Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Basic Christianity Lectures - New Product Development


Dr. Stan Walters lecturing at Greenville College, 1968. The year book that
year was dedicated to him. He was the class of 1968 class sponsor.
Fifty years ago, in college, I took a course titled BASIC CHRISTIANITY. It was required of all graduating students at Greenville College (now Greenville University). G.C. was then and still is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, an Evangelical denomination.  The course was taught by Princeton fellow,  Dr. Stanley D. Walters. At the time, our first names and initials were the only thing I had in common with this man. He was a scholar, graduated with honors from Princeton (I was lucky to get into college), he read Greek (I was struggling with English slang), he was smart, articulate, and confident (I was the campus AV geek with a ring of keys on my belt and an empty pocket protector.)

If, as an incoming freshman, you were deemed smart, Dr. Walter's class was assigned to you to take the very first semester you were at college. The slightly less than smart students took the class the second semester of their freshman year. The dumb students took the class their first semester of their sophomore year, and the dumbest (lucky-to-be-in-college) students took Walter's class their sophomore year, second semester. That's where I ended up. If I didn't pass this course I would be sent home and the school would keep my parent's money just for their trouble I gave them.

There were three text books for Walter's class, all very small paperbacks, but all written by Anglican scholars from Oxford (the one in England), not the township named Oxford in North Dakota. That the texts for a course in Basic Christianity at an Evangelical college came from Oxford scholars who were Anglican should have been a warning to Greenville's administration. It took them seven years to catch on that Walters was not your the die-hard "faith alone" Christian. In fact, Walter's perchance for Christianity required a great deal of faith and reason, and the Basic Christianity course he designed and taught provided reams of empirical evidence for the authenticity of the faith. This irritated some stalwart administrators and Board members at G.C. who believed that one needed to take Christianity on faith alone and not have to think about it.

But I wanted to think about it. I was a physics major. I liked empirical evidence.  If reason wasn't involved, if evidence wasn't involved, if it was "blind faith" then, it seemed to me, any religious belief system would have sufficed...you could make one up, put on the blinders and believe it. It wouldn't be true, but if "faith alone" was the criteria, who should care?

Thus, it was that Walter's course deeply appealed to me.  Although my liking the course and liking Walters wasn't good enough to earn me anything better than a "C." Remember, they didn't let me take the course until my 4th semester. But I was still captivated. I took voluminous notes, which I will have. I tried reading Lewis, Bruce and Stott, (the three Anglican texts) but I understood little. Yet I kept the notes.

Halfway through the next year a girl I knew from high school transferred to G.C. and we started dating. The first semester she was on campus they made her take Walter's Basic Christianity. She was one of the smart ones, although she transferred in as a sophomore. By now I was working part time at the college radio station and had a ring of keys to the audio books in the lecture halls. I got permission and started to record Walter's lectures. Put them on 4-track tapes at the slow speed. I tried to fit 8 lectures on each 7-inch reel-to-reel but screwed up and recorded over one or two, and for some reason missed a whole week of lectures. But in the end I had 40 lectures.  Last year I rebuilt the 4-track, digitized the lecture to my MacPro, and with the help of Temi.com we've completed the transcription. Now, we're turning them into a book—50 years later. Dr. Walters lives south of me 2-hours and is enjoying reading his lectures from way back when. His daughter, who has since become Catholic, and is the editor of a diocesan newspaper and website, will co-edit the book with me. We are both set on preserving her Dad's "voice" in the text. It's unique.

But that semester, in the Spring of 1968, would be Walter's last year at G.C. After 7 years the authorities finally figured out that he was turning us all into thinking Anglicans, and not devout faith alone Free Methodists. (Ironically, Walters as an ordained F.M. minister.) So, the lectures I captured were the last time he delivered the course. At the end of the semester, as sort of a lame apology for forcing him out, the powers to be let him deliver the last chapel talk of the year. I recorded that, too. It was classic Walters. You can listen to the mp3 and/or download it here. Or, here is a PDF of the printed version. It's formatted for the upcoming book, with wide outer margins. Enjoy.

Oh, and that girl that transferred to G.C. in time to take Dr. Walter's class?  She became my wife. Pam and I have been married 49 years as of August 2018.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Catholic Sunday School White Paper

Below copy is just the intro
Why does the Catholic Church in the United States deliberately stop the moral education of its youth at the most dangerous point in their spiritual lives—adolescence?

A White Paper Describing
a Best Practice of Faith Formation 

by
Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D.
&
Pamela S. Williams
PO Box 29, Novi, MI 48376 USA
248-344-4423
stan@stanwilliams.com


DISCLAIMER
The concept of a Catholic Sunday School described on the following pages will be revolutionary for most Catholic parishes. Many will reject it out of hand. They will say:

"Never done that before, forget it."

