Lasers uncover first icons of Saints Peter and Paul

By Nicole Winfield |

Twenty-first century laser technology has opened a window into the early days of the Catholic Church, guiding researchers through the dank, musty catacombs beneath Rome to a startling find: the first known icons of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Vatican officials unveiled the paintings Tuesday, discovered along with the earliest known images of the apostles John and Andrew in an underground burial chamber beneath an office building on a busy street in a working-class Rome neighborhood.

The images, which date from the second half of the 4th century, were uncovered using a new laser technique that allows restorers to burn off centuries of thick white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the brilliant dark colors of the paintings underneath.

A spotlight illuminates the icon of the Apostle John discovered with other paintings in a catacomb located under a modern office building in a residential neighborhood of Rome, Tuesday, June, 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Catacomb archeological superintendent Fabrizio Bisconti points out a painting.
(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

A cameraman films the discoveries. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

The technique could revolutionize the way restoration work is carried out in the miles (kilometers) of catacombs that burrow under the Eternal City where early Christians buried their dead.

The icons were discovered on the ceiling of a tomb of an aristocratic Roman woman at the Santa Tecla catacomb, near where the remains of the apostle Paul are said to be buried.

Rome has dozens of such burial chambers and they are a major tourist attraction, giving visitors a peek into the traditions of the early church when Christians were often persecuted for their beliefs. Early Christians dug the catacombs outside Rome’s walls as underground cemeteries, since burial was forbidden inside the city walls and pagan Romans were usually cremated.

The art that decorated Rome’s catacombs was often simplistic and symbolic in nature. The Santa Tecla catacombs, however, represent some of the earliest evidence of devotion to the apostles in early Christianity, Vatican officials said.

“The Christian catacombs, while giving us value with a religious and cultural patrimony, represent an eloquent and significant testimony of Christianity at its origin,” said Monsignor Giovanni Carru, the No. 2 in the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology, which maintains the catacombs.

Last June, the Vatican announced the discovery of the icon of Paul at Santa Tecla, timing the news to coincide with the end of the Vatican’s year of St. Paul. Pope Benedict XVI also said tests on bone fragments long attributed to Paul “seemed to confirm” that they did indeed belong to the Roman Catholic saint.

On Tuesday, Vatican archaeologists announced the image of Paul was not found in isolation, but was part of a square ceiling painting that also included icons of three other apostles — Peter, John and Andrew — surrounding an image of Christ as the Good Shepherd.

“They are the first icons. These are absolutely the first representations of the apostles,” said Fabrizio Bisconti, the superintendent of archaeology for the catacombs.

Bisconti spoke from inside the intimate burial chamber, its walls and ceilings covered with paintings of scenes from the Old Testament, including Daniel in the lion’s den and Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. Once inside, visitors see the loculi, or burial chambers, on three sides.

But the gem is on the ceiling, where the four apostles are painted inside gold-rimmed circles against a red-ochre backdrop. The ceiling is also decorated with geometric designs, and the cornices feature images of naked youths.

Chief restorer Barbara Mazzei noted there were earlier known images of Peter and Paul, but these were depicted in narratives. The images in the catacomb — with their faces in isolation, encircled with gold and affixed to the four corners of the ceiling painting — are devotional in nature and as such represent the first known icons.

“The fact of isolating them in a corner tells us it’s a form of devotion,” she said. “In this case, saints Peter and Paul, and John and Andrew are the most antique testimonies we have.”

In addition, the images of Andrew and John show much younger faces than are normally depicted in the Byzantine-inspired imagery most often associated with the apostles, she said.

“Saints Peter and Paul” by Master Iconographer Nicusor Dumitru

The Vatican’s Sacred Archaeology office oversaw the two-year $73,650 (euro60,000) project, which for the first time used lasers to restore frescoes in catacombs, where the damp air makes the procedure particularly difficult.

In this case, the small burial chamber at the end of the catacomb was encased in up to two inches (five centimeters) of calcium carbonate. Restoration using previous techniques would have meant scraping away the buildup by hand, leaving a filmy layer on top so as not to damage the painting underneath.

Using the laser technique, restorers were able to sear off all the deposits by setting the laser to burn only on the white of the calcium carbonate; the laser’s heat stopped when it reached a different color. Researchers then easily chipped off the seared material, revealing the brilliant ochre, black, green and yellow underneath, Mazzei said.

Similar technology has been used on statues, particularly metallic ones damaged by years of outdoor pollution, she said. However, the Santa Tecla restoration marked the first time lasers had been adapted for use in the dank interiors of catacombs.

Many of Rome’s catacombs are open regularly to the public. However, the Santa Tecla catacombs will be open only on request to limited groups to preserve the paintings, she said.

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Scott Hann


THE AUTHORITY DEBATE[The following is a transcript of a taped debate between Scott Hahn, Catholic convert and former Presbyterian minister, and Dr. Robert Knudson of Westminster Seminary.
The original tape was distributed by Catholic Answers.]

Tonight we’re happy to have you all here. My name is Patrick Madrid. I’m from Catholic Answers, and we are a Roman Catholic apologetics organization based in San Diego, California. Our Lady of the Rosary parish and Catholic Answers are jointly sponsoring this debate between Professor Scott Hahn and Professor Robert Knudson, and we’d like you all to prepare for a moment of prayer before we begin. I’d like to introduce you to the pastor of this parish, Father Harry Romano.

In the Middle Ages when they would engage in theological debate or discussion it was the custom to quote a little Latin saying that went something like this: “In essentials there should always be unity, in nonessentials there should be freedom, in all things there should be charity.” I think that’s an excellent maxim we can always follow, and with that in mind I’d like to read a scripture passage from 1 Corinthians 13. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have and deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Thank you, Fr. Romano. I’d like to say first of all, as some of you who were here last night may have heard my colleague Mark say, we at Catholic Answers have become somewhat adept at looking over an audience like this and being able to tell who’s Catholic and who’s not. Those of you who are here for the first time can try this experiment for yourselves. Just look around you, look at your neighbor, and if you see someone without a Bible, he’s probably a Catholic (laughter). The emphasis tonight will not be on quarreling or bickering, but on focusing on the serious differences that exist between Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics with regard to the questions of authority and justification. Tonight we are privileged to have two eminent speakers.

On the Protestant side we have Dr. Robert Knudson, who is Professor of Apologetics (also holds the chair of that department) as well as Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. I’d be curious to know how many Westminster folks are here tonight. Welcome. Dr. Knudson holds his Ph.M. from Westminster in apologetics. He received his S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. He also holds a Ph.D. from the Free University in Amsterdam in philosophy.
On my left I’d like to introduce Mr. Scott Hahn, who is Professor of Theology at the College of St. Francis in Jolliet, Illinois (***editor note: Dr.Hahn now teaches Scripture and Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Steubenville, Ohio). When Mr. Hahn received his B.A. with a triple major, actually, in theology, philosophy and economics from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. He went on to receive his M.Div. in theology at Gordon Cornwall University in Boston, and he is currently finishing up his Ph.D. program at Marquette University in systematic theology. So these two eminent men are here tonight to present the pros and cons of two very important topics.

The first one we’re going to deal with tonight is the question of authority. Now, all of us are familiar with the quibble between Protestants and Catholics. On the Protestant side we have the doctrine of sola scriptura, meaning that the Bible and the Bible alone is the sole rule with regard to doctrine and morals for Christians. And as most all of us know, I’m sure, the Catholic position is that sola scriptura is not doctrinal and that it is actually the Bible and sacred tradition or apostolic tradition as it is know, together that comprise the sole rule of faith for Christians. So the first part of the evening will devoted to discussing that topic. We’re going to have time for questions and answers at the end of this session. After our break in the middle of the evening we’re going to pick up with the second half of our topic, the subject of justification, another very divisive subject that separates Protestants and Catholics. Our two speakers will discuss how a person is justified, what is the Biblical basis for our justification in the sight of God. Is it strictly forensic, or imputed, justification, or is there some element which involves works?

You’ll notice on the debate schedule another session for questions and answers from the audience, and when we get to each section for questions I will lay down the ground rules, but just very briefly before we begin, let me ask that we all participate this evening in the spirit of charity, as Fr. Romano read from 1 Corinthians. We’re here to shed more light than heat, so we ask that if you feel like jeering or hissing or booing, or clapping for that matter, please try to refrain until the speaker has finished his comments. We also ask that there be no heckling or standing up in the audience and blurting something out, either Catholics or Protestants. We also ask that in the question and answer periods that you confine your questions to, preferably, 15 seconds. If it should take 30 seconds, that’s the absolute cutoff because we’re following a tight schedule tonight. One last thing. We don’t want any testimonies or preaching services tonight; that’s what we have these two men here for. So without any further ado, I’d like to introduce our first speaker, Dr. Robert Knudson.

Beloved in Christ Jesus, I’m very happy to be with you this evening. I see from the flyer that went out that youþre very happy to see me this evening, because you gave me a degree I don’t have; you gave me a Ph.D. I also want to say that I appreciate and my church friends appreciate our common effort to stem the terrible tide of abortion, which is contrary to the will of God. And furthermore I want to commiserate with you for the tragic murder of the six priests in El Salvador. I think that we are all very sorry that such things happen in our modern day. But let’s get down to the subject. If you’ve been looking at Time magazine, if you’re been looking at your newspaper, you will have realized that some of us have celebrated an anniversary of the French Revolution. The French Revolution sought to base things on reason and not on the Word of God, and in doing that it was what we call revolutionary. It set reason up against the Word of God and it had a revolutionary cast to it. One of its “Nie dieu, nie masteur”, meaning “We don’t want God and we won’t have any masters.” Now one of the things I want to say first of all is that if we look at the Reformation, if we look at what is at the heart of the Reformation, that we do not find there a rationalism, that we do not find a revolutionary spirit, but rather, we find a respect for authority. Now, why is that? That would be because the Reformation is centered on the Word. Being centered on the Word, it respects the authority of God, that God does speak to us with authority through his Word, and that we ought then to be subject to that. Now, we know, because we are after all acquainted with the scriptures I was in faculty meeting just this last Monday and we had a report from one of our professors who had had a sabbatical and he said, “Let’s turn in our Bibles…” and only a couple of us had our Bibles in faculty meeting, so perhaps that is not only on one side of the fence but we know the scriptures, and we know that there was the logos, there was the Word of God before the very creation. And then when the logos, the Word, this Jesus Christ was incarnate, he himself made himself subject to the Word of God. He said, “In the roll of the Book it is written of me, ‘I come to do your will, oh God.’” Then we have that strange statement concerning Moses that he was the meekest man on the face of the earth. Meekness means subjection to the Commandments of God, to the will of God as expressed in His law, in His Word. We know about the apostle Paul, how he went out into the desert and there he received revelation from God. And how, having received this revelation, he wanted to be sure that it corresponded to the teaching that was being promulgated in Jerusalem, so he went there and he submitted what he had received and he received their blessing. We know from the scriptures that the spirit of God witnesses to the Word and that the spirit of God empowers the Word. And so I want to say that as I stand before you this evening it is the purpose as we talk about authority to stress the importance of the Word of God.

