Apologetics

Prepare for the Skyline of the Future: Islam!

by Steve Ray on December 19, 2014

I wrote this about two years ago while in Adana Turkey and thought it worthy to post again, especially since I am seeing it again, everywhere I go in the world. I my country hometown in Michigan the Muslims have applied for a permit to build a mosque. But I shouldn’t get ahead of my story.

Europe is full of magnificent churches—Gothic, Baroque and even modern. Their steeples and crosses still dominate much of the skyline. They stand as impressive monuments to the Christian faith that built the free world and brought beauty and justice out of a pagan, barbarian wilderness.

Notre Dame.jpgToday the churches in Europe are becoming museum pieces recalling the lost faith and  collapsing backbone of Europe. (Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral to left)

Paganism is on the rise – and along with it something just as alarming. The skyline will soon change, not only for Europe but for the whole Western World, including the United States. You will soon see new structures piercing the sky!

But before I tell you how your view of today’s horizon will change, let me tell you about what happened to Turkey. Then you will see that it can happen—and if we don’t move quickly, it will happen again.

Janet and I are now in Turkey with our Skyline Productions video crew working on our next documentary Apostolic Fathers for the Footprints of God series. We are driving/flying with our crew from one Christian site to another. This country is often called the Second Holy Land—why? Because it contains more Christian sites than anywhere other than Israel.

For a few examples: Antioch is where we were first called Christians, Tarsus was the home town of St. Paul, and Lystra the home city of St. Timothy.

JohnsTomb.jpgBut, Turkey is also home to the Seven Church of Revelation. The Blessed Virgin Mary lived here with the Apostle St. John. Selçuk still boasts the tomb of St. John (see picture to right). Istanbul (Constantinople) was once a proud patriarchate of the Catholic Church and home to Ecumenical Councils.

Actually, the first Seven Ecumenical Councils were held here, including Constantinople, Chalcedon, and Nicea—from which we got Nicene Creed recited each Sunday. And don’t forget the Council of Ephesus which defined Mary as the Theotokos, the Mother of God.

And if you remember your New Testament, you will recognize cities that were in today’s Turkey: Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians. Turkey is also the land of martyrs, Fathers and Doctors of the Church like Sts. Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, and Basil the Great to name just a few.

So, when I look out over the horizon from my hotel room window, do I see the beautiful churches that once marked the skyline of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey)?

Nope. Sorry. I see something else.

skyline.jpgFrom my window just now, I counted no less than nineteen minarets! What are minarets? They are the tall slender towers above an Islamic mosque from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer (Notice two pictures from my hotel window–one wide shot with no less than five minarets; the second at the bottom of this blog showing a large mosque across the river. There is only one Catholic Church within a hundred miles of where I am now).

What happened to the churches? Let’s go to Istanbul together and I will show you! I have frequently visited the Hagia Sophia—the Church of Holy Wisdom. It was the glory of Christendom and for over a thousand years it had the largest dome — until St. Peter’s was built in Rome. Many people thought the dome stayed up by a direct miracle of God. How else could something so expansive stay up without crashing down?

Hagia1.jpgBut when the Muslims conquered Contantinople they defaced the church, painted over the golden icons of our Blessed Mother and turned the spectacular church into a mosque. The crosses came down and the minarets went up.

Today the Hagia Sophia is a museum! (picture of modern Hagia Sophia to left)

It has been predicted that within fifty years Europe’s skyline will change. It will become a Muslim empire. Steeples will come down and minarets will go up. No longer will you hear bells – you will hear muezzin wailing from the balconies of slender minarets.

And America? We are losing our faith too, and our backbone. Will we be far behind Europe? I don’t think so. Islam has 1 billion followers, many of who will stop at nothing short of world domination. They won’t call it that, of course. They will say the world is now as Allah willed it.

Skyline3.jpgAnd like the Hagia Sophia—your church, and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC and St. Patrick’s in New York will still pierce the skyline, but no longer as steeples. They will sport the latest in minarets. And our grandchildren’s’ children will wonder why we caved in so easily—why we lost our faith and our backbone.

Oh, so you don’t believe it can happen to us? Neither did the Byzantine Empire, the powerhouse of Christianity in the East! But, the East fell to Islam and the West may fall as well. Maybe not by military might, but by religious indifference, population control, and secularism. Islam can overtake us by persistence, population growth, and religious fervor.

What was once part of a powerful Christian Empire is now 99% Muslim. Out of a population of about 75 million, there are only 60,000 Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestants, etc.). The past screams to us but will we listen.

