Pope’s Study of Church Fathers Not Just for Catholics

Interview With Theologian David Warner

Benedict XVI’s Wednesday-audience series on the Apostolic Fathers can give us hope for unity among Christians, says a Catholic theologian who was once an evangelical Protestant minister.

Q: How have the early Church Fathers been influential in your own life, first as a Protestant minister and later as a Catholic?

Warner: I left the Catholic Church during my high school years. A far-ranging search led me away from the Church and toward a Christianity of my own invention.

After three years of wandering, I re-embraced Trinitarian theology and had an evangelical conversion to the divinity and lordship of Jesus Christ. This was the beginning of what turned out to be a rediscovery of, and return to, what the Nicene Creed calls the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

Again and again during my 18-year sojourn through various streams of Protestantism, I kept coming back to study the early centuries of Christianity.

While teaching a survey course in Church history, I became convinced that I was incompletely joined to the one Church directly established by Christ and witnessed to by the Fathers.

Reading the Apostolic Fathers and the second-century apologists forced me to come to grips with the thoroughly “Catholic” elements of early Christianity.

Q: Why would non-Catholic Christians be any more interested in the Fathers of the first couple of centuries than in later saints and doctors of the Church?

Warner: In the Apostolic Fathers and the earliest bishops and apologists, we have the earliest links in the chain that connects today’s Christians with the Twelve.

Quoting a second-century bishop, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Benedict XVI reminded us that St. Clement, the third bishop of Rome in succession from St. Peter, had the first apostles’ “preaching in his ears, and their tradition before his eyes.”

Pope Clement had no qualms about asserting his extra-local apostolic authority, teaching and correcting the Church of Corinth, in distant Greece.

Other great bishops whom Benedict XVI explores, like St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Polycarp died as martyrs for the truth they knew they had received directly from the original apostles who had taught them.

I remember reasoning while still a Protestant minister, that if Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Irenaeus could not get it right after just one or two generations, then what hope did I have for believing that Jesus was who the New Testament claimed he was, or that he had founded a Church that would kick in the gates of hell, and be led by the Spirit of truth until his return?

In the end, I wearied of trying to be my own pope, and returned to the Church of the Fathers.

For me, this is the money quote:

I remember reasoning while still a Protestant minister, that if Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Irenaeus could not get it right after just one or two generations, then what hope did I have for believing that Jesus was who the New Testament claimed he was, or that he had founded a Church that would kick in the gates of hell, and be led by the Spirit of truth until his return?

Either Jesus instituted a unified Church that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against” (Mt 16:18), or we’re all on our own to figure it out for ourselves. Which one sounds more like God? If Jesus meant what He said, then He founded a Church that would stand the tests of time, and that Church’s founding is recorded just before this above quote: “I will build my church” (ibid).

Early Christians, as Warner notes, considered themselves members of a Church that looks remarkably like the one we see in the Catholic Church today. We can either follow their example or run the risk of falling prey to the traditions of man. (Col 2:8)

Read the Pope’s talks on the Early Christians.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Cover Debuted

Amazon.com: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)

I’ve got mine pre-ordered!

Amusing note: I was just telling a coworker about Looking for God in Harry Potter and misspoke the books thesis as “Jesus is Harry Christ,” instead of “Harry is Jesus Christ.” It’s a pretty convincing argument. So, on the basis of this theory, Harry will die a sacrificial death in Book 7 (which I’ve long felt would be the case), but come back to life in some way, perhaps through a horcrux.

Either way, July 21st won’t get here soon enough!

Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition

Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition

A number of major leaguers discuss what their Catholic Faith means to them. Baseball and Catholicism: what’s not to love?

I was surprised to see Juan Pierre was Catholic, although I don’t know why. I also have an irrational hatred for Jeff Suppan because he shut down the Phillies down in their home opener one year, which I had the misfortune of attending. Even as one of my friends told me he was Catholic I didn’t care, Suppan was awful back then so naturally the Phils couldn’t hit him. It didn’t help that Joe Roa, who had been a pleasant surprise the year before, was giving up runs like it was going out of style. Boos began in the top of the first. My friend from Virginia was amazed by the fact Phillies fans would boo that quickly. (He obviously doesn’t understand us. Five runs before the Phils come to back will earn that response.) Here’s the box score of the game in question.

Anyhoo, I’m looking forward to seeing this DVD, and given the title, they might be making other versions for other sports.

