Why Filipinos should convert to Lutheranism

diet of worms

Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms

Now religion is a tricky topic to take on, but I’m sure we can do it without too much apoplexy. Just keep in mind that this is an intellectual blog, a discussion forum, where ideas are open, denigration of others is rejected, and spiritual matters are left to the individual.

Martin Luther was rather like Carlos Celdran in funny clothes. He had some problems with Catholic doctrine and didn’t mind saying so. Being German, he knew how to be hard-headed and he knew how to be loud and he knew how to be precise, goose-stepping his way through the cathedral of Catholic convention like a solitary storm trooper on a mission to destroy.

That’s why the Pope excommunicated him and the Emperor declared him an outlaw. This was around 1520 when Marty was in his late thirties.

By way of truth in advertising, I have to confess that I am a confirmed Lutheran. That’s my religion. I know, because it was stamped on my army dog tags.

Lutherans don’t accept you into the church when you are a baby. Oh, yes, you can be baptized as a baby, your parents essentially giving you up to God. But you have to wait until you are older, have studied the Bible, understand Jesus inside out, agree to Lutheran doctrine, and are mature enough to commit to the calling. Like, age eleven.

Back to Marty, or “Luth, the truth” as we are inclined to chant to ourselves when getting a little wobbly kneed before a Catholic priest.

martin luther

Martin Luther

Martin Luther was a Catholic priest – and a professor of theology – until he published his “Ninty-Five Theses“. You see, Father Luther believed that the Pope was not the authoritative source of guidance on God and Jesus. The Holy Bible was. Boy howdy, that did not set well with the Pope, who was rather ill-tempered and bossy. Nor did it sit well with Emperor Charles V who was living on the edge of insurrection anyhow, everyone about him being quite poor and disgruntled.

Professor Luthor’s trial was at a place called the Diet of Worms, and I did not make that up. I shall provide no etymological dissection of that place, as some matters are best left to the reader. The Emperor presided and demanded to know if Luther, after listening to the prosecution rant, still held that his 95 theses were the truth. Luther asked permission to think about it overnight. The next day, he spoke before the court:

  • “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen”

So Luth got tossed from the Church and arrested.

His life after than reads much like an adventure novel. He got out of jail, freed a dozen nuns from a convent in barrels and put down a violent people’s rebellion by refusing to join them. He preached the non-violent ways of Jesus.

Getting excommunicated allowed him to do the work of the Lord on his terms, and he worked hard at that.

It also freed him to get married and do other rational deeds. He organized his own church. He translated the Bible from Latin to German so common people could understand it, and his congregation sang hymns in the people’s language, rather than in Latin.

Martin Luther was a people power priest.

He objected when his followers referred to their religion as Lutheran, however. He insisted that those who believed in Jesus be called “Christians”.

Later in life, unfortunately, he went on an extreme rant against Jews, arguing that their synagogues and homes should be destroyed, their money confiscated and their liberties curtailed. Hitler really liked his teachings, but modern theology scholars don’t.

What was it about the 95 theses that so upset the authorities of the day? It would be like both President Aquino and Cardinal Tagle doing a rant on some poor UP professor’s head because they didn’t like his writings.

The 95 theses mainly attacked the Catholic Church practice at the time of selling forgiveness, something called “indulgence”. A sinner was able to buy his way out of purgatory. Luther got really angry about it, for he believed forgiveness was free and came from the soul. So he wrote his 95 truths, or dares to Catholic doctrine, to confront the practice. Number 27 took to task the selling of forgiveness (see complete list at the end of this article). Numbers 38 and 48, among others, criticized the Pope.

If we skip fast-forward to today, in the Philippines, we find that Catholic attitudes pretty much reflect the practices that Luther was objecting to. There is a certain materialism and ease to the receipt of forgiveness. One pays one’s alms, chants one’s faith, perhaps confesses to the priest and gets forgiven, and goes out an unchanged person.

Let us redefine “indulgence” in the following way to make the 95 theses relevant to today:

  • Indulgence: The practice of gaining forgiveness by uttering words from the head and not the heart.

In that context, theses numbers 3 and 41 deserve special mention.

  • “3. Inwards penitence must be accompanied with a suitable change in lifestyle.”
  • “41. If a pardon is given it should be given cautiously in case people think it’s more important than doing good works.”

It seems to me that a great deal of self-reflection and changes in attitudes and deeds are needed in the Philippines to promote honorable dealing and proper care of the nation and its peoples. I refer to it as “personal accountability”, candid self critique, true remorse for bad deeds, and efforts to correct the damage done.

  • “11: The church through church penalties is producing a ‘human crop of weeds’. “

Ouch. By penalties, he meant threatening people that they were destined for hell if they did not pay up or behave the way they were told. Sounds a little like the CBCP political priests lecturing President Aquino.

Here in the Philippines, the value of true repentance appears not to exist in the minds of the corrupt, most of whom were schooled in the Catholic tradition. It’s almost as if their prayers begin:

  • “Forgive me, Father, for I have been caught.”

It seems to this observer that not very many people of influence have put together the idea that the Catholic Church itself – in the Philippines – claims no accountability for anything at all.

Rome seems to be changing.

The Philippines, not . . .

  • “92. All those who say there is no problem must go. Problems must be tackled.”

When accountability is accepted – by individuals or institutions – one’s outlook toward the whole world changes.


The 95 Theses – a modern translation from the “History Learning Site

or why Catholicism was abandoned by protestants in the 1500’s

1. When Jesus said “repent” he meant that believers should live a whole life repenting

2. Only God can give salvation – not a priest.

3. Inwards penitence must be accompanied with a suitable change in lifestyle.

4. Sin will always remain until we enter Heaven.

5. The pope must act according to canon law.

6. Only God can forgive -the pope can only reassure people that God will do this.

7. A sinner must be humbled in front of his priest before God can forgive him.

8. Canon law applies only to the living not to the dead.

9. However, the Holy Spirit will make exceptions to this when required to do so.

10. The priest must not threaten those dying with the penalty of purgatory.

11. The church through church penalties is producing a ‘human crop of weeds’.

12. In days gone by, church penalties were imposed before release from guilt to show true repentance.

13. When you die all your debts to the church are wiped out and those debts are free from being judged.

14. When someone is dying they might have bad/incorrect thoughts against the church and they will be scared. This fear is enough penalty.

15. This fear is so bad that it is enough to cleanse the soul.

16. Purgatory = Hell. Heaven = Assurance.

17. Souls in Purgatory need to find love – the more love the less their sin.

18. A sinful soul does not have to be always sinful. It can be cleansed.

19. There is no proof that a person is free from sin.

20. Even the pope – who can offer forgiveness – cannot totally forgive sins held within.

21. An indulgence will not save a man.

22. A dead soul cannot be saved by an indulgence.

23. Only a very few sinners can be pardoned. These people would have to be perfect.

24. Therefore most people are being deceived by indulgences.

25. The pope’s power over Purgatory is the same as a priest’s.

26. When the pope intervenes to save an individual, he does so by the will of God.

27. It is nonsense to teach that a dead soul in Purgatory can be saved by money.

28. Money causes greed – only God can save souls.

29. Do we know if the souls in Purgatory want to be saved ?

30. No-one is sure of the reality of his own penitence – no-one can be sure of receiving complete forgiveness.

31. A man who truly buys an indulgence (ie believes it is to be what it is) is as rare as someone who truly repents all sin ie very rare.

32. People who believe that indulgences will let them live in salvation will always be damned – along with those who teach it.

33. Do not believe those who say that a papal indulgence is a wonderful gift which allows salvation.

34. Indulgences only offer Man something which has been agreed to by Man.

35. We should not teach that those who aim to buy salvation do not need to be contrite.

36. A man can be free of sin if he sincerely repents – an indulgence is not needed.

37. Any Christian – dead or alive – can gain the benefit and love of Christ without an indulgence.

38. Do not despise the pope’s forgiveness but his forgiveness is not the most important.

39. The most educated theologians cannot preach about indulgences and real repentance at the same time.

40. A true repenter will be sorry for his sins and happily pay for them. Indulgences trivialise this issue.

41. If a pardon is given it should be given cautiously in case people think it’s more important than doing good works.

42. Christians should be taught that the buying of indulgences does not compare with being forgiven by Christ.

43. A Christian who gives to the poor or lends to those in need is doing better in God’s eyes than one who buys ‘forgiveness’.

44. This is because of loving others, love grows and you become a better person. A person buying an indulgence does not become a better person.

45. A person who passes by a beggar but buys an indulgence will gain the anger and disappointment of God.

46. A Christian should buy what is necessary for life not waste money on an indulgence.

47. Christians should be taught that they do not need an indulgence.

48. The pope should have more desire for devout prayer than for ready money.

49. Christians should be taught not to rely on an indulgence. They should never lose their fear of God through them.

50. If a pope knew how much people were being charged for an indulgence – he would prefer to demolish St. Peter’s.

51. The pope should give his own money to replace that which is taken from pardoners.

52. It is vain to rely on an indulgence to forgive your sins.

53. Those who forbid the word of God to be preached and who preach pardons as a norm are enemies of both the pope and Christ.

