Critiquing Catholicism

Yesterday, I had a conversation on Youtube, mainly on Catholicism. I had done some brief reading of the basics, but I never really dove in. Here’s the debate for anyone who is interested. 

In Roman Catholicism, I think there is only one question you need to answer: it’s what is more important, scripture or tradition. If our walk with Jesus is personal, I don’t see how years of tradition could improve that relationship. I’m not saying that the traditions of the church are wrong; I am simply saying that they are not necessarily true. I accept scripture as being the Word of God. And while tradition may have given us scripture, there is tradition that followed scripture. And while there is dispute between Catholics and protestants over whether to accept the apocryphal writings, I think we all accept the validity of scripture itself. 

What I think Protestants and Catholics should certainly be able to agree on is the words of Jesus. That’s why I would take a careful look at Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Mark 7. 

 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Jesus says plainly that we are to value the word of God over human tradition. The question is why?

The more people that play the game of telephone, the worse the final message is. I don’t see how we could expect thousands of years of church tradition not to stray from the truth. Let’s take this approach for the history of science. Imagine if everything accepted by science, you believed. This is obviously not possible, because there are too many contradictions to count. The earth cannot be flat and round at the same time. The earth is either the center of the universe, or it’s not.  

For that reason, I think that the catholic church could be taking us further away from the truth of Jesus. It’s as simple as this: we have one story, followed by thousands of years of tradition. If the story saved those that came after, why do those that follow need the tradition? 

If the Holy Spirit works in us through the word of God, what use is the tradition of the Catholic Church? 

There is only one truth. And Jesus claimed to be it. I think the Gospel is as close as we can get to this truth. But the continued evolution of tradition seems to be a flawed way of getting closer to the truth. If we have the word of God and the Holy Spirit, both alive in this universe, why not just go directly to the source? Would you trust your information about something more if you watched a live video of it happening, or if you talked to someone who talked to a police officer who watched the video? 

That’s why I’m not a Catholic: Jesus said plainly that scripture was more important than human tradition. And if truth is the goal, and we consider Jesus the truth, you can see how centuries of tradition could take us away from that. 

There is no sin in heaven

That’s what you need to know. Perhaps you believe God doesn’t exist, or heaven isn’t real. But regardless, in this world, real or imaginary, there is no sin. 

There is also no desire to sin. If people desired sin, there would be want in heaven. But we know that there is no want in heaven. Because it is a perfect place.

Let’s just say that there is no pizza in heaven. But it’s not a problem because no one in heaven wants pizza. So there is no shortage of pizza there either. 

Those that prefer sin go somewhere else. Let’s just say that heaven is preferable to this other place.

God’s will be done. God’s will is the opposite of sin. Thus in heaven, there is only God’s will. If you prefer your own will over God’s, heaven would be hell, anyways. And we can’t have people in heaven that think it’s hell. 

So the question becomes, if there is no sin in heaven, and we are born sinners, how do we get into heaven? 

Jesus is the only way. Remember, we cannot be good without God. So if we cannot be good without God, we need God to be good. And Jesus is the method that God comes to us. And if this goodness is the opposite of sin and comes from God, Jesus is not only the way to God, but also the only way to heaven. 

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except by me. John 14:6

 

 

Overcoming Narcissism

On my highs, I am everyone else is beneath me. There is no one worthy of me. My confidence is so high that it feels like a waste of time to talk to my friends and family.

On the lows, everyone is above me.
My life and everyone in it is so much better than me that I can’t get words out. Afraid to take action. Afraid to be myself.

Nothing has changed except my view of self. And the only reason my view of self has changed, is because I am looking at a metric that is changing. I am comparing myself to different people.

The only time I am content is when I feel like I have accomplished something great or I am hanging around people that I think I am better than. 


This is what I think narcissism is. It’s sometimes called self love. And it’s associated with all sorts of negative traits, including:

  • Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people
  • Continually demeaning, bullying and belittling others
  • Exploiting others to achieve personal gain
  • Lack of empathy for the negative impact they have on the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people
  • Fixation on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
  • Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions
  • Need for continual admiration from others
  • Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  • Intense envy of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them
So many correlate narcissism to manic depression because of the narcissistic supply. Essentially, as long as a narcissist gets ample praise, they are elevated above everyone else. And I posit that this elevation is what they love. This is where they establish their sense of self.

So as the supply weans, they begin to doubt their superiority. And because their personality is built on that, they fall into depression. If who they are is dependent of feeling like they are better than everyone else, who are they when they don’t? 

Their sense of self is not based on truth, but on praise. And praise ebbs and flows. As does the mental state of a narcissist.
But you see, nothing actually changes in the world. The narcissist is still right where he was before, but he was never where he thought he was.

Thus, the personality cannot be built on others. Or an false elevated view of self. As long as you think that you are better than you are, you are living a false reality. So while in the narcissist’s mind he is deserving of praise, in reality, he is not. So when there is a shortage of praise, they fall into the realm of other people, where they were all along.

To him, it’s a shortage of something deserved. He believes he is better, so he expects additional praise. If the praise is there, he believes he is better. If the praise isn’t there, he starts to doubt his superiority.

