Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christianity is a religion

Christianity is a religion. And Christians should not shy away from that monicker.

I've read or heard many times the opinion of Christians who insist that "Christianity is not a religion." Often the addendum, "It's a relationship" is joined to the base claim. However, this is an improper use of the term religion.

For example, the following quotation by Dave Daubenmire of Pass the Salt Ministries is a decent summary of why some Christians are repelled by the label "religion." In a December 9, 2010 article, he wrote:
Jesus hated religion. It was the “religious” folks that He tried to free us from. 'But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.'

Read Mathew 23 to understand better what He had to say to “religious” leaders. He stated it better than I can.

Look. Christianity is not a religion, it is not “going to church”, it is not a set of rules and regulations after which you pattern your life...
He goes on to claim Christianity is living a life in Christ---which is correct. But this sentiment is in error to exclude from Christianity attendance at church, following prescriptions of the Church, and that Jesus hated religion.

Another example from reads:
Christianity is not really a religion; it is a relationship with God. It is trusting in Jesus and what He did on the cross for you (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), not on what you can do for yourself (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christianity is not about ornate buildings, flamboyant preachers, or traditional rituals. Christianity is about truly accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Those who agree with the above examples make the following apparent deduction:
  1. As Scripture testifies, many regulations were followed in the religion of Judaism.
  2. Jesus chastised hypocrites within the Jewish leadership.
  3. Scripture also says man cannot save himself, but needs God.
  4. Therefore Jesus hates religion.
You see how the conclusion is fallacious on its face.

Perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate that the term religion is certainly appropriate for Christianity, is that the Bible describes what constitutes "true religion" versus a false religion.
James 1:26-27 If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
In short, this is describing the principle of loving one's neighbor and living a moral life. And the apostle James labels such a life as "pure religion." Therefore, it is not Biblically proper to exclude any sense of the term religion when describing Christianity. And as we will see, ritual and regulations facilitate our walk with Christ.

Next, let's look closer at the beginning of Matthew 23, which is mentioned above:
Matthew 23:1-3 Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice."
Even though Jesus proceeds to expose hypocrisy among the Pharisees, He still told the audience to follow what they prescribe, for they were the true leaders, sitting on Moses' seat. This can hardly be classified as the command of someone who hated the regulations of all religion, much less the Jewish faith.

Take another example of Jesus criticizing hypocrites:
Matthew 6:16-18 And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
We see a number of pertinent truths in this passage. Jesus criticizes the fasting of hypocrites, but does not condemn proper fasting. This is just like James above, who contrasts true religion with false religion. The existence of a false practice does not overtake the legitimacy of a true practice. Further, the very subject at hand was what the above critics would call a "religious" ritual or regulation: fasting. Jesus even prescribes proper rules for fasting, which include maintaining an appearance to disguise one's fast.

Jesus also partook in Jewish ritual, especially at the Jewish Passover feast. In doing so, He did not reject ritual. Rather, He taught through the significance of the ritual. Through the imagery and actions in the feast He communicated divine truths, such as His own fulfillment as Passover lamb or the partaking in the unleavened bread (1 Cor. 5:7) or wine as signposts to His own sacrifice.

Paul continued to participate in the fulfillment of that ritual by partaking in the bread and wine (1 Cor. 10:16) according to Christ's command (e.g. Luke 22:19-20). Scripture also testifies to the faithful following the apostles' teaching to participate in the "breaking of the bread and the prayers" as well as attending the temple daily (Acts 2:42-46). In doing so, were Paul and the other apostles of Christ teaching Christians to participate in what the above critics would disapprovingly call "religious" practices? Yes, they are.

In the Catholic and Orthodox liturgies, the Eucharist, which is the consecrated bread and wine, is offered through the priest. This offering is believed to be the same offering as Christ's sacrifice on Calvary, and thus a true, pure offering (cf. John 6:25-69, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 10:16-18, 1 Cor. 11:23-29, etc.). This "ritual" is in harmony with the prophet Malachi who speaks of a day when incense and a pure offering (singular in Hebrew) is offered in all places (plural) (Mal. 1:11). The book of Hebrews (9:23) speaks of the OT sacrifices fulfilled in better "sacrifices" (plural in Greek).1 Yet since Christ's sacrifice is one and unique, how can this be? Because it can be seen in the plural via the one sacrifice's continual re-presentation in the Eucharist in all places as the prophet Malachi foretold. Thus, participating in the "ritual" of the liturgy most profoundly fulfills the call of Scripture.

Consider other "religious" regulations or prescriptions encouraged or commanded in the New Testament:
  • The gesture of imposing hands confers the Spirit in appointing Church leaders (cf. Acts 6:6, Acts 8:18, Acts 19:6, 1 Tim. 4:14, 2 Tim. 1:6, etc...).
  • Elders are to anoint the sick with oil, and sins are to be confessed (Jam. 5:14-15).
  • In Paul's time, one of the regulations was the length of a woman's hair and her head covering, and men were not to cover their heads (1 Cor. 11:1-16).
  • The very reading of Scripture in Church (Col. 4:16, 1 Thes. 5:27) is a continuation of Jewish practice (Acts 15:21)!
  • The book of Revelation is fraught with ritualistic and liturgical imagery such as the use of incense and harps (Rev. 5:8), religious chants (Rev. 4:8), and lamps and robing (Rev. 1:13). These all parallel practices in ancient Judaism, which the modern critics in question claim are the example of "religion" Jesus despised. On this last bullet, a critic may say, "But this is the book of Revelation. These are all just symbols. Using those things for real is empty religion." Yet, where do Jesus or His apostles use condemned activities as symbols for proper form?
These are just a few examples demonstrating that ritual or regulatory norms are in no way contrary to Scripture or a Christian life. Partaking in ritual or religious regulations are not opposed to, but are rather in concert with living a life in Christ. Blanket rejection of "religious" practices is Biblically unfounded. It is when ritual or gestures become empty or false that one strays from their proper purposes. Therefore, true rituals or practices should be embraced by all Christians as God's vehicles to teach or operate as seen above.

