St. Sebastian
Feast of St. Sebastian

Whoever is not Against Us is For Us

clock September 30, 2012 12:39 by author John |


At that time, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

The words of today's gospel are particularly timely and appropriate. Christ uses some very powerful and vivid images. For those that like to stir confusion and dissent into the people of God, this reading stands as a warning that they are not only causing harm to the souls of other people, but they are playing with fire, quite literally when it comes to their own soul.

We must ask ourselves, “Who is for us and who is against us?” Whoever is not against us is for us. This reading requires us to look carefully at those around us. Are those friends who tease you or “joke” with you about your large family, the rosary in your car, or the religious images in your home bringing you closer to Christ? Are they helping you grow in your faith? Are they “For us”?

Are the politicians we vote for really “For us”? Do they believe in the sanctity of human life? Do they protect the unborn? Do they defend the family unit against degradation from those who violate the natural law with unnatural acts and seek to call their deviancy “marriage”? Are these politicians helping you practice your religion? Are they respecting your conscience? Are they helping you raise holy children, who love God and His commandments?

On the other hand, you must ask the same questions in reverse. Are the politicians we vote for “Against Us”? Do they promote the destruction of human life? Do they allow or promote the murder of the unborn, calling it “choice”? Do they embolden the enemies of the family by promoting homosexual marriage and adoption? Are these politicians placing limits on the free exercise of your religion? Are they forcing you to violate your conscience? Are they making it harder to raise your children in the faith? Are they forcing sex education on your children who are too young to hear these messages? Do they mock your God and His commandments? Are they causing our children to stray from the faith?

Jesus tells us, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimedthan wit h two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire” How can we not take a step back and think about this statement? What is Jesus saying? He is saying that your soul is more important than anything else in your life, even your body. If there is something that is holding you back in your relationship with God, get rid of it! If your friends are causing you to sin, or to be embarrassed by your faith, get rid of them. They are not your friends. If politicians are impinging on your religious freedoms or placing “stumbling blocks” between your children and God, get rid of them. Vote them out of office!

Jesus does not mince words about those who cause sin, particularly in children:
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.

Life is too short to fill it with sin, indifference, or people that cause these spiritual diseases. Cut it off! Get rid of them! Get yourself and your family to Heaven. That is your mission. That is the only thing that will matter in the end. God will not ask how many Facebook friends you have or how many times you voted for “your parents’ political party”. He will ask how ardently you loved Him and how earnestly you lead your family in the journey to Heaven.

What is the Catholic Meaning of Humility?

clock September 30, 2012 05:47 by author John |

Elisha bade the poor widow “borrow vessels, even empty vessels not a few, and pour oil into all those vessels;” and so in order to receive God’s Grace in our hearts, they must be as empty vessels—not filled with self-esteem. The swallow with its sharp cry and keen glance has the power of frightening away birds of prey, and for that reason the dove prefers it to all other birds, and lives surely beside it;—even so humility drives Satan away, and cherishes the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit within us, and for that reason all the Saints—and especially the King of Saints and His Blessed Mother—have always esteemed the grace of humility above all other virtues. – St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life


In the simplest sense, humility is a virtue whereby a person is keenly aware of his shortcomings and deficiencies, has a balanced view of himself and his position in the world, and submits himself to God and other people. It is not necessary for us to practice the virtue of humility by thinking of ourselves as worthless or less important than other people. Humility is being realistic about ourselves. Humility allows us to identify both our God-given gifts failings and their abundance in us in relation to others.

Humility is a component of the virtue of temperance. Temperance rightly orders our desires and expressions. Humility is a virtue that stands against the sin of pride. It is a foundational element of the spiritual life. We cannot aspire to God until we have properly formed our opinion of our place in the universe. In a sense, humility allows us to overcome ourselves in order to seek God.

Jesus spoke of the virtue of humility in His Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land… Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “(Matthew 5:5,11-12).