"We're happy with what we do now."

"We don't have the staff."

"We don't do it that way." 

"It'll never work for us."


When we hear those comments, we are reminded of Albert Einstein's famous definition: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, again, but expecting different results.


Embracing a successful and robust Catholic Sunday School Program for your parish will require changes, accommodations, compromises, and hard work. But nothing good comes easy.


This is a scalable concept. That means that the ideas, examples, models and list of resources herein can be reduced or expanded to meet the current and future needs of your parish. If you have but one Mass on Sunday morning, then scale this concept to that situation.


CROSSING THE TIBER

This white paper explains the biggest problem in Catholic Religious Education and describes a proven, flexible, robust solution—Sunday School.

A weekly Sunday School program, scheduled adjacent to worship services, is a proven model for delivering religious education to adults and their children, securing their commitment to Christ.

The Sunday School model has been perfected over the last 100 years by Evangelical Protestants. As a result, fewer Evangelicals(compared to Catholics) leave Christianity, but rather become more dedicated to the Christian faith.


FROM CATHOLIC BISHOPS

The Church wisely and repeatedly insists that adult faith formation...must be situated not at the periphery of the Church's educational mission but at its center.

Faith formation... continues until one's death.[1]

[so why do we stop systematic religious education at grade 8?]


The above quote sums up the educational philosophy guiding the description of Sunday School in the following pages. A full statement of our religious education philosophy is available on request.
—SW / PW



Above copy is just the intro

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

BlueLetterBible.org and the Apocrypha-Deuterocanon

http://www.blueletterbible.org has a long post declaring authoritatively that the Deuterocanon should not be considered in the Canon of Scripture. You can find the full article here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_395.cfm  
My answers are in red, indented. The black is the blueletterbible's post.Starts now:
The Old Testament Apocrypha consists of eleven or twelve books, depending upon how they are divided, that the Roman Catholic Church adds to the Old Testament.
Let's correct this....the Roman Catholic Church did not ADD the Second Canon (aka Deutercanon) to the O.T. It was the Protestant publishers in 1830's that REMOVED them. It was the Protestant Reformers that SEPARATED them from the other books in their publishing of some of their first Bibles, most notably the KJV. But they were still IN the canon of Scripture. And there was no council or authoritative body that removed them. It was the typical Protestant protest. -- "We don't believe that. We don't really believe the Bible was inerrant when it was first put together, so we changed it. And NOW it is inerrant...but only after 1500 years when it changed it (without any authority) is it now inerrant. We did it all by ourselves, and since we are always right, we are now right. Oh and we have thought up a bunch of reasons to defend our unilateral acton."  
Right. And by what authority did you do this? Do you have something in Scripture that tells you this? Where is your "list" where it says "It is written, these shall be the books." You realize, of course, that such a list exists for the 46 books of the original Christian O.T. by an authoritative council?!
The Protestants reject these books as Holy Scripture for the following reasons.

1. The Apocrypha Has Different Doctrine And Practices Than Holy Scripture
False Premise. As if often the case with petulant protestants, you have assumed a false premise. If we accept your premise we might have to accept some of what you attempt to detail below. But your premise is false. You claim that The seven books of the Deuterocanon are "apocrypha" when they are not. 

  • "Apocrypha" properly means not in the canon by reason of being false and not to be read or considered.  But the 7 books of the Deuterocanon have always been in the original collection of books of the Bible. Even those who did not want them in the canon (and who were overruled by councils) said the 7 books were profitable for reading by Christians. You have not shown that the Deuterocanon books are apocrypha. You just assume that as a premise.  

  • Since the early councils the collection of books that have made up the accepted Bible (later authorized by Trent in 1563) included the Deuterocanon AS SCRIPTURE. So, you have assumed that the Deuterocanon is not Scripture, when most Christians in the world today, and all of Christian history (until the late Protestant Reformers who were excommunicated) accepted the Deuterocanon as Scripture. Not sure why I would accept the words of people who remove books from the canon and are excommunicated.  

  • Have you considered the Holy Spirit? If the Bible is Holy Writ, inspired and inerrant by the Holy Spirit, removing the 7 Deuterocanon books (as Protestants did) claims that the Bible from 300 to 1500s/1800s or so, was in error, that the Holy Spirit got it wrong. Can you spell heretical?   

  • So, let's not equivocate. Your premise has little basis outside your opinion. It is the opinion of the Church (led by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for over 2000 years) that the Deuterocanon IS Scripture.
There are doctrines and practices contained in the Apocrypha that are contrary to what the Scripture teaches. They include the following.