54. It is blasphemy that the word of God is preached less than that of indulgences.

55. The pope should enforce that the gospel – a very great matter – must be celebrated more than indulgences.

56. The treasure of the church is not sufficiently known about among the followers of Christ.

57. The treasure of the Church are temporal (of this life).

58. Relics are not the relics of Christ, although they may seem to be. They are, in fact, evil in concept.

59. St. Laurence misinterpreted this as the poor gave money to the church for relics and forgiveness.

60. Salvation can be sought for through the church as it has been granted this by Christ.

61. It is clear that the power of the church is adequate, by itself, for the forgiveness of sins.

62. The main treasure of the church should be the Gospels and the grace of God.

63. Indulgences make the most evil seem unjustly good.

64. Therefore evil seems good without penance or forgiveness.

65. The treasured items in the Gospels are the nets used by the workers.

66. Indulgences are used to net an income for the wealthy.

67. It is wrong that merchants praise indulgences.

68. They are the furthest from the grace of God and the piety and love of the cross.

69. Bishops are duty bound to sell indulgences and support them as part of their job.

70. But bishops are under a much greater obligation to prevent men preaching their own dreams.

71. People who deny the pardons of the Apostles will be cursed.

72. Blessed are they who think about being forgiven.

73. The pope is angered at those who claim that pardons are meaningless.

74. He will be even more angry with those who use indulgences to criticise holy love.

75. It is wrong to think that papal pardons have the power to absolve all sin.

76. You should feel guilt after being pardoned. A papal pardon cannot remove guilt.

77. Not even St. Peter could remove guilt.

78. Even so, St. Peter and the pope possess great gifts of grace.

79. It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross is of equal value with the cross of Christ.

80. Bishops who authorise such preaching will have to answer for it.

81. Pardoners make the intelligent appear disrespectful because of the pope’s position.

82. Why doesn’t the pope clean feet for holy love not for money ?

83. Indulgences bought for the dead should be re-paid by the pope.

84. Evil men must not buy their salvation when a poor man, who is a friend of God, cannot.

85. Why are indulgences still bought from the church ?

86. The pope should re-build St. Peter’s with his own money.

87. Why does the pope forgive those who serve against him ?

88. What good would be done to the church if the pope was to forgive hundreds of people each day ?

89. Why are indulgences only issued when the pope sees fit to issue them ?

90. To suppress the above is to expose the church for what it is and to make true Christians unhappy.

91. If the pope had worked as he should (and by example) all the problems stated above would not have existed.

92. All those who say there is no problem must go. Problems must be tackled.

93. Those in the church who claim there is no problem must go.

94. Christians must follow Christ at all cost.

95. Let Christians experience problems if they must – and overcome them – rather than live a false life based on present Catholic teaching.

122 Responses to “Why Filipinos should convert to Lutheranism”
  1. sonny says:

    Joe, the many failed-Catholics in public service who seem to flaunt ways of conduct antithetical to Catholic principles learned are not the examples I look up to and remain Catholic, albeit a failed one also. Allow me to show one example whom I keep in mind in my own search and journey. I won’t use our Lord as example. (If I do, that means I am already in heaven 🙂 ). He is Monsignor Stuart Swetland, currently the president of a small Catholic (Donnelly) college in the state of Kansas. Begging your “indulgence”, it will become clear why I chose his conversion story.


    • Joe America says:

      A touching tribute to the power of prayer, and an interesting journey. You are one person who, in my view, correctly captures the full meaning of the Catholic path, and I for sure would not try to entice you from it, for it has a full measure of accountability attached.

  2. Catholicism. A very touchy subject for a lot of homebound Filipinos but the latest developments are encouraging. Celdran dressed as Jose Rizal demanding that the church stop meddling in the politics. I find that brave, wacky, hilarious and awe inspiring. The passing of the RH law. All the blustering and threatening of the Bishops and priests went in deaf ears. I foresee a lot more defiance from Filipinos towards religious authorities in the future. Evolution of establishments in PI is just at snail pace. So pardon me, Joe if I have to disagree with your view that Filipinos should convert to Lutheranism. They will get there, in Filipino time.

    US Catholicism has undergone a lot of changes brought about by progress and technology. Most practicing US Catholics I know are now “cafeteria Catholics.” They pick and choose the norms, values, beliefs and dogmas they find rational, logical, just, and fair without a lot of hassle from religious leaders. I think ex-communication is passé in the US as I have never heard of anyone being threatened with it nor have personally met an ex-communicated American Catholic.

    • Joe America says:

      Actually, I have no interest in converting Catholics to Lutheranism, as I long ago adopted my own individual spiritual path and it requires no man-bound organization. I merely want people to think about accountability and not “use” God as a scapegoat for their own mistakes. Use Him for power and inspiration and guidance, fine. As a way to buy indulgences? Not the way . . . it seems to me . . .

      • It’s all marketing, Joe. The very existence of every church depends on the generosity of its congregation. Find ways to keep that money coming. Catholics are guilt laden due to their religious conditioning. Why not use that to get more out of them? After all, what is good for the church is good for the congregation. Then it becomes a vicious cycle of guilt, penance and moral turpitude. I’d say, assert your individual morals by voting with your pocketbook. Walk away from establishments that offends your inner spirit. Then the establishments may dissolve due to lack of financial sustenance or reinvent itself to stay viable and get on with the times.

        Mercado and Hechanova in the Binay’s corruption probe admitted that they committed grave sins against the people of Makati and in a larger sense, all Filipinos. They rationalized their behavior by stating that it is the norm in Makati to rig infrastructure bidding. What I think need to be done is for Filipinos to examine the norms, values, beliefs and dogmas of all Filipino establishments and come to terms with paradigm shifts.

        • Joe America says:

          I would personally amend that to say it is “mostly” marketing, or “a lot”. I do believe that spiritual powers are stabilizing or rejuvenating as people deal with our manly problems. But for sure, some people use their brains to bad ends, rationalizing away all sin. Rather than owning up changing.

          • Point well taken. I did not mean to offend. We both know that marketing has a lot of beneficial utility but it could also be used in evil ways by an unscrupulous practitioner.

            I need to throw this question out there for my personal elucidation. Why is it so hard for a lot of Filipinos to admit their mistakes, apologize to those they hurt and face the consequences? People who are guilty as sin pleading “not guilty” is the norm, it appears.

            • Joe America says:

              That is a big, big question. I think it is wrapped up in the emotional character that leads to crablike behavior. To confess is to let other crabs climb on top. Exercising humility is to make a big target for others. It is like when President Aquino’s administration apologized for the severe Manila traffic jam caused by relocating containers from the port. People on discussion threads became absolutely livid, both about the jam and the apology.

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                The humiliation and ridicule are the consequences of the transgression and, I believe, should be humbly accepted. Let the crabs have their jubilee as long as you can sleep well at night. If you did the crime, do the time, the old cliche goes.

              • Joe America says:

                hah, yes. crab jubilee. 🙂

              • jolly cruz says:

                I am ashamed to say that we Filipinos are like vultures/hyenas which feast on dying prey. The more helpless the prey are, the more vultures/hyenas join in the feast.

                This is precisely why this administartion is getting flak from all sides. The “failures”, real and/or perceived, of this administartion, make it appear wounded and weak. This causes the “enemies” of this administration to feast on it.

                On the other hand, the Binays appear to be very strong and thus, are not being attacked. The “vultures” out there dare not attack them for he will fight back, through legal and/or illegal means.

              • Joe America says:

                I think today’s subcommittee hearing on the Makati parking garage changed that. The vultures are senatorial presidential candidates. VP Binay is the meal.

              • edgar lores says:

                I believe they came to bury Binay today.

              • Joe America says:

                Senator Cayetano is quite impressive. He carves with a smile. He has a bit of a mean streak, so this kind of thing is right up his alley.

              • edgar lores says:

                He’s a baby-faced killer. Trillanes, on the other hand, with his bowed head and hooded eyes looks like the real McCoy. 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Hahaha, yes he does. No sense of humor whatsoever. Cold, man, cold.

  3. vernon says:

    Hi Joe,

    i was about to say why not try that. My personal exasperation of the state of affairs in that country has reached a point that I am willing to accept any change just for change’s sake. But then again, I looked at Lutheranism and the country that gave birth to it and came to realize that Germany also gave us Adolf Hitler. Shook my head and silently said no. And then I recalled my daughter’s first car, the VW Passat. Wonderful piece of engineering. Hence the ambivalence at first.

    I am one of those who believe that the influence of the institutionalized Catholic Church in the Philippines is not the problem. However, it is definitely part of the problem. Just a passing look at some of the bishops’ palaces there would be enough to convince anybody that they consider themselves pseudo royalty if not outright royalty.Heavens, these guys took the oath of poverty! An exception would be the newly installed cardinal Orlando Quevedo’s residence that was featured in some media reports months ago. Now here’s a guy who walks the talk. Our local version of Pope Francis he is.

    My inclination is similar to that of Juana Pilipinas’ – in due time there’d be change for the good. The Catholic Church in general is undergoing moral regeneration plus the Filipino has the patience to wait for the proper time to initiate change. That patience helped us survive the Spaniards, Americans and the Japanese. It took us some 25 years to have the collective guts to kick out Ferdinand Marcos(the other EDSAs that followed were never that spiritual and I personally consider them bogus). The purging of the ill side effects of a suddenly free and democratic but direction-less country after Marcos may take longer. It took Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore a long time to become what they are today from what they were before. It took generations. Ours may not be that different.

    Still hopeful.


  4. gerverg1885 says:

    This is a very good read because I only knew of Luther’s excommunication from an article published at Nat Geo magazine on his 500th birthday and the 95 theses was not included there.

    I excommunicated myself from the Roman Catholic church a long time ago when I began understanding about how religion became an incredible money-making endeavor through those ‘indulgences’ which started here with the conversion of the natives to that foreign belief and which became a common practice (the euphemistic term now is ‘donation’) until now.