Humility does not entail welcoming humiliations, though they can be a path to building the virtue of humility, by showing us the errors in our pride. We can in some cases take the virtue of humility too far and in doing so, degrade our worth and even inspire the sin of pride in others. Humility should be practiced in deference to the virtue of temperance, not allowing ourselves to lower ourselves too much, but also not allowing pride to grow in us.

Catholic Cheerfulness

clock September 29, 2012 19:34 by author John |

“May no one read sadness or sorrow in your face, when you spread in the world around you the sweet aroma of your sacrifice: the children of God should always be sowers of peace and joy.” St. José María Escrivá, The Furrow, #59.


The old saying goes “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. It seems like an almost universally accepted truth. If only all of the truth of the Catholic Faith was as widely held. People simply respond more favorably to you when you have a smile on your face and authentic joy in your heart. A joyful person is approachable, inviting, and appealing. Perhaps more importantly, a joyful person is disarming.

It is common for unbelievers and critics to claim that Catholics are a sorrowful bunch. Many times this may be true. Some of us though meaning well simply forget that in God, Joy is abundant. We may take a serious tone in talking with people about the rules and proofs of our faith. They may see us forgoing worldly pleasures and assume that we are devoid of cheer. This of course is because they consider pleasure to be joy. How wrong they are! Nevertheless, we would all do well to be reminded of the joy we profess to others in our faith.

These days it seems like there is so much for us to be cheerless about. There are wars raging in many parts of the world. People are starving in the third world. Throughout history Christians have been persecuted. We were food for the lions in Rome. Our cathedrals were ransacked while our priests were martyred in the “enlightened” days of the French Revolution. Hitler starved us alongside the Jews in his dark days. Perhaps never in history has it been more apparent that a great persecution was looming against Christ and His Church than it is now.

Despite all of that, it is perhaps more imperative than ever that we carry the joy of Christ in our hearts. Though we enjoy many freedoms now, many of us are rightly afraid of the days ahead. When evil begins to gain the upper hand and it seems like the battle is unwinnable; when we have lost those freedoms we have taken for granted, and it seems everything points to sorrow and pain, it is precisely in those moments that we must wear that joy not only in our hearts, but on our faces. Joy may be one of the few things we have left if things continue on their course. Joy is one of those gifts, along with faith, reason, and intellect that no one can take from us unless we give up on it.

If we are cheerful, we can more effectively carry out Christ’s mission for us. Joy lightens the load and makes the journey bearable. Joy can transform the world. More importantly, joy can transform each of us. Joy can lead us to Heaven, and as C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”

Friday Flashback: NYC Giving Out Abortifacients, Bp. Paprocki, Planned Parenthood Covers up Rape

clock September 28, 2012 10:42 by author John |

The Friday Flashback is a review of the important news of the week. The Culture of Death is active as ever...


Nickelodeon Links to Twitter Account with Filthy, Sexually charged derogatory comments by Actor Jason Biggs - another reason not to let liberals entertain your kids.

Godless San Francisco Shows Its True Intentions - hmmm, who would have thought that these people didn't like kids?

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin Gets Sneaky and Tries to Pass pro-abortion, anti-family UN Treaty - Can't trust the liberals, now can you?

Illinois Court Upholds Conscience Rights for Pharmacists - finally, some good news, if even just temporary!

NYC Hands Out Morning After Pill at 50 Highschools - can't trust liberals to "educate" your kids either!

HHS Mandate Allows Minors Free Contraception and Sterilization - Obamacares? Not for parent's rights or consciences!

Boko Haram Strikes Again - Killing 2 and Wounding 45 IN Catholic Church Bombing - where is the outrage? Why isn't the media covering this story?

Bishop Thomas Paprocki Makes a Clear Case for Voting Principles in this Election - I just hope people are using their ears the way God intended them to be used rather than employing "selective hearing"

Mitt Romney's Son Tagg Utilized IVF with Abortion Clause - Another reason I don't trust Romney. He's better than intrinsic evil though.

