Tony Blair a Catholic

The Daily Telegraph reports Tony Blair’s reception into the Catholic Church.

I don’t think it’s fair to take easy pot shots at Blair because of his previous views on abortion, gay rights etc. We should give everyone the benefit of the doubt and give him a warm welcome. People do change their minds about certain issues, and instead of criticizing we should give converts time and space.

Let’s hope his new allegiance will spur him on in his new role in the Mid East, and that God will guide him in his efforts to bring peace to Jerusalem.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04298493682961935337 Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ

    Yes let us pray…

  • Mark

    Can I ask everyone an open question here?Coming from America, I did not know anything about Blair’s apparent longtime interest in Catholicism, but I had a gut sense that he was Catholic. I put no thought into this, it was just an impression of the man. So my question is, is there an overall feeling that Catholics give of? I suspect that everything has its own spirit that can identify it, so is there one for the Catholic Church, and if so, what is it?If I can, I’d like to answer my own question just a bit. As someone who’s just returned to the Church, I suspect that Catholics have a kind of quiet compassion about them, a reasonable sense of deep feeling in their presence, as differentiated from the coldness of the secular world, and from the overly emotionalism of many evangelicals.Again, as an American I know little about what Mr. Blair stood for in Britain, so I’m just judging his presence.As far as his positions on abortion and other subjects, as a recent revert of the Church, I know that I’m letting myself be open to have God move me in the direction He wants, and I assume that Mr. Blair will do so as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16673516548120384012 frival

    You echo my thoughts exactly, Father. Conversion, for all of us, is a continual process. Let us all pray that his, and our, conversion continues to deepen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00540186205959897960 onionboy

    In my early protestant days as sinners came to the altar to be “born again” we used to sing, “Just as I am, I come…” May we grant Blair that grace and the Holy Spirit the honour and respect of being the One who changes hearts.http://thewoodbetween.wordpress.com/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight dear boy,I never intended to re-enter your com box so soon, but after hearing Tony Blair had become a Roman Catholic three days before Christmas, I felt a loud Ho Ho Ho was appropriate.Catholics in the UK are furious that Tony is now an RC and was received in a ceremony in Cardinal Cormac’s chapel!Dwight, about Tony, you wrote: “I don’t think it’s fair to take easy pot shots at Blair because of his previous views on abortion, gay rights etc.”But the point is those are his CURRENT views – all totally opposed to Catholic teaching. He has never renounced them. Catholics were lining up on TV today and writing in newspapers to say Blair MUST publicly renounce those views or he will cause serious embarrassment to the Catholic denomination.Remember, his former government minister, Ruth Kelly, a staunch Catholic and Opus Dei member, holds the same views. Like Tony, Ruth has allowed her politics to interfere with her religion.Just a few months ago, Peter Kearney, the official spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Bishops said about Mrs.Kelly after she pushed through gay adoption rights and refused to allow Catholic adoption agencies to opt out: “I don’t know how she can sleep at night.”In your entry on the rather silly Archbishop Rowan (if ever a man thought TOO much it was Rowan) you write: “Protestantism has in its very genetic code the same rationalism, reductionism, individualism and humanism which is exhibited by the Archbishop’s comments.”During his ten years in power, Tony Blair was repeatedly charged by leading Catholic churchmen like Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland and the late, outspoken Cardinal Winning of Scotland for being guilty of “rationalism, reductionism, individualism and humanism.“ Now he’s Catholic!Cardinal Winning labelled Blair “a Fascist“ for not allowing pro-life members to erect a stall at the Labour Party’s national conference even though gay and lesbian groups were allowed to have one. Cardinal Winning also publicly called Blair a “hypocrite” for claiming to be personally against abortion while always voting in favour of it.Earlier this year, Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell, Scotland, said that Tony Blair’s Labour party was so anti-Christian, he went against church policy for the first time and urged Catholic NOT to vote for that party.You may try your best to welcome Tony‘s Tiber Trek. But at the end of the day, Tony Blair – described by UK Catholic churchmen as presiding over the “most anti-life, anti-family, anti-church government the UK has ever known” -is a Roman Catholic.Remember Blair also refused to repeal the Act of Settlement which allows the British monarch to marry a Protestant, a Muslim, even a Satanist, but not a Catholic. That also upset Catholic leaders who described him as supporting ‘constitutional sectarianism.’Yes, the church must welcome sinners; but you at least expect them to WANT to stop sinning. If Blair had approached an Evangelical church, he would have been asked to renounce his sins. Say what you like about us Evangelicals, my dear Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, (and I know you will) but you must agree, a good Ho Ho Ho is the only real comment fitting for Mr Tony Blair becoming a Roman Catholic.Blessings (you’ll need them) James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thank you for your comments James. I’m sorry that your tone is so judgmental. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know what Mr Blair’s present position is, and we don’t know the contents of his first confession, nor the advice given by his confessor.I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He may yet have a change of heart.Have a good Christmas!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,Its strange how you can be judgemental on Evangelicals in particular and Protestants in general, but when an Evangelical remarks about Tony ‘anti-church’ Blair becoming Catholic, you accuse me of being…well, judgemental.Tonight on British TV, Anne Widdecombe, member of parliament and convert to Catholicism from Anglicanism, spoke for many, many Catholics when she said (and I paraphrase) that after his Damascus road conversion, Paul did not stay silent on the wrongs he had committed by persecuting Christians, dragging them from houses and probably causing many of them to be killed.No, Paul publically admitted his sins, the church accepted his repentence and the church moved forward. Paul went on to write his magnificent letters and epistles.Let Tony make a public confession to the Catholic denomination, abandoning his pro-abortion, pro-stem cell research, pro-gay, anti-church, anti-family beliefs, let the Catholics accept his repentence as genuine and then your denomination can move on. In the meantime, Catholics in the UK are embarrassed and outraged over what has happened. Ho Ho Ho.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thank you for your comments James. I’m glad you are in agreement with so many British Catholics, and that you are so obviously in favor of confession.You may one day feel that the confessional is the way back to the Church for yourself.You know you will be more than welcome!Think about it, you could then join the Cor et Lumen community and be an effective Catholic Charismatic Evangelist. We’d love to have you on board!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17283981695859909773 MHL

    I’m glad to read a gracious response to this news. I’m someone who is very liberal but is feeling a great attraction to Catholicism. As I begin to think and pray about this, I’m reconsidering former long held positions. I hope that if I ever get up the nerve to convert, people will be gracious to me as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,I am already in the Church, just not your denomination.There’s much in your denomination where the Holy Spirit works, like Cor et Lumen and Flame Ministries, but indulgences? Pope Benedict has ressurected those recently, so when you come to Europe, fly down to Lourdes, waltz around a statue three times and you have your plenery indulgence. Then you can do what you like as any future punishment due you in purgatory is automatically null and void so you go straight to heaven! Strange how you rejected One Saved Always Saved? Now you have the Catholic version. Go on, Indulge yourself!We Evangelicals certainly do believe in the power of confession, only we confess directly to THE Father, and don’t need to disturb Father who was hoping to have a day on the golf course.And in your post above about allegedly Catholic numbers growing. All recent surveys, including those conducted by the Catholic Church in the UK itself,(I have copies) show the only Christian denominations which are growing year on year are the Baptists, Penecostals and African Churches. Sorry, but the Poles are not the much need Catholic cavalry.May I refer you to a news item in this week’s UK Catholic Herald. (www.catholicherald.co.uk)”The most senior Polish priest in Britain has estimated that fewer than one in 10 Polish immigrants continue to attend Mass. “Mgr Tadeusz Kukla, Vicar Delegate for Poles in England and Wales, said that the Polish mission “needed help” because so many Poles had lost their faith since arriving in Britain.”Still, you’ve always got Tony.Here’s little Seasonal Poem to end:Ho Ho Ho (Tony Blair becomes CatholicNo No No (No, I’ll not become Catholic)Woe Woe Woe (UK Catholics at the news Tony has joined)So So So (Who’s next? Mr Mugabe, and he won’t admit past mistakes either.)Blessings this Christmas, dear Dwight, to you and all your parishioners, your bishop, your pope and all your bloggers.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00659833542780220795 Tiber Jumper