    There is no way for me but to go against the teachings of the church since it is not hard to see behind the motives of the preaching of the priests about eternal damnation unless “we confess our sins” and receive communion or pay (donate) a stipulated amount to save one’s soul from the fires of hell.

    Well, they know that suckers are born every minute and since this world is now overpopulated, every millisecond, so those priests and bishops and other high leaders of the church are in such a hurry to think of ways to make the faithful convince others of their need to be members of the only one church of God whose name they had long been using to enrich themselves.

    They could not condemn the likes of GMA and other corrupt politicians because they are afraid of being called that they are one and the same.

    The problem with our mainstream media is their sins of omission in never publishing such important news about the Filipino priest accused of raping an American boy in New Jersey. The same with the scandal in Rome where pope Francis discovered the dollar (or Euro) smuggling activities of cardinals and bishops running the Vatican bank and the priests who were exposed in the Italian press who have lovers outside of the Vatican premises.

    In the same note, there will always be people who will follow any religion as long as they just keep on being satisfied hearing the words of countless preachers about how to interpret God’s word. Apollo Quiboloy would not have 6 million followers if he did not study how Mike Velarde, Ely Soriano and the Manalos of Iglesia ni Kristo convinced their followers how to save their souls by giving generously parts of their hard earned money.

    Such enterprising people are so imaginative because they saw a very good example on how to effectively manipulate ignorant people’s minds.

    • Joe America says:

      You shall henceforth be known as ‘Luther Junior’. Not willing to indulge in misguided indulgences. Forever etched in my brain is a photo of GMA in the middle of about 20 robed men of glorious cloth. It says way more than 1,000 words.

  5. edgar lores says:

    1. I concur – and do not concur – with the proposition.

    2. I concede that Lutheranism would be an improvement on Catholicism on the basis of the two sacraments discussed (a) baptism and (b) penance.

    3. On baptism.

    3.1. The Church practices child baptism while Lutherans practice both child and adult baptism with emphasis, as noted, on adult baptism.

    3.2. The difference between child baptism and adult baptism is that in the first you become a Christian by birth and in the second by choice.

    3.3. In the first there is NO conscious commitment to leading a Christian life. In the second, there is a full and mature conscious commitment.

    3.4. And if the mature commitment is sincere, there will be in the Lutheran a consequent and constant awareness and attempts to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to practice his precepts. This constant awareness is absent in a Catholic.

    3.4.1. At the moment of being tempted by sin, the fully aware Lutheran will pause. That pause may not occur to a Catholic – or if it does, it will be easily brushed aside precisely because of the lack of adult commitment. And it is that pause, the little voice of conscience, which makes all the difference in the world.

    3.5. It must be noted that the Church has secondary sacraments to child baptism in communion and confirmation. Even so, confirmation is still administered at an early age, usually at the age of discretion which is about 7 years, at a time when the young mind has not entered into full adulthood. (I am not sure at what age confirmation is administered in the Philippines.)

    4. On penance.

    4.1. Both Catholicism and Lutheranism practice confession the fruit of which is the absolution of sins.

    4.2. Lutheranism seems to practice two forms of penance, one at assembled congregation in Divine Service and the other in private confession known as Holy Absolution.

    4.3. The difference between Catholicism and Lutheranism seems to be in the degree of contrition and the form of expiation. In Catholicism, the forgiveness of sins can be worked out in expiation in the form of prayer, charity or an act of spiritual self-denial. In Lutheranism, forgiveness from the confessor is assured but NOT the forgiveness from God. For the Lutheran, there is no expiation: God’s forgiveness cannot be secured by good works. According to Martin Luther, we are only saved by God’s grace.

    4.3.1. Therefore, a Lutheran, being insecure in the absolution of his sins, is unlikely to go forth and sin some more. A Catholic, secure in the knowledge of the absolution and expiation of sin, will easily succumb to temptation because he knows that forgiveness will be granted… time and time again.

    I will discuss why I do NOT concur in a separate post.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, excellent zeroing in on the point I was stretching to make about accountability. It is the mature, adult commitment to the moral code, and I suppose (subjectivist weasel words; thanks sonny) a willingness to participate in the rites of the chosen church. My confirmation at age 11 was too young. I did it because that’s what they said to do, not because my heart and brain were aligned with commitment to doing and being good. If that commitment to doing and being good were strong within the Philippines, corruption would not be so widespread, reaching into the barangays and military and police and . . . and . . . taxi cabs. People simply would not stand for it.

      I look forward to part II.

  6. andrewlim8 says:

    I want to toss this question to the crowd, because it intrigued me when I realized it could be the source of so much corrupt behavior despite the high levels of religiosity displayed in this country.

    Remember the story of the crucifixion, where Jesus converses with the two thieves nailed to his left and right, and one of them asks to be forgiven, and he is assured that he will be in heaven when he dies?

    Is it possible that many Filipino Catholics interpet this LAST MINUTE CONFESSION OR CONVERSION as a nifty strategy for doing as you please – corruption and sinning, delaying conversion to the absolute, literal, last minute – when one is in dying hours, since everyone will be forgiven anyway, as long as one asks for it?

    In the TV series Desperate Housewives, the character of Eva Longoria, who was having an affair with their gardener, asks her parish priest: Can I continue having this affair, and just ask for forgiveness later, when I am about to die?

    Erap some time ago stated that “God is very forgiving” so he considers himself forgiven.

    Combine this thinking with the notion of purgatory, where cleansing and forgiveness is given after spending time in it.

    Gloria considers her stay in the hospital as “purgatory” , according to her apologist Gary Olivar.

    Is this how the Filipino Catholic thinks, and is it the source of so much corrupt behavior whilst retaining the fervent display of religiosity through rituals and rites?

    • Joe America says:

      I can’t give you the Catholic answer, obviously, but I can guess at a child psychologist’s answer. If the kid does not understand that bad things are returned for bad acts, he will continue to do bad acts. It is not healthy to allow the child easy escape from discipline. This is a big SECULAR problem in the Philippines, as well. The courts do not see “quick” as essential to making crime and punishment connect. Or letting others see that it connects.

      I’d say, somewhat heartlessly, that watching the incarcerated big shots lined up for their ambulances and whacking their heads against walls MIGHT be more effective for the watching audience than the courts’ delayed acts.

    • edgar lores says:

      The issue of God’s forgiveness is central to Luther’s rejection of Catholicism. His claim is that you cannot obtain His forgiveness through through good works. Nor should one be able to obtain it through a last-minute confession or claim of faith.

      A last-minute moment of repentance can never hardly be sincere. What? You spend your life cheating and stealing and then try to fool God at the last minute? That’s like claiming a last-second free throw after the buzzer has sounded. It’s possible but improbable.

      And God is not blind.

    • The devil made them do it, andrew. Therefore they are not in control of their faculties when the deed was done. They were doing the crime under influence so they are not responsible for their actions. The devil could be exorcised with a donation of seven 2014 SUVs. Thereafter, the sinner is absolved of all sins so the lather, rinse, repeat cycle ensues. Done being flippant.

      Enrile supposedly wrote an autobiography that he entrusted to his daughter after he made her promise that it can only be published after his death. I am wondering if this book contains confessions and apologies. Is it his shot at absolution in the afterlife?

  7. Faith is, has always been and always will be an iffy subject. More than anything, it is a personal matter. The problem comes when this personal matter is imposed onto others. I personally distance myself form any organized forms of faith. So I must disagree on the Lutheran evangelization.
    I do however agree that the Philippines should recognize a more progressive moral code much like Martin Luther introduced. I suggest though that this moral code be secular. Religion does not guarantee morality. The most “religious” public servants are usually the most corrupt.
    The government should also be more vigilant about the separation of church and state. The DepEd junking ‘God-loving’ in its vision statement is a wonderful start. (btw, any plans on writing about that? Or did you already? lol) But I digress.
    I’d like to believe that people have enough morality in them to render religion optional. This may be blind optimism but we are talking about faith here right?

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for the blog ideas, Christopher. I particularly like the idea of a secular moral code, and perhaps one that is consistent with mainstream religious values, without the rites, so that people can feel quite at home pursuing their individual spiritual paths whilst remaining faithful to the national code. I can discuss “god fearing” in that context. Now I won’t be able to sleep tonight, because you have my brain cookin’. 🙂

  8. gerverg1885 says:


    The main reason why so many politicians in this country became so corrupt not only to the bones but beyond the bones (tagos sa buto) is that forgiveness that they so easily obtain if it involves a large ‘donation’ and even more if there are additional gifts in kind, like cars of the latest models.

    The practice had not changed since the time of the Spanish friars and is not likely to change anytime soon unless old people, pious women in particular, die en masse and the following generation would not be so anxious and overzealous in ‘spreading’ the word of God because they had been made aware of the lies behind those monstrosities they called church and its officials.

    • edgar lores says:


      Yep, that’s the selling of indulgences. What I am trying to look at is the theory behind the practice, the theology of corruption, if you will.

      • Abe says:


        The theory behind those practices is that “We created God.” Much like inventing something, so that they could innovate and tweak productivity. Reminds me of the Greek and the Egyptian Gods they created.

        • edgar lores says:


          So it’s all for man-ipulation? At least the old gods were colorful. The Greek gods had thunderbolts, tridents and passion, and the Egyptian gods had bird or animal heads. God the Father looks like JoeAm’s avatar (;-) ), you know, bearded and all that, and The Holy Spirit is a… dove?