Cardinal Dolan comments on NYC Schools Giving Young Girls the Morning After Pill

Planned Parenthood Ohio Fails to Report Incestuous Rape to Police - You know, it seems like Planned Parenthood doesn't really care about its patients after all. Money talks.

Top 10 Emotional Reasons People Don’t Go to Confession (and Why You Should Consider it Anyway)

clock September 27, 2012 20:49 by author John |

Recently I stumbled upon a forum on a secular wedding website that was discussing preparations before marriage. The topic of confession came up, as did several candid opinions on the topic. There were a few people that mentioned being nervous, unsure how to confess, or embarrassed.

This made me ponder why many people don’t go to confession. I frequently assumed (probably incorrectly) that it was a defiant thing. I thought most people just didn’t agree with the practice. I decided to do a little unscientific research on the topic. I combed the Internet looking for the various emotional/non-defiant reasons people listed for not making use of the Sacrament of Penance. Here is the list in no particular order, with a few points to consider if this reason applies to you.

1. It has been too long (or never) since I have gone to confession, and I am afraid of that first part (It has been _______ since my last confession).

This was one of the reasons I saw over and over again. It seems many people are just plain afraid of telling someone that they haven’t been to confession in a long time (or never). If you have been struggling with this, know that the priest is acting in “In Persona Christi”, which means in the Person of Christ. Jesus wants you to come to Him no matter how long you have been away from Him.

Remember the story of the prodigal son? The son took all of his inheritance and left his father’s house to live a depraved life, wasting the inheritance. The son returned looking for a job from his father. The father welcomed him back home and treated him like a king, forgiving the son and rejoicing that he returned. Jesus is the same way. He will always accept you with open and welcoming arms. The priest will mirror this. While he might remind you that it is important to confess regularly, he will gladly hear your confession because he wants you to rebuild your relationship with Christ.

Be at peace, no matter how long you have been away, it is always better to return as soon as you can. The priest will not judge you for being away. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. You aren’t the only one with this dilemma, and you probably won’t be the person who has been away the longest that the priest has ever heard. Even if you are, that will most likely mean that the priest will give even more thanks to God for having the opportunity to welcome you back into the fold.

2. I know the priest and he knows me – I don’t want him to know my sins.

This is a common feeling, even for people that confess their sins monthly or more. We all have secrets, “skeletons in the closet”. It is reasonable for you to feel this way. After all, priests are people, just like you and me. It is embarrassing for someone you see on a regular basis to know your struggles and failings.

There is the option of going to a priest at a neighboring parish. This may not be the best choice in the long run, but there is nothing explicitly prohibiting you from choosing where you go to confession. There is a benefit to developing a relationship with your confessor so that he knows your struggles and can suggest ways for you to overcome them. Also, you may find that you have a “louder conscience” if you know that you will have to tell the priest about the sin later. This may help you avoid the sin in the first place.

3. I don’t know the “formula” to use when I go, and I don’t want to “mess anything up”.

I was a bit surprised when I saw this one. I didn’t realize people had this fear. I suppose it could be a bit awkward if you are not familiar with how confession works to just walk into the confessional and not know what to say. While there is a formula for people that frequent the sacrament, it is really just a guide to help the confession go smoothly. If you are totally clueless about what to say, have no anxiety about this one. Just let him know that you are not really sure how to proceed. The priest is ready and willing to guide you through the confession. You should at least have an idea of what your sins are before you go into the confessional. An examination of conscience will be a big help in getting you ready in that area.

4. I have done some really bad things and I am embarrassed.

Here’s the deal with this one: let’s use murder as an example, because that is one of the biggies. First of all, it is entirely possible that the priest has heard this sin before, but it is probably a safe bet that he doesn’t hear it every day. Rest assured that he will not freak out. Keep in mind that he is bound under a strict seal not to reveal your sins, no matter how terrible to another living soul ever. (See #10 for more on this point)

You should also keep in mind that the priest is not allowed to require you to turn yourself in. He may suggest it for the good of society or for your own good, but he cannot require it.