    To James:Wow, So much for “peace on earth and goodwill towards men.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Hello James, there are just two points to be made: first as a Bible Christian you say that you confess your sins directly to God, but this contradicts James 5:16 in which we are told to confess our sins to one another.Catholics do this when they go to confession. Protestants ignore this Scripture or disobey it intentionally.The other thing is, there are actually parts of the Catholic Church where you would be welcome. Most of the things you mock and deny are optional things. You don’t have to go in for indulgences and Marian devotion if you don’t wish to.So why not come home to the Catholic Church? We need fervent, Bible believing, Spirit filled people like you. There’s room for you at the table brother.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08572976822786862149 Darwin

    James,You might want to be clear on what something is when you mock it so you don’t inadvertantly make yourself look silly: A plenary indulgence does not remove temporal punishment for sins not yet committed, and since in order for the indulge to be plenary one must achieve a lack of attachment to sin, which means an intention to go out and sin more on the basis of the indulgence would by definition keep one from receiving the graces of the plenary indulgence.Benedict didn’t bring them back, because they’re always been around. John Paul II declared a number for the Jubilee year in 2000.If looked at through a lens of charity rather than scorn, the spiritual disposition needed to successfully fulfill the requirements of a plenary indulgence must themselves do you some good, regardless of what you think of the Catholic understanding of grace and temporal punishment.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Mark –I will answer your question since no one else has responded so far. I am an American also, and a revert. I did know about Tony Blair’s family being Catholic, and about the rumors that he might convert. I agree wholeheartedly with Fr. Longnecker. There is room in the Church for everyone, and we who are members should be the first to give the benefit of the doubt to converts (even famous ones) — especially considering some of the people we already have!And that, I think, is the answer to your question. The overall feeling of Catholicism is that tolerance of everyone. Not all of us are tolerant by any means. But the CHURCH is tolerant. The Church knows that it has prostitutes and thieves and crooked politicians in it, as well as saints and housewives and pious grandmothers courageous priests. The Church is infinitely patient with her children, whom she expects to be wayward even as she shows them how to be perfect. As convert, writer, and ski star Arnold Lunn said — “It is this Catholicity of the Church which offends the non-Catholic, just as it was the catholicity of Christ which disedified the more exclusive Jews. Protestant Churches are clubs for good people, but the Catholic Church continues to welcome the publicans and sinners with whom Christ mixed so freely. . . . In the course of nineteen centuries the Church has discovered that sinners sometimes sin, and it is therefore not so scandalized as her critics by the frailties of her children.”Gail Finke

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,Wow – you make a mighty leap from James 5:16 where we are instructed to confess our faults as a demonstration of repentance and let brethren pray for each other – to the establishment of male, ordained celibate (mostly) clerics hearing and forgiving sins.(sorry, you do it in God’s name, but it is wrong to claim lay people are denied that grace/gift.)Rather than ignore or disobey this Scripture, Protestants actively welcome and embrace it. Praise God for it!I know there are parts of the Catholic denomination “where I am welcome.” Hence, my vigorous support for groups like Cor et Lumen and Flame Ministries and Fr Bob deGrandis. I have organised two Flame UK rallies in Catholic churches. I organised the venue, the publicity – even the food.If only more Catholics embraced the Holy Spirit instead of the religious legalism that is the parish norm.I know Marian Devotion and indulgences are not doctrine, but they are certainly prominant, especially Marian devotion. There are so many other unscriptural issues like clerical domination, confession, the Eucharist,(no need for it daily or even weekly) and hierarchy structures that to try and be part of the Catholic denomination with all that clutter, would be impossible for me.In addition, all that clutter brings with it negative spirituality and weakens the work of the Holy Spirit in your denomination. It distracts and confuses yet it is so widespread in daily Catholic life, that after 40 years, I felt smothered and had to get out.The Evangelical churches are far from perfect, but the Holy Spirit can breathe there. He is not hampered by Latin Liturgy or leaden worship and structures.So, I am always happy to work with Catholics but I couldn’t be one. I encourage Catholics to stay within their denomination if they feel that is where the Holy Spirit is calling them. I always gudie them in the direction of Catholic charismatics. If they ask to come to my church, I’ll certainly invite them. The Holy Spirit blows where he blows.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00659833542780220795 Tiber Jumper

    Dear James You said:”In addition, all that clutter brings with it negative spirituality and weakens the work of the Holy Spirit in your denomination. It distracts and confuses yet it is so widespread in daily Catholic life, that after 40 years, I felt smothered and had to get out.”You are making broad generalisations here which either are done at best case, in sincere ignorance or worst case, perhaps a lack of charity. I hope it’s the former case. By the way, as you know Catholicism is not a denomination. Denominations occurred as a result of the reformation. I spent 31 years as a spirit filled charismatic Christian, I was prayed over by the elders at Lincoln , England’s largest charismatic church (ground level). I know Stuart Bell personally and he prayed for me to carry the renewal back to the states in the early 90′s. I have played music in worship with Johnny Markham and Chris Bowater. My former pastor was a speaker at Grapevine festival this year. All that to say that I have experienced the heights of charismatic spirituality. I was there in 1973 when the Jesus movement spread across the US. 3 years ago, I returned to the Catholic Church. My wife and I have never experienced freedom, joy and power over sin as charismatic evangelicals as we do now as Catholics. Receiving Christ in the Eucharist is the pinnacle of worship and has been for the Church for 2000 years. Going to confession has given me so much grace to overcome those stubborn sins(which most men struggle with) I had never had this victory as a charismatic. Catholic spirituality brings me closer to Jesus than I have ever been in 31 years. What a power we have experienced in the sacraments!I wish I had know what I was missing. I would have come home much sooner. Your personal experience as a Catholic may have been clouded by a lack of understanding of what Catholicism is about. Your negative comments on this blog lead me to believe you don’t know what you left. All the tongues, falling on the floor, singing praise songs with your eyes closed and hands raised can never replace the Sacrifice of the Mass which is how Christians have worshipped since 33 AD. God bless you that you are experiencing a conversion outside His Church, but please don’t denigrate Catholicism because of your inability to understand it and embrace it as it was meant to be. God bless you on your journey.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Tiber,You write: “Your personal experience as a Catholic may have been clouded by a lack of understanding of what Catholicism is about.”I write: “Your personal experience as a Charismatic may have been clouded by a lack of understanding of what Charismatics are all about.”You write: “All the tongues, falling on the floor, singing praise songs with your eyes closed and hands raised can never replace the Sacrifice of the Mass which is how Christians have worshipped since 33 AD.”I write: “All the Gregorian chants, Latin liturgy, trendy Masses, delightful incence, bell ringing, candle glowing or the priest’s beautiful robes, can never replace the Presence of God experienced at a Charismatic service, which is how Christians have worshipped since 33AD.”You write: “I wish I had known what I was missing. I would have come home much sooner.”I write: “I wish I had known what I was missing. I would have left sooner.”You write: “God bless you that you are experiencing a conversion outside His Church, but please don’t denigrate Catholicism because of your inability to understand it and embrace it as it was meant to be.”I write: “God bless you that you are experiencing a conversion in the Catholic denomination, but please don’t denigrate Charismatics because of your inability to understand it and embrace it as it was meant to be.”Tiber, I appreciate your kind words, but you get the message? Whenever a Catholic discovers I have left that denomination, they assume I was badly catechised or or too stupid to really understand what it was all about. Or that I had a bad experience with a priest/parish/Catholic school.None of these are true. I don’t want to clog up Dwight’s blog but two very quick points.1. Roman Catholicism IS a denomination. The Roman Catholic church today (for a long time!) has been a highly successful splinter group or reformed branch of the original Christian Church.2. The Eucharist. The Eucharist today is so different from that of the Bible where no male celibate ordained priest was necessary; for centuries the Eucharist was the private property of the priest – just look at the architecture of any cathedral in Europe. Tiber, its almost Christmas Eve here in the UK, so I’m leaving this blog as blogging can be a distraction itself from a spiritual life.I pray God blesses you and your family and friends, your parish, your priest and bishop.I leave you with the words of Fr Bob deGrandis. Check out his website. I support him even though as an Evangelical I do not agree with all his Roman Catholic theology.He often says he gets asked by fellow priests: “Bob, why are you always going on about Charismatic Renewal?”He replies: “Because it works!”James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00594171198460367805 Max

