry for the delays. Since my last post, I have lost my job, gone through the holidays, got a new job and moved 200 miles. Whew!

Right now I am working on a review of one chapter from Dave Hunt's book, "A Woman Rides the Beast" I have read this book and I am tired of it being trotted out as the end-all be-all of books about Catholicism. I am taking it one section at a time, so it is going to be a slow process.

Here is my first installment, I highlighted his sources: Catholic sources are in red, and non-catholic or anti-catholic sources are in green. Hope you enjoy:

A City on Seven Hills

A woman rides the beast, and that woman is a city built on seven hills that reigns over the kings of the earth! Was ever in all of history such a statement made? John immediately equates the readers' acceptance of this revelation with "wisdom." We dare not pass over such a disclosure casually. It merits our careful and prayerful attention.

Yes, it does, and our open-minded interpretation, but does Mr. Hunt do that?

Here is no mystical or allegorical language but an unambiguous statement in plain words: "The woman ... is that great city." There is no justification for seeking some other hidden meaning. Yet books have been written and sermons preached insisting that "Mystery Babylon" is the United States. That is clearly not the case, for the United States is a country, not a city. One might justifiably refer to the United States as Sodom, considering the honor now given to homosexuals, but it is definitely not the Babylon that John sees in this vision. The woman is a city.

Furthermore, she is a city built on seven hills. That specification eliminates ancient Babylon. Only one city has for more than 2000 years been known as the city on seven hills. That city is Rome. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: "It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined."(The Catholic Encyclopedia (Thomas Nelson, 1976), s.v. "Rome.")

That is correct. But one must wonder why Mr. Hunt felt the need to go to the Catholic Encyclopedia to cite that fact. No reason, any number of modern and ancient books refer to Rome as the "City on seven hills". But he goes to a Catholic source, presumibly to show that even Catholics acknowledge that it is called that. Heck, the Catholic Encyclopedia even acknowledges that Austin is the Capitol of Texas, does that mean that it is part of some grand conspiracy? No, it just means that Austin is the Capitol of Texas.

There are, of course, other cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, that were also built on seven hills. Therefore, John provides at least seven more characteristics to limit the identification to Rome alone. We will examine each one in detail in subsequent chapters. However, as a preview of where we are going, we will list them now and discuss each one briefly. As we shall see, there is only one city on the earth which, in both historical and contemporary perspectives, passes every test John gives, including its identification as Mystery Babylon. That city is Rome, and more specifically, Vatican City.

Two completely different places, the Vatican does not sit on one of the seven hills of Rome, it actually sits on the opposite side of the Tiber from the ancient city. Mr. Hunt does seem to constantly confuse Rome with the Vatican, not realizing that is like constantly confusing New York with the UN Building.

Even Catholic apologist Karl Keating admits that Rome has long been known as Babylon. Keating claims that Peter's statement "The church here in Babylon ... sends you her greeting" (from I Peter 5:13) proves that Peter was writing from Rome. He explains further:

"Babylon is a code word for Rome. It is used that way six times in the last book of the Bible [four of the six are in chapters 17 and 18 and in extrabiblical works such as Sibylling Oracles (5, 159f.), the Apocalypse of Baruch (ii, 1), and 4 Esdras (3:1).
Eusebius Pamphilius, writing about 303, noted that "it is said that Peter's first epistle... was composed at Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city figuratively as Babylon."(Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" (Ignatius Press, 1988), p. 200.)
Of course quite a few fundamentalists would dispute Mr. Hunts acceptance of this "code word" for Imperial Rome, being "Babylon" Many loudly proclaim that it is NOT a word for Rome but that Peter was literally in Babylon WA Christwell even states "There is no evidence that Rome was ever called "Babylon" until after the Book of the Revelation was written. The Revelation was written about 95 A.D., many years after the death of Simon Peter. If I Peter 5:13 refers to Rome, then Simon Peter did not write the letter and we have a forgery in the Bible. " So which is it? Clearly Babylon is a code word for Imperial Rome, which was in existence at the time of John and Peter, and that obviously the early church refered to it as Babylon, the city that persecuted the Jews, and now the city of Rome was persecuting the Christians, so the correlarry makes sense.

As for "Mystery," that name imprinted on the woman's forehead is the perfect designation for Vatican City. Mystery is at the very heart of Roman Catholicism, from the words "Mysterium fide" pronounced at the alleged transformation of the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ to the enigmatic apparitions of Mary around the world. Every sacrament, from baptism to extreme unction, manifests the mysterious power which the faithful must believe the priests wield, but for which there is no visible evidence. Rome's new Catechism explains that liturgy "aims to initiate souls into the mystery of Christ (It is 'mystagogy.')" and that all of the Church's liturgy is "mystery."(Catechism of the Catholic Church (The Wanderer Press, 1994), p. 279, para. 1075.)

Here he shows his ignorance of Catholicism (again). He presumes to state that "powers" come from the Priests. The "power" is from the Holy Spirit, the Priest is merely the vessel. The water may come out of the faucet, but the faucet does not manifest the water. Now, as for his catechism reference:
1075 Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ ( It is "mystagogy." ) by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the "sacraments" to the "mysteries." Such catechesis is to be presented by local and regional catechisms. This Catechism, which aims to serve the whole Church in all the diversity of her rites and cultures,(Cf. SC 3-4.) will present what is fundamental and common to the whole Church in the liturgy as mystery and as celebration (Section One), and then the seven sacraments and the sacramentals (Section Two).

Christ is a mystery, how can he be 100% man and 100% God? How could he raise himself from the dead? How can simple bread and wine become his true presence? Hunt obviously demands phyisical proof for his miracles. But as Christ said to St. Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen, yet still believe"