You have the right to anonymity in your confession. You can choose to go to a priest you have never met and sit behind a screen so he can’t see you. Given that you have so many safeguards to protect your anonymity and reputation, you shouldn’t worry about that.

Now, the embarrassment is a terrible feeling. Rather than being afraid of it, embrace it. The embarrassment is a good thing. It is guilt, and no matter how much the culture tries to get rid of it, guilt will never go away until you confess your sins. Your guilt is a gift from God; it is His grace working in you. It encourages you to change your life and come back to Him. Once you have confessed your sins, you will feel like a truckload of bricks has been lifted off of your back. It is liberating, refreshing, and you will probably walk out of the confessional with a smile on your face just from the feeling of relief.

5. I feel awkward telling my sins to someone else.

This is also a very typical and normal feeling. As with the embarrassment mentioned in the previous item, embrace the uncomfortable feeling. If confession was an easy thing to do, we would be more likely to sin. It is too easy to tell your sins to Jesus and not have true sorrow for them. Telling your sins to the priest ensures that you think twice about your sins.

The feeling of dread in telling your sins to someone else is a powerful motivator to avoid sinning in the future so that you don’t have to mention those bad things you have done any more. Rest assured that the priest is not there to judge, condemn, or belittle you, though you should be open to taking constructive criticism or correction – it will help you.

He can’t tell your sins to anyone else, and he genuinely wants to help you. This is the way Jesus wanted confession. Telling your sins directly to Jesus is a good thing to do on a daily basis. It shows that you are sorry for them, but the way God established this sacrament is confession to a priest. That is the only way we know of to be assured that your sins will be forgiven.

6. I’m afraid someone outside the confessional will hear me.

Some confessionals are more secluded and private than others. In general, it is best to speak in a gentle and soft, but still audible voice. Something you may not know is that people who overhear something from somebody else’s confession are bound under the same seal of secrecy as the priest. They are not allowed to divulge anything they overhear from a confession.

That being said, it is best to take some precautions if you think that sound may travel far enough to be heard. First, if you can hear someone else’s confession, it is generally expected that you will move out of hearing range or in the worst case scenario, just cover your ears and hum a tune. If you think someone may overhear you, you can always ask them to take a few steps back so as to protect your anonymity. Any reasonable person would agree to this. If not, you can always offer to trade places with them in line and just let them go first, backing off yourself so that people behind you get the clue.

7. I don’t want to go face-to-face and my church doesn’t have a screen.

You have the right to a screen between you and the priest to protect your anonymity. If your church does not offer one, bring it up with the pastor. If he still refuses, then you can certainly look for another parish that respects this mandate and offers a screen.

There can be some benefits to going face-to-face, if you are open to it. You may find that it helps to have a good relationship with your confessor. He can help you through your struggles and identify weaknesses you didn’t realize you had. 

8. A priest was angry/judgmental/rude to me last time.

This is inexcusable and just plain wrong. A priest should be gentle yet firm with a penitent. He has no right to be angry or rude (at least outwardly) with you. If you feel that the priest was out of line, you can mention it to the pastor of the parish (if the priest is not the pastor), or you can bring it up with the bishop’s office, which might have received other similar complaints and can correct him if necessary.

You should keep in mind, however that correction is not necessarily anger, judgment, or rudeness. Consider if you perceive honest and firm correction as something more than it is simply because it implicates you or you disagree with it. Sometimes we have a tendency to take things the wrong way. This is not always the case, but it does happen.

9. I’m not really sorry for my sins, and/or I don’t intent on changing, so what’s the point?

The point is that you are taking a step in the right direction. It is legitimate to stay away from confession if you feel that you have no intention of changing. Perhaps you should take a step back from yourself and think about what this type of a statement means. By saying this, you acknowledge that you are sinning, so that is a good first step.

What does it say though if you really don’t want to change? Well, to be honest, it says that you are rejecting God’s love and grace. God has given you the grace to accuse yourself of your sins. Why reject his grace, which might help you overcome them and be a better person? Your life will be better if you make the active and sometimes difficult decision to try to follow Him.