1For a deeper treatment of the language in Hebrews 9:23, see Not By Bread Alone by Robert Sungenis, page 81.

Monday, December 6, 2010

One of many ways Scripture teaches the Real Presence

Some Biblical interpreters do not believe the bread and wine of the Eucharist become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. One of the verses used by these interpreters to demonstrate this idea is John 6:63 which comes toward the end of Christ's discourse including the well-known words: "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you."

I made a post on the Catholic Answers forums recently on this subject, and since it was "blog-length," :) I thought it fitting to include here with some minor touch-ups for improvement.

Let's look at John 6:63
John 6:63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
Those who interpret this as Jesus canceling out all His prior literal language in the chapter in favor of a symbolic understanding of the Eucharist run into a problem. First, if their interpretation were correct, to be consistent they would have to say Christ's sacrifice of blood on the cross counts for nothing.

But second, that is not what Jesus meant by "the words I have spoken are spirit." Consider the flow of the text in John 6 (which by the way comes right after 2 miracles: multiplication of loaves & fishes and walking on water).

Jesus' audience in John 6 is a signpost for the Real Presence. It's actually important to know that Jesus often spoke symbolically of Himself, like when He said: "I am the door" (John 10:7), or "you are the salt" (Mat. 5:13), or "take my yoke" (Mat. 11:29). Since the disciples knew Jesus sometimes spoke symbolically, it makes no sense that they would suddenly take "symbolic" words literally if He was indeed speaking symbolically yet again. They would have naturally said, "Oh! He's speaking symbolically of course! As He often does!" (EDIT 12/15/10: See later in John an example of Jesus clarifying Himself when His disciples actually did misunderstand him John 11:11-14.)

But the audience understood Jesus literally. "How can He give us His flesh to eat?" they said (John 6:52) and "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (John 6:60). Jesus does not reply, "Because I'm speaking symbolically" or the like. Instead, He responds, "Do you take offense at this?" (John 6:61). And the gospel writer adds: "Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe" (John 6:64). These untrusting disciples departed from Jesus over this issue. And Jesus let them walk away thinking He had spoken literally.

If a person insists Jesus was speaking symbolically, then that person as a byproduct makes Jesus a deceiver for seeing they did not understand Him correctly and still letting them depart from Him. Jesus actually confirmed their literal understanding when He did not correct them but rather asked: "Does this offend you?"

Of course, those departing disciples correctly understood Jesus literally. And Jesus knew it. Peter, who was there, did not understand how Jesus could be speaking literally either---but he knew by faith to trust Jesus. "To whom shall we go?" (John 6:68) Peter said when asked by Jesus if he also wished to depart. Peter's faith preceded his understanding. Such as it is with the mystery of the Eucharist. But the point is, not a single member of Jesus' audience, whether those who departed nor those who remained, understood Him to be speaking symbolically. And Jesus confirmed their understanding in His responses.

So what does "the words I have spoken are spirit" mean from John 6:63? It means His words were spoken such that they are understood not by the mind of "flesh." In other words---His words are not understood by human reason, a natural understanding. Rather, only a spiritual person can understand how Jesus can give us His literal flesh and blood to eat.

I think St. John Chrysostom, ca 390 A.D., explains this verse well:
His meaning is, 'Ye must hear spiritually what relateth to Me, for he who heareth carnally is not profited. (Homilies on John)
Christ's words are spiritual words, not carnal words. Spiritual does not equal "symbolic."

Jesus made a similar statement earlier in the gospel of John:
John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
Here we see the same contrast between the carnal and the spiritual with regard to understanding what Jesus says.

Consider two final passages from Paul that tie into this:
1 Corinthians 2:14 The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 11:28-29 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.
You see how Paul teaches the exact same thing about discerning Christ's body in the Eucharist by using a spiritual understanding?

Friday, November 26, 2010

What the Pope really said about condoms: "not a moral solution"

As journalists continue to interpret the Pope's recent comments on condoms 180° wrong, I thought it fitting to share an excerpt of what he actually said.
Pope Benedict XVI: As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step
in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

Peter Seewald:
Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?
Benedict XVI:
She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.
So that's the context. You can read the full excerpt at Catholic World Report. For now, I'm not going to go into the validity of the Pope's comments, which I do think are correct. But even someone who disagreed with the Pope's comments should agree that he has been badly misrepresented. This blog post is to educate any readers of what the Pope actually said, and show how badly his comments were distorted in the media and elsewhere.

For instance, in today's Chicago Sun-Times, an unknown contributor admitted that the Pope said condom use was "not a moral solution." Despite that, this author concluded that the Pope's comments were an "acceptance of the use of condoms"!

To help anyone who could still be conceivably confused, consider the following parallel. Let's say there are two thieves. One thief breaks into a home and steals the TV, cash, but declines to steal a big personalized gold trophy. A second thief breaks into a similar home and steals the TV, cash, and the personalized gold trophy. If I said the first thief may have exhibited some sign of prudence that indicates a step closer to moral consideration than the second thief, it doesn't mean I am approving the first thief's actions.