They Teach A Person Is Saved By Works

In the Apocrypha proof texts can be found to support the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by human works and not faith alone.

You have clearly lied about what Catholic doctrine teaches.  
The Roman Catholic church has NEVER taught that justification is by human works, and these "proof" texts don't do that either...at least not any more than James 2:24 (NIV) where James says, "You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone." This is the only place that "faith alone" appears in the Bible, and James clearly states that actions/works/what-is-done, counts, not just the mental ascent of faith.  
The reality of Catholic teaching is that faith and works are two sides of the same coin. Catholic doctrine teaches that we are justified by faith alone, as long as there are the actions and works that prove the faith is really there.  
The Apocrypha contains the following verses.
For almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life (Tobit 12:9).
In another place in Tobit it says.
So now, my children see what almsgiving accomplishes, and what injustice does it brings death! (Tobit 14:11).
In the Book of First Maccabees it says.
Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (First Maccabees 2:52).
The Bible, on the other hand, says that a person is saved by grace through faith. It is not based upon our good works.
Oh yeah!?  What about James 1:22, (which is where James references First Maccabees 2:52) "Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Ephesians 2:8,9 does not mention FAITH ALONE. Recall the Church teaches that Faith and Works are required. But don't take my word for it. Here's what Jesus says about the importance of works...and this is just s smattering...notice NO MENTION OF FAITH IN THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT...ONLY GOOD DEEDS (WORKS).
  • Matthew 5:20: I tell you that unless your righteousness (works, not faith) surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.  
  • Matthew 5:26: Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
  • Matthew 5:27-28 The command not to commit adultery in your heart.
  • Matthew 5:34 Do not swear at oath at all...
  • Matthew 5:42 Give to the one who asks  you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
  • Matt 6:14 Forgive others if you want your sins forgiven
  • Matt 6:19 Do not store up treasurers on earth
  • Matt 6:26 Do not worry
  • Matt 7:1 Do not judge others
  • Matt 7:7ff: Ask, Seek, Knock
  • Matt 7:21 The only ones that get into heaven are the one who DOES the will of God
  • Matt 7:24 Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them INTO PRACTICE is like a wise man.


The Non-biblical Doctrine Of Purgatory Is Taught In The Apocrypha

The doctrine of purgatory - a place of purging between heaven and hell - is taught in the Apocrypha. It says.
So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin (Second Maccabees 12:41-45).
Actually, the doctrine of purgatory does not come from Maccabees. It comes from Rev. 21:27, Hebrews 9:27, Matthew 25:31-32, Luke 12:2-5, Luke 12:59, Luke 10:7, 1 Cor. 9:13-14, 1 Peter 3:19...and only then does the Church reference 2 Macc. 12:43-45. You really should study Catholic doctrine and understand it from a competent source before you claim what you do. Here's a good link with plenty of quotes from the Catechism and Scripture. Catholic Answers is one of the premiere sites for explanting the Catholic faith without the errors induced by belligerent Protestants.
The Bible teaches that, upon death, one either goes to be with the Lord or is sent away from Him - there is no middle place. The writer to the Hebrews stated.
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
According To The Apocrypha God Hears The Prayers Of The Dead.

We find the Book of Baruch teaching that God hears the prayers of those who have died.
O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, hear now the prayer of the dead of Israel, the children of those who sinned before you, who did not heed the voice of the Lord their God, so that calamities have clung to us (Baruch 3:4).
The dead do not pray for the living. Only the living upon the earth pray for the other living ones on the earth.
Your understanding of eternity is limited by temporal space and time. The dead indeed pray. Not only before they die (in an earthly sense) but after they go on living in heaven (and perhaps hell). Jesus tells the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16). Now you may consider that story fictitious and a metaphor but it did come from the mouth of our Savior. But then there are the saints in heaven praying (Revelations 5:8).  
Then there's this: Consider that when you pray, your prayers enter a realm we might call eternity...and in eternity, there is no time. So, the prayers you pray, indeed reach God's ears before and after you die...for there is no time involved, no chronology. So, in that way we even pray for the dead...e.g. our prayers for a deceased person can either reach them (via a messenger from heaven) while they are praying before Christ's throne (they are not really dead, right...you do believe that), or our prayers reach into eternity and travel "back in time" to when the person was alive...and offers them support from the eternity of heavenly beings. Thus, today you can pray for an event in the past, because your prayers are NOT bounded by time...for God does not live inside of time.
2. The Apocrypha Is Never Cited In The New Testament As Scripture
Easy rebuttal:  "Why is this a criteria?" Where did this requirement come from? That's a good question to ask about this whole list. This list of yours is comprised of strawman and other fallacious reasons. They're "made up" I suspect because you don't want to concede that the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus founded. So you make up these reasons....which are not part of any council, they are the collected opinions of protestors from John 6:66. Have you read that passage lately. Yes, Protestants were in the New Testament.
Though the New Testament cites directly, or alludes to, almost every book of the Old Testament as Scripture, it never cites the Apocrypha as being God's Word. The Apocrypha was not the Bible of Jesus or His apostles. While Jesus and Hs apostles often quoted from the Septuagint, they never quoted from the Apocrypha.