  9. Micha says:

    What we don’t require is the cumbersome metaphorical landscape of invisible worlds populated by imaginary beings that pull the strings. Contrary to the word’s origin, religion doesn’t so much bind us together as it divides us into warring tribes. It imposes social and intellectual control by wielding non-negotiable dogma (which ironically varies by zip code) based on the inviolable commands of beings that don’t actually exist.

    Our need to believe is real, but given the bewildering variety of gods and spirits we’ve believed in over the centuries, what we believe in seems more or less irrelevant. History is strewn with quaint beliefs and discarded gods who weren’t even there to receive the praise, the propitiations and the sacrifices that were so earnestly offered, sometimes at gruesomely high cost.

    It’s sad that we continue to allow religion to co-opt the vocabulary we use to console each other, or to give form to our sense of morality, or to search for understanding. We’ve replaced religious understandings with scientific ones for centuries. It never goes in the other direction.

    Religion is simply lies we tell children, and yet it receives enormous credit for shaping our world and making us who we are. If lies can do that, imagine what the truth might accomplish.

    • Joe America says:

      “. . . bewildering variety of gods and spirits . . .” It makes me conclude that there is only one spirit, or Spirit, but that we view him/it/she through the cultural prisms of where and when we live, and what the interpreters of the time say. None of these interpretations is bad if contained within its own province. The problem is when they collide. At that, the great brain of mankind fails a test of reason. I find spirituality in many places. Today it was from a security guard who held a perfect, motionless salute during the playing of the national anthem. She moved me to a spiritual appreciation of Filipinos and the Philippines. I drove the long drive home with much less aggression than is normally the case.

      With regard to that, President Aquino’s speech presenting the Bangsamoro Agreement to Congress was positively brilliant. Compassionate. Simple. Spiritual . . . to me.

      • Micha says:

        “It makes me conclude that there is only one spirit…”

        In light of the accelerating expansion of the universe. physicists have calculated that 73% of the universe is made up of dark repulsive energy, 23% are dark attractive matter, and only 4% makes up the visible stuff (planets, stars, galaxies, atoms, dusts, humans). A whole lot of cosmic pushing and pulling due to gravity (DM) and anti-gravity (DE) is going on and it’s not surprising that the dominant force gets to stretch and pull the universe apart.

        Where, exactly, is the “Spirit” in this scheme of things? Is it a participant in the battle or just a cold transcending foggy, vaguely identified entity?

      • sonny says:

        From my perspective, the importance of science & technology has been attested to sufficiently by the Catholic Church, by way of its members in the past, the present and indefinitely (whenever truth is pursued) in the future. For example, one needs only look at the moon and its craters on a clear night w/ a decent telescope. 35 craters are named after 35 Catholic scientists (Jesuits, really) who were scientists (Physics, Astronomy) and mathematicians of note. Included in the list are Boscovich (Galileo’s contemporary), developer of the first coherent theory of the atom, Max Hell expert on Venus, Clavius changed the calendar from Julian to Gregorian, Grimaldi discoverer of diffraction of light (as in diffraction grating), Ricci brought western mathematics to China also translated first 6 books of Euclid into Chinese too, Zucchi inventor of the reflecting telescope, etc, etc. In our own time (1600s to the present) stands the Pontifical Academy of Sciences whose members include Stephen Hawking, other Nobel laureates (Rutherford, Planck, Bohr). We must not forget the priest who proposed the Big Bang Theory, Monsignor Georges Lemaitre! And also there is the discoverer of the science of Genetics, the lowly Augustinian monk, Gregor Mendel.

        • Joe America says:

          Strong arguments, Sonny. I didn’t know those Catholic science discoveries. You opened my mind for sure.

        • Micha says:

          “From my perspective, the importance of science & technology has been attested to sufficiently by the Catholic Church…”

          Which makes one wonder if the Catholic mind is actually schizophrenic because it manages to hold two diametrically opposed views at the same time.

          The theory of biological evolution is prime example. The official Catholic stand is that it accepts Darwinian explanation to be valid and yet, it’s won’t discard the irrational fairy tale of biblical creation.

          That demonstrates either intellectual contortionism or corruption.

          Or both.

        • Micha says:

          it won’t…

        • sonny says:

          The Big Bang Theory

          “… Duncan Aikman of the New York Times spotlighted Lemaitre’s view in 1933: “‘There is no conflict between religion and science,’ Lemaïtre has been telling audiences over and over again in this country …. His view is interesting and important not because he is a Catholic priest, not because he is one of the leading mathematical physicists of our time, but because he is both.”

          excerpt from:


          • edgar lores says:

            1. As Micha points out the Catholic stance on science is contortionist.

            2. While Catholicism embraces the Big Bang Theory of Lemaitre, it envisions a supernatural being (SB), standing out of time and space, being the primary cause of the initial bang, pushing the plunger as it were.

            3. Science pictures only the Big Bang without the SB, while Catholicism insists on photo-bombing the Big Bang with the SB. Therefore to claim that there is no conflict between religion and science is false.

            4. Religion and Science differ as to attitude, assumptions, methods and aims.

            5. The attitude of Science is to post questions, the answers to which it does not know. The attitude of Religion is to post answers, the questions to which it pretends to know.

            6. Science assumes that there are laws that govern the universe and that these laws while knowable are immutable. Religion claims that the laws that govern the universe are created by God and that these laws are mutable by His will. (The Abrahamic religions support the concept of an interventionist God.)

            7. The method of Science is to hypothesize a truth, to verify that truth by experiment and observation, and to reconfirm that truth with repetition of the experiment. The method of Religion is to claim the truth and for people to accept the truth by faith, with neither need for the truth to be verified (or checked) nor to be confirmed (or proved).

            8. The aim of Science is primarily to understand the universe (theoretical Science) and secondarily to improve our lives (applied Science). The aim of Religion is to provide ready-made answers to control people’s lives and to perpetuate its existence.

            9. Science requires faith in a coherent universe and reason to investigate that coherency. Religion requires faith in the coherency of its purported universe and requires reason to patch the incoherencies of that universe.

            10. Religion can never be Science, but Science can be a Religion.

  10. gerverg1885 says:

    I just believe that conscience is my moral compass. It is by living a life that conforms to the rules of God.and not by the Catholic religion.

  11. manuel buencamino says:

    I prefer critical thinking to any form of organized religion.

  12. RHiro says:

    Martin Luther could never have imagines what his actions led to. First to the Protestant Reformation in Western Europe then to the Westphalian era in Europe which brought forth INDEPENDENT nations states and then sadly to Hitlers pogrom vs the Jews.

    His ACTIONS had far reaching EFFECTS.

    ”may it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings & security of self-government. that form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. all eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.'”T. JERRSON LAST LETTER JUNE 1826


    The following are excerpts from Luther’s work entitled “The Jews & their Lies”:

    I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God’s word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.
    * * *

    He did not call them Abraham’s children, but a “brood of vipers” [Matt. 3:7]. Oh, that was too insulting for the noble blood and race of Israel, and they declared, “He has a demon’ [Matt 11:18]. Our Lord also calls them a “brood of vipers”; furthermore in John 8 [:39,44] he states: “If you were Abraham’s children ye would do what Abraham did…. You are of your father the devil. It was intolerable to them to hear that they were not Abraham’s but the devil’s children, nor can they bear to hear this today.
    * * *

    Therefore the blind Jews are truly stupid fools…
    * * *

    Now just behold these miserable, blind, and senseless people … their blindness and arrogance are as solid as an iron mountain.
    * * *

    Learn from this, dear Christian, what you are doing if you permit the blind Jews to mislead you. Then the saying will truly apply, “When a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into the pit” [cf. Luke 6:39]. You cannot learn anything from them except how to misunderstand the divine commandments…
    * * *

    Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer self­glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously and veheming his eyes on them.
    * * *

    Moreover, they are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch­thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.
    * * *

    However, they have not acquired a perfect mastery of the art of lying; they lie so clumsily and ineptly that anyone who is just a little observant can easily detect it. But for us Christians they stand as a terrifying example of God’s wrath.
    * * *

    If I had to refute all the other articles of the Jewish faith, I should be obliged to write against them as much and for as long a time as they have used for inventing their lies­­ that is, longer than two thousand years.
    * * *

    …Christ and his word can hardly be recognized because of the great vermin of human ordinances. However, let this suffice for the time being on their lies against doctrine or faith.
    * * *

    Did I not tell you earlier that a Jew is such a noble, precious jewel that God and all the angels dance when he farts?
    * * *

    Alas, it cannot be anything but the terrible wrath of God which permits anyone to sink into such abysmal, devilish, hellish, insane baseness, envy, and arrogance. If I were to avenge myself on the devil himself I should be unable to wish him such evil and misfortune as God’s wrath inflicts on the Jews, compelling them to lie and to blaspheme so monstrously, in violation of their own conscience. Anyway, they have their reward for constantly giving God the lie.
    * * *

    No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.
    * * *

    …but then eject them forever from this country. For, as we have heard, God’s anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!
    * * *

    Over and above that we let them get rich on our sweat and blood, while we remain poor and they such the marrow from our bones.
    * * *

    I brief, dear princes and lords, those of you who have Jews under your rule­­ if my counsel does not please your, find better advice, so that you and we all can be rid of the unbearable, devilish burden of the Jews, lest we become guilty sharers before God in the lies, blasphemy, the defamation, and the curses which the mad Jews indulge in so freely and wantonly against the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, this dear mother, all Christians, all authority, and ourselves. Do not grant them protection, safe­conduct, or communion with us…. .With this faithful counsel and warning I wish to cleanse and exonerate my conscience.
    * * *

    Let the government deal with them in this respect, as I have suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at least be guided by his own conscience and form for himself a definition or image of a Jew.
    * * *

    However, we must avoid confirming them in their wanton lying, slandering, cursing, and defaming. Nor dare we make ourselves partners in their devilish ranting and raving by shielding and protecting them, by giving them food, drink, and shelter, or by other neighborly
    * * *

    Therefore we Christians, in turn, are obliged not to tolerate their wanton and conscious blasphemy.
    * * *

    Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death.
    * * *

    What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice:

    First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

    Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

    Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

    Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: “what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], “You are Peter,” etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

    Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (…remainder omitted).

    Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause.

    Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.
    * * *

    But what will happen even if we do burn down the Jews’ synagogues and forbid them publicly to praise God, to pray, to teach, to utter God’s name? They will still keep doing it in secret. If we know that they are doing this in secret, it is the same as if they were doing it publicly. for our knowledge of their secret doings and our toleration of them implies that they are not secret after all and thus our conscience is encumbered with it before God.
    * * *

    Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:

    First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire. That would demonstrate to God our serious resolve and be evidence to all the world that it was in ignorance that we tolerated such houses, in which the Jews have reviled God, our dear Creator and Father, and his Son most shamefully up till now but that we have now given them their due reward.
    * * *

    I wish and I ask that our rulers who have Jewish subjects exercise a sharp mercy toward these wretched people, as suggested above, to see whether this might not help (though it is doubtful). They must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set in, proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish. They surely do not know what they are doing; moreover, as people possessed, they do not wish to know it, hear it, or learn it. There it would be wrong to be merciful and confirm them in their conduct. If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs, so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices and thus merit God’s wrath and be damned with them. I have done my duty. Now let everyone see to his. I am exonerated. ”
    * * *

    My essay, I hope, will furnish a Christian (who in any case has no desire to become a Jew) with enough material not only to defend himself against the blind, venomous Jews, but also to become the foe of the Jews’ malice, lying, and cursing, and to understand not only that their belief is false but that they are surely possessed by all devils. May Christ, our dear Lord, convert them mercifully and preserve us steadfastly and immovably in the knowledge of him, which is eternal life. Amen.

    Sources: Internet Medieval Sourcebook; From Luther’s Works, Volume 47: The Christian in Society IV, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971). pp 268­293.

    • RHiro says:



    • Joe America says:

      Luther confirms my point to Micha that when religions collide, then mankind fails the test of reason. Luther failed it. Oh, a great many Jews did too, no doubt. But these quotes are too much, for me. Luther lost the dignity of the path he had defined for so many.

  13. edgar lores says:

    Post 2. On Religion

    1. Before I go on to state why I do not concur, let me deal first with the call to dismantle all religion.

    2. Historically, in the evolution of mankind, religion has played an important role. Firstly, it has been the basis for social order and cohesion and, in providing answers to the question of why we are here, it has quelled existential terror.

    3. In our own experience as a nation, Catholicism and Islam have given us our cultural identity, overcoming the decentralizing force of tribalism, and furnishing the social glue that politics and political institutions alone cannot provide.

    4. Luther, with his Ninety-Five Theses, initiated the great schism in Christianity in that period known as the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

    5. Since the Enlightenment in the 18th century, Reason and Science have slowly ascended at the expense of faith. And since the announcement of God’s death by Nietzsche in 1882, mankind has lurched forward towards the secularism so evident in today’s growing number of agnostics and atheists.

    6. Today, as an individual, one can come out as having no faith and be admired for it. Today, whole nations are atheistic. But today also one can still be killed for apostasy.
    6.1. The world is divided into time zones. Some people, as in darkest Africa and indeed in certain portions of our archipelago, are still steeped in the time zone of superstition. A handful of people, mostly in individual homes in different parts of the world but mostly in the West, have advanced to the zone of no-belief. But most other people, the whole world over, continue to live in the time zone of the major religious mythologies.

    7. So religion not only continues to hold sway, but many still turn to religion as a refuge even in, or perhaps especially in, atheistic countries.

    8. Conclusion? It will be sometime for religions to go away. In fact, I daresay it will never go away. To paraphrase Voltaire, if religion does not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.

    8.1. Yes, religion at a higher level divides but it also at a lower level unites.

    8.2. It satisfies the hunger for spiritual individual needs and human fellowship that Reason and Science cannot satisfy, that these two will never be able to satisfy because they have their limits. Reason and Science can peer into the past and posit different theories of creation but they can never peer into the future and divine creation’s purpose.

    8.3. Even in non-theistic religions, such as Buddhism, the element of community is paramount.

    8.4. Only brave men and women are able to deny the comforts of religion and stay rational. This is perhaps so because pioneers, such as Diderot, Schopenhauer, Russell and Marx, have shown this to be possible. (Nietzsche did suffer complete loss of his mental faculties in the end, but this was proved to be due to brain cancer.)

    8.5. And as these brave souls live mostly in the regions of the mind, I would not be surprised if there is a certain aridity in their hearts.

    • Joe America says:

      So eloquent, with a surprising twist at the end. I find it interesting that the accountability that I am striving for in this blog seems to dissolve entirely when religion A crosses with religion B. The passions thrown into those beliefs defy common sense, as we see daily as we watch the stunning association of bishops with the corrupt. There are plenty of harsh words for a President trying to balance the many demands, many peoples, many religions. There are few harsh words for those who undermine the State, and even the moral principles of the peculiar religion, by defying God’s principles and stealing money paid honorably to the State.

      Time and space are elements of religion, for sure. Your 8.1 is a smack upside the head. 8.2 provides a certain salvation. And 8.5 smacks those who think they have it all figured out.

      Wonderful piece.

    • PinoyinEurope says:

      Protestantism was basically a station on the way to the Enlightenment in that it encouraged people to read the bible themselves and think about its meaning by themselves instead of just relying on the authority of the parish priest or the pope who understood it in Latin.

      Of course Protestantism has a bit of a fundamentalist touch to it – fundamentalist actually means back to the foundations which is what Luther did by going back to Bible truth – but this is because it came about as a PROTEST against the corruption of the faith. It had a political thing to it as well: a Germanic rebellion against Latin supremacy, and it is no surprise that the Protestant regions of Germany are mostly those that were not occupied by the Romans more than a thousand years earlier.

      One should not forget the power struggles that came about because of Luther – up to the Thirty Years War. But regarding Luthers attitude to the Jews – the Spanish did more or less the same things he suggested to Jews and Muslims in the areas in Iberia they reconquered. If for him even Catholics were evil how much more people from other religions. That is the thing about religion – I like the idea of being good, I like the idea of human community, but the exclusiveness of religions bothers me. Well for the Catholic establishment of his time Luther must have seemed very much like some kind of Taliban.

      • edgar lores says:


        1. All very perceptive and accurate observations.

        2. I think that the realization of the “exclusiveness of religions” is the beginning of spiritual wisdom. It certainly was the case for me. I found it unacceptable that if one religion is true, then countless others would be consigned to that one religion’s notion of hell.

  14. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    “People answers their prayers not God”
    One of the most entrenched everlasting principle of management is rooted in religion: “If people fails, blame the people. If they suceed it is because of divine intervention”. It’s present day corollary is “If Managers fail, blame the people below him. If he succeeds because he is a great manager”

    “Indulgences are root cause of Catholic countries corruption”
    Sinned? No problem. Pay off sins thru indulgences. Indulgences are religiously sanctioned form of ecclesiastical bribery.

    Root cause of Filipinos obsession with witness accounts and evidences are written in the form of affidavit, notarized, sealed, documentary stamped and witnessed, are also rooted in religion thru the Holy Book which is century old affidavits.

    “Those who have not sinned may throw the first stone”
    Since believers are all sinners, therefore, they cannot throw the first stone. If they did, there is no credibility. DAP and PDAF are good examples.

    “A Christian who gives to the poor or lends to those in need is doing better in God’s eyes than one who buys ‘forgiveness'”
    This is abused by the poor believers. They believe they have the right to my riches. Whenever I go back to the Philippines neighbor gather around expect money for alcohol. I do not give because of my distaste of alcohol-induced violence. They are not talking to me because I am SELFISH not SHARING. They screamed at me, “REMEMBER, MARIANO, WHERE YOU CAME FROM!!!”

    My parents had me baptized without my consultation when I was 2-months old. They said to ward off the evil spirits. They had me eat pigs brain so I can talk early. They brought me to Sto. Nino Church and have an old gnarled woman carry and danced me the Sinulog with three lit red candles.

    Now, I am free. I shirk God because I love Apple, like, the recently launched iPhone 6 Plus. My parents cannot believe why I am living a life Filipinos would drool and envy when I am an non-believer. Non-believers are inherently discriminated. In LA Twin Towers, we are under-represented. They say to us “Bless you”. I say, “I am an Atheist” and they push back like I have a Ebola Virus.

    • Joe America says:

      Ha, yes, well, you seem to be adept at pushing back, so I won’t worry too much. My problem with atheism is that, practiced avidly, it becomes exclusive just like religion. The second relates to Edgar’s 8.5, that there is a lot of joy/emotion/enrichment to be found in spiritual moments, or even superstition and the occult and things we don’t understand. Like, my first ex-wife is genuinely psychic, and I have experienced ghosts in the night, too noisy for my liking. So rationality only takes us part way to understanding. I enjoy most worship services myself – any denomination – for the spirituality and bonding. I just don’t like the rules and rites that are contrived.