Prepare to see the new skyline; prepare to be awakened at 4 AM with the wail of the muezzin.

Far-fetched? Read this article about Holland.

St. Ignatius, pray for us. Sts. Polycarp, Irenaeus and John Chysostom, pray for us!

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 Confusion of Many Protestants

 Too often well-meaning Protestants get confused and accuse of things that are outright nonsense if not lies. It is usually because they never take the time to really understand what the Catholic Church actually teaches and practices.

 Below is a good example of a kind and well-meaning Protestant pastor who wrote to me earlier today. He is obviously a good man and thinks he understands but his use of the same-old, same-old, worn out and misrepresentative arguments show that he has not done his homework and is parroting things some other parrot taught him.

 Let’s look at what he says. First, his letter was posted in my Combox under a blog post “Do Catholics Worship Mary?” in which I give a long explanation. I think our good pastor failed to read the whole article or he wouldn’t have written what he did.

 He starts by saying, “I believe the confusion comes because the Church chose to remain theologically in the Old Testament – using priests – when Jesus has become our High Priest.  I am a pastor, and I pray for my people, but I am NOT their ‘priestly mediator’ – Jesus is!  

 Though I could write a book on this topic alone, and it has been done by others, it is sad to see people still have such a basic misunderstanding of the priesthood of Jesus and the priesthood of believers. 

 My answer can be as simple as this: We are all priests! We are priests but it does not keep us in the Old Testament, nor does it mean we are trying to undermine the priesthood of Jesus. 

 St. Peter tells us, “1 Peter 2:5, 9  “And like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” See also Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6.

 Not only are we priests, but we also offer sacrifices. My, that sounds awful Old Testament doesn’t it? Yet it is the reality of the New Covenant. 

Levites minister with the High Priest

 In the Old Testament there was a 1) High Priest (Aaron and his sons), 2) a ministerial priesthood (Levites) and 3) the general priesthood of all the people (Ex 19:6).

 The Church is the new Israel. Should we expect it to have a different structure? Of course not. In the Church we still have three levels of priesthood: 1) Jesus is our new High Priest, 2) the ordained priesthood, called by the early Christians “Levites” and 3) the general priesthood of all believers like in the Old Testament. This is exactly what the Catholic Church has and exactly what the Protestant churches have abandoned.

 No priest today thinks he has replaced Jesus Christ. They work with him just like the Levites worked with and for Aaron. The Catholic Church is biblical and certainly not stuck in the Old Testament. In fact, we could say the Protestant churches have gone the way of Korah. As we read in Jude 8,

 Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.” Jude 11.

 What was Korah’s rebellion? None ordained, non-Levitical priests claimed that they too were holy and could offer the sacrifices relegated to the priesthood. When they protested and said they could do what the priests do the earth opened up and swallowed them. Jude is not writing to Jews but to Christians and warns them not to claim what is not allowed to them. The priesthood is the priesthood.

 We are all priestly mediators! Every time we pray for someone we are in the middle between them and God. If this pastor says he is praying for his people then he is putting himself in the middle between them and God and acting as a mediator, an intercessor. 

 I remember my father saying “We have only one meditator between God and man, and it is the man Christ Jesus!” I responded, “Don’t EVER ask me to pray for you again.” Why? Because it puts me in the middle and makes me a mediator.

Mediator between heaven and earth

 Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant which only he could establish, but he then asks us to share in his mediatorship by praying for others and acting on their behalf. And he asks the ordained priests to share in his priesthood, working as the Levites to serve him in the sacramental duties of the Church.

 The pastor then writes, “The Bible is clear that we MUST NOT try to communicate with the dead – and Mary and the apostles are dead!  Lev 19:31 “‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.  Lev 20:6  ”‘I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.

 He is assuming here, and quite wrongly, that the Catholic and age-old teaching of the “Communion of the Saints” is equal to occultism. It is certainly not. In one of our oldest creeds, recited by most Protestants too, we hear, “We believe in the Communion of Saints…”

 What is this? It is the fact that saints are not dead but alive and with Our Lord in heaven. We are all still one family and in communion with one another. Death does not divide the body of Christ. The body of Christ is one whole including those on earth and those who are with the Lord in heaven. 

 We ask one another on earth to pray for us (making them mediators) and knowing that the saints are alive in heaven, we also ask them to pray for us. 

 Now our pastor friend makes a bold statement, “Mary and the apostles are dead.” Really? Has he read the New Testament lately? He sounds more like a Sadducee than a Christian. The Sadducees denied life after death. They said that the dead were dead. 