Allusions Are Not The Same As Scripture

While there may be some allusions to the apocryphal books by New Testament writers there is no direct quote from them. An allusion is not the same as a direct quote.
No, but they indicate that the New Testament writers were using the Deuterocanon as Scripture, or at least worthwhile references. They clearly were not using the Deuterocanon as "apocrypha" or false teachings. New Testament sources clearly accepted the Deuterocanon. But you're spinning their acceptance to say more than they intended...to suit your end goal. 
No Statement Introduced By "It Is Written"

In addition, no New Testament writer ever refers to any of these books as authoritative. Quotes from the accepted books are usually introduced by the phrase, "It is written," or the passage is quoted to prove a point. But never do the New Testament writers quote the Apocrypha in this way.
If this is to be a requirement, then we must throw out most of Paul's Epistles, because he never says "It is Written." You make up this stuff to suite your argument, but it still fails.
Furthermore no book of the Apocrypha is mentioned by name in the New Testament.
So if a book is referenced in the New Testament but it is not mentioned by name, we should reject the statement from it?  That would include a great porition of the Old Testament.
3. The Apocrypha Has Always Been Rejected By The Jews As Scripture

The Jews have never considered these works to be divinely inspired. On the contrary, they denied their authority. At the time of Christ we have the testimony of the Jewish writer Flavius Josephus that they were only twenty-two books divinely inspired by God. These books are the same as our thirty-nine in the Old Testament. The books of the Apocrypha were not among these. The same testimony is found in Second Esdras - the Ezra legend. This work was written in A.D. 100. Therefore these books were never part of the Hebrew canon of Scripture.
I'm curious how you would then allow the inclusion of the New Testament into the canon of Scripture because Jews rejected all those books as Scripture. Right? 
You go on and on with your reasons, and they become increasing silly and irrelevant, and I'm tired...so, I'll jump to your conclusions.
Summary

The books of the Apocrypha should not be considered as Holy Scripture because they do not give any evidence as being authoritative. Except the authority of the early councils and Trent. Did you forget them? What authority removed the Deuterocanon from the O.T.? You haven't given any evidence of that authority for removal, while there is authority for their inclusions...the Council of Rome and Trent. Protestants deny the canonical status of these books on the basis of both internal and external evidence. This evidence includes the following.