So if you read confounding comments like the Sun-Times piece above, and if you're feeling like you're living in the Twilight Zone where up is down and hot is cold, don't worry, you haven't lost your mind. Such interpretations of the Pope's comments are indeed 180° incorrect.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

St. Paul taught one Savior for Gentile or Jew

Following is a paper I did in my Pauline Soteriology master's class. It is a critique of the book Reinventing Paul by John S. Gager.

In the book Reinventing Paul, John S. Gager proposed the admittedly novel idea that Paul taught two paths to eternal salvation. For Jews, this path remains unchanged from the Old Covenant. For Gentiles (aka. Greeks), this path is rooted in faith in Jesus Christ. “Paul does not conceive of Israel’s salvation with reference to Christ,” wrote Gager (46).
The path for salvation Gager posited for the Jews was not entirely clear. He cited a fourth century Rabbi’s opinion that “[t]he word of the Lord went forth in two aspects, slaying the heathen who would not accept it, but giving life to Israel who accepted the Torah” (56). In a negative way, Gager more often advanced the idea that Israel is not saved through faith in Christ (e.g. 46).
To stick close to the three-to-four page parameter of this assignment, I will just present a few of the more glaring errors in Gager’s conclusions. These should suffice to dismantle his premises that Jews can attain salvation apart from Christ.
Paul only preached to Gentiles in the synagogues?
One of Gager’s mantras is the claim that Paul’s audience was invariably Gentile, and therefore when Paul rejected such Israelite practices like circumcision, he only meant it applied to Gentiles (e.g. 52). Gager insisted Paul only ever focused on Gentiles (51, 68) to support his theory that Paul was not condemning OT ordinances for Jews since his audience was always Gentile. Yet Gager does not address Acts 18:4 which reads: “And [Paul] argued in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks.” Furthermore, Gager never considers that the reason Paul rejects OT ordinances for Gentiles could be because they neither save Gentiles nor Jews.
Christ not the Messiah for Jews?
Gager denied that Paul understood Jesus as the Messiah anticipated by the Jews. “For Paul, Jesus is neither a new Moses, nor the Messiah, he is not the climax of . . . God’s dealings with Israel, but he is the fulfillment of God’s promises concerning the Gentiles” (142). This is problematic. For example, in Acts 17, Paul preached in the synagogues “of the Jews” (v.1) that “[t]his Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ” (v.3). This resulted in some of them being persuaded as well as “many of the devout Greeks” (v.4). The context distinguishes part of the audience from the Greeks who were also there. Both parties were persuaded. To validate the notion that Jews were included as the intended audience of Paul’s preaching of Jesus as the Christ anticipated by the Jews, we can continue in Acts 17 when Paul and Silas preached to the Berean Jews. The Bereans searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul said about Christ was true. These Berean Jews, again distinct from the “Greeks” (v.12) present, believed.
Gager’s dismissal of Galatians 3:28
One of the more straightforward verses supporting the traditionalist view is Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is stated immediately after Paul teaches that baptism unites one to Christ. Gager denied that the Jew has any such connection to Jesus Christ, and certainly wouldn’t be bound to Christian baptism.
Gager expends few words on this verse, dismissing it by quoting his theological ally on this matter, Lloyd Gaston. Gaston says the purpose of this verse is to affirm that “as women do not need to become men . . . so Jews do not need to become Gentiles nor do Gentiles need to become Jews” (90). Gager adds: “It is a formula of inclusion, not exclusion” (90). Gager is correct that the verse is one of inclusion. But it does not mean what Gager argues throughout the book – that salvation for Jews is not in Christ. Gager’s brief dismissal does not reflect what the text says. The text says the Jews are among the “all” who are “one in Christ,” which is damning to Gager’s position. He gives these words in the verse no attention.
The irony in Gager’s escape here is that he insisted that traditionalists, ever looking at the text with “Western” (51) or “modern” (e.g. 72) bias “complete [Paul’s] sentences for him, to supply missing words, and . . . make explicit what he leaves unspoken” (23, cf. 110). Yet, this is precisely what Gager does to the text of Romans 3:28. The traditionalist view is consistent with the text. Jews are included – in Christ.
Gager’s dismissal of Romans 3:30
I will include the pertinent Greek words in the verse that reveal the flaw in Gager’s interpretation. Using Gager’s translation, Romans 3:30 reads: “God will justify the circumcised out of faith (ek pistis) and the uncircumcised through faith (dia pistis).” In verses 22, 24, and 26, Paul described faith as being “in Jesus.” However, Gager denies that verse 30’s two mentions of faith both refer to faith in Christ. He claims the different prepositions preceding the word faith indicate the different kinds of faith necessary to Jews and to Gentiles. He does not believe Paul is simply using different ways of saying both Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith in Christ.
Gager wrote: “[T]he use of different prepositions (ek and dia) with pistis points to different paths for Jews and Gentiles . . .” (121). The rule Gager imposed on the text is that ek pistis is faith for Jews and dia pistis is faith for Gentiles.
But this rule becomes extremely problematic when applying it to other verses. We see Paul using the term ek pistis in both Romans and Galatians to specifically refer to faith “in Christ” (e.g. Rom. 5:21, Gal. 3:22). Paul also uses the term dia pistis elsewhere to mean faith “in Christ” (e.g. Eph. 2:8). In other words, citing the Greek in Romans 3:30 only hurts Gager’s position because Paul used the terms ek pistis and dia pistis interchangeably to mean faith in Christ.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Audio MP3s: The X-Files & Catholicism

I put together the following one-time MP3 show called The X-Files & Catholicism. In this 2-part MP3, I go through the Catholic "moments" in the history of the The X-Files TV show with many audio clips from the show included. Occasionally, I'll discuss the accuracy of a Catholic portrayal or teaching, so it's small-part-apologetic too! An abbreviated written version of this study can be seen at the Catholic forums in a thread I started earlier this year. That thread also includes some "Catholic" screenshots from the show. Remember... The Truth is Out There... Enjoy!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Attempt to discredit Christ falls short

Last year, author Tony Bushby came out with a book called The Christ Scandal which was an attempt to disprove the existence of Jesus Christ among other things. It is billed on his website as "one of the most explosive books of our generation!"