    James writes I write: “…can never replace the Presence of God experienced at a Charismatic service, which is how Christians have worshipped since 33AD.” Prove that point.You make accusation after accusation. How about a defense of your position for a change? That is, if you can.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15000747762174079070 PraiseDivineMercy

    James, might I pitch in by quoting the record the first mass:As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24: 28-35)Paul describes the Eucharist, and warns to only receive it in a worthy state.”For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant of my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:23-27). As for confession:’Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.“‘ (John 20: 21-23)”Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church [not just anyone, presbyter means 'priest'], and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” (Jas. 5: 14-16)”For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgments . . . (Heb. 10:26-27).”And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5: 18-20)

  • tony

    James,You wrote, “Roman Catholicism IS a denomination. The Roman Catholic church today (for a long time!) has been a highly successful splinter group or reformed branch of the original Christian Church.”In an earlier post you admitted the Catholic Church’s historic lineage. You said in “Disagreements, Difficulties and Divisions” the following:“The Catholic Church has an historical lineage with the first Christians, but the fruits of the Spirit are limited in the Roman church today and have been for centuries.”You are welcome to your opinion about spiritual worship, but you admit the Church’s historic lineage. Now this remark came about because you failed to identify where your church derives its authority; the authority to demand how even the most essential of its essential teachings are true. Each time Father Longenecker asked you to identify this authority, you demanded Catholics provide their authority. Here is the authority he provided,“But prove me wrong. To show that you are actually interested in learning what the Catholic Church teaches about her authority take the time to read Chapter Two Article 2 in the Catechism on the Transmission of Divine Revelation. Then read the next article on Sacred Scripture. After that read Chapter Three, Article 9, paragraph 3 on the church being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.”You said,“I really do want an answer. I’ll do the readings you suggest when I have time.”My question is how can you say the Catholic Church is a “splinter group” and say it has “historical lineage” because this comment does not suggest you read the Catechism in your acclaimed earnest interest. I could be wrong though, so please tell us what you learned and where you disagree with the reading. Please note I am not asking you to draw from your personal knowledge or opinion, but rather the reading. You had plenty of time to write quite a few responses here, so I imagine you had plenty of time to read the Catechism.If you have any questions about anything quoted here, search this site’s older posts, press Ctrl F and enter your search request.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Melody,You claim the breaking of bread by Jesus on the road to Emmaus was the ‘first Mass.’ But as a Catholic, I was taught that was the Last Supper. Which was it? Well, neither I believe, but you have to figure that one out as a Catholic.The events on the road to Emmaus remind us that when we see Jesus through the revelation of His Word and communion with Him, we don’t have to have a visible manifestation of His presence. Our faith is our evidence (Heb. 11:1) and obtains for us a greater blessing than believing because of a visible proof. Paul’s words that you quote from 1 Cor. 11:23-27 are indeed wonderful words. They do stress the need to receive communion honourably and warn of the consequences of not doing so. They do not reinforce the Catholic denomination’s Mass, whether in Latin or the vernacular. Confession:You quote John 20: 21-23. That’s ideal selective Scripture quoting to support the Catholic denomination’s practice of priestly confession. Why not start at verse 19 which states: On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together…Jesus breathed on ‘the disciples’ not just the 12 male apostles so that means Jesus was launching a male celibate ministerial priesthood and while doing so, gave them all a Roman collar!I’m not sure why you quote the other Scripture passages. They do tell us to confess, but not in a closed box with a male celibate ordained cleric.I see you are a follower of the Divine Mercy. Just be careful you don’t fall in love with a religious practice no matter how cosy and snug it makes you feel. Open your heart to the Holy Spirit.Blessings for Christmas. May you experience God’s love for you.James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Max,You quote me as saying “…can never replace the Presence of God experienced at a Charismatic service, which is how Christians have worshipped since 33AD.” Then you add: “Prove that point.”You make accusation after accusation. How about a defense of your position for a change? That is, if you can.”This is the easiest question I’ve ever been asked on Dwight’s blog.The answer is found in the Book of Acts. Start reading at Chapeter 1 right through to chapter 28.Then, to further ‘prove that point’ continue your reading with Romans, 1 Corintians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philipians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and finally Revelation.Or rather, not finally. Look at the first few centuries of the Christian church before the Catholic denomination took over. Then check out the architecture of any European cathedral (the clue is the screen around the altar) and see how the Word amongst us became the Eucharist for the few, selected, educated clergy.Hope that I have shown you that I can “prove that point.”Blessings to you this Christmas. May the Holy Spirit fill your heart with peace, joy and love.BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Tony,I smiled when after quoting me you wrote:“If you have any questions about anything quoted here, search this site’s older posts, press Ctrl F and enter your search request.”I’ll trust you. Besides, I (usually) remember what I say or write!I can’t see how I have contradicted myself. All Christians have an historical lineage with the first apostles, if we preach God’s Word. I mentioned the Catholic denomination as a matter of courtesy to Dwight and his Catholic bloggers. I was not singling out your denomination. Let me put it this way. If my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather opened a famous hotel then technically speaking, I have an historical lineage with that building. However, if I go off and start my own hotel, then while I can claim a link to my distant relative’s hotel, the building I am in today is very different.The Catholic church, with its false teachings on Marian devotion, purgatory, indulgences etc, has set up in a new building. It still has a link, as I do as an Evangelical, with the first hotel owners – the apostles – but you are in a very different building.As a Catholic, you are still in the hotel business. But I suggest you need to close up a few rooms which are infested with damp and rot.I have not yet read the catechism references Dwight made. However, anything contained therein is, at the end of the day, the Catholic denomination’s INTERPRETATION of its alleged sole authority. You might not be surprised that I and hundreds of millions of other Christians do not accept that interpretation.Please note, I have never claimed the Catholic denomination is the anti-Christ. Anyone who claims that has been eating too much candy. I have stated I believe there is salvation in your denomination. But as for the quite outrageous claims about Mary, the pope etc, well no one is perfect – not even an Evangelical.May God bless you this Christmas. May the Holy Spirit fill your life, the life of your parish and the lives of your family and friends.BlessingsJames