Now we say that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible as the scriptures say is God-breathed, the very breath of God. But now are we simply interested in the Bible alone? We are certainly interested in that. The way I put it in my classes is that the Bible gives us the key to knowledge, it gives us the key to understanding, it gives us the key to unlocking the mysteries of our lives. But we also teach that God’s revelation is everywhere. Not every bit of wisdom that we can glean from life comes from the Bible. There are, indeed, interpretations that we have within our churches; we try to interpret the scriptures, and that is often a very wonderful source of information and wisdom. But the point that we make is this: that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. That is, if we want to have that which is at the heart of the matter, that which gives us the key to everything, we shall turn to the scriptures. Indeed, God through His Spirit guides His church, but we also maintain that the church must be subject to the Word of God as written in the scriptures. We can have, then, a profound appreciation for tradition, but we maintain that any tradition of the church must be subject to the Word of God as contained in the scriptures. Now, Calvin him self of course, you know Calvin was one of the major reformershe said in his Reply to Sadalito, “Although we hold that the Word of God alone lies beyond the sphere of our judgment and that fathers and councils are of authority only insofar as they accord with the rule of the Word we still give to councils and fathers such rank and honor as is meet for them to hold under Christ.”

Now we say about the scriptures this: that it is necessary because of the sinfulness of man that God give us a sure source, a written source, of His will that would not be lost. As I pointed out we say that the Bible has authority. We say, furthermore, that it is, that is, it is possible even for the simple believers to read the scriptures and to find there enough knowledge that he will know how he is to come to Christ and how he is to put his faith in Christ for his salvation. Furthermore, we say that the Bible is sufficient, and I believe that will be one of the issues that we must address this evening. But as soon as we say sufficient, we have to say, sufficient for what? It certainly isn’t sufficient to give us answers to every question that might possibly come to us; it does not give us theorems in geometry, for example. But we say that it is sufficient to give us that knowledge, that understanding, which is necessary for us to come to Christ and to put our faith in him.

Now, this Word also witnesses to our heart, and there it brings in our hearts an assurance that we are in Christ and that Christ is in us, that we have been taken up in the Body of Christ. Now, why would it bring assurance? For the very things that I’ve been talking about: that it is sufficient, it is clear, it is understandable, it calls forth our personal response and as we express our personal response then we live forth that life Christ wants us to live. Now I think that one of the major issues is that we too will honor tradition, but the question is, where is the infallible rule of faith, where is the infallible canon of faith? The position we take is that even the simplest saint coming to the clear Word of God, the Word of God that is understandable, even the simplest saint, armed with the Word, not in a revolutionary spirit, but armed with the Word, is able to challenge the ministry, the councils, and so forth. Why? Because everyone in Jesus Christ has become a prophet,a priest and, as well, a king. Let me then remind you of this: I am in the line in my own thinking of a Dutch professor journalist, statesman, Abraham Khyper. Abraham Khyper was brought up in a liberal style of thinking. There was a simple woman in his congregation who was schooled enough in the Word of God to come to him and to reason with him from the Word, and that meant a tremendous change in his life. It meant that from a arid rationalism that he was brought to embrace Jesus Christ as his own and he became a stalwart preacher and defender of the faith [applause].

MODERATOR Thank you, Dr. Knudson. And now please welcome Professor Scott Hahn.

HAHN It sure is good to be here with you and share with  you, and I want to reaffirm what I heard Pat say a few minutes ago. That is, we’re not here to pounce on each other, we’re not here as a spectacle, we’re here out of a deep and sincere loyalty to Christ and reverence for his Word. There is so much agreement that I think we can rejoice in the fact that both of us share the conviction that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, hence it is infallible, hence it is authoritative in our lives; and it’s a practical guide, it’s one in which we can hear the voice of God, the living voice speaking to us in our own lives. The real question, then, is not much whether the Bible is the Word of God, inspired, infallible and authoritative, but whether it itself teaches that it is the only, exclusive authority governing the Body of Christ.
I was a Presbyterian minister for a few years, a graduate of an Evangelical seminary, and a very great respecter of the Westminster Theological Seminary tradition, and I still am, but I have one question today as I have for several years since I left the ministry and I gave up teaching at a Presbyterian seminary. It was a question raised to me by a former Catholic in the seminary in the middle of a seminar on creeds and confessions in the church. He asked me, where does scripture teach sola scriptura? And I panicked, I played around, I even said “That’s a dumb question.” and I never heard myself say that before in a classroom. And I realized going home that evening why I’d said it: it was because I wasn’t prepared to answer it. I thought I’d just had a sudden bout with amnesia, but I thought about it some more, I consulted my books, I even called two or three of my professors and I’ve had the privilege to study under some of the very greatest professors in the Evangelical world, and I thank God for thembut I didn’t come up with any satisfactory answer. That’s critical; as one of the greatest Evangelical theologians of our day says, J. I. Packer, “The Reformers’ whole understanding of Christianity depends on the principle of sola scriptura; that is, the view that the Bible as the only Word of God in this world is the only guide for conscience in the Church. It’s the only source of true knowledge and of God’s grace, and it’s the only qualified judge of the Church’s testimony and teaching. That’s the view of a Protestant Evangelical theologian whom I respect very much. However, the only thing I disagree with Dr. Packer about is the Word ‘only’. I do believe that the Bible is to be regarded by all Catholics as our guide, as our source, as our judge, as the living and active Word of God, alive in our lives, in addition to which the Church confesses a living tradition to which she is bound out of obedience to Scripture. For Scripture speaks of that living tradition very naturally, very easily and matter-of-factly, as we’ll see in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 where Paul commends and commands the Thessalonian Christians to hold fast to what Christ passed on to him, to what he passed on to them, to the tradition, whether it is written or whether it is spoken. Now Paul could take matter-of-factly, and he could state matter-of-factly the authority and existence of a living tradition. He didn’t feel any need to argue for this living tradition; he assumed it and he assumed the Thessalonians knew what he was talking about, so I would ask my Protestant brethren, where is that living tradition and how is it that we are held fast to that living tradition and how is that living tradition distinct from my own individual interpretation of the Bible? Ultimately, after several years of struggle because I was very anti-Catholic as a Presbyterian. In fact me and my best friend were the only Presbyterian seminarians at Gordon Cornwell in the Presbyterian Fellowship who endorsed the old Westminster Confession which charged the Roman Catholic Church with being the Antichrist, and he opposed me vigorously when I was thinking about joining the Catholic Church. He now is also a member of the Roman Catholic Church and he’s finishing his doctorate at Westminster seminary, ironically enough. I believe that the doctrine of sola scriptura, that the Bible alone is our only authority, is itself unscriptural. I can’t find anywhere in scripture God telling his people that the Bible alone is their sole authority. It would have been very convenient for me in terms of my career to find it, and I looked and I tried, but I couldn’t. Second Timothy 3:15 doesn’t teach that. It teaches the inspiration of Scripture, but just because the Bible is inspired and profitable, it doesn’t mean that only the Bible is inspired and profitable. Matthew 15 condemns tradition which is merely human and which contradicts the Word of God, but 2 Thessalonians 2:15 speaks about a tradition through which the Word of God is conveyed authoritatively. How can that be? St. Paul also commends the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:2 for ‘holding fast to the traditions that he had handed on to them’.
So I rejected sola scriptura because it was unscriptural. I also came to the conclusion that sola scriptura is unhistorical. That is, the Church was spreading for decades, long before the New Testament books were written, gathered and officially canonized, or collected in an authoritative collection. I believe that historians who are objective will see that the Church saw itself bound top the Word of God as it was handed down from Christ to the apostles and their successors in their doctrine, in their worship and in their morals apart from New Testament books. The New Testament books were in a certain sense occasional documents written to help certain congregations or certain area churches with particular questions, but nowhere does the Bible say, or does the New Testament regard itself, as a compendium that is sufficient for everything we need to know to live the Christian life. I should say that I believe the Bible has a lot more than most Christians realize, and there’s a lot more to be gained than many Catholics and Protestants have actually acquired, but I think it’s unhistorical to regard sola scriptura as true and binding upon the believer. I think it’s also contrary to sound reasoning. It’s illogical. How do you know what Scripture is? How do you know what books are inspired? Do we leave it up to each individual Christian to read all of the books that were possibly included or excluded? Have you read and studied The Shepherd of Hermas? The Epistle of Barnabas? The Book of Clement? The Epistles of Ignatius? All of these were circulated in such a way as that some regarded them as scriptural. Others didn’t. The Church had to decide and, thanks be to God, Jesus Christ gave to his apostles his own authority to decide, and their successors carried on their authority so that we could have a New Testament today, But I believe it’s illogical to suggest that the Bible alone is our authority when the Bible alone can’t give to us what books are and aren’t to be included in the Bible. How could it? If revelation included a list of every single book to be included we would only be able to trust that if we knew that revelation itself was inspired. But no book can confirm or authenticate its own inspired status.
I think it’s also impractical. This is a very hard point to speak about, but I think that it almost results in a kind of anarchy within the church. Since the Protestant Reformation over four centuries ago we have literally thousands of denominations and splinter groups that are continually splintering over various interpretations of the Bible. Several Presbyterian denominations. We affectionately and somewhat complacently refer to ourselves as the ‘split P’s” because we have so many Presbyterian groups. And then Methodists, and Lutherans and even Episcopalians, especially in the last ten or fifteen years. It hasn’t brought greater unity into the Church, it’s brought a very tragic disunity to impose the Bible as the sole authority so that every individual is left up to himself or herself to decide what doctrines are true. Can every believer be expected to understand and articulate the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ? The Council of Calcedon passed on to us a legacy that we need to hold fast to, but very few lay people dare say very few seminarians could give a very articulate, detailed defense of that doctrine, which everybody at Westminster Seminary upholds, but very few people have actually generated on their own by interpreting the Bible by themselves. It’s anarchistic. It would be like writing the U.S. Constitution only not establishing a judiciary or an executive or a legislative branch to apply that with authority. I would be like constitutionally investing individual citizens with the right to disagree with and rebel against judicial decisions handed down from any level of the court system. It would be up to them to interpret the Constitution with regard to any legislative decisions and executive enactments. You would have no nation; every man and woman would be a nation unto himself or unto herself.
Is that what Jesus Christ intended for the family of God that he died and was raised to build upon the Holy Spirit? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I also think it encourages a subtle and unconscious and unintentional presumption, or tyranny. As we enforce church discipline in Protestant churches, I recall the very funny feeling that I had as I would argue and articulate my views and then face the prospect of disciplining members in the church just because I was able to get a consensus among my elders, or among the congregational members.
Is it really that way? No pastor presumes to be infallible in the Protestant tradition. No head of any denomination presumes such, but they all have to continually discipline people and in many cases excommunicate people on the basis of their own fallible and frequently erroneous interpretations. That seems somewhat dubious. I also believe that its inconsistent. The doctrine of sola scriptura is inconsistent. Everybody has some tradition. They might be Americans, or Westerners. They might think in an individualistic thought world. They might be Methodists; they might have come up in the Episcopal tradition or the Presbyterian tradition, but all of us have categories that we receive from our spiritual fathers and mothers, those who have nurtured us in the faith. They have transmitted to us thought categories about which we know little, and yet they influence our interpretation so much. The question is not whether or not an interpretation will be authoritative, the question is whether it’s the tradition that Christ instituted through the apostles and maintains through the apostolic tradition in one holy Roman Catholic Church. Its also improbable. I believe that any doctrine without a single defender for the first thirteen centuries of the Church is questionable to say the least. The along came Wycliffe in the fourteenth century and he began to develop it rather defensively. Because he disagreed with the pope, he thought his interpretation of the Bible was sound, therefore, he concluded, the Bible alone must be authoritative. It wasnt until the Protestant Reformation that such an interpretation became widespread. In Wycliffe day his own university colleagues condemned the proposition. Is it really the case that for fourteen centuries the Holy Spirit could guide nobody to see what the Protestants regarded as the formal principle of the Reformation, the article on which the Church stands or falls, along with justification by faith? And finally I believe that practically speaking it becomes somewhat incoherent. We say, well, the Bible alone is our sole and exclusive authority, but we will listen to and respect tradition. Well, what do you think of somebody who says, “I will accept with respect the words of Jesus and follow them whenever I agree with them”. That isn’t lordship, and that isnt servanthood. If we submit to the living Word of Jesus Christ I believe that it will cause us to see the Apostolic Tradition that Jesus Christ handed down to his family through his apostles, his spiritual sons and through their successors, the grandsons and greatgrandsons. A binding, a divine, an authoritative tradition found in the liturgy of the Church, found in the Creeds, found in the writings of the Fathers, and exhibited in statements such as St. Paul makes in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Corinthians 11:2 and other places as well. My reasons, then, for accepting Tradition are mainly biblical. I don’t believe that Scripture teaches sola scriptura; I believe it’s unhistorical; I believe its illogical; I believe the Protestant doctrine is impractical, inconsistent, improbable and incoherent, whereas I feel and I believe and Ive come to see that Scripture teaches the authority of Sacred Tradition, that it is the context in which the Church came to recognize the gospels and the New Testament. As St. Augustine said, “I would not believe in the Gospels were it not for the authority of the Catholic Church.” That authority is not tyrannical, it is not human, it’s the life of Jesus Christ transmitted by the Holy Spirit through those successors that he has graciously overseen and guaranteed because of his love and his power manifested in his living Body, the Church of Christ. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR Now we will hear a five minute rebuttal by Dr. Knudson..

