Was St. Athanasius a Proto-protestant?

by Steve Ray on July 27, 2016

sherlock2.gifSt. Athanasius was the great Defender of the Faith in the 4th century. At great personal cost, he fought for the truth of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ — both human and divine.

There are hints that St. Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria Egypt, might not have been a Baptist after all Laughing.  Join Sherlock Holmes to check out a few clues for yourself here.

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Dear Protestant: Where Did You Get Your Bible?

by Steve Ray on July 26, 2016

From Little Catholic Bubble website
Leila@LittleCatholicBubble

Dear Protestant: Where did you get your New Testament?

At least a couple of times every week, Protestants use New Testament verses to show me where the Catholic Church is wrong about something. I always make them take the necessary step back by asking the following:

“Where did you get your New Testament?”

When they answers that it came from God (as indeed it did), I say, “Yes, but what was the mechanism God used to bring it to you today? How did it come to you, historically and in real time, since it did not drop out of Heaven into your hands, leather-bound?”

Nine times out of ten, they have no answer because they have never considered the question.

The quick answer:

The Catholic Church officially determined and set the canon of of the New Testament approximately 400 years after Christianity began. The canon was declared by the body of Catholic bishops at the Council of Carthage (397 A.D.) and confirmed by Pope Boniface (419 A.D.).  

Greek Manuscript Greek Manuscript

This is historical fact.

Let me flesh out a few more of the details, which very few Christians (Protestant or Catholic) know.

After Christ’s ascension into Heaven, and after the Holy Spirit descended upon the first Christians at Pentecost, the Church thrived and grew exponentially for years before even one line of the New Testament was written. Let that sink in: Baptisms, catechesis, communal worship, conversions of thousands of sinners, Apostles and their companions traveling to other lands and risking imprisonment, torture, and death to evangelize the world with zeal — all went on for over a decade before the New Testament was even begun, much less completed.

Without having written a word, the Church was teaching, preaching, growing, and flourishing for many years.

Eventually, a very few Apostles and their disciples starting writing down some of the Church’s oral Tradition: The Gospels, which recorded the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and also the Epistles (letters) of St. Paul and others, which gave encouragement and instruction to local churches being established throughout the world. The young Church cherished those gospels and letters, and began to incorporate them into her liturgies and masses.

Greek-ManuscriptMore and more written accounts and testimonies materialized as the Church grew, but contrary to today’s popular belief, it was not obvious to the early Christians which of these writings were truly God-inspired.

As brutal persecution of the Church continued in those first centuries, clarity about Christian writings became important. After all, Christians were being martyred routinely, and it was necessary to know which books were worth dying for.

Three categories of writings existed at that time:

1. Those writings that were universally acknowledged/accepted
2. Those writings that were disputed or controverted
3. Those writings that were known to be spurious or false

The first group included divinely-inspired books that we have in our Bible today, such as the four Gospels, the Epistles of St. Paul, and the Acts of the Apostles.

The second group included books that were simultaneously accepted in some Christian regions, rejected in others, and disputed in others. Some of these were indeed divinely-inspired, such the Epistles of James and Jude, one of Peter’s, two of John’s, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation, even as many Christians did not believe they were. Some were books that never made it into the final canon of the New Testament, but which several Christian communities considered inspired (and even used for catechizing and in the liturgy), such as the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, Apostolic Constitutions, the Epistle of St. Clement, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Laodiceans, etc.

The third group consisted of the fakes floating around, spurious works which were never acknowledged or claimed by the Church, such as about 50 false gospels including the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of James, a couple dozen “Acts” (Acts of Pilate, Acts of Paul and Thecla, etc.), and some epistles and apocalypses.

NiceaUnder the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit and after a long series of historical events, a gathering of Catholic bishops went through the process of authoritatively and infallibly setting the books of the Christian canon, using the following criteria: a) The book in question must have been written in apostolic times by an Apostle or one close to an Apostle, and b) The book in question had to be doctrinally sound, completely conforming to Catholic Church teaching.

Several books met those criteria, and so it happened that some four centuries and 20 generations after Christ’s Resurrection, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church authoritatively set the canon of the New Testament, ending all confusion and doubt among the faithful.

Rome had spoken, and the canon was closed.

Which leaves us with some takeaways:

— If the Catholic Church (bishops and pope) had the authority from God to set the New Testament canon, then she cannot be the corrupt and un-Christian “Whore of Babylon” as is claimed by many Protestants.

— If one accepts the canon of the New Testament, one must also accept the authority of the entity who gave it to us, i.e., the Catholic Church.

— If one rejects the authority of the Catholic Church, one should and must also reject the canon of the New Testament that came to us through the authority of the Catholic Church. (It makes sense that Martin Luther, the rebel behind the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, wanted to throw out several of the New Testament books that he despised.)

— The New Testament cannot be “personally interpreted” by each individual Christian, because it was never meant to be taken outside of the Church from which it came.

— The New Testament cannot and does not contradict Catholic doctrine, as it was Catholic doctrine that was used as a criterion for its authenticity and authority.

— The New Testament was discerned and canonized by men who had divine authority to do so — men who believed explicitly in the Mass, the Eucharist, the ministerial priesthood, Confession, Purgatory, veneration of Mary, infant baptism and infused grace, justification by faith and works, the Communion of Saints, etc., etc.