I did not read the entire book. But I did read excerpts available online and I'll limit my response to a couple of the claims he made there. My purpose in this post is simply to show the erroneous way Bushby cited the Early Church Fathers in that excerpt.

On page 608, Bushby wrote, "Bishop Irenaeus, denied both a virgin birth and a resurrection..." However, St. Irenaeus, writing in the 2nd century, referenced the Virgin birth well over a dozen times just in Against Heresies III.21 alone. He also referred to Christ's resurrection multiple times in Against Heresies V.7, a discourse on rising from the dead.

Bushby also claimed on page 608 that the 2nd-3rd century Church Father Tertullian denied the crucifixion and instead believed Jesus was stoned. To support that claim, Bushby cross-referenced Tertullian's Answer to the Jews 9 which reads:
...which works not even you deny that Christ did, inasmuch as you were wont to say that, on account of the works you stoned Him not, but because He did them on the Sabbaths.
But this quotation is not a denial of Jesus' crucifixion. It is a reference to when the Jewish Pharisees actually went to throw rocks at Jesus (cf. John 8:58-59)!

Tertullian, of course, referred to Christ's crucifixion multiple times (e.g. On the Flesh of Christ 5, Of Patience 3, The Prescription Against Heretics 13, etc...)

If the rest of Bushby's book is anything like the above excerpts, then it is simply a 600+ page book of sloppy and false interpretations.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Audio MP3: Angels II

Below is an MP3 of a second Angel talk I did on Friday, October 8, 2010 at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Lisle, IL. It's shorter than the August talk I did at Ss. Peter and Paul, but there is some new material on cherubim. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Did Athanasius reject the Deuterocanon?

Catholic and many Orthodox Bibles have 7 more books in their Old Testaments than most modern Protestant translations of the Bible. The books in Catholic or Orthodox Bibles called the Deuterocanon (known to some Christians as "Apocrypha") are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1 & 2 Maccabees.1 It is not uncommon to read an apologetic against the Deuterocanon that appeals to the 4th century's St. Athanasius as having "rejected" those books. An example of such an apologetic can be seen at sites like which said Athanasius "spoke against the Apocrypha," or which goes so far as to say Athanasius "vehemently opposed their use."

The citation of Athanasius to support this argument is from his Letter 39. The apologist will claim Athanasius listed the books of the Old Testament and did not include the Deuterocanon. Athanasius then follows this list with the words:
These are the fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness.
However, a closer examination reveals the error in concluding Athanasius rejected the Deuterocanon as Scriptural. Here is the entirety of his preceding paragraph listing the books of the Old Testament:
There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament.
Some observations:
  • Athanasius absorbed Baruch, a Deuterocanonical book, as part of the book of Jeremiah.
  • The "epistle" of Jeremiah is also known as the final chapter of Baruch, indicating Athanasius accepted Baruch in its entirety.
  • The book of Esther, which is accepted as Scriptural by the same apologists who appeal to Athanasius to condemn the Deuterocanon, is missing from his list.
These observations alone are enough to dispel the myth that Athanasius "rejected the Deuterocanon." But there is more.

In the final paragraph of Letter 39 is this closing:
But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles [i.e. Didache], and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.
It is again, time for more observations:
  • Esther, which both Protestant and Catholic Bibles have in their canons today, is included among the other Deuterocanonical books according to Athanasius.
  • Perhaps more importantly is that Athanasius considered this group of books in a class distinct from "apocryphal writings." The apocryphal writings, he said, are "heretical."
Athanasius said these books are indeed read in churches by those new to the faith who "wish for instruction in the word of godliness." Remember, only one paragraph earlier Athanasius said the canonical books "alone...proclaimed the doctrine of godliness." Yet in the next paragraph he said the books in question were read by those who "wish for instruction in the word of godliness." And he said his purpose for writing this last paragraph was for "greater exactness."

In other words, Athanasius considered these additional Deuterocanonical books in a class something other than "canonical" Scripture yet not "apocryphal." In modern times, we are tempted to consider an ancient religious text as either one of two things: either canonical Scripture or apocryphal literature. Yet in Letter 39, Athanasius expressed a third class of writing which he assigned to these Deuterocanonical books.

So would it be fair to say Athanasius considered these Deuterocanonical books Scriptural but not in a class of "canonical" Scripture? A specific example is revealing:
But of these and such like inventions of idolatrous madness, Scripture taught us beforehand long ago, when it said, "The devising of idols was the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them, the corruption of life." (Athanasius, Against the Heathen, #11)
The "Scripture" Athanasius cited here is from a Deuterocanonical book. It is Wisdom 14:12. Therefore, even though he did not list Wisdom among canonical Scripture, he still considered the text "Scripture."

I cannot conclude without mentioning another error in the apologist's quest to condemn the Deuterocanon. Even if Athanasius were indeed opposed to the Scriptural quality of all the Deuterocanonical books, that would not automatically affect the Catholic position. This would still hold true even if 2 or 3 or 10 Early Church Fathers (ECFs) were found to explicitly reject the Scriptural quality of the Deuterocanon. There are numerous ECFs who clearly support the Scriptural quality of the Deuterocanon such as St. Irenaeus, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Hippolytus, and countless others. The Church has been given the guarantee for such theological discernment. The same canon was affirmed at the local councils at Rome, Hippo, and Carthage in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. Subsequent ecumenical councils, Florence in the 15th century and Trent in the 16th century, confirmed the ancient local councils. These all included the Deuterocanon.