Quote-a-palooza

“America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” —James Madison

“At once the most preposterous and the most dangerous of contemporary beliefs is ‘nothing was ever settled by violence.’ A cursory reading of history makes it clear that virtually every important development in the history of mankind has been, for good or ill, a product of violence.” —Jack Kelly

“There is a word for people who put children in a car to be blown up. The word is evil… It’s important that we say this out loud and that we render this moral judgment. Because if we fail to understand that our enemy is evil, we have failed to understand what we are fighting.” —Newt Gingrich

“The opposition is indispensable. A good statesmen, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters.” —Walter Lippmann

“The moral underpinnings of our country must be able to bear the weight of today if we’re to pass on to the next generation an America worth having.” —Ronald Reagan

“A liberal is a man who will give away everything he doesn’t own.” —Frank Dane

“Hillary Clinton… can call herself the JFK of the race all she likes, but that doesn’t make her look even remotely like that cool and ironic practitioner of politics. It makes her look like a ditzy poseur.” —Peggy Noonan

“Today, many people preen about their anger as a badge of authenticity: I snarl, therefore I am. Such people make one’s blood boil.” —George Will

“When you visit Britain, you realize that although it is a normal country in many ways, some things about it are deeply odd—for instance, they drive on the left, they use the metric system, and their language, while deceptively similar to English, is often incomprehensible.” —James Taranto

Jay Leno: I love when they say this [attorney firing business] is a constitutional crisis. Oh, please. We haven’t used the Constitution in years. … It is officially spring. Al Gore blamed the end of winter on global warming. … Al Gore testified that if we act now, we can still save the planet. Well, the whole planet except Florida. He’s still a little upset. … According to a new poll, 29 percent of U.S. households do not have Internet access and have little hope of getting it. You know what the technical name is for people with no hope of Internet access? AOL customers.

Quote-a-palooza

“America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” —James Madison

“At once the most preposterous and the most dangerous of contemporary beliefs is ‘nothing was ever settled by violence.’ A cursory reading of history makes it clear that virtually every important development in the history of mankind has been, for good or ill, a product of violence.” —Jack Kelly

“There is a word for people who put children in a car to be blown up. The word is evil… It’s important that we say this out loud and that we render this moral judgment. Because if we fail to understand that our enemy is evil, we have failed to understand what we are fighting.” —Newt Gingrich

“The opposition is indispensable. A good statesmen, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters.” —Walter Lippmann

“The moral underpinnings of our country must be able to bear the weight of today if we’re to pass on to the next generation an America worth having.” —Ronald Reagan

“A liberal is a man who will give away everything he doesn’t own.” —Frank Dane

“Hillary Clinton… can call herself the JFK of the race all she likes, but that doesn’t make her look even remotely like that cool and ironic practitioner of politics. It makes her look like a ditzy poseur.” —Peggy Noonan

“Today, many people preen about their anger as a badge of authenticity: I snarl, therefore I am. Such people make one’s blood boil.” —George Will

“When you visit Britain, you realize that although it is a normal country in many ways, some things about it are deeply odd—for instance, they drive on the left, they use the metric system, and their language, while deceptively similar to English, is often incomprehensible.” —James Taranto

Jay Leno: I love when they say this [attorney firing business] is a constitutional crisis. Oh, please. We haven’t used the Constitution in years. … It is officially spring. Al Gore blamed the end of winter on global warming. … Al Gore testified that if we act now, we can still save the planet. Well, the whole planet except Florida. He’s still a little upset. … According to a new poll, 29 percent of U.S. households do not have Internet access and have little hope of getting it. You know what the technical name is for people with no hope of Internet access? AOL customers.

New Castle County Council rejects cost-cutting proposals

NCCo rejects cost-cutting proposals

Here’s some of the cost-cutting measures they refused:

1. canceling catered dinners before council meetings
2. freezing pay for certain employees (apparently non union employees, who got the same percentage raises as union staffers, typically 5% raises and 3% cost of living adjustments. Can I become a County employee?)
3. reducing the money council members give away in each community grant from $15,000 to $10,500

Let’s leave aside the second issue just because I don’t feel like dealing with it at this point.

The first issue is crazy. Councilman George Smiley suggested that council members could bring their own food to the meals or have potluck dinners. But, “Some council members balked at the idea, saying the meal was not a luxury during busy meetings days during which they often don’t have time for a long dinner break.” Notice that this objection doesn’t actually address the point Smiley was making. How does the busy day prevent them from bringing food with them when they show up? I do it every day at work. (They could also have ordered food in, if they’re really busy.)

The third issue is also ludicrous. Why should we be giving any money to legislators to dole out as they see fit? Is this really any different from the earmarks that are so controversial in Congress right now? This system is rife with potential for scandal and abuse, as office holders could pass out these community grants as favors to political allies or to buy support. This should be abolished completely, but Council refused any cut.

These refusals to cut needless spending come at a time when County residents face a 17.5% property tax hike. While this isn’t a back-breaking hike for most, it is illuminating that our elected officials don’t seem to think they need to share the pain they’re about to inflict on their constituents. I can picture the ads now:

Oh, that would be sweet.

Tallest man marries woman more than 2 feet shorter

Tallest man marries woman more than 2 feet shorter

The world’s tallest man has married a woman who is more than 2 feet shorter than him, a Chinese newspaper reported today.

Bao Xishun, a 7-foot-9 herdsman from Inner Mongolia, married 5-foot-6 saleswoman Xia Shujian several days ago, the Beijing New reported.

When you’re 7’9″ and living in China, aren’t you pretty much destined to marry someone two feet shorter than you?