Are Catholics right to pray for the dead, and to believe that such prayers can help to release souls from Purgatory? Many Christians are unaware that these doctrines are Jewish in origin, and that the Jewish practice of praying for the dead continues on to this day. Even fewer are aware that this practice of prayer is tied to a tradition of temporary purgatorial fires after death.
Given the rising tide of anxiety over the election and current events, I think it's worth discussing the idolatry of anxiety. What does it mean to say that anxiety is a form of idolatry? And how do we rid ourselves of this subtle idolatry?
Protestants tend to be opposed to praying to the Saints and Angels for two reasons: (1) it's offensive to the dignity of God, since we're going to someone besides Him; or (2) it's a waste of time, since we can go directly to God. This hints at the underlying issue - that Catholics and Protestants tend to think of prayer and Heaven very differently. So the core question ought to be: is the Catholic vision of prayer and Heaven true?
Protestant Bibles have seven fewer books than Catholic Bibles. These seven books are called "the Deuterocanon" by Catholics, and "the Apocrypha" by Protestants (although, confusingly, they also use "the Apocrypha" to refer to several other books, ones that are rejected by Catholics and Protestants alike). So what's the basis for the Protestant rejection of these books? Matt Slick, at the popular Protestant website CARM (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry), offers six reasons, each of which turns out to rely upon lies, deceptions, or double standards.
Does God owe us salvation? Yes, if Protestant theologians (from the Reformation down to today) are right. No, if salvation is a free gift, as the Bible says.
The weirdest and most troubling of Jesus' parables is almost certainly the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16, in which Jesus presents a parable of a manager who, upon being fired, exploits his position to cut deals with his master's clients so that he can try to leverage this into a job with them. Rather than being justly furious, the master *praises him* for his ingenuity. What on earth is going on? Three things to keep in mind with this parable.
Pope Pius XI, G.K. Chesterton, and Pope Francis have all warned about the danger of a sort of "False Francis of Assisi," of loving a sort of distorted vision of the great Saint of Assisi. The truth is, all of those things that the world (rightly) loves about St. Francis are, in fact, simply the natural result of St. Francis' love of God. If you ignore that root of sanctity, you end up with these false Francises: Francis the Hippie, Francis the Italian Nationalist, Francis the poet, etc. The true Francis is Francis the Lover, which is to say, Francis the Saint.
A surprisingly common objection raised by atheists against the idea of God is "who created the Creator?" The argument asks, essentially, why theists think that creation needs a Creator, but the Creator doesn't. For example, Lawrence Krauss asks, "the declaration of a First Cause still leaves open the question, 'Who created the creator?' After all, what is the difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus an eternally existing universe without one?"
Are you interested in sharing the faith more? Are you worried that you don't know how to answer your co-workers' and friends' questions? 1 Peter 3:15 calls us to "always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." That's a tall order. Here are ten tips that might help.
Was sola Scriptura true during the time of the Apostles?Were the Apostles and the first-century Christians bound to follow Scripture alone? These are the two options. You can claim, despite the clear evidence to the contrary, that the Apostles and early Christians believed in Scripture alone. But doing so both undermines John's faith in the Resurrection and renders the New Testament irrelevant. Or you can concede that the Apostles and early Christians didn't believe in Scripture alone. But then you have to throw out all of the alleged "Scriptural proofs" for sola Scriptura, and concede that it's a post-Apostolic man-made tradition that contradicts the written word of God.