First, the Apocrypha contains doctrines and practices that contradict what has been previously revealed in Scripture. Add to this the Apocrypha is never cited in the New Testament as Holy Scripture. This is in contrast to the canonical books - almost all of them are cited.
False. You have not done your research. Ex: Purgatory comes from many passages in the New Testament and not from Maccs. 
The Jews rejected the Apocrypha as being part of God's Word. For one reason, these books were written after God had ceased giving divine revelation. In these years God was not giving any authoritative word to His people.
Therefore you should also remove the New Testament from the Bible. Also, Gary Michuta in two books ("Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger" and "The Case for the Deuterocanon") details the various Jewish sects at the time—some accepted the Deuterocanon, others did not. There are more Jewish sects that you account for.
The fact that the Apocrypha is found in the manuscripts of the Septuagint proves nothing - we do not know the content of the Septuagint in pre-Christian times. Furthermore there is no evidence of a wider Alexandrian canon of Scripture. The Jews, wherever they lived, used the same Hebrew canon that did not include the Apocrypha.
Some Jews, not all. And if you keep using that argument about the Jews, I expect you to immediately reject the New Testament. But it's funny, you have never mentioned why you reject the various decisions of the early councils that included the Deuterocanon as a whole or in part: e.g. Council of Sardica (ca. 342) - only a part, Laodicea (343/381) - only a part, Council of Rome (382) - the whole Deuterocanon used today. 
The Apocrypha was not on any early list of Christian books that were considered Scripture. While a few church fathers quoted them as authoritative, most did not. In addition, none of those fathers who cited the Apocrypha as authoritative Scripture knew any Hebrew.
Whoa! Not true. But you say "a few church fathers quoted them as authoritative...." what about them? What?! They didn't know Hebrew? So what?  When the Holy Spirit inspires something, is the human who receives the inspiration required to know Hebrew? Where is that in your Sola Scriptura lexicon?  Is such a requirement ever mentioned anywhere, except by a protester trying to avoid Rome? 
Further, just because someone does not do something you can't claim the opposite is true. That's arguing from a negative. It's a major fallacy.  
But then, there is the Council of Rome (382) that listed all Deuterocanon as canonical. And that council included a lot of information about what the early church fathers would have considered canonical. The Council of Rome overrules you.  It had the authority? And you?
There is also the problem with the exact content of the Apocrypha. The books contained in the Apocrypha are not well defined - not everyone can agree on which books are authoritative.
Really? Seems the Council of Rome didn't have a problem with that, neither did Trent.
Augustine, while a great thinker, did not read Hebrew and knew very little Greek. Furthermore he accepted the fanciful account of the origin of the Septuagint. Jerome, a real Hebrew scholar rejected the books outright.
Well, based on this insight, let's reject just abut everything that Augustine wrote. I mean you say he did not read Hebrew and knew very little Greek. That makes him totally irrelevant, evidently. What kind of logic is this? It's called arrive at a false conclusion. But your Jerome comment is amazing. You're right, Jerome did not like the Deuterocanon books. But guess what Jerome did, anyway. Unlike you, Jerome obeyed the Church, translated the Deuterocanon books, and they all ended up in his Latin Vulgate. What do you say to that? You see, there's something at work here which you totally reject, and which Jerome accepted....the authority of the church under Christ who claimed that they would come to know ALL TRUTH and be infallible in their decisions about faith and morals. You want to claim that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. Well, which Bible is that? Jerome's Bible?  If so, you're guilty of rejecting what the Holy Spirit inspired and included. Jerome obeyed the infallible decision of the Church, which authorized the infallible Bible and inerrant. On what do you stand? Your infallible reasons?
Many Roman Catholic scholars, to the time of the Protestant Reformation, rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture.
So what? Many roman Catholic scholars were excommunicated. Are we talked about the same ones? One was Luther. You remember him.
While some Protestants make some use of the Apocrypha it has always been rejected as Scripture.
Let's define "always" shall we?  When does that start? Let's see when were the first Protestants?  Oh, yes, it was in John 6:66...yes that's 666—the sign of the beast. Do you know what that verse states? You ought to look it up. It's where disciples of Christ rejected his teaching the real presence of Himself in the Eucharist. (which is in all Protestant Bibles, by the way, not in the Deuterocanon.)  
But, if you want to use the more traditional term for Protestant, you have to start sometime after 1517 AD. So, if that's when Always began...you may be right. Protestants have always rejected a lot of Scripture, like Matt 28:18-20, Matt 18:18, John 16:13, James 2:24, John 6, —the list is huge. And then the Protestants come up with Scripture that doesn't even have a reference, like the verses about Sola Scriptura. I could never find those. Do you know where they are?
Another major problem for the Apocrypha is demonstrable historical errors in it. This is not consistent with God's Word being error-free. Furthermore there is no evidence in these books of divine authority - fulfilled prophecy is lacking. Add to this there is no claim within the books of God's authority.
Whoa again there. (1) there are many historical inaccuracies in the 39 books of the O.T. which is not literally consistent with God's Word being error-free....and if you start to take the poetic books literally we have a major problem. (2) the evidence that the Deuterocanon is authoritative rests in the same infallible authority that constructed the Bible in the first place (The Church and its Councils) which included the Deuterocanon. (3) If there's no claim in the Deuterocanon of God's authority, what other books might we have to delete from the Bible because they don't claim to be authoritative either. Do any of the Gospel claim "God's authority"...I mean the books as a book, not the occasional words of Christ? This is a false reason. The authority came from the Church which selected the books.
Finally we have the testimony of Jesus. He said the Scriptures were true and could not be broken. However the Apocrypha was not Scripture to Him. Since neither the Jews, Jesus, or His apostles considered these writings as part of the Old Testament neither should we.
There are many theologians that would disagree with you, since Jesus and the NT writers refer to those writings many times. Gary Michuta has exhaustively cited those and many other evidences in "The Case for the Deuterocanon," "15 Myths, Mistakes and Misrepresentations about the Deuterocanon," and "Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger." All available at Amazon
We conclude that the present thirty-nine books of the Old Testament are the complete Scripture that God has given us. There are no other divinely authoritative books of Scripture that belong to the Old Testament.
And 2000 years of Church history, thousands of bishops and theologians over the centuries, and not just a few Church councils, know you are wrong.