Thu, 16 May 2013
St. Paul tells us:
"For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
Does this mean that there was no death--of any kind--before the Fall of Man?
Would that mean that no animals, plants, or microbes died?
What about animals that are carnivores?
Were lions vegetarians? How about alligators? Or sharks?
How about carnivores like Tyrannosaurus Rex?
Let's take a look at the subject . . .
Direct download: 052_did_dinosaurs_and_other_animals_die_before_the_fall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:29pm PDT
Mon, 8 April 2013
It has been widely reported that, when he was still the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, the future Pope Francis washed the feet of women during the Mass of the Lord's Supper.
Now he has done so as pope.
Did he break the Church's law?
What does this event mean, and how can we understand what he was trying to do?
Popes Who Thought About Resigning . . . But Didn't
Benedict XVI's resignation may have been the first papal resignation in hundreds of years, but it didn't come completely out of the blue.
He'd already indicated that he had been thinking about the subject of resignation.
What is less well known is that other recent popes had been thinking about it, too.
A lot of recent popes.
This special, extra episode of the Jimmy Akin Podcast contains two interviews I recently did on these two subjects on Al Kresta's and Drew Mariani's radio shows.
I thought they were very interesting, productive discussions, and so I thought I'd share them with you.
Fri, 8 March 2013
In this episode, Al Kresta interviews Jimmy about the St. Malachy prophecy and how reliable it is (or isn't).
They also discuss the history of pope names and what name the new pope is likely to choose.
To get Jimmy's new ebook "Pope Names," visit . . .
Fri, 22 February 2013
Jimmy and historian Dr. Andrew Jones discuss the history of papal resignations.
In this episode they cover the most recent papal resignations, including that of St. Celestine V, who is the most direct parallel to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.
They comment on how Pope Benedict is modeling his resignation after that of Celestine V and what light this sheds on Pope Benedict's thinking.
They also discuss what this means for the future and why Pope Benedict XVI's resignation may be as momentous an event in the history of the Church as the development of the conclave.
Sat, 16 February 2013
Jimmy is joined by the historian Dr. Andrew Jones to discuss the fascinating history of papal resignations.
Before Pope Benedict XVI, which popes have resigned, why have they done so, and how did their resignations shape Catholic history?
Part 1 of 2.
Sat, 5 January 2013
Wouldn’t it be nice is the devil and his angels all repented, stopped doing evil in the world, and turned back to God so that they could be saved?
But can something like this really happen? What is the biblical evidence and how does the Church understand this question?
Sat, 3 November 2012
048 Was Peter the Greatest? What Is the Number of *Jesus*' Name? Can We Trust the Gospel Writers? Are Scary Halloween Costumes Okay?
In this episode of the show, we tackle the following issues . . .
1) Was St. Peter the greatest of Jesus' original Twelve disciples?
St. Peter is certainly the most commonly mentioned of the original Twelve. He always stands at the head of the list whenever the names of the Twelve apostles are listed in the Bible. And he was clearly part of Jesus' inner circle, even within the Twelve. He is, unquestionably, the most prominent of the Twelve.
But did Jesus give him a special role among the Twelve, a special position, or was he just more active than the others?
Jesus gives us an answer to this question, and in an unexpected place . . .
2) The Number of the Beast vs. the Number of Jesus
We've all heard that, in the book of Revelation, the number of the Beast is 666.
Whatever does this mean?
And if the Beast has a number, do others?
Does the name of Jesus have a number?
Does the name of God have a number? . . .
3) Did the Gospel Writers Feel Free to Make Stuff Up?
Some people hold the view that the writers of the four gospels felt free to basically make stuff up, to freely shape the narratives they were writing about Jesus' life by either manufacturing stories about his deeds or making up teachings and putting them on his lips.
The idea is that they used the figure of Jesus as a vehicle for their own ideas, and they made up material to serve the perceived needs of their local Christian communities.
It's easy to show that by the second century there were a lot of people identifying themselves as Christians who did exactly this. That's why there were so many Gnostic gospels dating from the second to the fourth century.
But what about the first century, canonical gospels? . . .
4) Are Scary Halloween Costumes Okay?
Many people of conscience view Halloween with some suspicion, and the way it is often celebrated today, that’s understandable.
Some have chosen not to celebrate Halloween at all, and that’s a respectable choice.
Others have chosen to invert the popular celebration by dressing up–or having their children dress up–as entirely wholesome figures, like doctors, nurses, and firemen or even has historical figures, like saints.
But what about scary Halloween costumes? Are those okay? . . .
Wed, 17 October 2012
You sometimes encounter the charge that the Catholic Church wrongly "changed the sabbath" from Saturday to Sunday.
This claim is often made by Seventh-Day Adventists, for example.
But even if one isn't accusing the Church of wrongdoing, the question can still arise: Why do Catholics worship on Sunday rather than Saturday?
Here's the story . . .
First, let's clear away a potential source of confusion. While it's true that people sometimes speak of Sunday as "the Christian sabbath," this is a loose way of speaking.
