It's Advent, should we be fasting? Is this a season of penance or rejoicing?
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.
This Thanksgiving, let's be mindful of the fact that we don't deserve all of the good things that God has given us (individually, and as a nation).... but that He gives us His gifts nevertheless.
Among the singer-songwriters who emerged in the latter part of the 1960s, Leonard Cohen was something of an oddity: a musician with a disdain for secularism and a respect (and a yearning) for religion in general, and Jesus Christ in particular.
There was a time, not long ago, in which liberals could be counted on to defend the rights of workers, just as conservatives would the rights of business owners. Those days are over. This is the story of how workers (and business owners) were betrayed by our rampant consumerism.
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.
Is it wrong to take an innocent human life if you can do it without inflicting pain? What about if killing the person reduces the amount of pain that they're in? In the debates about both assisted suicide and abortion, it's common to see two incompatible camps emerge. Despite all of the yelling and nastiness between the two sides, there are people in both camps who are trying to do the right thing. Frequently (not always), the problem is that they've simply got two incompatible moral codes. One side looks at the reduction/cessation of suffering, while the other side is rooted in a view of the inherent sanctity of human life. So who's right, and how can we know?
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.