  • Anonymous

    Wow, this whole time I thought the Magisterium resided with the Catholic Church. Apparently it resides with James Hastings. So James how did you receive this authority? Why should I think your interpretation of the Holy Scripture is any better (or more correct) than the 1000′s of others out there. Why should I listen to you instead of the pastor of the local Mega Church down the road? What makes you right? If you had the courage of you conviction you would answer this question, instead of evading it and pointing out your perceived flaws of the one true Church. You have been asked this countless time when you have visited this blog. We wait patiently for your response. Merry Christmas James and a Happy New Year.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear friends, discussion with James is the same as discussion with a Jehovah’s Witness or a Christian Scientist or a Free Will Baptist or an Episcopalian or a Moonie or a Mormon or an Anglican or a Christian Brethren or a Methodist or any other of the tens of thousands of Protestant permutations: You may sling your Bible verses their way. Be assured they have an ‘interpretation’ that allows them to wriggle out of any of them.Show them from the New Testament why we have confession. They won’t answer the question, but say, “Yes, but it doesn’t say priests should be celibate and wear dog collars.” And so the discussion with James comes back to the same question (as it always will) which our last commentator asked–”Where do you get the authority to take the interpretation that you do? and why should your interpretation be the correct one?”I will ask it again James, (if you’re still listening) why should your interpretation of these verses be correct but the Episcopalian or Free Will Baptist or Jehovah’s Witness be wrong? They are all Bible believing, sincere, prayerful, Jesus loving Christian people who claim to be filled by the Holy Spirit.Does Holy Spirit speak with forked tongue? Does he say different things to different people?Come on James–if your religion is all that you claim, you should have a firm foundation on which to build it. Have you, or is it just a tissue of personal opinions, warm religious experiences of your own making all fueled by your irrational objections to the Church of Rome?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dear all,Its Christmas Eve in the UK, around 4.30pm.So I won’t respond to all your questions AGAIN. Just look at what I have written and you’ll see I have answered every question you have asked with Bible references and shown how Catholic interpretation on things like sacramental confession, are unBiblical and wrong. Maybe instead of asking over and over again, you stop, stay calm, pray and open your hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit.The real miracle of Christmas is the baby Jesus is there amidst the smells and noise of the stable, or the rush and the chatter of the shopping malls.But we know many people in the secular world are too busy or too unwilling to open their hearts to see Jesus. All they see at Christmas are tinsel, long traffic jams and credit card bills.Listen and you’ll hear his laughter. Read and you’ll see my answers.So, a happy and blessed Christmas to you all. May God give you all His Abundance this Christmas, to you, your fellow parishioners, your families, your friends and neighbours.BlessingsJames

  • Max

    James,Thanks for playing, but you proved nothing. It is up to you to back up your statement with fact. Naming books of the Bible is cute, but factually empty.Why is it that “Bible Christians” can never actually use the Bible to prove their point?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear James, it is wonderful that you can quote Bible verses and show that you are right, but I have to repeat what I said countless times already;Everyone can do that. Everyone from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Anglican bishops have their Bible verses and their interpretations of their Bible verses.Why should yours be right and the other Protestants be wrong? It’s a simple question. Why can’t you even attempt an answer?We agree with your lovely sentiments about baby Jesus at Christmas, and we also deplore secularization and I, for one, also wish you a happy and blessed Christmas.

  • Anonymous

    So James, are you stating in a round about way, that the Bible is your Authority? If that is indeed what you saying, you are stating a contradiction. One cannot accept the Bible without accepting the teaching Authority of the Catholic Church. Without the Teaching Authority of the Church how do you know that the 27 books of the New Testament, that you so freely use to “prove” your point, are inspired? What makes Philemon an inspired text while Clements letter to the Colossians not. How do we know for sure what’s inspired and what is not? I’ll tell you how James. It’s the Catholic Church who tells us they are truly the inspired word of God. So to put it plainly James, to accept the Bible is to accept the Authority of the Church. Have the courage to accept it James. There is always room for you here. Have a Very Merry Christmas. Good Luck to you in the New Year.

  • Louise

    I correspond with a Jeh. Witness woman with about as much success as all of you are having with James. Fr. Dwight is correct. They can wiggle out of anything. The questions I ask that never get answered, however, are these:If the early Church went astray (or into apostasy) very soon after the Resurrection, when exactly did it happen? In precisely what way did the Church stray from the truth? And which truths? If the early Church was an apostate Church, how can you trust the Bible, which was compiled by the apostate church 4 centuries after the Resurrection? You are saying that the Bible was compiled by apostates, but it is the only thing you base your religion on. Doesn’t sound very reliable to me.I’m still trying to find out just when the great aposatasy took place and over what issues. I guess that, since it is not in the Bible, it must not be true–or is it the other way around?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dear All,There’s a theological word for what you are all saying – NONESENSE.A happy and Blessed Christmas from the most joyful, Spirit-filled, set free ex-Catholic now member of the Pioneer Church in misty, mellow, merrie ol’ England. And a Scotsman too! Ah, God really is good!For there is born to you this day…a Saviour. (Luke 2: 11.)(something on which I can agree with my favourite American – and others – Catholic friends)Ho Ho HoJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    James, we appreciate your bonhomie, and return the very jolliest of Christmas greetings to you!One day we hope you will not take the easy route of simply dismissing our questions as ‘nonsense’. They are actually very good and sensible questions. You are an intelligent and articulate fellow. You should try to answer them.Simply saying that you are a happy spirit filled ex catholic is wonderful, but is that enough? With respect, there are very many things which can make one feel happy, and very many experiences that might make one feel ‘spirit filled.’ How can you be sure that it is actually Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and not just man made traditions and the human institution of your church? Many religions offer experiences that are uplifting and provide certainty to their devotees. There are many Jehovah’s Witnesses etc etc etc who are also feeling ‘liberated’ and ‘spirit filled’ and joyful. Is there religious experience invalid and yours valid? If so, why? Are they just as correct as you are? If not, why not?Is your authority really only your subjective religious feelings? I’m sure you can do better than that!

