Today Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was memorialized in an elaborate funeral mass in Washington, D.C. Having watched the majority of the event on television, including the sermon, I was struck by the Catholic Priest’s statements concerning the Justice’s eternal soul: “He was not yet perfected, but we will join with his family in continuing to pray for his soul that he will be perfected, since we know that no one ascends to heaven unless they have been made perfect.”
Huh? What did he say?
This was a seminal moment for me, in context, and illustrates a stark contrast between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. “Sola Gratia”, meaning: by grace alone, is one of the five core tenets of the Reformation. Yet, when you survey Catholic doctrine, you learn that the Catholic Church also teaches salvation by grace, just as the Reformers do. Contrary to what one may surmise from the words of the priest at Mr. Scalia’s funeral, the Catholic Church does not teach that one “deserves” eternal life through “earning” it. However, they do teach that the grace of God is imparted in “stages”, resulting ultimately in the perfection of the individual, even if that person’s soul must spend time in purgation before this occurs. Continue reading
“Why is it that you see the speck in the eye of your brother, but the log that is in your eye, you do not notice? How can you say to your brother, ‘Permit me, and I will remove the speck from your eye’, when the log is in your eye?’ Hypocrite, remove first the log from your eye, and afterward, you will surely see to remove the speck from the eye of your brother.” (Matt.7:3-5, Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels, Vine of David)
It’s a truism to suggest that we have a tendency to be very critical. Ironically, our harshest criticisms are often for those who are on our “side” (whatever that means, exactly) It seems that we have a speck to pick from our brother’s eye at every turn. Let me be the first to fall on my own sword concerning this: It is a source of grief to me that I have failed in this area many times, and I am more focused on correcting this flaw than ever before.
It’s important that we always strive to grow and mature in our faith. This often involves making theological shifts as we grow in knowledge and understanding. Yet, we must be careful as to the manner in which we address these shifts. Our speech is a major part of this carefulness.
To this end, we will focus on this teaching of the Master in the gospel of Matthew. The intent behind the Lord’s words seem so obvious and so simple. But many of us are unaware that God has given us laws in His Torah concerning our speech and the right use of our tongue. This teaching of Yeshua was not original. He illuminated a principle in the Torah which was apparently being neglected. Continue reading