The question is whether he is lacking praise or superiority. If he is lacking superiority, he is probably not lacking praise. If he is lacking praise, he is probably not lacking superiority.

If I am the standard, and I compare everyone to myself, of course no one will measure up. But when I realize that I am not the standard, I can see that I am not superior. And if I am not superior, I am not lacking in praise.

Also, if I am the standard I would expect special treatment. You can see where the list of attributes above would follow. 

The solution then, is simple. We need a new standard. A true standard. 

There is only one person I am supposed to compare myself to. And I will always fall short. Everyone falls short. Which makes me equal to everyone else. Always.

I can look at myself and compare myself yesterday to myself today. And in this comparison strive to be better. More like Jesus.

If I stray, I dip below my former self and further away from Jesus. There is no reason to despair, because I am still the same in relation to the standard that I was before.

So I am wedged in between my former self and Jesus, permanently. I can never do anything to eclipse his glory. I am a sinner in need of salvation, just like everyone else. Any gifts I have are not mine, but God’s. Therefore the praise is not mine, but God’s. As I take my proper place between my former self and Jesus, I can be confident that this is where I’ll stay.

On Hating Life

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26
In my last book, I looked at love and hate at depth, from a new perspective.  With those definitions in mind, what does this verse mean? Simply that we prefer the love of God and truth of Christ to that of anything else, even our own families. If you are perfectly in love with the life you have, why would you be willing to walk with Jesus?

If right now is the pinnacle of your existence, why would you look forward? 

It’s really just about comparing love. If I love my life more than I love Jesus, I will simply keep doing what I am doing. But if I start choosing the will of God over my own, if God’s will is the main priority in my life, and my eyes are forward, looking toward eternity, I hate this life. Because I value what is next more than I value what is now.

Clearly we are being called to put our stock in the next world. 

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25
It’s really simple. If God exists, and the Bible is true, heaven is real. And if heaven is real, and you are going, you prefer that world to this world. Therefore, you hate this world. And your existence in this world is your life.

As long as you believe that heaven exists, and you are saved, why would you not prefer that world to this one? And once you do, do you not hate your life? 

Rethinking the Trinity

I find the trinity to be one of the most difficult facets of the Bible to come to terms with. Not because I don’t believe it exists. Because I think there has to be a better explanation. I’ve done some research on it, and would like your thoughts on this.

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

This sounds like four parts: mind, body, soul, and heart. But one has to represent the person as a whole. Repeatedly in the Bible, people are referred to as souls. [Exodus 31:14; Proverbs 11:30] So we will use the term ‘soul’ to define the person as whole.

If we were made in God’s image, shouldn’t this parallel Him? If our soul consists of three parts: mind, body, and heart. Could it be that the these systems mirror the divine parts of the trinity? If that was true, God the father would be the mind. Jesus would be the body. And the Holy Spirit would be the heart.

trinity spacetime.pngNot to mention, the space/time/matter implications. If this view were true, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would exist inside and outside spacetime at the same time. God would be both material and immaterial at the same time. So how can you be not be at the same time? 

god jesus parts.pngLastly, Jesus to be fully God had to have the heart and mind of God. To be sinless, he had to begin with the heart and mind of God. If he didn’t start that way, he would have sinned, and he wouldn’t have been Jesus. 

Christ Eternal

I was just reading a blog post on Saint Nicholas, saying that the council of Nicea once met to discuss the idea of Christ’s eternity. Warning: I did no research on their findings prior to writing this. I just think that it’s an interesting idea to explore. Because Christ was born, we assume that his life began. So did he exist in heaven prior to being born on earth? Are there references to the son in the Old Testament? 
I think that if the word was with God in the beginning. And the word became flesh. Something changed. 
The way that I look at it, God always knew that he may need Jesus to save the world. I’m not sure if he definitely knew this or not. Regardless, lets just say in his endless foresight, he knew that this need was possible. Therefore, the idea of Jesus existed then. And if the will of God is to have the maximal amount of free creatures to be joined in the body of Christ, this was at very least a necessary back-up plan. Because if Adam and Eve sinned, then there would have to be a redemption. And for there to be a redemption, there would have to be a redeemer.
The word became flesh. The promise became reality. The thought became real. If it was God’s will to redeem all the free creatures that chose to believe in him, Jesus had to be a part of God’s original plan. So his existence in God’s foreknowledge means that at very least he existed always in some fashion.
The question becomes: did he know that Adam and Eve would sin? Because if he did, Jesus was not just a possibility, he was a certainty. But if Adam and Eve’s outcome was not known by God, the idea of Jesus was part of a foolproof redemptive plan. But his necessity was ultimately unknown. There would exist possible futures where presumably generations of humans had the same choice that Adam and Eve had.
But let’s just say that Adam and Eve didn’t eat from the tree of knowledge. Or their children. But their grandchildren did. So Eden would presumably still exist, along with access to the tree of life.  There would be another tribe of humans outside the garden and outside of the grace of God. They would need to be able to make the same decision that Adam and Eve made. Those in the garden could choose knowledge of good and evil and to exit the garden, but those outside the garden would need a path to redemption. 
Christ would be needed to save them. As long as at least one human chose to eat from the tree, Jesus was needed. And since humans were free creatures, not perfect creatures, some would choose to eat the fruit.
Therefore, all scenarios of imperfect humans with free will lead to sin and need a savior. And Christ was not a possibility. He was always needed. 
And if Jesus was certainly needed, and existed as an idea prior to his birth and prior to Adam and Eve, he first existed as an idea, then as a prophesy, then as a person. But always in the will of God. So he was always going to be. 