Sometimes the fear of doing something difficult or uncomfortable keeps us from making the right choice. We all make mistakes and most of the time we make those mistakes repeatedly. We all struggle with sins – each and every day. That is why confession is available to us in the first place.

There is no requirement that you expect to be perfect after confession. There is only the expectation that you will try. Let’s be realistic, we already know that you and everyone else in this world will fail at some point. The important thing is to get back up, dust yourself off, get to confession, and try again.

10. I know the priest is supposed to keep my confession a secret, but I think he might tell someone my sins.

The priest is forbidden from revealing your sins to anyone ever. He is not even allowed to reveal that he heard your confession at all. He is not allowed to record it or to let the police listen in. There are laws that protect the priest-penitent privilege. In the US, and most other countries, anything said in confession is not admissible evidence in a trial.

The church would treat a breach of this seal more harshly than your worst sin. The priest would be immediately excommunicated by breaking the seal. The penitent is placing incredible trust in the priest to keep this secret. Priests have given their life to protect this trust. I would go so far as to guess that more priests have been martyred protecting the seal of confession than have broken it. That is how serious this is. God gives the priests special graces to be able to forget confessions and helps them in this sacred duty of secrecy.


Other Articles You May Like:

A Thorough Catholic Examination of Conscience
How to Make a Good Catholic Confession
What is Mortal Sin (The Catholic Definition)
What is Venial Sin (The Catholic Definition)
Top 10 Emotional Reasons People Don't Go to Confession (and Why You Should Consider it Anyway)
What Does it Mean to Mention Sins in "Number and Kind" in Confession

The Scariest Image of the Day: Medical Network Forces Doctors to Declare Patients Dead

clock September 26, 2012 10:41 by author John |

First, read this and be prepared for your blood pressure to rise. Then read on...

If you thought you would see someone’s insides when you saw the title of this post, then my apologies. Here is the image that scares me more than anything I have seen this week:

It is the entirety of the mainstream media’s internet coverage of this story as aggregated by Google News. 5 articles – only 2 of which are from major newspapers. If I do a search for “Madonna Black Muslim” referring to Madonna’s verbal diarrhea, I get 38,600 results. The media decides what you care about, got that? 

Do you know why they don’t want you to care or even know about this story? They don’t want you to grow a conscience. They don’t want you to value human life. If you have a moral dilemma with this story, then you might think about the subject a bit and decide that every life is valuable and sacred. The media wants to turn human life into a commodity. Slowly they are attempting to erode your moral sensibilities. Don’t let it happen. Form your conscience. Investigate the issues.


US Bishops Speaking with One Voice Concerning Elections

clock September 25, 2012 20:26 by author John |

What a joy it is to witness the unified and forceful way in which the Catholic Bishops of the United States are speaking with regard to the upcoming election! In every statement I have seen so far, the bishops are emphasizing the “non-negotiable” issues that adorn the Democratic Party and Obama’s platform. While I am not a Democrat, I am also not a Republican because parties are too fickle and neither represents my beliefs appropriately. In spite of this, it seems that in general, one party is clearly the lesser of 2 evils here. It should also be noted that there are exceptions to this rule, as there are a few truly pro-life Democrats, and a few pro-abortion Republicans.

However, unless you are living under a rock, if you are a Catholic, you should by now be aware of the gravity of this election. You should also be aware of the non-negotiable issues and where each candidate stands on these issues. If not, then it would seem that you are not an informed voter, which is not a good thing to be.

Here is a sample of the public statements made by some of our Bishops recently:

Bishop Morlino (Also, a good conversation about the topic on Relevant Radio)
Archbishop Lori
Archbishop Chaput
Bishop Paprocki
Archbishop Gomez

Should Parents be Able to Pick their Baby’s Gender?

clock September 25, 2012 18:57 by author John |

How shallow is our culture? Here is my take – pretty shallow. An article/video on Yahoo’s “Shine” portal is asking the question “Should parents be able to pick their baby’s gender?”