  • Anonymous

    James, don’t raise your voice, make a better argument. Just answer the question. It’s simple. What’s your Authority? If you continue to evade this question eveything thing you say will always ring hollow. If it hasn’t already.Peace be with you James. I’m praying for you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dear All,I quote two items from your catechism. I think these are the two you asked me to read, but correct me if you meant some others.I wondered if it may help you to understand from where Protestants receive their authority, if we examine from where the Catholic denomination claims to receive the same.861: “In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend to the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry.”374 862: “Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops.”375Hence the Church teaches that “the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ.”376 Now after reading these, a Catholic may exclaim: “See. Here is the source of our authority. Where is yours?”But a Protestant may reply: “Yes, but this catechism, is simply based on your interpretation and understanding. It is your interpretation that “just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone;” it is your interpretation that “they accordingly designated such men…”Now, you are perfectly within your rights to claim this interpretation and preach it and publish it in a catechism. But it is still only your interpretation.That simply takes us back to the beginning. On what authority do you base the Catholic interpretation?Regards confession. Catholics interpret John 20: 21-23 as meaning Jesus desired to establish ordained men to officiate at confession. Again, you are within your rights to claim so. But at the end of the day, it is just your interpretation of that passage.Really, you are not any different from the Tennessee snake handlers and Jehovah‘s Witnesses of which Dwight is so fond.BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    James, this is a good observation and a valid question. However, the Catholic understanding of authority is not ‘just an interpretation’ of Scripture. Neither is it just a theory. It is a historical reality.The authority we claim is based first in the authority of Jesus Christ, and then on the authority he gave to his apostles. This still might seem like just a theory or an interpretation like any other, but this ‘theory’ actually has a recognizable reality. You can see it in action for the last 2000 years. Not only does it exist, but it is the authority that has been accepted by the vast majority of Christians in every age for the last 2000 years. It is, if you like, the default setting.I do understand, however, that you do not accept the Catholic authority structure, but at least we have one which is cogent, Scriptural, historical, intellectually valid yet accessible, local yet universal, and both theoretical and practical.What’s your alternative? You still haven’t really answered the question–you’ve just resorted to another attack on the Catholic position.What basis do you have for your authority? Can you answer this question at all in a positive way without resorting to an attack on Catholic beliefs? If you have a positive foundation for your belief system let’s have it. Shouldn’t you be able to answer the question positively–saying what you do believe rather than just saying what you don’t believe? i.e. Catholicism.

  • tony

    James,To follow your analogy, it is the same hotel (Church) but different owners. Granted the hotel receives renovations, but there are no innovations. This statement will be a point of controversy, but Catholics believe this to be true. In Acts, we witness one such renovation as the early church takes its form in response to Peter’s stay with Simeon the tanner and Cornelius. The controversy about circumcision, dietary laws and salvation starts in chapter 11 of Acts and ends with an official decision in chapter 15 by council. Renovations are nothing new to Judaism either. Protestant scholar John Miller proposes in “How the Bible Came to Be” that the Hebrew Bible, known to us as the Old Testament, took form during the reign of kings Josiah and Hezekiah before sacred authors “revised and enlarged” the canon after the Babylonian exile. Today, Vatican II is another such renovation in response to a different set of cultural changes, though; its changes are about pedagogy rather than understanding what God said. So in summary, culture changes how we teach Jesus, but Jesus himself does not change since it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away before any of his laws. As in chapter 15 of Acts, the apostles had to work out what Jesus taught them and apply this teaching to concrete situations. Renovations are part of the trip, so please do not confuse these changes with a Catholic Church in schism with the early church. Whole theological systems had yet to be worked out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,Its wrong to continually claim I am simply making “an attack” on Catholic beliefs. To question institutions, even grand institutions like the Roman denomination, is not the same as hostility or ridicule towards them.You say the Catholic denomination has 2000 years of teaching, tradition and history.The Pharisees and Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time also based their authority on an ancient tradition.They asked where Jesus, a lowly carpenter’s son, got his authority. On what authority did he heal on the Sabbath or forgive sins? They were the ancient guardians and teachers of the law. They were the “default setting.” In the church today, many people still believe others because they are simply ‘in authority.’ They think that a title, or academic qualification or longevity on their own, convey authority. But the truth is, authority comes from elsewhere. We need to look at the source of anyone’s authority whether lay person or pastor. We need to look beyond the grand buildings, the formalities, theological bureaucracy – the very institution itself.People still get confused about authority even though Paul answered that question 2000 years ago, and the Roman centurion who approached Jesus, showed authority in action.The centurion, not even one of the chosen people, grasped the truth that Jesus’ own authority came as He was in submission to the Father. Jesus had said this many time. It completely went over the heads of the Pharisees and religious teachers, because it did not fit in with what they had been taught.In Galatians 1: 6-9 Paul warns: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel, which is no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we (Paul and his apostolic band) and an angel (an angel from the throne of God) from heaven should preach any other gospel than the one we’ve already preached to you, let them be eternally condemned. As we have already said, so now say again, if anybody, anybody at all, preach to you a gospel other than the one we preached to you, and the on you already accepted, let him be eternally condemned.”We have the authority in our submission to the Father through Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to discern and judge the gospel others preach to us, even if they are in authority or an angel from God’s throne.Dwight, the true source of apostolic authority is the humble submission to the truth and we ALL have been given that authority.Paul reminds us, as does Jesus.On the protestant side, there will always be snake handlers and on the Catholic side, there will always be the weeping Mary statue worshippers. Not even an Inquisition could stamp out either.Trust Paul’s words. Trust the Father. The problem is, Catholics in general, grow up with such low self-esteem in spiritual terms. I told you how as a Catholic teenager in the Legion of Mary, my Friday night Bible discussion was cancelled because the priest who ran it was ill. We weren’t to be trusted as just lay people to even discuss Scripture. That was 1975!You say the Catholic denomination’s 2000 years of tradition, teaching and authority is your safeguard. It may also be the millstone around your (spiritual) neck.BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Tony,I think you’ll find the Catholic denomination has gone astray on a number of theological matters.For example, healing. In forty years as a Catholic, I attended a number of parishes across Scotland. I cannot remember a single time when someone was healed. Prayers were said for the sick but no one was healed.Only one Catholic was known to receive healing. John Fagan, a Glasgow dock worker, was healed of stomach cancer. That healing was accepted by Rome as a miracle and it led to the cannonisation of John Ogilvie in 1976, only Scotland’s second saint in 800 years, St Margaret being the other.Thousands of Scots descended on Rome for the celebration. I remember it. I was 16 at the time. Plane loads of people flew out, the bagpipes were played in St Peter’s Square and the Scottish saltire waved from St Peter’s roof. People said ‘tonight Rome belongs to Scotland.’You see, because John Fagan’s miracle was so rare in the Catholic denomination, the celebrations were extreme.Yet, if you read Scripture, healing is something we should experience regularly, not a one-off. But the Catholic denomination has abandoned that teaching for a false teaching of suffering. Yes, you need to clean out your hotel.BlessingsJames