KNUDSON Thank you very much, Scott. I simply want to say this: as I tried to point out in my opening comments, I believe that a true Protestant position does not despise tradition. We have it. I stand myself, after having been raised for a while in the Methodist tradition, I stand now in the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition, and I am very partial to that. I love it very much and I try to defend it. But now Scott himself pointed out where the real difference lies, where the crux of the matter lies. He says, “It is, then, the tradition as interpreted by the one, holy Roman Catholic Church.” And if your churchand I do believe that he is representing it correctlyholds to the full authority of Scripture, then what relationship does tradition have to that? Is it then an infallible interpretation of the church that stands beside the scriptures, or even over the scriptures? Now Scott talked about matter-of-fact, that of course there was tradition in the early church, and that as a matter of fact is true. There was a time before there was the New Testament written form, the canon, and canonics is a very difficult subject, I admit. Certainly, but then when the epistles went out, when these writings went out, they had apostolic authority, and they were brought together and together they are on the order, then, of the oracles that were, then, in the Old Testament times, and as Paul says, “What advantage has the Jew? He has, then, the oracles of God.” Now, as far as anarchy is concerned, I tried to indicate that it seems to me at least within the Protestant framework there can be and is a profound appreciation for authority. Things are not quite at loose ends as Scott points it out in church discipline, for example. We have our presbyteries, we have our sessions, we have a set of teachings which are applied and we excommunicate people only, then. in very rare instances and only when it seems to us that they do not manifest that they are children of God in Jesus Christ, and then the discipline is always in the interests of restoring them to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are other things that he talked about: inconsistency, incoherency, presumption and so forth, but I do want to emphasize again, since we have such a limited time, what the crux of the matter is. I tried to bring out what that crux was at the very end of my comments. It is illustrated for one thing as Martin Luther stood before the Diet of Worms and he said, “If you can convince me by Scripture that I am wrong, then I will recant, but unless you can convince me by Scripture, then here I stand. I can do no other.” I think that is the crux of the matter. It does not come from an anarchistic spirit, it does not come from a wild and woolly lack of tradition, but it comes from an idea that it is in the Word of God written that there is the key, that there is, then, the final standard..

Hahn: I certainly dont mean to be taken in any way to suggest that Westminster Seminary or the orthodox Presbyterian Church and Reverend Knudson are anarchistic in intention. I happen to have awesome respect for his particular denomination and especially the seminary. I do wish to point out, however, that the Presbyterian tradition as it has developed is quite, perhaps, otherwise. The orthodox Presbyterian Church probably constitute less than two percent of the Presbyterians in this country. Most of the Presbyterians in this country belong to a church that has already gone on record as endorsing abortion in some instances as an act of Christian stewardship. The mainstream Presbyterian denomination in which I was born and raised also has a task force consisting of homosexual members who are advocating not only the ordination of homosexuals, but many other things too. I only point this out to highlight the fact that despite this small Presbyterian seminary and this very respectable denomination, there is, nevertheless, not only among individual Presbyterian members and pastors, but within the official documents of the denomination itself, as well as many other Protestant denominations, a kind of wild spirit. I don’t believe that Luther intended it. I don’t believe that Calvin intended it. Their intentions notwithstanding, the effects are before us..

Id like to also point out that when we are speaking about being centered on the Word, I say yea and amen. Youve got to remain centered in on the Word of God, but I dont see anywhere in Scripture proof that we should reduce the Word of God to the printed page. And I sense that thats what sola scriptura does. Respect for authority? Yes, but it’s a pick and choose kind of respect. “I will respect authority only when it agrees with my interpretation”. Well, most parents would not tolerate that kind of respect within their household. I once asked my mentor and theological instructor, What do you think is the pillar and foundation of truth? He looked at me, and he knew I was struggling with the Catholic Church, and he said, “Why, the scriptures, of course.” And I said, “Well then, why is it that in 1 Timothy 3:15 that St. Paul says, “The pillar and foundation of all truth is the Church, the household of faith.” That’s a strong statement. Just as our Lord says in Matthew 18:17, “If somebody refuses to listen, even to the Church, let him be to you an outsider, as a tax collector or a Gentile.” Jesus would not say if he hasn’t successfully communicated, and he doesn’t individually assume the fact that the authority of the Church is his own authority. As he says, “I will build my church…” And he also gives the keys of the kingdom to Peter and he says, “Whatever you bind and loose on earth will be bound and loosed in heaven.” It;s not Peter and it isn’t the popes, it’s Jesus Christ himself whose living presence through the Holy Spirit underwrites and guarantees fallible men who hold the office of St. Peter and his chair and hold the keys that symbolize succession. Its the living power and life and love of Christ that upholds the family of God, the pillar and foundation of truth which is not Scripture by itself, but the Church. The Church has also said in Vatican II and elsewhere as well, that the Church finds herself under the Word, not over the Word. Under the Word written and also under the Word orally transmitted through its worship and through the life of the community. You know how strong and large families live through several generations? Many things are passed down that are heirlooms; many customs that are respected and in a sense held dear. Well, in a divine family, the one that was built at the expense of the Body and Blood of our Savior, the one that he purchased for us, the one that he built with his own Body and Blood, the Church, God’s family, there you find traditions that aren’t just written down, but are spoken and lived, and contagiously transmitted from one age to the next. And the saints are the ones who recognized it. Dr. Knudson said that the littlest saints can read the bible, and when the littlest, the moderate and the great saints did read the Bible, for two thousand years saints in every inhabited continent have come to the same conclusion, and that is that Jesus Christ upholds the Roman Catholic Church as the family of God. If the Holy Spirit alone is a sufficient guide to our reading of the bible, then Ill close with a question: Why do spirit-led Protestants continue to disagree so strongly over so many important issuesbaptism, worship, government, divorce, remarriage, the Second Coming, altars, pictures, statues, kneelers, alcohol, cigarettes, cards, Zionism, birth control, and the list could be extended almost indefinitely? Why is that led by the Spirit, guided by the Word, they have come to so many disagreements, and how is it that you are so sure that the two thousand year consensus represented by the Catholic Church, shared by hundreds of millions of Catholics on every inhabited continent is so grossly wrong that you must condemn and break away from them to form groups which in less than five hundred years have splintered into hundreds and thousands of more groups? Hard questions, but I am sincere in searching for answers..

MODERATOR Now were going to have a cross examination section beginning with Dr. Knudson, in which he will pose a question for Mr. Hahn. Mr. Hahn will have two minutes to respond. Dr. Knudson will rebut that response, and Mr. Hahn will have the last say: he will rebut the rebuttal. Then we will return that. Mr. Hahn will begin with his question, and the process will continue. After that we will pick up with about 15 minutes of audience questions, so just bear with me while I move this microphone and well get started..

KNUDSON [Question]: Well Scott, you were talking about the fact that my own denomination is very small, and indeed it is. From your size it’s insignificant. But that doesn’t mean it can’t stand for the truth of the Word. You mentioned Augustine; he stood for the truth of the Word and against many antagonists. Many of the Fathers, as you well know, stood almost alone against such heresies as Pelagianism. I do not see that mere size is a real deterrent. We should, of course, attempt to join with all those of like faith, we should be properly ecumenical, but how do you come to the conclusion or how is it that you say that because we are small and splintered somehow that we’re rather wild-eyed? Do I detect that that reflects somehow on our understanding of the Word of God?.