  15. edgar lores says:

    Post 3. On Why I Do Not Concur

    I’m beginning to think I bit off more than I could chew. Nevertheless, to continue My Way…

    1. This post is quite long. Here is a summary:
    1.1. Luther rejected the external authority of the pope and advanced the authority of Scriptures. I reject the authority of Scriptures and also reject the prevailing interpretation of Scriptures. I advance the Gnostic interpretation of Scriptures. Finally, I posit that the gnosis, which can be traced to the beginnings of Greek philosophy and Eastern religious philosophy, is the ground of all being.
    1.2. If you want to know more, read on.

    2. If we examine Luther’s non-recantation, one is astonished by its brevity. Three sentences, excluding the concluding interjection, and the world, revolving around its axis, was never the same.

    3. What is significant in the non-recantation is in what was rejected and, equally, in what was accepted.

    3.1. What was rejected was the authority of the pope (and the councils of the Church).
    3.2. What was accepted was the paramountcy of (a) Scriptures; (b) Reason; and (c) Conscience.
    3.3. To my mind the great shift that occurred in the Catholic-Protestant schism was the rejection of external authority and in its place the crowning of individual interpretation of Scriptures using the guide of Reason and Conscience.

    4. If we next examine Scriptures, we know that it is a book of many books. Protestants, following in the tradition set by Luther, fully accept it to be the Word of God and the basis for all Christian teachings (sola scriptura). The Church does not adhere to this approach and includes Tradition as a secondary basis for Christian teaching (non sola scriptura).

    4.1. There are many side issues that surround this debate, such as what Tradition actually consists of, but what is confounding to me at first glance is that there is no consensus on what books should exactly compose the Bible. I am not a biblical scholar and will not delve into the complexities of canonical vs. noncanonical vs. deuterocanonical books, the Greek Septuagint vs. the Masoretic Text vs. the Vulgate, and so forth and so on.

    4.2. Suffice it to say that there are several significant versions and translations of the Bible, that the Catholic Bible has more books (73) than the Protestant Bible (66), and that there are many other books that are not included in either versions. Of significance are the discoveries in the last century in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library.

    4.3. The question arises: How can one accept the authority of the Bible (a) when there is not a single agreed-upon version; (b) when it is a mishmash of books of uncertain provenance; and (c) when it is riddled with internal contradictions?

    4.4. If Reason told Luther to reject the authority of the pope and church councils, must we not also then reject Luther’s acceptance and authority of Scriptures? Within the context of Christianity alone, and not considering the holy books of other religions, my answer is yes and no.
    4.4.1. Yes, because of item 4.3.
    4.4.2. No, because Scriptures has been a guide of moral human behavior and a fount of wisdom.

    5. As a non-scholarly synthesizer of religions (and non-religions), my view is that there is truth in all religions and also in non-religious systems. As a postmodernist, I hold that some of these religious truths are unique and subjective. As a post-postmodernist, I hold that some of these religious truths are common and objective.

    5.1. I also hold that, like water, we seek our own level in religion (or non-religion). Does this mean that some religions are superior to others? In my rational mind only moments, I would say yes. In my suprarational heart included moments, my preferred analogy is that of a rainbow. We resonate to different wave lengths in the color spectrum and together we make a rainbow.

    5.2. As a corollary, all religions are valid and occupy their own layer. Earth happens to be the vertical prism of their expression.

    6. Which brings me to Gnosticism.

    6.1. My preferred definition of Gnosticism is that it is “intuitive knowledge of spiritual truths that enables us to directly experience the divine.” Currently, I reject all cosmological concepts of Gnosticism, such as the demiurge. I am mainly interested in the central idea of gnosis which is variously interpreted as knowledge, enlightenment or oneness with God. As Elaine Pagels, the renowned religious scholar asserts, gnosis is not intellectual knowledge but self- knowledge. To me, it is our personal apprehension of the divine.

    6.2. If you look at the definition by Google, you will note that Gnosticism was a pre-Christian and Early Church movement. It was declared a heresy by the early church fathers, but interest in it has been revived with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945. This library includes important texts like The Apocryphon of John and the Gospel of Thomas.

    6.3. What I find interesting, as Pagels points out, is that the Gnostic tradition tends “to point beyond faith toward a path of solitary searching to find understanding, or gnosis.” Gnosticism, she continues, suggest that “the kingdom of God is not an event” but “an interior state” in consonance with Luke 17:20-21.

    7. In exchange for Luther’s ninety-five theses, I offer my five theses:

    7.1. Gnosis is the ground of all being. By this I mean that Essence, of which Consciousness is an attribute, is inherent in man and all of creation.

    7.2. Seed Gnosis is the knowledge we inherit by birth. I call this dormant or collective gnosis, and by this I refer to everything from the collective unconscious, archetypes, our religion and native culture in the space and time of our birth.

    7.3. Growth Gnosis is the knowledge we gain through life. I call this active or individual gnosis, and by this I refer to the unique personal realizations that are crystallized in our journey through life.

    7.4. True Gnosis is measured by its universality. By this I mean that the validity of both Seed and Growth Gnosis can be seen in the magnitude of its inclusiveness. The elements of inclusiveness can be tribes, concepts, nature up to and including the universe.

    7.5. True Gnosis ends in the perception of non-duality. By this I mean no matter what path we take as true seekers, we arrive at the realization of Oneness, that the inner is the outer and the outer is the inner.

    8. I realize, as I write this, is that I can expand each thesis with innumerable observations. I will just enumerate four:

    8.1. Most people live their lives in Seed Gnosis.

    8.2. Growth Gnosis can occur within the native religion of Seed Gnosis, and that native religion will continue to be the first and easy path to self-transcendence. Example: Sonny.

    8.3. Growth Gnosis is usually an excursion out of Seed Gnosis, and the conversion is usually triggered by a personal crisis, positive or negative, but usually negative. A car accident, a rejection, a love parting, the first death.

    8.4. The validity of all gnosis and spiritual experience should lead to the realization and acceptance of religious plurality.

    9. To end this quickly.

    9.1. Let us take a look at the fifth thesis in conjunction with the King James Version of Luke 17:20-21 which states “…Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you”.

    9.2. If we take this verse and apply it to the two greatest commandments, we transform our relationships with God and with our neighbour. By translating the dual elements of “I” and “It” into “I am Thou” we come to realize that there is no gulf, no separation between God and Self or between Neighbor and Self.

    9.3. The current understanding of Christianity is of a God that exists separately from us and indeed sits in judgment of us.

    9.4. But if we understand that God is within us, then the possibilities are enormous. A proper understanding of this radical interpretation can transform our world. For example:
    9.4.1. Gnosis as salvation is not in the hereafter, but it is in the here and now.
    9.4.2. God does not stand outside creation, and we are co-creators of the universe

    10. Some sources, references and further readings:
    10.1. Elaine Pagels. The Gnostic Gospels
    10.2. Elaine Pagels. Beyond Belief
    10.3. Martin Buber. I and Thou (Ich-Du)
    10.4 Greek philosophy. The aphorism of “Know thyself” in the Dialogues of Plato.
    10.5. Hinduism. Tat Tvam Asi (You Are That)
    10.6. Buddhism. Buddha-nature (All beings have the same fundamental nature and can attain enlightenment.)
    10.7. Buddhism. Anatta (The concept of no-self, that Self is an illusion.)

    P.S. The formulations of Manuel, Gerverg and even Micha are realizations of Growth Gnosis.

    • sonny says:

      Quite a grand synthesis you describe, Edgar. Am truly impressed. If you found and are still finding validation of your total experience (all of points in 9) and equates to either happiness or meaning, then that matters even in my economics.

    • Joe America says:

      I so very much enjoy and appreciate your intellectual parsings. Had my college instructors been equally deft at lining up the arguments, I probably would have been better attuned and received better grades. I particularly like your discussion on gnosticism, as it seems best to align with what I struggle to describe, the spiritual appreciation a non-church member can find through church services. “9.4.1 Gnosis as salvation is not in the hereafter, but it is in the here and now.”

      Yep. That is the accountability I’d like to see from the Catholic Church of the Philippines.

      • sonny says:

        The Catholic Church does make a distinction between temporal affairs and those that transcend time, between tribunals of the conscience and forensic tribunals of justice, not in contradictions but in assignations that will affect meting out justice and the common good.

    • Micha says:

      @edgar lores

      I can relate to our “oneness” with nature/living things/universe/whatever.

      Why call it God?

      • edgar lores says:


        There is no need to call IT anything. The function of naming is a human proclivity. It is a strength or a weakness depending on your point of view. And it determines your attitude to the Named Thing.

        I think the primary function of naming is to objectify, to make a thing distinct in and of itself, and to make a thing “real”. Having made a thing real has several consequences. Among other things:

        o It becomes an abstract.
        o It enables us to grasp it.
        o It enables us to manipulate it.
        o It enables us to communicate about it with others.
        o In time, we mistake the abstract for the thing itself.
        o In time, we can call up the conception absent the real thing.
        o In time, we lose perception of the real thing and only deal with the conception.

        All of the above is the process of what I call conditioning.

        Now as to the universe. One may see it as a thing or a process. Most religions see it as a thing, a product of this other thing called God (or these other things called deities). So they see the wonders of the universe and come to fear or worship its Creator. In time, they cease to see the wonders and only interact with this thing called God. (This is theism.)