Thus, the attempt to discredit the Deutercanon by finding some ECFs who opposed them would merely showcase the need for the Church to intervene and accept the Spirit's guidance. This is exactly what occurred in Acts 15 when some of the Church leaders believed in the necessity of circumcision while others did not. That council in Acts 15 conclude that circumcision was not mandatory for salvation. To cite after the fact the contrary opinions of any handful of pro-circumcision Church leaders is an erroneous way to discredit the discernment of the council.

One final note is regarding the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees. St. Athanasius doesn't mention these two Deuterocanonical books in Letter 39. However, I would contend the evidence leans toward Athanasius having an affinity for them. In his Espositiones in Psalmos, line 05667, he praises the righteous shedding of blood by the Maccabees. More than likely, he knows this from the books of the Maccabees since that moniker does not appear in the Jewish Talmud or Midrash "where the family is always referred to as 'the Hasmoneans.'"

1Longer versions of Esther and Daniel are also classified as Deuterocanonical even though those portions are not considered entirely separate books. There also appears to be some diversity on a precise canon in the Orthodox Church according to Orthodox priest Fr. R. Stergiou, although these variations include more, not less, books than the Catholic and other Orthodox canons.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Audio MP3: Angels

The following MP3 is of a talk I gave on August 24, 2010 at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville, IL. The subject is the Catholic teaching on Angels. The MP3 includes the talk, the Q&A, and a brief addendum to one of the questions posed in the Q&A. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How can Mary crush the serpent's head? A look at Genesis 3:15

I've run across an accusation against the Catholic Church that goes something like this one from Christian apologist Keith Thompson:
One example of distortion of scripture to support Catholic exaltation of Mary has to do with the translation of Genesis 3:15....Genesis 3:15 [says...] "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”...“He” (הוּא) in the original Hebrew is masculine. It is pronounced “hoo” and can also mean “it.” Many think it means “it” in reference to collective offspring of the woman crushing the head of the serpent. In the LXX, however, it is rendered autos “he,” indicating that the passage should be understood as a Messianic prophecy about Jesus Christ alone crushing the head. “He [Jesus] will crush the serpents head.”

However, Jerome (342-430) in his Latin Vulgate translation made a major error changing “it” or “he” into “she” using the feminine pronoun ipsa in the Latin. Roman Catholic scholars who accepted the Latin Vulgate then translated Genesis 3:15 in their Douay-Rheims Bible as:

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
First we begin with the term for "he/it/she" in question. Thompson notes that the Hebrew word is masculine and translated as "he" or "it." Several Protestant translations do use the word "it" including the fairly literal King James Version. Catholic apologists such as Jimmy Akin or Robert Sungenis acknowledge the masculinity of the Hebrew word as well, which admits to "he" or "it." There is an artistic sense in which the Hebrew word could be copied as feminine, and that is in the case of poetry, which the Jewish Encyclopedia states sometimes uses masculine and feminine interchangeably. But for the sake of this apologetic, according to my research, I am going to agree that "he" and "it" are the most accurate translations.

Before I move on, I just want to point out that the term "she" was not a corruption that came about because of Jerome. Jerome's translation is circa 400 A.D. Yet we can find at least one early Christian interpreting the same verse with "she," such as Tertullian writing around 205 A.D. in his work On the Apparel of Women.

Now, no one disputes that the principle defeater of Satan is God, as even Romans 16:20 echoes: "the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." However, both Protestants and Catholics alike recognize that the "he" and "his" in the phrase "he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" refers back to the word "offspring." Thompson also admits "many" interpreters recognize this meaning in the structure of the text. And I think the text demands that the "offspring" of the "woman" includes the Church.

Let's look again at Romans 16:20: "the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." Satan is crushed "under the feet" of the Roman church, albeit by God through them. Thompson's objection to this understanding due to the Septuagint's use of the word "he" does not preclude the Church as a participant in Christ's work because the "he" could be understood as "the 'he' who crushes through the Church" just as Romans 16:20 suggests.

John MacArthur, whose contra-Catholic ideas I previously discussed, wrote:
Believers should recognize that they participate in the crushing of Satan because, along with their Savior and because of His finished work on the cross, they also are of the woman's seed.1
Protestant "Reformer" John Calvin, in his commmentary on Genesis, wrote similarly of this verse:
[I]t comes to pass that, in the same manner, the whole Church of God, under its Head, will gloriously exult over him. To this the declaration of Paul refers, “The Lord shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly,” (Romans 16:20.) By which words he signifies that the power of bruising Satan is imparted to faithful men, and thus the blessing is the common property of the whole Church.
There are Catholic sources that agree with these sentiments, such as the New American Bible's footnote:
He will his heel: since the antecedent for he and his is the collective noun offspring, i.e., all the descendants of the woman, a more exact rendering of the sacred writer's words would be, "They will their heels."
Or the Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition footnote:
he shall bruise your head: i.e., the seed of the woman, that is, mankind descended from Eve, will eventually gain the victory over the powers of evil. This victory will, of course, be gained through the work of the Messiah who is par excellence the seed of the woman.2

Even in Revelation 12:7-8, Michael the archangel and his angels are said to have vanquished the devil from heaven, but this does not trump Christ's ultimate victory over the serpent. The angels are, after all, fellow members of the Church as well. So anyway, a variety of Catholics and Protestants alike agree that Jesus is the primary force striking the head of the serpent, but this does not preclude the Church as a secondary agent as well.