HAHN [Reply]: I thank you for the question because if gives me a chance to clarify a point insufficiently made clear. My point is not so much to question the size or propriety of one denomination or another, but rather the theological principle that gave rise to such an unbelievable proliferation of splinter groups and small denominations everywhere that sincerely but emphatically disagree on countless basic points of doctrine, worship and practice. I have still great respect for the orthodox Presbyterian Church. They’re not wild-eyed, but I am pointing out the presence of hundreds of denominations that all point to sola scriptura and their own individual or group interpretations of the Bible, and Im asking the question: Is this really the way God fathers His family?.

KNUDSON [Rebuttal]: As far as the way God fathers His family, Jesus Christ himself in his great high priestly prayer prayed that all Christians would be one. We must never forget that; we ought to be properly ecumenical. On the other hand there is one thing that animates us above all else, and that is fealty to the teaching of the Word of God, and we must struggle with that also within our own traditions. The tradition in which I standI am a member of a very small denomination, that is truebut we do stand within a Reformed tradition that is much bigger than we are, and I think, much more grand than we are. And I should only pray that the prayer of Jesus Christ might eventually be realized because he will do all things according to his will..

HAHN [Counter-rebuttal]: Once again, it might help to focus the question. The question as I see it and as I feel it is, where does Scripture teach that Scripture alone is the binding Word of God? When Scripture very easily refers in passing in many passages to a living Word and to an oral tradition transmitted by Christ through the apostles to their successors who in an unbroken line of succession have maintained by the help of the Holy Spirit the family of God. It’s that, I think, more than any problem in any denominationwhich really doesn’t concern me at all tonight – it’s that which I find disturbing. Scripture itself does not teach sola scriptura, history doesn’t reflect it, practical common sense does not leave an organizational body with a document and no authoritative institutions to enforce it over time..

HAHN [Question]: Id like to raise the question again that I referred to, and that is: Where does the bible teach that it alone is the Word of God and that it alone is above the Church, when the Church is called the pillar and foundation of truth? Where does the Bible teach that it is taken by itself it is sufficient, clear and understandable, but especially sufficient and exclusive in its authority. I’d also like you to comment on 2 Peter 3:15 where Peter says, “Some things in Paul’s writings are difficult to understand which lawless and unstable men [presumably sincere] distort to their own destruction.”?.

KNUDSON [Reply]: There are laws on discipline and unwise people who distort things to their own destruction, that is quite true. On the other hand, that is certainly not the norm within Protestant circles and I would remind you even though you do have a tremendous unity centered in Rome in your church, there are a great number of different opinions and a great number of different movements within your own community. Now, Scott keeps on asking where does the Scriptures, where does the New Testament explicitly say that is is the sole authority, that it is the final authority, let us say even over the authority of the Church? I think that I can find that where I put it before, that once these epistles, once the writings were established, they were authoritative in the Church. They had the apostolic authority, as Paul, as apostle, had apostolic authority. Now, indeed, there was a time before these were written. That is true, but I drew an analogy between the writing in the New Testament and the writing in the Old Testament, and that Jesus Christ himself pointed to the Old Testament and referred to it constantly, and said, “Not the lest part of the Old Testament, not one jot or tittle of the law will pass away until everything is fulfilled.” Furthermore, we know that the writings of the New Testament are authoritative and that furthermore when it says that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth, Im glad that Scott emphasized that it is the pillar and ground of the truth. The truth is supreme and that truth is sufficient because when looking at the written documents of the New Testament is unable to gain a knowledge that he needs that he come to Christ and believe in him..

HAHN [Rebuttal]: So once the epistles were written, collected and formally gathered into a canonical collection they’re authoritative, but it was the Church that established the canon. It was the Church that had the hard task of deciding which books to include and exclude. Now, why do you trust their decision there but not with regard to their decisions with regard to the sacraments, church government. For instance, Irenaeus said, “Anyone who wishes to discern the truth may see in every church in the whole world the apostolic succession clear and manifest. That is true,” he goes on to say, “Not only with regard to the apostles in general with the successor to Peter in particular.” It seems to me that Christ didn’t write a book, Christ did not commission men to author books, but to go out and preach and teach and establish the Church in which they would rule, as their successors would, as divinely authoritative spokesmen and interpreters of God’s Word. I believe that is the clearest guideline we have in Scripture, and so therefore, Scripture itself leads us away from ascribing exclusive authority to the Bible. Bible-only Christianity has led to chaos, sincere but substantial chaos..

KNUDSON [Counter-rebuttal]: I’ve tried, of course, to say again and again that when one speaks of the Bible only, when one speaks of it only as the authority, then one has to say that according to us it is the only infallible authority. There are authorities that we can honor and I quoted John Calvin to that effect. Now, did the Church establish the canon? Or did men in this process, did men collect things which then had the quality of authority about them already? The Church did not establish that authority, the Church simply recognized that authority. Now as far as the sufficiency of Scripture is concerned, I think that I can speak factually there too. I believe I can simply say this: that if, even the humble believersand all of us in our hearts want to be humble believerscomes to Scripture, he can find as in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son and whoever believes in him shall have everlasting life.” One can understand those sayings. The Scriptures are sufficient to lead us to Jesus Christ..

MODERATOR Thank you. Now we’re going to have questions from you all in the audience. Id ask that anybody who has a question please line up over here. We’ll take as many as possible within a fifteen minute period. Please pay attention to our timekeeper and make sure you don;t exceed the limit on questions. Please remember that there will be no testimonies, no sermons, and you will not be allowed to read sections from the Bible. You may refer to the Bible for passages that relate directly to your questions. One last point. We’re going to allow the person who did not receive the question to give a one minute rebuttal to the person who did receive it..

QUESTIONER 1 Why the Bible doesn’t say sola scriptura is because the Bible was not yet complete for the first century, therefore there had to be oral teachings. However the Bible does teach in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 that prophecy and knowledge would come to an end. The Catholic Church teaches it continuing, I believe the Bible teaches clearly when it comes to an end related to the apostolic age, therefore I believe the age is ended. Do you know what the Bible teaches as a requirement for one to be an apostle?.

HAHN [Reply]: OK, I want to clarify one thing right away, and that is that the Roman Catholic Church does not hold to continuing public revelation at all. In fact it holds de fide that there is no public revelation continuing, and that is binding upon the people of God. In other words popes, councils and bishops do not invent new doctrines, they dont change old doctrines, they cant fabricate any teachings. All they are responsible to do is transmit the teachings that Christ gave to the apostles, nothing more. Public revelation indeed ceased with the closing of the apostolic age. I’m in hearty agreement, as is the whole Catholic Church. Join us [laughter]…in love. Anyway, the apostolic authority that Christ gave to the Twelve, and then Judas died and then Peter very naturally rose up and in Acts 1 replaced Judas with Matthias. There was apostolic succession assumed there. And the apostles transmitted that to bishops. The bishops are the ones who officially and authoritatively decided what was to be included in the New Testament books and what was not. Have you read The Shepherd of Hermas? Or the Epistles of Ignatius or Clement? Many, many books people regarded as potential scripture werent included, whereas many books that are now in the New Testament such as Jude, Revelation and others, for years in many churches were not regarded as Scripture. Who was to decide? The Holy Spirit, of course, who knows what is inspired and what is notbut guiding who? Whose judgments do you trust? Does every Christian in every generation have to read all of the books that applied for inclusion into Scripture and decide for themselves? No, of course not. Martin Luther himself admitted that he was indebted pure and simple to the Roman Catholic Church and the authority of the bishops to decide what to include and what to exclude, that is, what our Bible would be..

KNUDSON [Rebuttal]: As far as the statement that Scott has made, that the revelations and prophecies do not continue, that is precisely the position that I would represent. Furthermore, that the hierarchy or whatever you want to say, the bishops or whatever, other than produce the Word are simply interpret the Word, that is exactly what I would say about any of our presbyters or anyone in our particular churches, in our confessions. The question then comes, where does the final authority come from? I maintain that the final authority comes from the Word of God..

QUESTIONER 2 You made a statement that the apostles made no doctrine. Did you say that earlier or did I misunderstand that?.

HAHN That Christ is the truth that the apostles received and transmitted. But they were given new doctrine by Christ through the Holy Spirit..

QUESTIONER (CONTINUING) OK, there are three books back there and all three of them make the same statement, “Instead, through God’s will, grace is not conferred on anyone without Mary’s cooperation.” My question is, since all three books are saying that Mary must be in cooperation with salvationall three state thatmy question is after it got recorded in the Bible, therefore it had to be put into existence by the Church later on, probably from what I read, twelfth century. Is that true or not?.

HAHN [Reply]: OK, this debate is on authority, not Mariology. I would love to have a public forum on Mariology. I would love to have a forum to discuss Mary because I was one of the most anti-Marian, anti-Catholics Ive ever known. I remember with glee ripping up my grandmother’s rosary beads after she died. I felt that it was an idolatrous superstition. I don’t see it that way any more. I would just say that there are two principles in Scripture that ground the Church’s belief on Mary. The first is that Christ in accepting the Father’s mission to become human accepted the law of the Father; the Ten Commandments summarize that law. The first law with regard to human relations is Honor your father and mother. Honor in Hebrew, covoda, means to bestow glory or honor. Everything that is done to Mary Christ initiates. He honors, he glorifies his mother more perfectly than anybody ever obeyed that law. The second principle is just simply that the Church imitates Christ, and from that all proper Marian devotion flows. Those are the scriptural planks on which this belief is grounded. [Outburst, commotion, shouts].

KNUDSON [Rebuttal]: This question raises another question, that is, has the Church been wrong sometimes, absolutely wrong? Now that is a point that John Calvin made, that the Church in its interpretation has been wrong, and has promulgated those as infallible. As far as Mary is concerned, certainly we honor Mary, but as soon as we get onto that question on was the Church right, I shall simply ask the question when it thinks of Mary as the mediatrix of grace when the scriptures clearly teach that Christ is the one and only mediator between god and man..

QUESTIONER 3 My question is also for Mr. HahnI think were picking on him. The fundamental ideas behind the Protestant Reformation were that Christ is the supreme authority, the Bible is the best way that we can understand it, and I think that what the Reformers were concerned about is that the fallible humans that were now interpreting it in that particular day and age in history, amid the corruption that was going on in the papacy at that time, they felt that no longer could we assume that a fallible human should be the person that’s giving out interpretations. Could you comment on that Protestant principle?.

HAHN [Reply]: OK. Insofar as Christ is the head Catholics lock arms with you, but I would add that the people who wrote the New Testament were also fallible humans. If the Holy Spirit could so preserve fallible humans from fallible mistakes and render their work infallible so that the Church could receive Christ’s truth without adulteration and error, why can’t the Holy Spirit continue using fallible leaders to interpret that revelation through the ages, and why wouldn’t that be a natural a normal thing that Christ would do out of love for his children?.

QUESTIONER That’s what Protestants think goes on right now: that the Holy Spirit’s sticking to us..