  • Anonymous

    James –There’s a lot of difference between “I only saw one healing in a newspaper” and “there’s only been one healing in my lifetime”. Healings and other miracles are happening all the time in the Church! If you asked around the knowledgeable old Catholic ladies who know everybody’s business, or asked some quiet questions during one of those intimate friendly moments when people are open to telling their stories, you’d hear plenty about healings, and miracles of every type. The big difference is that most Catholics don’t really feel that it’s right to publicize the private graces they receive, unless they receive some sign that God meant it for others as well as themselves. A miracle performed by God through a saint to signify God’s approval of the canonization process — that’s a good reason to speak up. Suddenly receiving the right words to say to a stranger about to kill himself — that’s not about us, and it would be an intrusion on the suicidal person’s privacy to talk about it. Suddenly having an intimate vision of God’s love for you, His glory, and the beauty of the world to come — that’s something you definitely don’t share, except maybe with your priest! (You don’t kiss and tell!)One does hear a bit more about these things on the Internet, for the same reason people tell their secrets and private family stories on the Internet. But if you expect people in general to stand up and announce “My name is Ian McIlhenny, and I received the following miraculous graces this week”, you’re not very likely to see that. You’re more likely to see the theoretical Catholic man involuntarily levitate in front of you during his ecstasy at Communion or receive the stigmata right before your eyes than that he’d talk about it.Now, it’s true that we sometimes don’t talk about this stuff enough, but it’s also true that if you pay attention, you find out quite a lot. Frankly, there is no scarcity of miracles and never has been. There is also no scarcity of people who think they’ve received miracles who haven’t, and never has been. Yet there’s also no scarcity of people who think nothing miraculous ever happens, and again, it seems that these folks were around in the days of the early Church also. You can lead a horse to a miracle, but you can’t make him accept it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Tony,I should explain I interviewed John Fagan. I’m a journalist. I write for mainly Christian publications and back in the 80s, I interviewed him at his new house. He’d moved near Edinburgh.I interviewed John’s parish priest and fellow parishioners at St John Ogilvie parish, Easterhouse in Glasgow. They were all so amazed, as was the Archdiocese of Glasgow where John lived, because Catholics just were not used to seeing miracles.I always ask Catholics today if anyone has been healed in their parish. I ask if they know anyone raised from the dead. They always laugh at that one then just smile and shake their heads and roll out their automatic reply about the value of suffering and if you ask for a miracle then you have a weak faith.I had forty years of that erroneous teaching. The only healing service offered in the parishes I attended was the annual Blessing of the Throats on the feast of St Blaze. I don’t know if you have that in America. At the end of Mass, the people are invited to come to the front where the priests holds two (unlit) candles under their throats, offering a prayer to heal them or protect them from any disease of the throat.It was when I encountered Catholic Charismatic Renewal that suddenly, I met ‘ordinary’ Catholics, bank managers, mechanics and office workers who were happy to give their healing testimony. They did not share your false sense of humility about healing.I met a nun raised from the dead after collapsing with a heart attack. When she was taken to hospital, her own surgeon who had been treating her for months could find no trace of heart disease. I know a young man healed of homosexuality and full blown AIDS, others healed of drug and sexual addicition; others healed of poverty and lack; others from depression. The list goes on and on.The one thing all these Catholics have in common is they are involved in Renewal.The only Catholics I know who experience healing – in every sense of that word – are those in Catholic Charismatic renewal. I really do urge you to get involved with groups like Flame Ministries, Cor et Lumen or Fr Bob deGrandis. These are all Magisterium Catholics and groups whose printed matter carries both the Imprimatur and Nihil obstat. Don’t worry in case you think they are dangerous Protestants!The vast majority of Catholics expect to live their lives in suffering, lack, pain, depression addictions and so on. They are not taught about healing – I wasn’t in forty years.The stock reply was ‘well maybe at Lourdes.’ But Catholics are being healed in their own homes, at parish prayer meetings and ‘ordinary’ places. But the vast majority of them are involved in Renewal.I think it is anti-Gospel not to tell of healing. Sure, Jesus told some people – not all – to keep quiet about their healing. But he raised Lazarus in the middle of a crowd of mourners and he fed five thousand on a hillside. Not exactly shy! Fr Bob deGrandis tells how for the first ten years after his ordination, he was very happy being a priest, saying Mass, involved with the usual parish societies, doing school work and his parish duties. But he saw very few conversions and no healing.Then he got involved with Renewal and for forty years he has travelled the world with a healing mission. Sadly, he remains a tiny minority in your denomination. For most Catholics its all about bearing your suffering. That is so anti-Gospel.Why not check out Catholic charismatic sites and groups. Of course, there are some bad ones. But at least people there expect healing, preach healing and talk about healing. In most parishes, suffering is the message.BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    James, in my experience the healing ministry is alive and active in the Catholic Church. It is active in the renewal movement, as you’ve indicated, but it is also active through the ministry of ordinary hospital chaplains and ministers of the sacrament of anointing. There are three forms of this healing. One is physical, but there is also supernatural, mental and spiritual healing. There are many reasons why the healing ministry in the Catholic Church is not as showy and spectacular as it is in the charismatic churches, but it is real and profound nonetheless.I’m glad you have at last outlined your understanding of authority. What you are really saying is that each individual has the authority to determine teachings according to how he reads the Scriptures, trusts the heavenly father and relies on the Holy Spirit.Unfortunately, that just brings us back to square one, because of course, this is precisely what the liberal Anglicans, Seventh Day Adventists, Methodists, etc etc etc all believe. All the different Protestant individuals and groups believe that they draw their beliefs from the Scriptures, trust the Father and rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance.Catholics, on the other hand, are supposed to submit their private opinion to the interpretive authority of the church.The response I receive from most non-Catholic brothers and sisters is a good and pious cry, “But all that doesn’t matter–surely all that matters is how much you love and trust Jesus.”Indeed, and such sentiments are good and laudable, but how do you know what you are loving and trusting is indeed Jesus and not just a product of your own religious theories or those of the leader of your religious sect? How do you know? Is sincerity the only test? They’re all sincere.And that brings me back to my extreme examples: (and I use them simply to make my point) If it is up to each individual to trust God, read the Scriptures and rely on what they believe is the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who is to say that the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Snake Handlers are wrong?Let us take the example you seem to dislike most: the Snake Handlers are a Bible believing, otherwise orthodox (although very fundamentalist)Christian sect of the holiness/charismatic tradition. Their worship would appear to be mainstream holiness/charismatic worship. The problem is they drink poison and handle rattlesnakes. But they do this based on their sincere and honest interpretation of verses in Mark’s gospel.Why are they wrong? Simply because they do weird and dangerous things at church? Other charismatic groups do weird and dangerous things (I’m thinking of the African based churches that do extreme exorcisms where they beat children or ‘heal’ infertility by giving women babies from someone else)Given your individualistic authority system, who can say that these extremist groups are wrong and why?The Catholic system, on the other hand, has a structure by which the extremists can be recognized and disciplined if need be. The system doesn’t always work, and it is often leaky, but at least it is there, it is a historical fact, and it offers a rock on which to build.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,Despite what you write, I really am not that fussed about the Tennessee snake handlers. It is you who seem obsessed by them.But tell me, how do you explain the Catholic equivalent, those Catholics who swear they are devout, Magisterium following Catholics who swear allegiance to the Pope and Rome, who also worship statues?Every so often, there is a report about a statue of Mary, usually in Ireland, which is said to weep tears of blood; others apparently waltz across the floor.Now the Catholics who worship the statues – and they do worship – claim to be loyal to your denomination. But the local bishop has to issue a decree calling on them to stop their devotions. He is usually ignored. These same Catholics attend Mass in their local parish and during the week, pray the rosary in front of a statue they say cries, or sings, or has a beautiful smell. They are even members of parish societies and do good works.If the Catholic denomination is so solid in its teaching, why do these excesses continue? Its not enough to claim there are occasional leaks in your alleged discipline. These Catholics are hurt when the bishop calls on them to stop. Why is he right and they wrong? Why is the Catholic who doesn’t pray before a moving statue right and the others wrong?As for healing, it really isn’t enough for you to say blandly that the “healing ministry is alive and well in the Catholic church.”Prove it. Tell me Catholics outside Charismatic circles who have been healed. Let’s not include those whose miracles have led to the canonisation of saints. Tell me some others. Give me names, dates and what miracle or healing took place. Do you have medical or scientific evidence to back up the claims?Has anyone in your parish been raised from the dead? Are dozens being healed of cancer, depression or addictions in your parish? If not, why not. Oh, its always a stock Catholic answer to say ‘well, there’s more than one kind of healing.’Remember Jesus said: “I tell you the truth. Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.” (John 14: 12.)Are you and the other Catholic parishes in your diocese doing “greater things” than Jesus?My Catholic charismatic friends from the UK, America, Australia and mainland Europe, tell me they rarely heard or saw miracles in their parishes until they joined Renewal. Afterwards – an explosion, in spiritual AND physical healing.BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    You don’t get it do you? The whole point is that the snake handlers have no recognized authority to tell them that they are wrong, neither do you have any foundational reason for saying that they’re wrong. Why should they be wrong? Just because you think they’re wrong? Just because you don’t like people from Tennessee or rattlesnakes? It’s arguable that what they are doing is straight from the Bible just as much as your speaking in tongues and healing people is–after all–just as you claim that people will do great things like raise people from the dead and so forth–they claim (from the Bible) that good Christian folk should be able to drink poison and handle rattlers without being harmed. Why are they wrong and you’re right?In the Catholic Church if there are abuses of Marian devotion the whole point is that there is an authority that actively reprimands and controls the practices that stray from Catholic orthodoxy. people may disobey, but they know what they are disobeying. They have something to kick against. Protestantism has no such authority. Everyone does as they feel ‘led by the Spirit’. About miracles, have you not seen the inner inconsistencies of your position? Catholics have documented miracles required for canonization. We have many miracles within the Catholic charismatic movement. We have many other healings which I have experienced through the normal sacramental life of the church. In addition to healing miracles, Catholics claim many other types of miracles: incorrupt bodies of saints, apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, healing, inner visions and locutions of mystics, stigmatics, statues that weep and move and bleed, saints bodies that exude healing oils and the fragrance of roses, relics of saints that heal and work miracles, sainats who levitate, saints who bi locate, saints who have read souls and worked miracles at distance. Eucharistic hosts that bleed. However, all these miracles you sneer at.But what if a Catholic should dare to doubt any of your miracles? What if we said about Charismatic phenomena, “people rising from the dead!?? Poppycock. Miraculous cures from cancer–then the person dies anyway after having a ‘remission’ for three months. People ‘cured’ of homosexuality and addictions?! Hogwash–its all suggestion, spiritual blackmail and psychosomatic ‘healing’. What about all the ones who quietly slip away back to their homosexuality, their drugs and drink? Then you simply say, ‘Oh,them? Well, they didn’t have enough faith…’”You’re allowed to be skeptical of all the long long list of Catholic miracles of all kinds down the ages, but we must accept all Charismatic healings just because you say so with open mouthed wonder and praise?Come now. You’re smarter than that…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15718114332904062389 Christian