Now, the video is a couple of social commentators discussing the pros and cons of it. I give them brownie points for actually using the word ethical in their conversation. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but notice that they did not even discuss HOW this “gender picking” is done.

I’m sure you can figure it out, but let me make sure we are all on the same page. More than one child is created/conceived through in vitro fertilization. If the child matches the gender the parents have settled on, then that child gets to live. If not, then the child is killed or possibly placed in “storage” for a while until the parents decide that it is time for a baby of that gender. If the child is never wanted, then that child will likely be discarded like trash.

This information is conveniently not included in the discussion. Perhaps it is that they are trying to appeal to their audience, which probably is composed primarily of teenagers with attention spans shorter than replacement NFL referees, and lazy generation X and Y party-going, conscience shunning liberals. Even so, don’t you think they at least owe it to themselves if not their audience to provide all the details? Do you think that maybe the details would cause some people to frown upon the practice? Maybe that is why the details are conveniently left out.

Our culture is shallow. Shallow enough to look the other way when facts might actually cause them to take a stand for something other than sinful behavior. We wouldn’t want people to get that “uncomfortable” feeling that sometimes shows up when their conscience tries to poke through the callous exterior, now would we?

Tuesday Ear Tickler: Frank Schaeffer Rails Against Belief in Hell

clock September 25, 2012 01:09 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Frank Schaeffer writing on the CNN DisBelief Blog. We have a special treat for this iteration of the Ear Tickler Award: a good ol’ fashioned Hell denier! Schaeffer's father was a prominent Evangelical Christian Theologian, Francis Schaeffer. The apple may not have fallen far from the tree, but it seems to have rolled quite a way in this case. Schaeffer lays out his case for disbelief in Hell… (Schaeffer’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black, Jesus' comments in red font.)

My Faith: The dangerous effects of believing in hell

Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no subgroups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of hell than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians.

I see, so we are already lumping faithful Christians in with Islamic terrorists. This seems a little over the line until you realize that Schaeffer is an Obama lackey and a “pro-life, pro-Obama” oxymoron apologist. You know, the Obama that thinks pro-lifers are a terrorist group.

So whether you're an atheist or not, the issue of who's going to hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed - from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell.

At first, I thought this was just a sarcastic remark. Then after reading the rest of the article, I have come to realize that Schaeffer is not well-read when it comes to the teachings on hell, justice, and mercy. I do realize that the 9/11 terrorists may have thought they were purchasing their eternal reward with their actions, but it seems a bit juvenile to plaster that belief on the people who are defending our country. A quick 5-minute look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church would have served him well before making such ridiculous comments. By the way, the issue of hell will be very important for all of us, with implications reaching far beyond the worldly ones.

And so my view of "hell" encompasses two things: First, the theological question about whether a land of eternal suffering exists as God's "great plan" for most of humanity.

“God’s great plan for most of humanity”? These are the kinds of statements that reveal his lack of understanding of the subject matter. God’s plan for us is to know, love and serve Him in this life so that we can enjoy the rewards of our actions in Heaven. Hell is a choice some of us make. God doesn’t plan on any of us going to hell. He does however give us the choice to love Him and our neighbors. If we reject that choice, in the end, God is just giving us what we wanted when we rejected Him. Heaven is the joy of eternity with God. The eternity of sadness due to the separation from God is the part of hell that frightens me more than any temporal pains from fire.

Second, the question of the political implications of having a huge chunk of humanity believe in damnation for those who disagree with their theology, politics and culture, as if somehow simply killing one's enemies is not enough.

While there are many that believe this, it seems to me that a well-educated Christian would come to the conclusion, as the Catholic Church has, that God doesn’t damn people to hell because they don't hold a theological point or two. Damnation is a consequence of our pride and rejection of God’s grace.

Since Christianity is my tradition, I can say more about it. One view of God - the more fundamentalist view - is of a retributive God just itching to punish those who "stray."