Strictly speaking, the sabbath is the day it always was--Saturday--though it should be noted that traditionally Jewish people have celebrated the sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.
Sunday is a distinct day, which follows the sabbath. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ.
That same paragraph explains why we celebrate on Sunday. For Christians the ceremonial observance of Sunday replaces that of the sabbath. Properly speaking, we're not celebrating the sabbath on Sunday. We're celebrating something else, but it's something that the sabbath points toward.
What we are celebrating instead of the sabbath is "the Lord's day."
That's something Christians have celebrated since the first century. In fact, in the very first chapter of Revelation, we read that John experienced the inaugural vision of the book on "the Lord's day." He writes:
I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet [Revelation 1:9-10].
And he goes on to describe the vision of Jesus Christ he received.
For our purposes, the important thing to note is that he speaks of the Lord's day as an already-established thing. He expects his readers to know what it is.
So, when is it?
The first Christians commonly spoke of Jesus Christ as "the Lord," and the Lord's day is Jesus Christ's day--the day he rose from the dead and his tomb was found empty. That's the day after the sabbath, or Sunday.
In Matthew's gospel we read:
Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Mag'dalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulcher.
But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay [Matthew 28:1, 5-6].
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week is something stressed by all four gospels:
And that's why Christians celebrate the Lord's day. The Catechism explains:
Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. . . . For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica), Sunday.
We can confirm that the early Christians were meeting on the first day of the week from the letters of St. Paul, because he tells the Corinthians to take up a collection on that day of the week so that they won't have to take up a collection when he arrives. He says:
Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come [1 Corinthians 16:1-2].
He expects the collection to already be taken up by the time he arrives so that they don't have to get people to give at that point. This indicates that the early Christians were meeting on the first day of the week, celebrating the Lord's day.
Does that mean that no Christians in the first century ever celebrated the sabbath?
No. Many Jewish Christians celebrated both the sabbath and Sunday in the first century, just as many also practiced the Jewish dietary laws and ritual circumcision and offered sacrifices in the Temple.
St. Paul himself went to synagogue services on the sabbath so that he could preach the message of Jesus to his Jewish countrymen, for that is where and when they would gather together.
But Paul is clear that sabbath observance is not binding on Christians.
He addresses this very directly in the letter to the Colossians, where he writes:
And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. . . .
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath.
These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ [Colossians 2:13-17].
When St. Paul refers to the bond which stood against us with its legal demands, he is referring to the Law of Moses. Christ cancelled this bond. That is why he says not to let anyone pass judgment on us in questions of food and drink--what is kosher and what isn't.
And he says not to let anyone judge us with regard to keeping a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. Those are the three types of days on the Jewish liturgical calendar: the annual feasts (like Yom Kippur), the monthly new moon, and the weekly sabbath.
All of these things had a symbolic value, which pointed forward to Christ, but now that the substance which cast the shadow has come--Christ himself--the things pointing forward to him are no longer needed.
The Church Fathers agree. Thus in the early A.D. 100s, we find St. Ignatius of Antioch writing:
Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death [Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Magnesians 9:1].
So let's loop back to our original question of whether the Catholic Church "changed the sabbath." From what we've seen, it didn't.
There was no Medieval pope or council who said, "We're now going to celebrate the sabbath on Sunday."
The weekly sabbath is the day it always was--Saturday--the day before the Lord's day.
What's different is that Jewish Christians are no longer obligated to celebrate the sabbath, because Jesus Christ himself fulfilled it and all the other Old Testament ceremonies and instituted the New Covenant.
And he had the authority to do that, for as he himself told us:
The Son of man is lord of the sabbath [Matthew 12:8].
Of course, Gentile Christians were never obligated to celebrate the sabbath in the first place, because the Law of Moses was given to the Jewish people and was only binding on them (in contrast to God's eternal, moral law, which is binding on everyone).
What we are obliged to celebrate is the Lord's day, which fulfills the principles that were contained within the sabbath, including the need to set aside adequate time for rest and worship.
But there wasn't a Medieval pope or council who instituted that, either. As we've, seen, it's something that dates from the New Testament age itself. Thus the Catechism states:
This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful "not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another" [Hebrews 10:25].
Mon, 8 October 2012
Abortion is a controversial issue, and at the center of the controversy is the question of whether the unborn are human beings. If they are, then abortion kills a human being.
Many people think that this is somehow a religious issue and involves religious questions like when the soul arrives.
Some people deliberately try to frame the issue this way in order to shut down rational discussion of the subject.
So let's set the question of religious aside <em>entirely</em>.
Instead, let's look at something we should all be able to agree upon: science.
What does science say about whether the unborn are human beings?
Sat, 6 October 2012
One of the most controversial passages in the Bible is Matthew 16:18, where Jesus tells Peter, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church."
Catholics see this passage as evidence that Jesus made Peter the first pope.
Many Evangelicals look at it as just the opposite.
Who is right?
It's an interesting question, and I've been on both sides of the question. In fact, this passage played a pivotal role in my conversion to the Catholic Church.