    As an American Protestant I read a deep sense of pentecostal arrogance at work in these comments from James. I know that he was a Catholic in his youth, and I know he seems to feel that the basis for his animosity against the RCC is set upon sound reasoning, but it seems clear that most all of this stems from emotional baggage he carries with him from his past. My mother in-law, who also grew up catholic — carries deep seated and strongly reasoned resentment against the Church. The pattern is similar. In moving out of my own highly individualistic and consumeristic “brand” of Evangelicalism, I felt a sense of arrogance that I had moved out of a lie and into the truth. Again, the pattern is similar.But I think the most obvious factor working against James’ pretense to sound theological reasoning is that James, a charismatic protestant, is looking to pick fights on the blog of a Catholic priest. What could possibly be James’ purpose for writing on this blog than other to work out some deeply felt angst?As being new to reading this blog it is quite evident that James has issues and is working them out through being a bully on this site. Too bad, Ho Ho Ho. p.s. This is a great blog, Father Dwight.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Christian,By claiming to be an “American Protestant” while remaining anonymous, some people might suspect you are not really what you claim to be. I’m sure that is not the case.Dwight and I certainly use robust language. His fellow bloggers do the same. They have accused me of being “a liar” and a “sheep-stealer” amongst other things. I’ve not actually used terms like those. In addition, while Dwight and his friends repeatedly urge me to re-join the Catholic denomination, I make it clear I am not urging them to leave the Catholic church in which I believe there is salvation. Unlike Dwight and his bloggers, I end every contribution with a genuine blessing.Given all of this, perhaps you need to reflect on who is bullying who. I have also made it clear elsewhere, this is Dwight’s blog, he sets the rules and if at any time, he wishes any discussion to end, his word is final. Finally, Dwight is a strong-minded, well educated priest with wide pastoral experience. He also looks kind of tough in his picture where he waves a big stick. I’m sure he can look after himself ok.BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dwight,When Jesus said we would do greater things than him, I somehow don’t suspect he meant have devotions to weeping statues.The healing of the nun raised from the dead at a Flame Ministries meeting in Perth, Western Australia has been accepted by Archbishop Hickey whose diocese covers Perth. In addition, the full notes of her medical history can be examined. David Harp, also of Flame, who was healed of homosexuality and AIDS, drug addiction and alcoholism, makes his medical records available too. David is currently engaged to another Flame member, Denise. Both stories are available on Flame’s website or in the book, It’s Faith, Jim, But Not As We Know It, by Eddie Russell, Flame’s founder. Incidentally, I was asked by a UK Catholic paper to name my Christian book of 2007. I chose It’s Faith, Jim. (the updated edition)In the UK, James Parker a former Anglican now committed Catholic, was healed of homosexuality – after attending a meeting of Cor et Lumen Christi. He is married to Nicole Parker, a former Catholic Woman of the Year in the UK. She runs a fertility centre in St Patrick’s RC church, Soho, London where she teaches John Paul’s Theology of the Body.James runs EnCourage, the only British group for homosexuals and men with sexual addictions in the UK, which follows the full teaching of the Catholic denomination, on these issues. Unlike other groups such as Quest, with which you may be familiar from your time in the UK, EnCourage follows the Magisterium to the letter and is approved by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.When James was struggling with his identity in Christ, he told me he sought advice from a Catholic priest. The priest told him he was born gay and should accept it and that his boyfriend, with whom he was living with, was the best thing that ever happened to him and he should stick with him!I could list you, one by one, numerous miracles and healings which take place all the time in Catholic Charismatic Renewal as well as my own and other Evangelical churches. Check out Fr Bob deGrandis ministry. Most have full medical backing. Names, addresses, healings and medical opinion can be supplied.Since you mingled with Cor et Lumen members, you will know that its foudner and leader, Damian Stayne, is always anxious to have independent medical reports sent to him after someone is healed. Its the same with Flame. Meanwhile, what’s happening in your parish? Why are you not doing what Jesus’ instructed and raising the dead, healing the sick and performing miracles and healing in every sense of those words?Perhaps you’re too busy looking on ebay to buy the latest Catholic relic? I hear a piece of St Ethlered‘s big toe nail is going cheap.Let me return the question you asked of me. Do you get it, now?BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15718114332904062389 Christian