KNUDSON [Rebuttal]: Yes, we believe that Christ said that his spirit would guide the Church to all truth, and I’m referring to the Church not just as the Roman Catholic Church but the church in the larger sense. Is there any possible analogy between God so inspiring the writers of the New Testament that they then spoke his word; has he not also then guided the Church? I have to admit that there is the possibility of analogy but that the question is again what is the final authority? The analogy is there, but still the written word is the final authority..

QUESTIONER 4 (Garbled) speak of tradition. Which tradition? The Roman Catholic tradition, the Orthodox tradition, or maybe the Coptic tradition?.

HAHN [Reply]: Good question. Nice and short and simple and difficult. The premise of the question I want to highlight and then proceed to answer. It’s hard to answer every part of a complex question to everybodys satisfaction, especially when they come with a little bit of animosity toward your Catholic faith. The premise of your question is scripture and tradition, and I want to comment that it seems to be patent in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 that Paul quite easily and naturally and offhandedly regards traditionboth oral and writtenas divinely binding and authoritative. What tradition is it? Well, there are only two churches that are applying for the job. One is the Orthodox and one is the Catholic Church. No Protestant body ever claimed to have the Holy Spirit transmitting an infallible gift of interpretation. The Orthodox and the Catholic do. They both agree on 99.9% of their doctrine: transubstantiation, most all of Marian doctrines, all the things that Protestants find offensive. So the tradition the Catholic Church holds is held substantially in common by the Orthodox Church. Thats why at Vatican II the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church and the Pope of the Catholic Church both lifted the excommunications, because they both recognized in their respective traditions and in the others a living tradition which goes back to the apostles, which is substantially, considerably similar if not absolutely identical..

KNUDSON [Rebuttal]: The question that was asked during the time of the Reformation, if the apostolic succession was so important then are there not several who claim that? I’m not in a position to answer that question but it does bear on something that Scott said a moment ago..

QUESTIONER 5 Professor Hahn, in your appeal to put on a par tradition by calling it inspired and Scripture on a par with that youve said that Christ did not commission men to write books, was the Apostle John outside Christs commission when he said, “These are written that ye may believeWritten!that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that believing have life through his name?”

HAHN [Reply]: I don’t believe that he was out of line, I just don’t believe that in writing he was responding to anything that we find in the gospels by way of direct command from Jesus to the apostles. I do find, however, John also saying in 2 John, “I have much to write you but I don’t want to use paper and ink. Instead I hope to visit you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete.” Likewise in 3 John, “I have much to write you but I don’t want to write with pan and ink. I hope to see you soon and we will talk face to face.” In other words, as far as I can tell, my zeal for tradition came from a zeal against tradition. I was only trying to remain prayerfully open to the Bible and follow the Bible wherever it led me, and the Bible led me away from Bible-only Christianity to see that the writers of the Bible regarded oral tradition on par with written tradition, and both stemming from our living Christ, our Savior who died for us.

KNUDSON [Rebuttal]: As far as this question is concerned, I might simply mention that we keep on talking in the sense that the apostles went forth and they talked and they said they were going to visit and all that. They spoke, of course, with authority. Then, according to our view, the apostolic time did disappear along with revelations and prophecies and so forth. Now what speaks authoritatively, that is, the final authority? I answered that question.

QUESTIONER 6 Professor Hahn, in your remarks with sola scriptura breeding rebellion, schism, and so on, you pointed to larger Presbyterian denominations embracing homosexuality and abortion as somehow the product of sola scriptura….

HAHN In official teaching….

QUESTIONER Now, you know, having graduated from Gordon and being familiar with Westminster (garbled) you know very well that the OPC and certain denominations in the PCA do not at all embrace homosexuality and abortion and certainly you cant say that the Catholic Church is immune from this being as (garbled) not one of John Pauls visits to a gay Catholic church in California.

HAHN To urge them to repent and to embrace the full grace of the Gospel. I want to add though that the PCUS, the PCUSA, the UPCUSA, all of these denominations formerly condemned these things as sins too. My point is that these denominations have changed because all they had to go on was Scripture and the shifting sand of human opinions and cultural fad. My point is not that there aren’t hypocrites in the Catholic Church but there are in the Presbyterian and other Protestant denominations. Were all hypocrites to some extent. My point is that in the official teachings of the Catholic Church we see a very painful but courageous holding fast to moral teaching which this century finds repugnant. And on a worldwide, universal basis. Whereas the only way Protestant denominations have been able to maintain that is by constantly splitting off from denominations whose moral stands are becoming increasingly decadent.

QUESTIONER Do you equate sola scriptura with homosexuality?

KNUDSON [Rebuttal]: It is indeed the case, I was talking with one of my presbyters earlier today, and he said that he had been in a discussion and there was a Roman Catholic brother there who seemed to take a very radical stand for the homosexuals. He thought he’d have a buddy there, but he found that he was really very far off to the left. However, as Scott points out and as I pointed out in my earlier remarks at the very beginning, we appreciate the stand of the Catholic Church against abortion and against many of these evils. There are certainly Protestants and Catholics who go astray from the clear teaching of the Word of God. I want that understood, that I know that. However, I do believe that Scott is not quite being fair in that he suggests that because of sola scriptura principle that we lay ourselves open to that. I don’t believe that for one minute.



Date: April 3, 2011

Time: 01:00 pm – 04:00pm

Venue: San Isidro Labrador (Eco Church), Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City

Topic: Module 1: Basic Trends (Protestants’ Frequent Questions)

Facilitators: G-one T. Paisones (Main Lecturer) and Jonard Calbonero (Assistance Lecturer)

Notice: For more information please feel free to contact us in our domain.

Purgatory in the Word: A Response and Defense of Purgatory

Purgatory in the Word: A Response and Defense of Purgatory

By: Rigo Vega

Retrieve from:

A dear friend of mine sent me this article by Charles Stanley, who I often enjoy listening to on the radio for his deep expositing and clear biblical teaching. Though I have a deep respect for this great teacher and minister who was one of the first Christian preachers I listened to early in my spiritual walk with the Lord, I must now disagree with him. True to his style, I’ll argue from Scripture.

I argue that not only is Purgatory based on ancient Jewish and Christian practice, but that it is based on Scripture, albeit implicitly or not. In fact, I believe most Protestant Christians believe in Purgatory or are open to accepting the teaching when it is properly explained to them. I was once at an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship meeting when a visiting speaker, a Pastor, was teaching on sanctification and quoted Romans 8:29: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (see also Colossians 3:10). The Pastor mentioned that although Christians contribute nothing towards their justification, because it is by faith alone (Protestant view) and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ upon us and not by our works (forensic view of justification), he acknowledged that Christians must cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification. At first, I wondered, if it’s possible to cooperate with God’s grace towards sanctification, why is it “anathema” to suggest that we can cooperate with God’s grace for our justification? But then an even greater question occurred to me.

The Pastor went on to explain how Christians are responsible for their growth in holiness by reading the Word, prayer, and conforming ourselves to the character of Christ. He said, no one will ever be perfectly holy, because we are sinners until the day we die, but after we die we will be conformed fully to the likeness of Christ. At which, I shouted internally and desperately wanted to ask him “What would you describe the process or event in which a Christian is made perfectly holy and conformed fully to the likeness of Christ after he dies?

But first, in case, there might be those who think the Pastor was off in his explanation and that we don’t need to be sanctified once we are believers, I present the following Scriptures: “”Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified”. Though Acts 26:18 says we are “sanctified by faith” in him, Scripture also says we are “sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy” (1 Cor. 1:2). Furthermore, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Cor. 7:1). Though some might point to Hebrews 10:14 which says, “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews also says “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). It is clear to me that after looking at all of the biblical data, in Hebrews 10:14 the author is speaking of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice to make us perfect in that we are perfectly cleansed from all of our sins, but clearly we are still called to live and grow in holiness.

Why is it important that we need to be perfected? Well, because that is what the process of final purification which Catholics call Purgatory actually is, the completion of our sanctification by which we are made perfectly holy. The Bible teaches clearly that “without holiness no one will see the Lord” and regarding Heaven it says “Nothing impure will ever enter” (Rev. 21:27). So then, what about our impurities? What about our sins which haven’t been confessed or dealt with properly in our lives? How am I freed from my attachments to sinful things and areas of imperfection? How am I actually made perfectly holy? A forensic view of salvation which states that a sinner is only declared righteous by God, rather than actually being made righteous by God, leaves no room for answers to these questions. It also leaves no room for the following bible passages:
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames (Romans 3:11-15).

Jesus Christ is the foundation, because it is through his merits that he gained salvation for us and he justifies us, but we must build on it through good works. If our works are good, we will receive our reward, but if our works are burned up in the “fire” then we will suffer loss, we ourselves will be saved, but by “escaping through the flames.” Are you following these words from St. Paul? The fire will test the quality of “each man’s work.” Where does this fire come from in Scripture? Read Isaiah 6: 1-7. Isaiah acknowledges he is a man of “unclean lips” but the angel purifies him by touching his mouth with a “live coal.” The fire purges Isaiah of his guilt and atones for his sins. What or who is the fire? Catholics proclaim “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29: also see Deut. 4:24). Though it is clear St. Paul is referring to judgment day as the “Day,” he is also referring to our personal judgment which happens right after we die since that is when we will be judged 1st.

And so, when you get justification wrong and you diminish the need for working towards our sanctification, than of course, you are left wondering, doesn’t the doctrine of Purgatory demean the power of the blood of Christ to wash away and atone for our sins? No, because Purgatory isn’t about forgiveness from the eternal consequence of our sins which affect our position in the family of God, it is about the secondary effects of sin which are temporal and need to be dealt with in this life or in “the age to come” (Matthew 12:32).

In 2 Samual 12, God forgives David and removes the eternal consequence of his sin, but David still suffers an earthly/temporal punishment: “”The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, [a] the son born to you will die.” This is one of many examples one could point out. In Leviticus, the sinner brings a ram to the priest to atone for his sins (the roots of confession), but he must also make restitution for whatever he has stolen or seek reconciliation with those he has sinned against. These earthly/temporal effects of sin are what need to be dealt with by restoring what our disobedience has broken. A popular analogy is the broken window analogy. If I break your window, you can forgive me if I say I’m sorry, but the window is still broken. The next step is for me to pay for the window so that everything is as it once was before my sin. The chaos of sin needs to be restored fully and we have a part to play.

Jesus said regarding being reconciled with our brother, “I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper” (Luke 12:59). In Purgatory, all the debts we haven’t paid in this life are paid for, and all of our lack of holiness, charity, and purity, is dealt with and purified in the fire of God’s love. This is, in part, the doctrine of Purgatory which is so often rejected and maligned. I will close with a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Purgatory is a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” Rather than being a 2nd chance at heaven it is for those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).