 But Jesus refutes the Sadducees and our Protestant pastor when he said, “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.” Luke 20:37–38 

 When someone asks, “Where does the Bible say we should pray to dead saints?” The Catholic should answer, “Where does the Bible say saints are dead?”

 If we want to see Mary alive in heaven all we have to do is read Revelation 12:1. 

 In the Old Testament the Israelites were chastised for following spiritist and mediums and abandoning God. Saul certainly did this when he refused to wait for God and decided to go to a witch instead of God. We Catholics also condemn occultism and divination. The pastor should know this. It is clearly stated in our Catechism,  

CCC 2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

CCC 2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others—even if this were for the sake of restoring their health—are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

We do not consider asking the saints who are alive in heaven to pray for us a violation of Old Testament or New Testament law. The confusion lies with the pastor who accuses Catholics without knowing of what he speaks.

One needs only look at the Transfiguration to understand a bit more about the spiritual world and its interconnection to believers on earth. Jesus is talking to whom on the mountain? A dead guy? Moses had died and been buried over a thousand years earlier yet he is very much alive and talking to Jesus.

And notice, Moses is aware of what is going on on the earth because he came to talk to Jesus about what is soon to take place in Jerusalem (Lk 9:31). They were discussing the real world. They were dead, but not dead. They were very much alive. They did not appear as spirits or ghosts. Luke specifically said “the two men.”

There was more that the pastor wrote but only to repeat what we’ve already responded to. I suggest he study the Catholic teaching and the teaching of the very first Christians and come back to the fullness of the Faith. And if he wants to quote the Bible he ought to study his Bible a little more carefully too. 

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An Eastern Orthodox Christian wrote to complain about, or to see how we Catholics explain the Immaculate Conception. He said he had asked many Catholics and none could answer. I find that hard to believe.

After I answered his long and slightly edgy e-mail, I received his response – “Thanks.”

Picture One: Statue of Mary in Nazareth entitled “Mary of Nazareth” which is one of my favorites! Second picture is me falling in the mud in our documentary “Mary, Mother of God” when I explained the Immaculate Conception.

Here are the Eastern Orthodoxes two questions, and my simple answers:

mary_nazareth2HIS QUESTION: If Mary the Mother of God was born without original sin, and was pure and could not sin, then how could she have possibly said “No” to God’s messenger, the Archangel Gabriel? Why were God and the angels “holding their collective breaths” (as the Basilica of the Annunciation notes in Nazareth) if they knew that she was going to have to say “Yes”, because she could not deny God’s will, which would have been a sin?

MY RESPONSE: REMEMBER THAT THE FIRST EVE WAS ALSO “CONCEIVED IMMACULATELY” — SHE WAS SINLESS, WITHOUT THE STAIN OF ORIGINAL SIN OR ANY ACTUAL SIN. YET, SHE WAS ABLE TO CHOSE SIN. MARY, THE 2ND EVE COULD ALSO HAVE SAID NO TO GOD AND SINNED, JUST LIKE THE FIRST “IMMACULATELY CONCEIVED” EVE. THAT IS WHY MARY IS SO SPECIAL —- SHE RESISTED SIN LIKE THE FIRST EVE DIDN’T DO. EVE TIED THE KNOT OF SIN; MARY UNTIED IT.

HIS QUESTION: By declaring the Immaculate Conception, suddenly, Mary the Mother of God became very unlike us; her purity became unachievable for us mere mortals born with “original sin”; and she became a model of Godliness that we can never achieve on earth. The best human example of humility and obedience that Christians had been able to strive towards for 1,800 years was taken away and transformed into a something different, something suprahuman.

Steve_Closeup_mud@600MY RESPONSE: NOTHING HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY. SHE WAS GIVEN SANCTIFYING GRACE AT THE MOMENT OF CONCEPTION, THE REST OF US NINE MONTHS LATER AT OUR INFANT BAPTISM. SHE COULD HAVE SINNED, BUT DIDN’T. WE CAN AVOID SIN BUT DON’T. THAT IS WHY CATHOLICS LOVE HER. BEING IMMACULATELY CONCEIVED DID NOT MAKE HER SUPERHUMAN; RATHER IT MAKES HER TRULY HUMAN IN THE FULL SENSE OF THE WORD, A MODEL FOR US ALL TO STRIVE FOR.

SHE NEEDED A SAVIOR (“MY SPIRIT REJOICES IN GOD MY SAVIOR”) LIKE WE DO BUT FOR HE PREVENTED HER FROM FALLING INTO THE MUD WHEREAS WE’VE ALL BEEN SAVED BY BEING PULLED OUT AND CLEANED UP.