And it is at this point we turn to Mary. Can she be said to play a special role as well in striking the head of the serpent?

Along with the Church, which participates in the victorious sufferings of Christ (e.g. 1 Pt 4:13), Mary's suffering is specifically tied to the sufferings of Christ in the prophecy of the Holy Spirit through Simeon:
Luke 2:25,34-35 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. ... and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against and a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."
A second reason Mary can be seen to have a special role in striking the serpent's head is because, typologically, Mary is understood as figure of the Church, which we have established as a very fair understanding of the "he/it" that strikes the serpent's head. Among many reasons, Mary is understood as a figure of the Church due to the Spirit coming together with her to bring forth a child. Nuptually, children are brought forth via the union of husband and wife, and thus, Mary in this sense is the "spouse" of the Spirit. And Scripture often refers to the Church as the spotless, virgin bride of God as well (e.g. Mt 25:1, Eph 5:27-32, Rv 21:9-10) thus the Virgin Mary is the Church's figure. Pope John Paul II recognized this, as well as the bishops at Vatican II, and even in antiquity from the likes of St. Ambrose in the 4th century (see Pope John Paul II, Mary is Outstanding Figure of the Church).

There are also other strong places in Scripture overlapping Mary and the Church such as Revelation 12 which uses imagery much like Genesis 3:15.

Revelation 12:5-6a,17 [S]he brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness...Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.
Verse 9 in between also calls the dragon "that ancient serpent," tying it even further with Genesis 3:15. The woman in this passage is Mary because she brings forth the one to rule all nations. And like ancient Israel fleeing through the "wilderness" to Egypt, Mary also fled to Egypt with Joseph (Mt 2:13-14). In turn, Israel is the prefigurement of the Church of the new covenant (e.g. Jer 31:31-33). And coming full circle, Mary can be seen to strike the serpent's head in her role as figure of the Church.

Finally, I'd like to look at two other women in the Old Covenant who struck the head of the enemy on behalf of the people. In what other way can the "he" or "it" term in Genesis 3:15 be understood to include Mary specifically? I think the following is perhaps the most compelling evidence.

The first woman described to "strike the enemy's head" is Jael. In Judges 4:21 and Judges 5:26, she is described killing the oppressive king's general Sisera by driving a tent peg into his head.

The second woman is Judith. In Judith 13:8-9, she is described cutting off the head of Holofernes, who is called later in the chapter the "leader of...enemies," and whose name means "stinking in hell."3

Before I proceed, it should be noted that the Old Testament also includes stories like the one of David, who strikes the head of the enemy Goliath. David, as a figure of Christ, reflects Christ's role in smiting the enemy's head.

Now back to the women. So in what way is Mary connected to these women who struck the enemy's head? One very strong connection is that all three women, Jael, Judith, and Mary are called "blessed among women."

Jael is called "blessed of women" in Judges 5:24. Judith is called "blessed...among all women on earth" in Judith 13:18. And Mary, of course, is called "blessed...among women" in Luke 1:42.

Mary's weapon is not a peg, like Jael, or a sword, like Judith. Rather can Mary's weapon be considered her very immediate offspring––Jesus Christ? I think the typology here supports that understanding.

Therefore, we can better see that Mary in a very real sense strikes the enemy's head when we study the text of Genesis 3:15 in light of the totality of Scripture. We needn't worry if the word "she" is incompatible with the Hebrew text of Genesis 3:15 because Mary's role is deducible without forcing the translation. She is a figure of the Church as well as the women in the Old Testament, all whom are said in Scripture to strike the enemy's head. And none of this participation detracts from the ultimate victor over the serpent––Jesus Christ.

1MacArthur, John, The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson (publisher), 1997, p. 20-21.2Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1965-1966, p. 985.3Many Protestant traditions do not recognize the book of Judith as Scripture. However, I think the strength of the argument can be drawn from the Jael story alone, or by acknowledging the historical tale of Judith as part of Jewish tradition even if one denies its Scriptural quality.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fallacies on Infallibility

There's an idea that's been floating about in the last few years by Christian apologists attempting to discredit the Catholic Church. One such article is called Theo-Illogical: Quid Pro Canon by Timothy F. Kauffman.1

The gist of the argument seeks a stalemate. By that I mean, the arguer seeks to criticize his opponent of the same accusation of which his opponent accuses him. This fallacy of argument is sometimes known as the fallacy of tu quoque. Kauffman summarizes his discourse thusly:
Rome's answer to Sola Scriptura is Sola Verbum Dei, or "The Word of God Alone." Rome believes that the Word of God is contained in the Scriptures, Tradition, in her Magisterium—including ex cathedra papal statements. But Rome cannot produce an infallible list of ex cathedra papal statements from within what she calls the Word of God. Thus, in order to convey the Word of God, Roman Catholics must appeal to something which is not contained in the Word of God. Sola Verbum Dei therefore becomes self-refuting by the standards of Rome's own apologists.
Kauffman posits an interesting thought exercise. However, his condemning conclusions are unwarranted and in error as I hope to demonstrate. In the previous quote, he blurs the Catholic notion of the "Word" similarly to the way John MacArthur did in my "John MacArthur errs" blog entry. Since the Catholic Church believes the Magisterium has the promise of the Holy Spirit to unlock divine truth, there is no "appealing to something" external. That which is the "Word," Scripture and Tradition (cf. Dei Verbum, 10), is interpreted by the Magisterium. So there is no "Sola Verbum Dei" in Catholicism the way Kauffman describes.