Again, this is a shallow view.

The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

What Schaeffer is missing here is the fact that forgiveness must be sought out. God does not bestow forgiveness on any and every person regardless of their disposition toward Him. It is true that God forgives people no matter how severe their sins, but we must first humble ourselves to seek that forgiveness. It’s the humbling ourselves part that many cannot bring themselves to.

While Jesus did seek forgiveness for the people crucifying Him, he also said:

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:4-6

That doesn’t sound all-forgiving to me. How about you?

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists - through televangelists and others - have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

Schaeffer doesn’t want a merciful father. He wants a non-confrontational grandfather who just gives his grandkids candy and a few dollars every time he sees them. A loving father disciplines His children so that they will develop virtue and love Him for giving them life, character and knowledge of good and evil. If your child runs into the street do you reward him or punish him? A loving father punishes appropriately so that the child learns from making mistakes.

But for all that, this redemptive view is no less real.

Why does our view of hell matter? Because believers in hell believe in revenge. And according to brain chemistry studies, taking revenge and nurturing resentment is a major source of life-destroying stress.

“Believers in hell believe in revenge”. How do you like that for a blanket statement? I believe in hell, but I also believe that revenge is a great way to reject God’s will for us to “love our enemies”. Revenge is a sure path to hell for the one executing the revenge. A principled person also believes in self-defense, which is what the United States is doing against those who seek to wipe us off the map.

We need “hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

We need Schaeffer’s shallow views on hell like we need a hole in the head. Allow me to make this very clear. Hell is a choice. No one goes to hell by accident. If you end up there, it is because you rejected God and His mercy. While God is merciful, he is also just. By denying the existence of hell, you are denying God’s infinite justice. It wouldn’t make sense for all of the runners in a race to win the Olympic gold medal, no matter how slow they ran. Likewise, it wouldn’t make sense for God to award the eternal joy of Heaven to those who don’t want it or have forsaken the love of God for the instant gratification and fleeting fun of a depraved life. It would make even less sense for the reward of Heaven to be indiscriminately given to those who would live in disregard or contempt for the moral law and reject the many graces given to them to help them turn back to God.

The dangerous part about what Schaeffer spews here is that it nullifies the struggle each of us makes against evil within our own souls. If we don't believe in hell, then there is no way we can believe in Heaven either. How could a just God allow one without the other? What happens after we die? Do we all go to heaven? If so, then why should I struggle to do good if doing evil will get me the same reward? Why not have some carnal fun in the process? If there is no hell, why not just dispatch everyone that doesn't agree with me? Has Schaeffer really not thought about these questions? Or is he just trying to sell a book with a sensationalist article to get attention?

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award to Frank Schaeffer for Tuesday, September 25, 2012.

Bumper Sticker Wars

clock September 24, 2012 13:24 by author John |
Proud of your sloth?
Proud of your sloth?
Proud of mocking people?
Proud of mocking people?

If you are into displaying your thoughts on the back of your car, there are nearly limitless possibilities. If you have run a marathon, there is the 26.2 sticker. If on the other hand, you are proud of your laziness, there is also the 0.0 sticker. A more troubling trend is the proliferation of bumper stickers adorning the cars of atheists, or as might be the case, lazy people who are proud to have never spent the effort to look into the existence of God.

Driving home from work in the last few weeks, I have noticed several bumper stickers of people who believe that as Bob Dylan said, “Life is but a Joke”. I’m referring to the “Cthulhu” or “Darwin” fish stickers. I mean do these people think that they are clever? If so, how? Is it original to buy a sticker produced by someone else to mock people who have taken the time and energy to develop a relationship with God? Just as the lazy people who are proud of trumpeting their sloth to the “26.2” crowd, it seems to me that this group of outspoken anti-religious bigots is simply laughing and dancing around, unaware that they are dancing right off the cliff. It is all fun and games until they are faced with the reality they have ignored, namely their judgment before God.