(Notice, I defended the doctrine of Purgatory without quoting the Holy Book of Maccabees. Take that Luther!).

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercies of God, rest in peace!

God Bless You,
Rigo Vega



Ni Bro. G-one T. Paisones


Si Bro. Henry Clarito nahimong aktibong membro sa Catholic Faith Defender dinhi sa Parokya sa Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental. Ug sa pipila ka mga katuigan, pinanguluhan nila ni Bro. Rudy Tejedor ug ni Bro. Fernan Presillas; inubanan nila ni bro. Noel Villahermosa ug bro. Dante Camaro ug ilabina gayod ni Bro. Henry Clarito namugna ang Catholic Faith Lay Apostolic Movement of the Philippines kon CF-LAMP nga nahimong complement sa grupong Catholic Faith Defender sa Cebu.


Si Bro. Henry Clarito nahimong kasamtangang Presidente sa PPC ug sa AGAP, mga organisadong grupo sa parokya; ug aktibo usab siya sa pagtodlo sa mga Doktrina sa Santa Iglesia Catolica.


Si Bro. Henry Clarito ang usa ka layko nga daghan ug kalihokang Apostolado alang sa Santa Iglesia Catolica; alang sa pag lambo niini ug para mabag-o ang bagang doot sa membro niini subay sa tudlo sa Santa Iglesia Catolica. Nakita ni Brad Henry ang dakong kalihokan diha sa lawas ni Jesu Cristo nga mao ang Santa Iglesia ug tungod niiana atong Makita ang daghan niyang gipanguluhan nga Gropung Pangkalihokan diha sa atong Parokya ug sa tibook kapelya dinhi sa Magsaysay Misamis Oriental.


Sa among taas-taas nga panag-uban ni Bro. Henry; kame nagmugna ug gropu –usa ka Team sa mga laykong Katoliko nga bihasa sa Bibilia, Theology, Logica ug sa mga argument Biblico aron sa pagtudlo sa bagang doot sa mga Katoliko dinhi sa Magsaysay ug sa mga silingang parokya niini. Kauban namo si Brad Henry sa PAgtudlo sa Doctrina Cristiana nga nalatid diha sa iyang Panggamhanang Magesterium ilabina gayod diha sa Biblia.


Mga igsoon, sa among mga lecture, kami nila brad Henry, malipay kung daghan ang mutambong sa among mga Bible studies, kay 98 porcento sa maka attend sa Bible study, dili gayod mailad sa mga igsoon natong Protestanteng nalibog ug nakulangan ang pagtodlo diha sa topiko sa Kaluwasan ug Doctrina.


Sa among mga lecture, ang akong madumduman kanunay, mao ang tingog ni Brad Henry nga mabugnaw ug tinimplahan aron masabtan sa mga mamiminaw nga ang doctrina sa Santa Iglesia Catolica Biblical ug mao ang fullness of truth nga gikabilin kanato gikan ni Jesu-Cristo ug sa mga Apostolis!


Ang pinaka importanting lection nga akong natun-an kang bro Henry, mao nga; “kung kame nagtudlo ug Church Magesterium kinahanglan motuman ug mutahod kami sa Pari, sa gusto ug dili namo gusto.”

Karon anaa nakame duha ka kapilya nga nahuman sa pag Bible study, ug daghan napud kami napabalik sa Simbahan nga unta na protestante naman unta ang pipila kanila.


Usahay mangayo si Brad Henry kanako ug software games kay naa man kame duha’y computer; ug kining among computer ang pinaka purpose niini dili mao ang paglingaw sa among gilaay nga balatian, kundili aron sa paggamit pag encode, pag print niini, alang sa mga kalag sa mga Katolikong walay alamag diha sa Biblia. Amo pud nakita ni brad Henry ug sa Among Team –ang Parish Bible Apostolate ang dakong kahimoan diha sa Internet-ug tungod niina nag hulam ako sa USB ni brad Henry aron among ma-upload ang debate batok ni Socrates Fernandez usa ka CFD ug sa usa ka District Minister sa Iglesia ni Cristo(manalo) nga si Rizalito Ocampo. Kung makatan-aw kamo diha sa youtube, e type lang ang CFD vs INC ug inyong Makita ang dibate, ug kining tanan dili namo mahimo kung wala ang panabang ni Brad Henry Clarito!!!


Bro. Henry sa imong pagkabootan, pagkamaisogon diha sa Kamatayon aron andam nga mutagana kang Ginoong Jesu-Cristo; ang Santa Iglesia Catolica nga imong gi-depensahan dili ug dili mabuntog sa Kamatayon!!!


I. Introduction

II. Conscience

III. Purpose of Marriage in Humanae Vitae

IV. Scientific Studies

V. Answering Objections




A good society is the one that makes it easy for you to be good, correlatively a free society is the one that makes it easy for you to be free, to be free and to live freely is to live spiritually because only spirit is free and matter is not. To live spiritually is to live morally. The two essential properties of spirit that distinguished it from matter are intellect and will and the capacity to make a moral choice between good and bad. The greatest threat to live morally today is the lost of moral principles. The erroneous ideology of moral relativism has crept its way into the heart of society by gradually taking away the moral principles of the people and substitutes it with its own subjective morality. The danger of subjective morality is that it undermines or even eradicates the objective morality which is binding for all of us. Subjective morality implies that the ultimate basis for morality is no longer the natural law rather it depends on the person whether his view on such action is morally permissible or morally unacceptable. With this kind of view there is no longer right or wrong because there is no longer a criteria for knowing what actions are right and what actions are wrong because morality depends on the person’s perception. With this kind of morality the society can no longer progress into a free and morally good society because some people will view that war, murder, robbery, rape, slander etc. is morally acceptable and no one has the authority to prosecute this kind of people because morality is no longer objective but relative. Moral relativism is evidently practiced in our contemporary society, the proponents of the controversial reproductive health bill has moral relativism as the foundation of their moral values. In the midst of this controversy how should a Catholic reply in this challenge of upholding objective morality against the ineffable moral relativism? Is contraception morally permissible in a free society? We will try to answer these two profound philosophical as well as theological questions in our discussion.


Understanding our Conscience:


To simplify the definition of conscience, conscience is commonly called the voice of God in our hearts, it is our moral compass.[1] Since conscience is our moral compass it needs to be educated and formed and strictly grounded on the word of God and the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church.[2] Man is subject to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and reject authoritative teachings[3]hence man can also commit erroneous judgment. Venial sins and spiritual dryness can impede the person to judge correctly using his conscience because these two vices can lead the person to depart from natural law and right reason. To properly educate a conscience one must have the right faith to educate it with. Faith has two important key elements to educate conscience and that is right doctrine and upright moral teaching, which can only be found fully in the Catholic Church.[4]An erroneous doctrine affects the uprightness of morality. Such is a case when Protestants do not view marriage as a true sacrament hence for them procreation is not the central purpose of marriage therefore in their moral standards contraception is permissible. In the Catholic faith marriage is a true sacrament and procreation is the central purpose of marriage hence in our moral standard contraception is never permissible. One of the reasons why many Catholics no longer abide by the moral teachings of the church is because they no longer hear frequent homilies and preaching about the different doctrines of the church particularly the existence of hell, consequences of sin, conscience, freewill, objective morality and the evil behind the used of contraception. If man departs from natural law and undermine the teaching authority of the Catholic Church in favor of following his own personal judgment he is no longer acting in accordance to his conscience, but he do not realize his departure from the natural law and right reason because his conscience is smoke screened by venial sins and spiritual dryness.


Nature of Marriage:


The Sacrament of Matrimony was already foreordained by divine will in time immemorial in order to employ the assistance of man in bringing forth the existence of new life by generation of the human nature through the procreative act of the marital union between man and woman. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus Christ had a discourse with the Pharisees[5] regarding the nature of marriage. The Pharisees is trying to ensnare Jesus with his words in order to discredit His preaching. The Pharisees asked him is it lawful to put away one’s wife for every cause? The Pharisees argued with them selves that if Jesus answered that it is not lawful, they will accuse him of contradicting the Scriptures for it is written that if a man is not please by his wife and has found impropriety of which to accuse her, he shall write a bill of divorce[6]. On the other hand if Jesus answers that it is lawful they will accuse him of favoring the passions. Jesus the wisdom of the eternal Father silences them with the authority of the Scripture. Jesus Christ turned to them and said have you not read that he who made man from the beginning made them male and female? For this cause a man leaves his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall become one flesh.[7] In the reply of Jesus to the Pharisees he made it clear that marriage has two elements the unitive act and the procreative act. Marriage is the union between a man and a woman hence the Scripture said the man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife. And the intimate union of the man with his wife through the marital act made them one by producing a new life; hence the phrase “two become one” makes sense. In Pope Paul VI encyclical Humane Vitae made it clear that married persons are the free and responsible collaborators of God the Creator.[8] They become God’s collaborator in the act of creation because through their union in the marital act God infuses a soul immediately after conception.[9] Later on the Pope stresses that marriage is not the effect of chance or the product of evolution of unconscious natural forces.[10]The Holy Scripture attests to this truth that the Sacrament of Matrimony is not a product of human culture but a wise design of God. Since marriage is a wise design of God then it is also fitting to observe the natural laws that govern this holy union of man and woman. The purpose of marriage is to collaborate in God’s creative act by always remaining open to the transmission of life.[11]Created in the image and likeness of God, the origin of all life, men and women are called to be partners with the Creator in transmitting the sacred gift of human life.[12]However being always open to the transmission of life does not mean that each marital act must produce a new life, for the church has encourage the married couple to be responsible parents by regulating the number of children furthermore the church always make it a point that regulation of birth must always be in conformity with the natural law and moral teaching of the church.[13]God’s wise design of the human body has left the woman certain periods that she will not conceive, and within this period marital act will not transmit life however the possibility of conception is still present depending on God if he would create life during this period. Marital act within the period of inconceivability is the natural and licit way of preventing conception with the possibility of transmitting life. On the other hand the church discouraged the use of artificial contraception in preventing life. Devices, medicines and other means in preventing conception not in conformity with church morality is a grave damnable sin. Employing these various artificial methods of preventing conception is deliberately taking God away from the genuine purpose of marriage. And if God is no longer the center of marriage various sins against chastity will creep in the life of the married couple leading to the destruction of the family.