    James,I do believe you miss my point (as well as the points of many others), albeit “bully” was perhaps the incorrect word. To call one a bully implies that they are in a position of power, which in this case I would suppose means knowledge or rhetorical flair. In that case, Dwight most certainly can take care of himself. What I meant by bully, though, has more to do with someone who has their own set of insecurities, and instead of dealing with them in a healthy way, instead acts aggressively toward others in order to assert their own significance. While I am no therapist, I think it is clear that your posts seem oddly out of line with the spirit and content of what most others seem to be doing here. Now, you may argue that Dwight is in charge and sets the parameters, and also that he carries that big stick and is therefore able to hold his own. You can also argue that you are the innocent one who is being ganged up on by the mean old Catholics. But, this is a Catholic blog, so what do you expect? And furthermore, why are you here? What are you trying to accomplish with your negativity (sincere “blessings” aside) and evasiveness? While I make no pretense to speak for anyone associated with this blog, it seems to me that your contributions are not helpful. Being contrarian is one thing, being stubborn and childish is quite another.Aren’t there some good Spirit led anti-RCC blogs out there for you to post on?Best to you mate,Christian (not anonymously)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Christian,You can forgive me for missing your point when you admit yourself you are using the incorrect words. But thanks for clearing it up.I’d prefer not to visit the anti-Catholic blogs with which you seem to be over familiar. Perhaps you spend too much time in those and need to ask yourself why. I prefer good Catholic blogs like Dwight’s, but, as I say, I will never overstay my welcome. Dwight just needs to say the word.Your persistence in calling me anti-Catholic seems to stem from your own prejudice, not a clear look at the facts.On my own blog, I have a link to Roman Catholic groups. I urge people to visit the websites of Fr Bob deGrandis and Flame Ministries, both Magisterium following Catholics. I urge gay Evangelicals I meet in the UK, to get in touch with EnCourage, a Magisterium following group for gay men and those addicted to sex, which is run by a former Anglican now Roman Catholic.I mentioned before that I, an Evangelical, organised two visits by the Roman Catholic group, Flame Ministries, to Scotland which were held in Catholic parishes and which both ended with a Catholic Mass. Strange thing to do if I’m anti-Catholic!Last week I interviewed a good Catholic friend of mine, a nun called Sr Roseanne Reddy, of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life in Scotland. They help mothers, usually unmarried ones, look after their babies. The sisters offer financial and material support, as well as real Christian friendship and advice with housing benefits etc. I recently wrote an article in a UK Evangelical publication, urging Evangelicals to imitate and support this ministry. I personally support the sisters financially as well as spiritually.I just mentioned that of all the Christian books I could recommend for a Catholic newspaper, I chose a Catholic book. I also made it my book choice in a UK Baptist newspaper last year.In the UK where I work as a Christian journalist and media advisor to Evangelical churches and ministries, I tell them all that the best Christian media office in Britain is run by the Scottish Catholic Bishops. In fact, my business partner, Peter Kearney, is their media secretary and a devout Roman Catholic.I hardly regard any of that as “negativity” or anti-Catholicism as you allege. I agree that there may be someone on this blog who has “insecurities” and acts “aggressively” but I am too Christian, Christian, to suggest who that may be.Christian, you are remaining anonymous. You use a single name, which could be your own or not. But give no identity as to what “American Protestant” denomination to which you claim you belong. You sign of with “best to you mate” which sounds oddly British. As I say, some people might suspect you are not an American Protestant. However, I will give you the benefit of the doubt.And my blessings,James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15718114332904062389 Christian

    James,I do apologize. I was not aware of your resume. I must have completely misunderstood all your comments as negative on this particular blog, when in fact you have a deep and rich regard for the Catholic Church and its theology and practices. What a terribly foolish assumption on my part.Can you enlighten me as to why some might find that I am not who I purport to be? This is a very curious accusation.Cheers, Christian

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Christian,I thank you for your sincere remarks. I regularly work and worship with Catholics and Catholic ministries.At the Flame meeting in Scotland which I organised, I spent the entire day there, arranged accommodation and publicity and I also gladly acted as a ‘taxi’ service for the Catholic leaders of that ministry. At the end of the event, I also attended the Mass but I did not go forward for Communion. This was not because I personally felt it wrong, but it would have been disrespectful to my Catholic guests, so I stayed in my pew.I wonder if you have heard of the Haddington Pilgrimage held annually in Scotland? Catholics and Christians of other denominations walk together to St Mary’s Episcopal Church at Haddington near Edinburgh. The Catholics then hold a Mass at one end of the church while we Protestants hold a Communion service at the other end. Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland has officiated at the Mass, as have his brother bishops.It is events like Haddington and the Flame meetings which show how ecumenism is alive and thriving. In the words of Pope John Paul we need to “walk hand in hand.”I believe it is possible to have such close ecumenical ties and support each other’s ministries while debating passionately, even robustly, from our own theological viewpoint.As for your concern over why some people might doubt who you are? Well, I for one have do doubts, I accept you are an “American Protestant.”However, some other people may wonder if that is the case as you have not mentioned which church or denomination you attend. Your blogger reference contains no further details.You could always put THEIR minds at ease by clearing up this matter. However, it is your choice.BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    James, you missed my point entirely. I was not actually criticizing any charismatic miracles as authentic. If you say they happened, I rejoice in their authenticity. My point was this: why do you joyfully proclaim charismatic miracles, and yet denigrate Catholic parishes that are not producing stupendous and spectacular miracles?There are three problems with your reasoning on miracles: the first is that we could very easily multiply the church congregations from the holiness/charismatic tradition that also do not regularly raise people from the dead and heal cancer and AIDS. As you know there are many charismatic and holiness congregations where the people are spiritually dead, the pastor is corrupt or immoral or theologically off track, and many more which are just normal ordinary worshiping congregations where people love the Lord, but don’t do miracles every week. Must we therefore rubbish the whole charismatic tradition? Of course not.The second problem is this: you portray Catholicism as without miracles, and yet you yourself admit to the many miracles within Catholic charismatic circles, and you very easily ignore all the other stupendous miracles that Catholics claim (which charismatics never report in their own experience)If the Catholic Church is without miracles what do you say to the saints who levitate, the saints bodies that do not decay, the saints who receive the stigmata, who read souls, who bi-locate and who heal from a distance? If the Catholic Church is without miracles what do you say to the apparitions of Mary and the saints, of Eucharistic hosts that bleed, statues that weep and bleed, relics of saints that heal, bodies of saints that ooze healing oil and smell of roses after being in the grave for years and years, or saints who live on nothing but the Eucharistic host and water for years?These are all miracles. They are well documented down the ages. They are phenomena that are unheard of in charismatic circles.The third problem seems to be your definition of miracles. Is a miracle only a miracle when it is stupendous and spectacular? I have heard confessions, pronounced absolution and afterward the person told me that they were healed of a particular physical complaint. I have said masses for healing and known release from cancer, healing of depression, and a whole range of other illnesses and problems.The fact of the matter is, my ministry as a Catholic priest is full of healing miracles on a regular basis. Its just that I take it for granted that through the action of grace in the sacraments healing will take place–sometimes dramatically, but more often quietly, gradually and profoundly.And is this not more in keeping with the way Jesus healed? He didn’t go around trumpeting the healings did he? More often he healed someone and then told them not to tell anyone.The fact is James, healing goes on in the Catholic Church all the time through the quiet and regular administration of the sacraments by an army of quiet, good and faithful Catholic priests.

  • tony

    LOL, you two still fighting it out in here. I wish I had time to contribute, but it takes more time than I have. I did wish to say that you and your loved ones are prayed for James. There is a certain peace in doing so I would not want to miss. I say this not only for you, but those who may stray in and read this. I recognize you are intelligent and understand some aspects of Catholicism, but because this blog is not a private conversation I write simply. Please forgive me if you thought I was talking down to you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07509461318016670424 Steve Kellmeyer

    Ummm… sorry to contradict everyone on this thread (especially Fr. Longenecker), but indulgences ARE doctrine and they are NOT optional.Please see CCC #1471-1479. Also, see the article on indulgences at the Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org).There is a 12-month calendar of indulgences which can help you learn more about them – it tells you how to do every indulgence the God offers us through the Church, along with the two dozen days of the year which are enriched with special plenary indulgences.It can be found at http://www.bridegroompress.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Belief in indulgences is not optional, but you don’t have to sign up for them to be a good Catholic

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14988249303312975590 disa

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