EVEN THE ORTHODOX REFER TO MARY AS THE ALL HOLY ONE. IT IS REALLY THE SAME THING, JUST CATHOLICS GAVE IT A FORMAL DEFINITION.

HOPE THAT HELPS. HAPPY EASTER.

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Pastor Bob “Preaches the Word” (Discussing A Sermon on Baptism)

November 27, 2014

Pastor Bob Preaches From The Word By Steve Ray Josh left Sunday services full of excitement, anxious to discuss Pastor Bob’s sermon with his sister Jennifer who had recently converted to the Catholic Church. The pastor had explained how salvation was by “faith alone” and not by rituals and works. He was anxious to discuss [...]

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Infant Baptism

November 26, 2014

Infant Baptism is discussed and argued about quite a bit in some circles. I, of course, was raised Baptist and taught that Infant Baptism was a man-made tradition invented by the heretical Catholics who abandoned the Word of God to follow ill-advised tradition. (Picture: My granddaughter Elizabeth Arabella Rose Ray is baptized.) But not all [...]

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Geocentrism Debunked Again and Again and their Movie Bombs (more on that soon)

November 14, 2014

DAVE PALM WRITES: The really exciting thing about this latest update of Geocentrism Debunked (www.geocentrismdebunked.org) is that I didn’t write any of the new material myself.  Others are seeing the problems with the geocentric enterprise and weighing in.  Over four years ago physicist Dr. Tom Bridgman issued the “Lagrange point challenge” in response to geocentrist [...]

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Have They Discovered a New “Lost Gospel” that Says Jesus was Married?

November 13, 2014

Jimmy Akin writes: It’s getting near Christmas, and you know what that means. That’s right! It’s time for another book to be released telling us the sensationalistic “truth” about Christianity. This time we have The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson. [...]

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Bishop Conley’s Comments on our Cruise: “In the Footprints of St. Paul”

November 12, 2014

The ancient Christian writer and theologian Tertullian once asked the Church, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” He asked the question as Christianity spread from Israel into the Greek world; and as Greek intellectuals looked for deeper insight into the Christian mystery. Tertullian was asking whether pagan Greek culture—philosophy, poetry, the arts, history [...]

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Did Solomon’s Mother Bathsheba Demonstrate Mary is NOT a Good Intercessor?

November 9, 2014

I put up a post a few days ago with a video of my talk in Ephesus about Mary being Queen of Heaven and an Intercessor for the people of God’s kingdom. Someone wrote to object saying, It is interesting Steve, as to what you left out in your reference to 1 Kings 2:19 , Solomon’s Mother [...]

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Holy Father – is he Holy?

November 8, 2014

A young man stood up at my conference in the Philippines a while ago and parroted (yelled out) the Fundamentalist mantra: “The Pope is a sinner like everyone else; why do you call him ‘HOLY Father’?” I leaned into the microphone and said to the young man in front of 2,000 people, “You should really [...]

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Were the Bereans “Bible Alone”?

November 1, 2014

Since we are in Thessalonki today, just a few miles from Berea I thought I’d share my argument which turns the PROTESTant idea of “sola Scriptura” on its head. You know, many Protestents appeal to the Bereans as proof of their false doctrine. Regarding the Bereans, it just ain’t so. St. Paul traveled through Thessaloniki [...]

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My Updated Article on Infant Baptism

October 29, 2014

Even among Evangelical Protestants there is much debate about Infant Baptism. My old Baptist tradition rejected it as a Catholic tradition of men. Dr. Francis Schaeffer, my favorite Evangelical Presbyterian theologian wrote a booklet entitled Infant Baptism in favor of the practice – my wife Janet was raised Presbyterian and baptized as an infant. It [...]

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What My Grandpa Said About the Pope – A Boy’s Story

October 28, 2014

My grandpa is a nice old gentleman, with gray hair, and gold spectacles, and very fond of his little grandson Billy—that’s me. Grandpa and I often go out to walk together, that is, on fine days, because on cloudy days he never goes out of the house, but stays at home to keep “comfortable with [...]

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Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter

October 14, 2014

              St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my [...]

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Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

October 10, 2014

Winston Churchill wrote “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.“ He is absolutely right! I have often said they are remarkable people –gifted in a [...]

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“The Sinner’s Prayer” – All You Need to Get to Heaven?

October 9, 2014

When I was a kid, the “Sinner’s Prayer” was a big deal. It was at the heart of everything we knew about Jesus and getting saved. It was almost used as an incantation. My mom coached me to pray the Sinner’s Prayer when I was 4 years old. We knelt together in front of the [...]

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