Scientific Studies:

The Reproductive Health Bill was junk in congress however the Department of Health is imposing the provisions found in the R.H bill such as sex education and the promotion of artificial contraception. Scrutinizing the contents of the said bill one cannot find a provision in which the people should be given information on the negative effects of using various artificial means of preventing life. Promoting various artificial means of preventing life is a total betrayal of the oath of health professionals. One statement in the said oath states “I will not administer any harmful drugs to my clients”, it is evident that contraceptive pills leads to cancer and various diseases any health professional that promote the use of pills is betraying his oath over and over again. All of health professionals agreed that diseases should be prevented and billions of dollars was spent to various research studies to eradicate dreaded diseases and improve the quality of life, this is logical and acceptable in the eyes of man and of God on the other hand is pregnancy a disease and should be prevented? Medical practitioners must reconsider these questions; otherwise they should not be called doctors or nurses but murderers and haters of life. A person who is sick visits the doctor to get well, why would then some doctors deliberately injure the natural function of the human body through surgical means of preventing the transmission of life? Such action by doctors and nurses is a total betrayal of the vocation God gave them. Oral Contraceptive Pills is the most common artificial contraception used by female to preventing pregnancy. Doctors in the clinic and nurse and midwifes in health centers educate their clients on how effective the pill is, however being one sided with the explanation they are violating the client’s right, the right to be properly informed. Oral Contraceptive Pill is made up of synthetic hormone progesterone and estrogen. Progesterone and Estrogen are normal hormones of the human body they act by preparing the woman’s reproductive system to be impregnated however Oral Contraceptive Pills disrupts the body’s regulation of its hormone by increasing the levels of progesterone and estrogen hence conception is not possible. This is the desired effect of the pills the undesirable effect is that it will cause cancer why? Because most cancers used estrogen as a type of fuel in order to reproduce and fully develop, a woman taking pills has increase the estrogen level in her blood making her susceptible in developing cancer. Furthermore since there was a disruption on her normal hormone function there will be emotional instability. The second common contraceptive used in our country is the I.U.D or Intra-uterine device. I.U.D is a T-shape device inserted in the uterus in order to block the male sperm cell from fertilizing the woman’s egg cell. I.U.D is not really a device to prevent pregnancy rather it is an abortificient. I.U.D is a foreign object inserted in the uterus, when the body detects that there is a foreign object in its viscera the body’s normal reaction will induce inflammation particularly in the uterus in the case of presence of I.U.D. This inflammation will make the lining of the uterus inhospitable for the fertilized ovum to implant. Since the fertilized ovum cannot implant itself in the uterus it will lead to abortion. I.U.D does not prevent conception it deliberately abort the zygote. Another adverse effect of the I.U.D is that it will cause infection, heavy bleeding, perforation of the uterine wall and in some cases Wilson’s disease. The most accessible form of contraceptive device is the condom, the condom is made up of silicon rubber and it functions by blocking the sperm cells from sipping into the uterus during coitus and thus preventing pregnancy. Although there is no known negative effect in using the condom yet its effect on the morality of the society is devastating. Condom is accessible to all age level hence it is easy to conceal affairs and promiscuous activities and the fear of unwanted pregnancy is no longer a concern among youths and unfaithful husband or wife. Condom also promote the spread of A.I.D.S (acquired immune-deficiency syndrome), contrary to the advertisements that promote condom as a defense against A.I.D.S recent studies regarding condom and A.I.D.S states that condom cannot prevent the spread of A.I.D.S because the molecular pores of the condom is too big and the A.I.D.S virus can easily pass through it, like a tennis ball passing through a basketball ring. In Africa the World Health Organization promote the use of condoms yet the cases of A.I.D.S is still on the rise. Contraception brings no good at all since it is intrinsically evil. The used of various artificial contraceptive methods promotes perversion, according to the great 19th century psychologist Sigmund Freud he said it is a characteristic common to all the perversions, that in them reproduction as an aim is put aside. This is actually the criterion by which we judge whether a sexual act is perverse if it departs from reproduction in its aims and pursues the attainment of gratification independently.[14] Very well, stated by Freud that a sexual act apart from the aim of reproduction is not normal but perverse. Pope Paul VI also warned people that employment of anti-conceptive practices will lead to lose of respect for the woman because will be treated as an object of gratification.[15]


Answers to Anti-life Objections:

  1. You should not impose you Catholic belief upon me, that is your belief I respect that and you should also respect my belief that contraception is right.
  • I do not impose my Catholic belief upon you, it is a given fact that there are moral absolutes and all of us are oblige to obey these moral precepts. Morality does not depend on a person’s personal view otherwise no one has the right to persecute drug lords because they too argued that it is good to sell drugs. Morality is not subjective it is objective. We have laws in our country those are objective laws not subjective laws. Natural law prohibits the use of artificial contraception and we are all obliged to follow that.


  1. There is no difference between using artificial contraception and the natural way of preventing pregnancy, both of them prevents pregnancy so why prohibit artificial contraception?
  • There is a fundamental difference between using the artificial means and the natural means of preventing pregnancy. Artificial contraception deliberately prevents the transmission of life while the natural way is open to the transmission of life.


  1. We are in poverty because we are too many! We have many mouths to feed! To solve the problem of poverty we must reduce our population.
  • Statistically there is no correlation between poverty and over population. China for instance has a population of more than 1 billion yet their poverty level is only 40% while here in the Philippines our poverty level is 45% in spite of having a population of 97 million. Japan has 200 million people in their country yet their poverty level is 0%. Clearly population is not the cause of poverty but bad governance is.


  1. The end justifies the means, contraception has contributed to the development of the society by reducing the number of population, and it has also decrease the cases of sexually transmitted disease, even if it is morally wrong yet its fruit clearly is good.
  • A good tree begets good fruit a bad tree begets bad fruit; contraception is from a bad tree. Even if it causes some goodness to the society yet its negative effect is devastating. A society with no moral principles is not a society after all but a barren wasteland inhabited by people indulges in all sorts of immorality.



[1] Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths. CCC 1776 (cf. Rom.2:16-17)

[2] In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church. CCC 1785

[3] CCC 1783

[4] A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time “from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.” The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct. CCC 1794

[5] Matthew 19:4-5

[6] Deuteronomy 24:1

[7] Matthew 19:4-5

[8] Humanae Vitae no.1

[9] Conception means the fertilization of the female egg by the male sperm.

[10] Humanae Vitae no.8

[11] Nonetheless the Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by its constant doctrine teaches that each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life. Humanae Viate no.11

[12] Pontifical Council for the Family, Instrumentum Laboris no. 73

[13] Intrumentum Laboris no.76

[14] Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, page 266.

[15] Humanae Vitae no.17


G-one T. Paisones(CFD) Versus Mark Baring(SDA in Faith)

G-one T. Paisones Versus Mark Baring


G-one T. Paisones – Catholic Faith Defenders (Affirmative side)
Mark Baring – SDA in Faith (Negative side)
Harvey Salvacion – Moderator
Cristine Valmoria – Camera-woman
Renaliza Acera – Camera – woman


Tema: “Pamatud-an nga si Cristo nag break ug sabbath”


Special thanks to Bro Joel Roma for the Internet Funds


Notice: This video is a cellular phone video; hence it is just a clip and not continuous without prejudicing the personnel who engage in this semi-formal debate.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Iglesia Catolica – Sumasamba Ngaba ng Larawan_Part3

Iglesia Catolica – Sumasamba Ngaba ng Larawan?

Ikatatlong Bahagi

(Ni Bro. G-one T. Paisones, CFD/CFLAMP)


(Note: Ang Pula ay katwiran at tanong ng mga protestante; at ang Berdi ay ang sagot logical at biblical ng may akda)


2.5 Siya ang Inyong Pakinggan: Sinasamba ang larawan?


Sabi ng aklat Katoliko na may pamagat na “Siya ang inyong pakinggan (Mahalagang Aklat sa mga Nagtuturo ng Katesismo)” sa pahina 12 ganito ang nakalagay “Kung ating SINASAMBA ang LARAWAN ni Kristong napapako sa Krus, dinadasal natin: “SINASAMBA kita at pinupuri, Panginoong kong Jesukristo, na dahilan sa inyong Santa Krus ay sinakop mo ang daigdigan.”

Napakalinaw po na sinasabi na SINASAMBA ang larawan; sng tanong ngayon, sino po ang nagsasabi ng totoo, ang may-akda ba ng aklat katoliko na nagsulat na SAMBAHIN ANG LARAWAN, o ang mga Catholic Faith Defenders na nagsasabing hindi sinasamba ang larawan nilang mga Katoliko?



Maganda ang tanong mo kapatid!  Parang animoy sinupalpal mo kaming mga Catholic Faith Defenders (CFD) dahil iginiit mong kami ng mga CFD ay nagsasalungat sa sinasabi ng may akda ng “Siya ang Inyong Pakinggan”; ngunit ang istilo po ninyo ay laos na (sa Cebuano pa: Panahon pa na ni mampor inyong style). Bakit po ba natin sinasabing laos na?  Sapagkat ganyan talaga ang kanilang mudos operande na mag quote ng mga text o mensahi sa aklat Katoliko ngunit hindi po nila ibinibigay ang lahat ng laman nito.  Tulad nalamang ng nabanggit sa ating kapatid na may akda sa aklat na nagsasabing “Sinasambahin ang larawan ni Kristo…” – ITO PO AY PINUTOL NILA AT HINDI NILA TINAPOS ANG PAGBIGAY NG PAHAYAG KUNG ANO BA TALAGA ANG IBIG SABIHIN NG MAY AKDA.

Bakit ba natin sinasabi na pinutol nila?  Sapagkat kung atin lamang tatapusin pagbasa ang aklat na “Siya ang Inyong Pakinggan” sa pahina 116 ganito po ang nakalagay “HINDI PAGSAMBA sa anito o sa diosdiosan ang lumuhod at dumalangin sa harap ng mga larawan, sapagkat HINDI TAYO DUMADALANGIN SA MGA LARAWANG BATO O PAPEL, kundi kay JESUCRISTO at sa mga santo at ang papering ibinigay natin (naglalagay ng mga bulaklak at sinisindihan ang mga kandila sa harapan nila.) sa mga larawan, ay HINDI NATUTUNGKOL SA BATO O SA KAHOY O SA PAPEL, KUNDI KAY JESUCRISTO at sa mga santo sa siyang nalalarawanan sa kanila.” (Emphasis added)


Napakalinaw po na sinulat rin ng may akda ng “Siya ang Inyong Pakinggan” na Hindi natin sinasamba ang mga larawan (bilang Dios); eh bakit po ba sinambit ng may akda ng naturang aklat na “Sinasamba ang larawan..?”  Ang ibig sabihin po ng may akda sa kanyang isinulat na “Sinasamba ang larawan ni Kristo…”

SAGOT PO DIYAN: ay ang PAGSAMBA PO diyan ay hindi ibig sabihin na sinasamba ang larawan bilang Dios, bagkus ang ibig sabihin po nito ay ang paggalang NITO at narito po ang ating ebidensya:


Dan. 2:46 (Ang Biblia-KJV Cebuano Translation) { Unya si hari Nabucodonosor mihapa, ug misimba kang Daniel, ug nagsugo nga siya halaran nila sa usa ka halad sa maamyon nga kahumot.} Si Hari Nabucodonosor ay sumamba kay Daniel.