The Greatest Commandment

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:36-37

To love God better, we need to first understand three abstract concepts.

  • Heart- where we feel emotions and intuition. We’ve discussed emotions before as something we create based on our perspective.
  • Soul-  the part of us that never dies. Where our logic resides. Where our memories reside. So if our logic does not match God’s logic, we can not love God with all of our minds, because that logic produces the thoughts that govern the mind.
  • Mind- what produces thoughts based on our logic

So the heart feels, soul interprets, and mind produces thoughts.

We love better God by using the proper perspective to govern our emotions. Writing logic based in the Truth to govern our souls. And using better logic to produce wholesome thoughts. And using those thoughts to do good in the world.

 

Applying Faith to Love

With our definition of love in the last post, we can make some very interesting applications.

You shouldn’t love anything you can’t take anywhere. But not just anywhere, you also shouldn’t love anything that time could take from you.

But no one can take your memory of things from you. You can take them anywhere. They are a part of you. So while you shouldn’t love golf, you can love your memories of golf. And like golf.

You shouldn’t love coffee. You may be addicted to coffee. You can like coffee, or prefer it over other drinks. But if you love coffee, you literally hate all the time that you don’t have coffee. Which is the same as being addicted to it, or asking God not to be with you when you don’t have coffee.

You shouldn’t hate broccoli. You can dislike broccoli. But to say you hate broccoli is the same as saying you wish that broccoli didn’t exist. And I don’t think that’s what you mean. You may hate eating broccoli, but if you hate eating broccoli, you literally can’t see yourself ever eating it. And if you can’t imagine one reality where you do something, you have no hope of ever doing it.

If you look at porn, you’re literally imagining yourself with other women. By hoping for realities that include these women, you are literally hating your wife, and disconnecting with God.

Can I hate my job? Of course you can. But you shouldn’t. Why? Because by imagining a future without your job, you ask God not to be present in the job you have. Instead of hating your job, dislike your job, be grateful for it, and hope that it will get better. Which literally means to imagine future positive realities.

Love your neighbor as yourself. According to Jesus, it was the second greatest commandment. Its spiritual application is not what it seems. How do we love ourselves? Our self-love is literally not imagining a future without ourselves. Remember? You, by default, love yourself.

That is exactly what Jesus means by this. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you quite literally cannot imagine realities without these people. So we’re called to not imagine realities without anyone. To not hate. Which would be to distance ourselves from God.

So if reality stretches past death, into the afterlife? If love is imagining future realities with someone, and reality exists after death, the only way to imagine future realities with everyone is to show them the Truth, if that is the way to the afterlife. Because if eternity is real, and we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we want to go to heaven, so we can imagine ourselves in all future realities, that means we are called to spread the Word. Because without that, our neighbors can’t go to heaven, and if heaven exists, they wouldn’t go. And if we can’t imagine them in heaven, we hate them.

So as Christians, we cannot love people that are not saved. Not in the same way we love ourselves. Because we have eternity. That’s like saying I can imagine this life with you, but not the next. Which is not far from wishing them to go to the fiery place.

The Literal Son of God

Preliminary Reading: Matthew 1: 18-25, Luke 1: 26-38

I’m sure that this has been done before, but here’s an theory about the conception of Jesus from biological standpoint. 

Some animals have virgin births. Including sharks, Komodo dragons, pit vipers and boa constrictors.

One percent of women claim to have virgin births. This number varies depending on what data you look at, but the point is a good amount of women claim that they have not had intercourse.

If we assume that one percent of women aren’t liars, parthenogenesis is possible in humans. 

If parthenogenesis is possible in humans, the offspring is always female. There is no male DNA contributed to the offspring. The resulting baby is called a parthenogen, and because it results from the inheritance of only a single sex chromosome from the mother, it will always be female in animals where two like chromosomes determine the female sex (the XY sex-determination system), and always male in animals where two like chromosomes make for a male (the ZW sex-determination system, where WZ is female, ZZ is male and WW is inviable).

So if Mary actually had a virgin birth, how did she give birth to a boy? The natural [or supernatural, rather] explanation would be that God was the father of the child, meaning half of Jesus’ DNA was literally God’s, making him quite literally the Son of God.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/virgin-births-claimed-by-1-percent-of-us-moms-study/
  2. http://theconversation.com/is-virgin-birth-possible-yes-unless-you-are-a-mammal-52379
  3. http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151216-virgin-births-are-happening-everywhere
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217210542.htm
  5. https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-strange-science-behind-virgin-births?ref=scroll
  6. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-health-virgins/claims-of-virgin-births-in-u-s-near-1-percent-study-idUSBRE9BG1F020131217