You may think you've heard all the arguments about whether Peter is the rock, but I'm going to show you the one that convinced me, and you probably haven't heard it anywhere else . . .
The Basic Argument
A common claim in Protestant apologetics is that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus is actually contrasting St. Peter with the rock on which he will build his Church.
The argument is based on the fact that in Greek the word for Peter is petros, while the word used for "rock" here is petra.
It is often claimed that these words meant two different things--that petros meant a small stone or a pebble, while petra meant a large rock.
The idea is that Jesus is contrasting Peter--a tiny, insignificant stone--with the great rock on which he will build his Church, which is often said not to be Peter but Peter's faith.
How well does this argument work?
Small Stone vs. Large Rock?
In the Expositor's Bible Commentary, the esteemed Evangelical Bible scholar D. A. Carson writes on this passage:
Although it is true that petros and petra can mean "stone" and "rock" respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry.
Moreover the underlying Aramaic in this case is unquestionable; and most probably kepha was used in both clauses ("you are kepha and on this kepha"), since the word was used both for a name and for "rock."
The Peshitta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses.
The Greek makes the distinction between petros and petra simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine petra could not very well serve as a masculine name.
So the argument that petros and petra have different meanings in this passage is actually quite weak.
But for the sake of argument, let's suppose that they did. Would this mean that Peter isn't the rock?
You May Look Small . . .
The argument that he isn't is based on the fact that there is a clear parallelism between Peter and the rock in this passage, and it assumes a particular kind of parallelism--one that contrasts Peter with the rock.
This is sometimes called antithetic parallelism.
But that isn't the only kind of parallelism there is. The Bible often uses another form, known as synthetic parallelism.
In synthetic parallelism, the second item mentioned builds on or amplifies the meaning of the first.
If that's what's happening in this passage--even if we grant that petros means a small stone and petra means a large rock--then it does not follow that Peter and the rock are two different things.
Instead, Jesus would be saying something like, "Although you may seem to be a small stone, Peter, on the large rock that you really are, I will build my Church."
In this case petra or large rock would bring out the actual significance of the small stone that Peter appears to be.
But there are even more decisive arguments, and you don't have to speak Greek or Aramaic to understand them . . .
My Own Conversion
A key moment in my own conversion occurred one day when I was reading a book, and it had an extended quotation from Matthew 16.
I suddenly realized that there was a structural feature in the text that pointed to Peter being the rock.
Soon afterward, I noticed additional features that indicated the same thing.
I realized that these were far stronger indicators than the arguments I had previously taken for granted regarding the alleged difference in meaning between petros and petra, and I had to change my view.
Here is what I discovered . . .
Jesus Asks a Question
If we back up a few verses, we find Jesus asking the disciples a question:
 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?"
 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
That's the correct answer, and Jesus says three things to Peter in reply:
 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.
 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
What I noticed was that there are structural features in Jesus' three statements to Peter that indicate he is the rock.
Blessed Are You
One thing I noticed is that the statements immediately before and after the "You are Peter" passage are both blessings.
First, Jesus says "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona!" That is clearly a blessing.
Then he says, "You are Peter."
And finally he says, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven." That also is clearly a blessing.
So "You are Peter" is sandwiched between two blessings. The passage unambiguously stresses the blessedness of St. Peter.
That argues against the idea that Jesus is belittling Peter in this passage.
It would be like Jesus saying, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! . . . You insignificant pebble. . . . Here are the keys to the kingdom of God!"
What It Means to Be Peter
I also noticed that each of Jesus' three statements to St. Peter has a two-part explanation attached to it.
The first statement, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona!" is explained by "For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you," which is then further explained by "but my Father who is in heaven."
These are why Peter is blessed. He didn't learn of Jesus' identity from man. It was revealed to him by the Father.
The third statement, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven," is explained by "and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven," which is then further explained by "and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
These are part of what it means for Peter to have the keys of the kingdom. He is able to bind things with authority from God, and he is able to loose things with authority from God.
So when it turns out that the second, or middle statement also has the same structure, then we need to read it in the same way.
The statement "you are Peter," is explained by "and on this rock I will build my church," which is further explained by "and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it."
So that is what it means for him to be Peter: Jesus will build his Church on him, and the gates of hades will not prevail against it.
What This Means for Us
When I realized these things, I realized that Peter had to be the rock Jesus was talking about. And that was a pivotal moment in my journey with God.
Because if Peter is the rock on which Jesus builds his Church, that means that Peter is the chief apostle, the chief shepherd of Christ's flock. And that means that, once Jesus has ascended to heaven, Peter is the earthly head of the Church.
That's a good description of the office of the pope.
And so, when I realized these things, I concluded that I had to reconsider matters. I had to review my beliefs with an open mind toward whether the Catholic Church was right after all.
In the end, I concluded that it is, and so I became Catholic.
In the years since, my conviction has only strengthened as I have learned more about Catholic teaching and its basis in the Bible, including the role of the pope.