        Others may see the wonders of the universe as process and may call it God. In time, they may not lose their sense of wonder, indeed the wonder may increase, and their reverence of It may also increase. (This is deism of Spinoza and Einstein.)

        Others may see the wonders of the universe as process and may not call it anything. In time, they may not lose their sense of wonder even though they have seen this part of it before. A grasshopper, a stone, a blade of grass is as mysterious now as it was before, and a part is a hologram of the whole. (This is the timeless perception of William Blake and Krishnamurti.)

        To me this last is the ideal. But this gift is only given to mystics… and I am not one.

        • edgar lores says:

          Just to add about conditioning and de-conditioning:

          Children are possessed by wonder. As we grow, we lose this sense of wonder. Having acquired a name for most phenomena, we become familiar with the world, and we learn to manipulate and master it.

          Can you remember your first experience of rain or snow? How do we regain the immense wonder that we felt?

          Matthew 18:3 admonishes: “…Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

          Conversion in this sense is the process of de-conditioning. This is described in Acts 9:18: “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”

          T.S. Eliot provides a secular description of de-conditioning: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

        • Micha says:

          Sam Harris delved into mysticism at some point and may have found it wanting. He’s got a new book laying out the case that one can be spiritual sans belief in the so-called supernatural. Another axe struck into the delusional heart of organized religion.

          Our connection or “Oneness” with the universe is undeniable because every single atom in our bodies came from the stars or, more precisely, from exploding stars which gave off a profusion of elements now found in our periodic table. As L. Krauss so eloquently stated, forget Jesus, stars died so we may have life.

          • edgar lores says:

            1. Clearly Sam Harris is not a mystic. 🙂
            1.1. From my view, mystics have a more unfettered perception of the world. This does not mean that they are perfect. It just means that their vision is more perfect than others.

            1.2. Totally agree with Sam that spirituality is not coincidental with religion. I would go so far as to say that there is an inverse relationship between the two.

            2. The notion that we are star children has been around for some time. It is not only a true notion but a beautiful one.

            2.1. I think I might prefer de Grasse to L. Krauss: “Not only are we in the universe, the universe is in us. I don’t know of any deeper spiritual feeling than what that brings upon me.” That’s almost… mystical.

            • Micha says:

              “We are matter which became conscious of itself” – Julian Huxley

            • Micha says:

              “Matter is the matrix upon which spirit is being woven.” – Teilhard de Chardin

              • edgar lores says:

                Ahaha! Thanks mucho.

                Let’s not forget Einstein:

                1. “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

                2. “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.”

                They all say the same thing. But in a way, all of these quotes are only semi-profound because they make the human error of distinguishing matter from consciousness, self from non-self. The last quote by Einstein feels to me to be the closest to where I would like to be because apart from the observation of distinction it suggests a direction.

                In that the universe consists of our perception, we are the universe. There is no distinction.

              • edgar lores says:

                I might add, on second thought, that the direction Einstein suggests is nothing less and nothing else but Jesus’ two greatest commandments.

                At their apexes, the vertices of faith (Religion) and reason (Science) do converge.

              • Micha says:

                For all his brilliance, Einstein propounded a static universe. He inserted the cosmological constant in his general relativity equations to accommodate the idea of a static state which he later called the greatest blunder of his life in reaction to Hubble’s discovery of an expanding universe.

                So, 3 things:

                1. the universe is on the move
                2. dark energy is the dominant force
                3. there may as yet be a bubble-bath of universes out there.

                Overall, exciting times ahead in the fields of physics and cosmology as the universe never seems to run out of surprises and mysteries the human mind struggles to understand.

  16. sonny says:

    “Let us redefine “indulgence” in the following way to make the 95 theses relevant to today:

    Indulgence: The practice of gaining forgiveness by uttering words from the head and not the heart.”

    Joe, by doing this then the auditing objective of this blog installment directed at Catholicism is rendered inactive. The reason being, this meaning of indulgence is nowhere near the way Catholic doctrine and practice understands and uses the term.

    • Joe America says:

      Okay, sonny. I accept that. My object in writing the blog was not to challenge Catholic doctrine, but to challenge the tendency of many to refuse to accept accountability for bad behavior. In that sense, Luther does not accept excuses for an individual’s personal responsibility to be honest and honorable about sins. He argued that Church practice encouraged false confessions.

      • sonny says:

        I absolutely agree with this, that one, as you elegantly point out, can call out the Church on theses 9, 11, 41, 92. Yet the policing function cannot be undertaken by the agents of the Church without hamstringing her grace dispensing function to the individual penitent in the tribunal of conscience. Much if not all responsibility is addressed by God to the penitent asking His forgiveness. He shows this dynamic in the relationship of the prophet Hosea and his prostitute wife as a metaphor of God always forgiving the sincere penitent. (I hope I am understanding this right)

  17. Letlet says:

    Here are some of the more important Scriptural references that address church authority

    And Jesus came to them ” All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. ” ( Mt. 28: 18 – 20 )
    This brief passage contains several critical points bout church authority
    – Jesus tells the Apostles that the authority he is giving them derives from His own Divine authority
    – The Apostles authority and mission comes directly from Christ himself
    – The nature of this mission is to lead or govern (” make disciples”), sanctify (” baptizing them”) and teach (” teaching them to observe”)

    And I tell you, ” you are Peter and on this rock, I will build My Church, and the powers of Death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose is earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” (Mt. 16: 18 – 19)
    This is a key passage for understanding the Catholic doctrine of church authority:
    – Christ deliberate intent to establish a new church (” I will build My church”)
    – His choice of Peter as the foundation, or head of this church
    – Christ confers first to Peter (” the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven”) and his successors (the Pope), and then to the rest of the apostles and their successors ( the other bishops) in union with Peter

    • Lettuce8383tangaro says:

      Myths about Indulgences: Catholic Answers Link – http://www.catholic.com/tracts / myths

      What is an indulgence? The church explains ” an indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has been already been forgiven.

      What are the most seven most common myths about indulgence?

      Myth 1: A person can buy his way out of hell with indulgences. The charge is without foundation. Since indulgences remit only temporal penalties, they can’t remit the eternal penalty of hell. Once a person is in hell, no amount of indulgences will ever change that fact. The only way to avoid hell is by appealing to God’s eternal mercy, while still alive. After death, one’ eternal fate is set.

      Myth 2: A person can buy indulgences for sins not yet committed. The church has always taught that indulgences don’t apply to sins not yet committed. An indulgence is not a permission to commit sins, nor a pardon of future sins, neither could be granted by any power.

      Myth 3: A person can buy forgiveness with indulgence. The definition of indulgence presupposes that forgiveness has already taken ” An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven”. They deal only with punishment left after sins have been forgiven.

      Myth 4: Indulgences were invented as a means for the church to raise money. Indulgence developed from reflection on the sacrament of reconciliation. They were in use centuries before money – related problems appeared.

      Myth 5: An indulgence will shorten your time in purgatory by a fixed number of days. The number of days which used to be attached to indulgences were references to the period of penance one might undergo during life on earth.

      Myth 6: A person can buy indulgences. The Council of Trent instituted severe reforms in the practice of granting indulgences and because of prior abuses ” in 1567 Pope Pius cancelled all grants of indulgences involving any fees or other financial transactions”.

      Myth 7. A person used to be able to buy indulgences. One could never buy indulgences. The financial scandal involving indulgences that gave Martin Luther an excuse for his heterodoxy, involved alms – indulgences in which the giving of alms to some charitable fund or foundation was used to grant the indulgence. There was no outright selling of indulgences. Among the good works by being made the condition of an indulgence, almsgiving would naturally hold a conspicuous place. To give money to God or to help the poor is a praiseworthy act, and, when, it is done from the right motive, it will surely not go unrewarded.
      Does the Catholic Church still sell indulgences?

      The Catholic Church does not now nor has it approved the sale of indulgences. the german Dominican Johann Tetzel (1465 – 1519) did sell indulgences – but in doing so they acted contrary to explicit Church regulations. This practice is utterly opposed to the Catholic Church’ s teaching on indulgences, and it can’t be regarded as teaching/ practice of the Church.

      In the 16th century, the abuse of indulgences was at its height, Cardinal Cajetan (1469 – 1534) wrote about the problem:” Preachers act in then name of the Church; but if they teach, guided by their own mind and arbitrariness of will, things of which they are ignorant, they can’t pass as representatives of the Church; it need not be wondered at that they go astray.”
      Former rector of Quiapo Church, Monsignor Ramirez reportedly brought the image of the Black Nazarene on a number of occasions to Napoles house where they would hear mass, and has confirmed that he receives from her a monthly stipend of 150,000 ps. He also admitted he received ” million ps from Napoles. This is a glaring exemplar of selling of indulgences.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. There is an attempt at obfuscation here in the term “church authority”.
      1.1. The term “church” simply refers to a group of believers.
      1.2. It does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).
      1.3. The term “church authority” gives the mistaken and erroneous impression that the RCC has been given the sole authority to spread Christ’s message. This is simply not true.

      2. The interpretation of Peter as the cornerstone for Christ’s church is open to question.
      2.1. In the context of Matthew 16:13-20, it can be understood that Christ is referring to himself as the foundation of the Church. The antecedent of Verse 18 is verse 16.
      2.2. The RCC interpretation is mythology to arrogate biblical authority unto itself.