Dan. 2:46 (Douay) “Then king Nabuchodonosor fell on his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer in sacrifice to him victims and incense.”

Rev. 3:7-9 (Maayong Balita Biblia) Ang anghil ay ipina-samba ng Dios

Gen. 19:1-2 (Douay) “And the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of the city. And seeing them, he rose up and went to meet them: and worshipped prostrate to the ground.”

Joshua 5:13-14 (Ang Biblia-KJV Cebuano Translation)Ug nahitabo, nga sa didto si Josue duol sa Jerico, nga siya miyahat sa iyang mga mata ug mitan-aw, ug ania karon, sa iyang atubangan may usa ka tawo nga nagtindog ug nagbitbit sa iyang kamot ug usa ka espada nga hinuso sa sakob; ug si Josue miduol kaniya, ug miingon kaniya: Kadapig ba ikaw namo kun sa among mga kaaway? 14Ug siya miingon: Dili; apan ingon nga principe sa panon sa kasundalohan ni Jehova, mianhi ako karon. Ug si Josue mihapa sa yuta ug misimba, ug miingon kaniya: Unsa ba ang isulti sa akong agalon alang sa iyang sulogoon?”

Joshua 5:13-14 (Douay) And he answered: No: but I am prince of the host of the Lord, and now I am come.  Josue fell on his face to the ground. And worshipping, said: What saith my lord to his servant?



Ang pagsamba po na nasaimbit sa talata ay tinatawag na veneration o ang paggalang.  Eh ito po ba ay salungat na ang Dios lamang ang dapat sambahin (Mat. 4:10)?  Hindi po, sapagkat magkaiba po ang meaning ng bawat word na pagsamba at it ay ang mga sumusunod:


LATRIA = A form of worship that is due only to God alone; it is the highest form of worship (Mat. 4:10; Deut 6:13).


DULIA = A form of worship that is due to the saints, angels and Mother Mary (Hyper Dulia) as the means of respecting them; not to exceed in our homage to God alone (Dan. 2:46; Joshua 5:13-14; Rev. 3:7-9).


Ang atin pong conclusion ay ganito; nang sabihin ng may akda na na “Kung ating SINASAMBA ang LARAWAN ni Kristong napapako sa Krus” ay isang Dulia lamang na pagsamba o isang respito at hindi ito pagsamba na tinatawag nating LATRIA dahil ayon rin sa may akda na “HINDI TAYO DUMADALANGIN SA MGA LARAWANG BATO O PAPEL” na ang sentro naman ng kanyang topiko ay ang pagsambang Latria o ang pagsamba na para lamang sa Dios.


Ano ba ang ating mga ibat ibang patunay hingil sa ating mga contention na may dalawang uri ng pagsamba (Latria at Dulia)?  Mayroon po at ito ay ang mga sumusunod:


Worship = Reverence or homage offered a person because of his excellence.  We adore God because of His infinite uncreated excellence (see Latria); we venerate Our Lady and the saints because of the manifestation of God’s excellence in them (see Hyperdulia; Dulia).  No person or thing should take the place of God, or be honored in a manner due to God alone, for this is idolatry, which God forbade.  All worship not directed to God Himself must be subordinate to Him (Ex. 20:3-5; Deut. 5:9; John 4:22). {Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible; Harmony Media, Inc.; PO Box 138; Gervais, OR 97026 USA}


Worship = The honor, reverence, and homage put to superior being or powers, whether men, angels or God.  The English word means “worthship” and denotes the worthiness of the individual receiving special honor. (NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible; page 631; The Zondervan Corporation-OMF Literature Phil.)

Samakatuwid hindi po nagkasalungat ang pahayag ng may akda sa naturang aklat; bagkus ang pagsamba po pala ay dalawang uri; ang isa ay ang paggalang, at ang isa ay ang pagsamba na pinakataas o pinakahigit na pagsamba at paggalang; at nabangit na po natin ang mga citas na nagpapatunay sa mga bagay na hingil dito.



2.6 Totoong imahi ni Cristo?


Ang mga imahi o larawan ba ni Cristo na nasa simbahan ninyong mga katoliko; yan ba talaga ang imahi ni Cristo? At bakit iba-iba?



Maganda ang tanong ng ating kapatid; at direkta nating sasagutin ang katanungan niya.  Ang mga imahi na matatagpuan sa simbahang Katoliko ay representasyon ni Cristo; halimbawa baga nito ay ang palabas o movie ng Talambuhay ni Cristo na gawa ng mga kapatid natin na protestante, totoong Cristo bayan? Hindi, sapagkat iyan ay taohan lamang ng isang pelikola; ang importante kasi dito ay ang mensahe, reflection at impact nito sa mga manonood o nagsisimba.  At dapat nating malaman na may larawan si Cristo, narito ang mga ebedensya:

Juan 1:1,14; Tito 2:13; Roma 9:5 Si Cristo ay Dios

Col. 1:15 Si Cristo ay ang imahi sa Dios (Ama) na hindi makikta <emphasis added>

Gen. 1:26 Tayong mga tawo ay larawan ng Dios


Ano ang larawan ni Cristo??? Kundi tayong mga tao; at pakatatandaan natin na ang Iglesia Catolica ay may kapangyarihan na ibinigay sa kanya ng Dios; at ito ay ang pag bind at loose (Mat.16:18; 18:18; Juan 21:15-17).  Kaya may authority ang Iglesia Catolica sa pagpagawa ng imahi o larawn na representasyon ni Cristo.

At pakaiisipin natin na ang simbahang Katoliko ay ang simbahan na kayang maitokoy ang continuation nito hanggang sa panahon ng mga Apostol.  At ang paggamit ng mga simbolo o imahi ay ginagawa na ng mga Kristiyano, sa unang siglo ng panahon ng Kristiyanismo.


The Church’s re-appropriation of many ancient symbols came with the accidental rediscovery of the Roman catacombs in 1578. Faithful Catholics saw the event as providential.

Much of Europe had fallen under the spell of Protestant doctrine, with its radical reinterpretation of early Christian history. Yet the first reports from the catacombs told of chambers that looked and felt like Catholic churches. First of all, there were sacred images on the walls. (Mike Aquilina; pages 12-19; 2009; This Rock Magazine)


Napakalinaw po na; sa catacombs ay matatagpu-an ang mga symbols or images ng ibat ibang bagay na nag re-representa ni Cristo; Holy Spirit; at iba pang mga symbolo.

At bakit iba-iba; eh marami pong dahilan; tulad natin, may iba iba naman tayong mukha noong tayo ay bata pa at hanggang tumanda na; at iba-iba rin ang may gawa na ayon sa interpretasyon o gusto ng may akda, o nagpapagawa na may authority sa Iglesia.



2.7 Ano ang Basihan?


Anong basihan ninyong mga Katoliko na ang mga imahi o larawan ninyo ay ang larawan na pinag-utos ng Diyos?



Salamat sa tanong; ano ba ang basihan ng ating doctrina (Catholic) hinggil sa mga imahi; eh madali lang po ang sagot:

UNA: Ang Iglesia Catolica ay ang Simbahan o Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo doon sa Herusalem at nang lumaoy lumaganap ito – kaya tinatawag na Catholic; ang isa sa mga lugar na ito ay ang Roma.  Doon sa Roma, marami tayong ebedensya na nag papatunay na ang mga unang Cristiano doon ay gumagamit ng mga imahi at ibat-ibang simbolo sa kanilang simbahan ang Catacomb o ang libingan ng mga sina-unang Cristianong naging martir sa kamay ng paganong emperador ng Roma.  Narito po ang ebedensya:

The Church’s re-appropriation of many ancient symbols came with the accidental rediscovery of the Roman catacombs in 1578. Faithful Catholics saw the event as providential.

Much of Europe had fallen under the spell of Protestant doctrine, with its radical reinterpretation of early Christian history. Yet the first reports from the catacombs told of chambers that looked and felt like Catholic churches. First of all, there were sacred images on the walls. (Mike Aquilina; pages 12-19; 2009; This Rock Magazine)


PANGALAWA: ang Iglesia Catolica ay ang simbahan na itinatag ni Cristo (Mat. 16:18; Roma 16:16-20); at itoy binigyan Niya ng autoridad para gawin ang nararapat (Mat. 16:17-19; Mat. 18:18; Juan 20:21-23).  Dahil sa alam ng Iglesya Catolica na may mga imahin ipinagagawa ang Dios Exo. 25:18-22 (basi sa apostolic tradition 2: Tes. 2:15); sinunud lamang nito ang physical settings ng structural na templo ng Dios na may mga imahi ng mga anghil.  Kaya may mga imahi ng mga anghil sa Simbahang Katoliko sapagkat ang structural temple of God nito ay nahahango sa structural temple of God sa Old testament.  May babasa ba na ebedensya?  May roon po:

Heb. 9:2-5 “For a tent * was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; * it is called the Holy Place. 3* Behind the second curtain stood a tent * called the Holy of Holies, 4* having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.”

Oh Ayan, napakalinaw na sa New Testament ay pinag-uusapan parin po ang mga imahi ng mga anghil o ang mga cherubim.





2.8 Hindi kasama ang mga Santo?


Sa nasambit sa Biblia, ang ipinagawa diyan ay ang mga angil lang na tinatawag na cherubim; wala pong nakalagay na mga Santo. Ang tanong; saan mababasa sa Biblia na ipapagawa ng imahi ang mga santo?



Ang tanong po na ito ng ating kapatid ay nag papakita na sang-ayon na siya ngayon na may mga imahi o larawan na ipinagawa ang Dios; at ito ay nagpapakita lamang na okay na sa kanya ang imahi ng mga anghil; ngunit ang mga santo ay hindi.

Dapat nating malaman na ang mga anghil ay Holy, sa Espanyol ay SANTO; at ito ay mababasa sa Biblia:

Mar 8:38 “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


At ang mga Santo ay magiging anghil:

Mat. 22:10 (RSV) “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels * in heaven.”


At para sa karagdagang proweba; narito po ang isang ebedensya na hindi talaga ipinagbawal ang larawan o munuminto kung ito ay hindi isang diyos-diyosan; narito ang citas ng Biblia:


2 King 23:15-17 (RSV) “Moreover the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and he broke in pieces its stones, * crushing them to dust; also he burned the Asherah. 16 And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount; and he sent and took the bones out of the tombs, and burned them upon the altar, and defiled it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. 17 Then he said, “What is yonder monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things which you have done against the altar at Bethel.”



Nasagutan po ang tanong….salamat


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