Kauffman begins his article in a defense of sola scriptura. Some Catholic apologists have claimed that adherents to this principle self-refute it because sola scriptura necessarily demands an external human source to receive which books are to be considered Scripture. Popular Evangelical apologists Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie summarized sola scriptura as: "'The Bible alone' means 'the Bible only' is the final authority for our faith."2 Thus, when Protestants claim to know what books are in the Bible without citing the Bible, some Catholic apologists have insisted sola scripturists give authority to the early Church, or some unidentified body of the faithful external to the written Word itself.

Kauffman writes: "Protestants, on the other hand, have no infallible source by which they may know they have the right 66 books, and therefore are members of a self-defeating religion. So thinks the Roman Catholic apologist."

What follows is interesting, but specious. Kauffman proceeds to argue that if there exists no Magisterial "list" that identifies infallible statements in history then the Catholic faithful will "not know certainly or exhaustively what the pope has infallibly taught or exactly what it is that they are required to believe."

It should be pointed out that in this article, he focuses on infallibility only exercised by the Pope. In Catholic theology, the idea of infallibility is rooted in the Holy Spirit's guarantee to the entire Church. Some of the Scriptural evidence for this is included in Lk 10:16, or Mt 28:18 with Jn 20:21, for example.

Use of the term "infallibility" in the Catholic Church is a protection from teaching error on an issue of faith or morals. Here are a couple Church sources expressing this idea:
The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. (CCC#890)

Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. (Vatican I, 4.4.9)
The majority of Kauffman's article attempts to contrast the various opinions of non-Magisterial Catholic apologists or theologians. He compares two Catholic authors, Adam S. Miller and Leslie Rumble, on the issue of "how many times" the Popes have exercised infallibility. They came up with totals of 11 and 18, respectively. I will admit I have not cross-checked his resources. I placed a phone call to the local library yesterday and learned how rare both of these books are. Only the Rumble book is even available at Amazon as of the date of this blog post. The Miller book was only available in one library in the country. But for the purposes of this blog post, I am going to assume Kauffman has fairly interpreted these authors.3

After Kauffman's attempt to show confusion in the Church is when he says the Catholic faithful "do not know certainly or exhaustively what the pope has infallibly taught or exactly what it is that they are required to believe."

This comment presupposes something false---that the Catholic individual is only required to believe teachings that he personally can identify as "infallibly taught." But this is not the case. Whether or not a teaching has been technically taught "infallibly," the Catholic faithful are to give religious assent to the teaching for the simple reason that Christ established His Church to teach such things. Kauffman, if he really considers Leslie Rumble an authority on this matter, should have already known this. Kauffman quoted the following from Rumble on two of the matters Rumble considered "infallible": "There are some Catholic theologians who hold that, although these two decrees of Pope Leo XIII are of the utmost authority, they still fall short of technical requirements for infallible 'ex cathedra' utterances."

That means even theologians who dissent that a doctrine has been taught infallibly still consider it taught with "the utmost authority!" Fr. Most, later in the same article on infallibility cited by Kauffman, quotes Vatican II regarding a "fourth level" of teaching not technically "infallible":
Religious submission of mind and of will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff even when he is not defining, in such a way, namely, that the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to according to his manifested mind and will, which is clear either from the nature of the documents, or from the repeated presentation of the same doctrine, or from the manner of speaking. (Lumen Gentium, 25)
Fr. Most says this submission "forbids public contradiction of the teaching."

It is also worth quoting Father John Trigilio, President of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, who echoes this sentiment:
According to Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis & Vatican II in Lumen Gentium #25, even non-infallible teachings are to receive the submission of mind and will of the faithful. While not requiring the ASSENT OF FAITH, they CANNOT be disputed nor rejected publicly and the benefit of the doubt must be given to the one possessing the fullness of teaching authority. (A Discussion of Infallibility)
So let's assume Kauffman is correct. Let's say there is vast confusion over what has been infallibly taught by the Church. If this were the case, Fr. Most already provides the answer for the faithful, later in the same article Kauffman quotes:
How can anyone give any mental assent when there is not absolute certitude? In normal human affairs, we do it all the time. Suppose we are at table, and someone asks if a dish of food came from a can, and if so, was it sent to a lab to check for Botulism. It is true, routine opening of a can would not detect that deadly poison. Yet it is too much to check every can, and the chances are very remote, so much so that normal people do not bother about it - yet their belief takes into account a real but tiny possibility of a mistake. Similarly with a doctrine on this fourth level. And further, the chances of error on this level are much smaller than they are with a can of food. Similarly, in a criminal trial, the judge will tell the jury they must find the evidence proves guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He does not demand that every tiny doubt be ruled out, even though it may mean life in prison or death.

If one should make a mistake by following the fourth level of Church teaching, when he comes before the Divine Judge, the Judge will not blame him, rather He will praise him. But if a person errs by breaking with the Church on the plea that he knew better - that will not be easily accepted.
The false premise proposed by Kauffman is that a Catholic must scruple about whether or not a doctrine has technically been defined "infallibly." But the caricature Kauffman paints of panicked Catholics flitting about in a stupor of confusion does not translate to reality.

Recall that Kauffman's central criticism is that Catholics don't have an infallible list of doctrines (like the Protestant doesn't have an intra-Biblical list of what books belong in the Bible.)