— The Bible came from the Church. In other words, the Bible is Church-based, not the other way around. If you get this paradigm wrong, you get some messed-up theology.

— If a Protestant uses Scripture to attack the Catholic Church, it’s like ripping off a man’s arm to beat him with it. Using a Catholic Book to beat up the Catholic Church makes no sense.

— If you believe that your eternal salvation is based entirely on a Book, isn’t it important to know where the Book came from and who was given authority to proclaim it? Who meticulously copied, preserved, protected, and guarded it with their lives, and who ultimately vouched for the fact that it is indeed the written Word of God?

There is so much more to discuss, and I would love to do so in the comments. Meanwhile, one of the best books on the subject, which I devoured when I came back to the Church, is Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church, by Henry G. Graham.

**Note: I did not include the Old Testament canon in this post, because I wanted to work with something that both Protestants and Catholics agree on, namely, the 27 books of the New Testament.

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Exploring the Streets around Kerala India

by Steve Ray on July 25, 2016

Hope you enjoy this little video I made of our adventures around the Divine Retreat Center as we walked out into the side streets in the town of Muringoor in Kerala India.

It starts with a few minutes of my talk with the lizards on the ceiling over my head. Then we leave the retreat center to see the side streets with lots of faces, flowers, a beautiful church, traffic, fishmongers, and other fun things. Enjoy! I hope it gives you a small sense of being here with us.

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Catholic World Report Interviews Steve Ray about the Footprints of God DVD Series

July 25, 2016

The Joys and Challenges of Filming the Story of Salvation History July 05, 2016 CWR Staff Steve Ray, who has been working for 16 years on the ambitious “Footprints of God” series, discusses his vision, describes the difficulties, and asks for assistance as the project nears the finish line. Author and apologist Stephen Ray (CatholicConvert.com) […]

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Leaving Bangalore back to Kerala

July 24, 2016

India is really amazing country. Different areas are very different than other areas. The southern part is where most of the Christians live and it’s been wonderful in Bangalore which is a modern city where a lot of the high-tech industry centers. We are now on a Jet Airways flight heading back to Kerala for a week […]

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Catholics in Bangalore India, Great Time Shared Together

July 24, 2016

Today we had the morning off in Bangalore to catch up. This is the new Silicon Valley so I expected to have good internet here – and boy, was I glad since I had so much to catch up on. If someone in the USA gets “Bangalored” it means they lost their tech job to […]

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India Mission Trip

July 21, 2016

It took us two whole days to get here from Detroit to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Dubai, Dubai to Cochin India. We arrived at the Divine Retreat Center at 10 AM Tuesday. The Retreat Center in like a small village full of halls, chapels, dorms, paths through palm trees and outdoor shrines. This is a large […]

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Questions Steve Answered on Catholic Answers Live: Open Forum for Non-Catholics

July 19, 2016

To listen live cut and paste this into your browser http://www.catholic.com/audio-player/39606. (I am now in India with poor wi-fi and it will not let me put a hyperlink for you. For other listening options like Podcasts, click HERE. 1.  (Pentecostal)  Other churches have the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible and speak in tongues. Why doesn’t the […]

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How Big Was Jesus in Mary’s Womb at the Visitation – and what could he do?

July 19, 2016

“How big was baby Jesus in Mary’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth?” That is the question I asked myself while visiting the Church of the Visitation in Israel. What I learned was quite revolutionary and amazing. This is one of the best pro-life arguments from Scripture and one I’ve not heard discussed before. It also […]

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Join Us in the Holy Land over Christmas Break; only a few seats left

July 17, 2016

All our pilgrimages are filling fast, especially the Holy Land where three of the next four trips are SOLD OUT. Join us over Christmas break before that one is completely full. God bless! Click here for a personal invitation from Steve Ray, what kids have to say about our family pilgrimages, an interactive map, the […]

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Granddaughter Elizabeth Arabella Rose Ray’s First Holy Communion

July 17, 2016

What a lovely thing to see. Wish we were there but pictures will have to do. 

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No More Political Correctness: After Nice France, let’s stop the nonsense and be honest

July 16, 2016

“A terrific and important piece. If only it were heeded. But the political and media elites are immovable, and will keep repeating their empty gestures after every new jihad attack. “Immovable of themselves — they will have to be moved by free people: replaced by saner, stronger people who are willing to defend free nations […]

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If You Live in Nebraska, Join us…

July 13, 2016

I will be in Omaha tonight and Grand Island tomorrow. The topic for the talk and Q & A is “Evangelism 101: How to Share and Explain Jesus to Everyone.”

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Do Catholics Worship “Graven Images”?

July 12, 2016

Question sent to John Martignoni from www.BibleChristianSociety.com. The answer is John Martignoni’s. Check out his new audio series to the left and his excellent website. I’m Catholic, but I do not understand nor have answers to why we use statues and blessed images in the Catholic church as opposed to God’s commandment in Exodus 20. […]

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To Encourage Others; Not to Toot My Own Horn

July 10, 2016

Not sure where “toot your own horn” came from but it’s not what I’m doing. I usually don’t tell anyone when I do such things but sometimes a good action done by one, inspires others. I truly believe these crazy ideas pop into my head because of my father’s daily examples (God rest his soul). […]

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What Every Young Black Male Should Hear!

July 10, 2016

Why don’t these young people hear this? They should have fathers who stay home and teach their boys these things. 

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