If this logic were to play out, it would make it impossible for God or anyone else to verify infallibility, no? Because if the Church did make a "list" of infallible teachings, the list itself would need verification as being an infallible list, no? An infallible statement would be required to say that the infallible list is indeed infallible. After all, shouldn't Kauffman's Catholic caricature question whether the list itself should be considered infallible? Was it just a list assembled for guidance? Now we need another list that includes the previous list along with the other infallible teachings! Therefore, the demand for an infallible list is in itself a specious requirement.

The issue is this. Infallibility is solely the gift of God speaking through the Church. This is what Pius XII meant in Humani Generis #20 when he cited Luke 10:16 as evidence of infallibility. "He who hears you, hears Me."

So who can verify that God has exercised infallibility when no one but Him can infallibly declare infallibility to have taken place? Who can verify that God Himself has, say, infallible foreknowledge of the predestined? In other words, when we demand to see infallible pronouncements infallibly certified, we are asking God to certify God.

The very nature of faith in Christ requires an assent of the will. The same demand for infallible proof Kauffman imposes on the Catholic Church would also apply to faith in Christ itself. The whole issue of the nature of faith is separate from the Catholic defense in this thread. But once a person is able to make the assent of faith in Jesus Christ, accepting that which is proposed for belief by His Church is the safest thing to do.

Can a reasonable Catholic read Munificentissimus Deus and doubt that the Assumption of Mary was infallibly declared? Pay special attention to paragraph 12 and then paragraph 44 putting the dogma into words. Why, when the Church calls to mind the protection of infallibility in the same document prior to defining this dogma, should we give more weight to the fallible devil's advocate demanding an additional infallible statement be made to stamp the previous one?

What Catholic scruples about whether or not Christ is fully man and God out of fear that the dogma of the Incarnation has not found its way to an infallible list of infallible teachings? Is there any sober reason for a Catholic to deny that the teaching of the Incarnation has been infallibly taught?

In Sacerdotii Nostri Primoridia, Pope John XXIII listed at least one occasion that was defined infallibly---the Immaculate Conception. He writes of St. John Vianney:
"[T]his man had such great devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God that in 1836 he dedicated his parish church to Mary Conceived Without Sin and greeted the infallible definition of this truth as Catholic dogma in 1854 with the greatest joy and reverence." (116)
These examples are enough to demonstrate that infallibility can be identified in the Church whether or not one theologian or another may believe some other doctrine was not "technically" defined infallibly.

Finally, I want to point out Kauffman's unparallel premise. He equates the Protestant's inability to show the canon of Scripture from Scripture to the Catholic Church's absence of an "infallible list of infallible teachings." However, there is a major difference in the two. The Catholic Church does not profess to have or need an infallible list (and as I've shown, such a list would not serve the purpose Kauffman demands). The Protestant insists that the 66-book canon is correct---it is all that is needed for salvation---and the deuterocanonical books or other apocryphal literature considered in the early Church are definitively not part of the canon. These very assertions are external to the source which the Protestant claims is the sole authority to determine such matters. The Catholic Church, in teaching infallibility, claims only to teach by the authority of God that which is revealed through Scripture and Tradition. The Church does not go external to Her claimed sources of identifying truths of the faith.

1I do not intend for mentions of Protestantism herein to be an "attack." Mentions of Protestant teaching herein will be made only as they relate to Kauffman's comparisons.

2Geisler, Normal L. and MacKenzie, Ralph E., Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 178.3I should point out that claims of Kauffman's I was able to cross-check were not entirely sound. Later in the article, he claims there is confusion among Catholic apologists and theologians as to what is the criteria for when papal infallibility has taken place. However, the quotations he uses to prove this do not even include any such statement of "these are the only criteria" or some similar paraphrase. One of the theologians he quoted was Fr. William Most, whom Kauffman claimed believed only two criteria were needed for papal infallibility to take place. But the Fr. Most reference does not have him claiming to give an exhaustive list of criteria specific to papal infallibility. Rather, Fr. Most was clarifying if a particular formula of words were necessary for infallibility to take place. He said this in the context of how the Ordinary Magisterium can teach infallibly or how a Pope can teach infallibly when definitively settling a teaching among the Church. He was not attempting to redefine the quotation from Vatican I above which defines the nature of papal infallibility.

EDIT: August 20, 2010
Recall in this article how Kauffman quoted Rumble's footnote (this footnote corresponds to Rumble's position that infallibility applied to Pope Leo XIII's decrees on the nullity of Anglican Orders and his condemnation of merely naturalistic interpretations of Christian activities):
"There are some Catholic theologians who hold that, although these two decrees of Pope Leo XIII are of the utmost authority, they still fall short of technical requirements for infallible 'ex cathedra' utterances."
From that I pointed out that dissenting theologian who did not consider these to have technically been taught under the charism of papal infallibility, still considered them stated with the utmost authority. And remember, Kauffman's claim was that the Catholic faithful don't know "what...they are required to believe" as a result of this.

I also subsequently quoted Fr. Most who argued that the faithful are to be praised when assenting to that which the Church teaches, whether or not they understand that teaching to be taught with the particular charism of infallibility. And I think the following also supports that.

Since writing this article, I was able to acquire, via inter-library loan, the Rumble book The Catholic Church: A Radio Analysis. Kauffman left out the final sentence of that footnote, further confirming my conclusion that even if a Catholic is not sure a teaching has been technically stated "infallibly," he still is to give assent to the teaching. The entirety of Rumble's footnote reads:
"There are some Catholic theologians who hold that, although these two decrees of Pope Leo XIII are of the utmost authority, they still fall short of technical requirements for infallible 'ex cathedra' utterances. In practice all hold that they are binding on all the faithful."

EDIT: March 23, 2013
See also a rebuttal by PhilVaz of this same argument by 19th century Catholic opponent George Salmon.