      3. There are several versions of the Apostolic Succession.
      3.1. Some versions refer to the spiritual continuity in doctrinal teaching from biblical times to the present.
      3.2. The RCC version is that of a personal continuity from Peter through to the apostles, to the bishops and to the popes.
      3.3. The Petrine version is a myth to legitimize the RCC’s claim of authority.

    • sonny says:

      Allow me to link to an expanded presentation of what Letlet has started here: Christ’s Church and her beginnings, her constitution, her authority and other matters pertaining to her identity:


  18. JM says:

    Interesting read. I really disagree with threatening people that they will go to hell if they do bad things. You are only doing “good” because you are afraid? That’s just pitiful.

    I too have my own faith (Similar to Deism). There are no formal rules. I just don’t do to others what I don’t want them to do to me. So I don’t kill, steal, etc. Mostly common sense, I guess. No jihad, or whipping my back. I help other people from time to time because sometimes I care. I do however, can tolerate Catholics. My girl is one and she brings me to masses, “feast” with bo sanchez, etc. It’s ok, most makes sense and she tends to be happier when I join her. The religions that I can’t tolerate however are the ones that promotes ignorance (Earth is less than 10,000 years old, There is no such thing as Evolution). Information is right in front of them and they choose to ignore it and believe in their cult.

    • Joe America says:

      You are impeccably rational, JM.

      • letlet says:

        @ edgar

        On Church authority and on Peter, my primary basis in believing on these teachings / doctrines are the Four Gospels of Jesus. I have my profound belief and you have your own profound belief, and I utterly respect your belief. I do attend Bible Study and our spiritual director noted me on how I inquisitioned him on the teachings of Jesus / the Word of God. I also attend novena prayer of Jesus Divine Mercy and A Day with Mary. I have been joining pilgrimages to Holy Land- with whom our tour guide becomes our harbinger on the Word of God, I ‘ve been to Our Lady of Fatima (Portugal), Our Lady of Lourdes ( France), St James Cathedral ( Compostela,Spain), Vatican (Rome), etc. I know at my age what to believe as far as religion is concerned. No one will and can forced me to believe / do anything on religious matters. Again, I respect your belief.

        • edgar lores says:


          Thanks. You see, this is the problem I have. One side of my brain attempts to see truth in all religions. But the other side stutters to a stop when it sees the particular claims of a religion, especially claims that are open to question. As JoeAm says, this is a “tricky topic”.

          So the ethical dilemma for me arises: Do I, in respect of the other, hold my tongue in silence? Or do I, in respect of what I perceive to be the “truth”, sally forth to say my piece?

          In certain public places, I will probably hold my peace. But in certain forums like this, where discussion and the free exchange of opinions are the reasons for their being in the hope that a higher consensus can be arrived at, then I must, like Don Quixote, joust with windmills.

          Now to me, your original post is a regurgitation of church propaganda, and I have laid out the reasons why. If you study in some detail early church history, the situation is not as smooth as the Church would like us to believe. Christianity had many offshoots but the particular branch that set out the supremacy of papal authority triumphed. To establish that supremacy, it was but natural for the Church to legitimize its claims by establishing a link directly to the Christ.

          But here comes the paradox: Christianity has reigned in the Western world for some odd 2,000 years. Do Christians behave as the Christ did? Sadly, the answer is no.

          Has the Church stood as a faultless institution of spirituality and morality? Sadly, the answer is no.

          In your devotion, you practice, by your own testimony, the first of the Greatest Commandments. You may also practice the second. I say, well and good. But do the majority of Christians practice the second? Sadly, the answer is no.

          We are all pilgrims… although we have different holy sites.

          There is no question of force here – except by force of reason (mind) and by force of sentiment (heart).

          The measure of any religion in my view is in thesis 4 (universality) and 5 (nonduality) that I have outlined in my third post. These two are, I now realize, a reinterpretation of Jesus’ two greatest commandments.

          • letlet says:

            Everyone is saying theirs is the truth. As human beings, God has given us the free will to do what we want to do but choose with responsibility and respect. Our spiritual director in the bible study says that majority of christians / caatholic don’t exhibit the two C’s – Christ and conscience, thus, corruption is a social cancer that is eating the innermost flesh of the society.

            You have the right to trumpet your tenets of beliefs / principles and we the recipients may or may not imbibe them depending on our religious orientations.

            Go forth and proclaim your own gospel, as such, it broadens our minds. I know you belong to the cream of the cream of the intellectuals.

            • edgar lores says:


              Thank you. I do not claim to know the truth. I am a seeker. I do perceive some “truths” but I do not trumpet them. I advance them in the hope that we may come to a better understanding of ourselves and of the universe. And, as you say, you are free to imbibe them or not.

              If you do not imbibe them, I would like, as a seeker, to know why… in order that I may improve my understanding. If you can demolish the ideas that I advance then I would be delighted – after, of course, morosely sulking in a corner.

              I do not consider myself to be an intellectual. That is neither here nor there. We are all equals here. What I do have is a certain passion for gnosis.

              Now I do agree that there is a lack of Christ and conscience in Christians. I have said that – or rather asked that – in my question: Do the majority of Christians practice the second greatest commandment? And I offer my respect to you in your acknowledgment of the issue.

              In asking this question I do partially condemn the failure of the Church. But my concern is in knowing the reason for that failure. Is it the message or the messenger?

              I will note that Catholics tend to defend the institution of the Church rather than to proclaim Christ’s message and their practice of it. Why is that so? What is more important – the message or the messenger? Why do Catholics identify with the Church rather than with Jesus? Again, this question is in consonance with your statement that Catholics do not exhibit Christ.

              I will note further that this behavior is also true in the followers of religions that do not embrace pluralism. The religions of the East, in particular Hinduism and Buddhism, are more inclusive. So we come full circle and encounter another paradox: It would seem that the possession of the truth does not set us free. This seems to be especially true of people who claim sole possession of the truth.

            • sonny says:

              Letlet, Edgar, with respect allow me this interruption.

              I totally know and agree where Letlet is coming from when she (I presume) brought in the subject of authority as understood by Catholics. Here is a reply to Letlet that I did not submit. The reason for this is my agreement with what she said:

              “Letlet has cut to the chase by describing what the Catholic Church is all about: Christ founded this Church, and she in turn has authored by decree the Sacred Scriptures, and by virtue of the Keys possesses the SOLE Teaching Authority (Magisterium) over faith and morals and complemented for all time by the TRADITION (Deposit of Faith) that she will abide by. This is the short form that any rational person is invited to investigate. For babies born into Catholic families, their inheritance is drawn initially at the sacrament of Baptism by proxy by their parents. As he or she grows and develops, home and community surround him or her to remind of this inheritance until as adults he/she draws or not draw. In short, choices are made and nurtured accordingly.”

              This statement is axiomatic for me and Letlet (as I gather from her statement). The fact that Letlet brought this in, in the terminology that she used, I surely recognized her as a believing Catholic in agreement with the orthodoxy of Rome.

              On the other hand, I recognize the intellectual journey of Edgar as regards his opinion of the RCC and Catholics and also regarding his journey into comparative philosophy and theology. Now, correct me if I am wrong, Edgar. Your interpretation of Letlet’s position is loaded with mild animus and that is how you come across to Letlet. Correct me too, Letlet, if I am reading things wrong.

              For me, I refrain from picking a full apologetics position on points Catholic (doctrine, Scripture, Morals, History) except on those where I can confidently shed light rather heat.

              • edgar lores says:


                Thanks. Let me break this quote up:

                1. “Christ founded this Church”
                1.1. It should be the other way round. Jesus did not personally establish the Church. The Church is based on Christ’s teachings.
                1.2. The way the statement is worded, preeminence is given to the Church as if Christ established the one and only Church.
                1.3. And as I noted the original meaning of “church” does not refer to the RCC. It refers to believers.

                2. “…and she in turn has authored by decree the Sacred Scriptures”
                2.1. The Church did not write the Bible.
                2.2. She merely compiled the texts – and arbitrarily at that as I maintain in my third post.

                3. “…and by virtue of the Keys possesses the SOLE Teaching Authority (Magisterium) over faith and morals”
                3.1. The phrase “by virtue of the Keys” seems to refer to Christ handing the “keys” of his church allegedly to Peter. If this is within the context of Matthew 16:13-20, then this is arguably a misrepresentation by the Church.
                3.2. And why would that give SOLE Teaching Authority to the Church? This claim is based on the RCC version of the Apostolic Succession which is fiction.
                3.3. This was a point of Luther’s non-recantation: the Church cannot be the SOLE authority.

                4. “… and complemented for all time by the TRADITION (Deposit of Faith) that she will abide by.”
                4.1. I have no quarrel with this except to say that the Church seems to want it both ways: it will use certain parts of the Bible as justification and ignore other parts that are inconvenient.

                My objections are to: (1.a) the arrogance of the Church in its various claims as being the one and true church and (1.b) as the sole authority of Christ teachings; and (2) the pressing of these claims and the bases of these claims.

                I honor Letlet’s and your acceptance of the authority of the Church. But permit me to state my reasons for objecting to that authority when you present the bases of that authority and bring it into discussion. After all, you have the opportunity to rebut my points. More importantly, in the spirit of open enquiry and healthy skepticism, the discussion may open up avenues to deepen your knowledge and refine your faith.

                From my perspective, the claims of the Church should not impact your faith in Jesus.

                Your refrainment in this regard, Sonny, is well taken.

                Animus is defined as “ill-will”. No, I do not carry ill-will. I will admit to some vexation of spirit.

  19. edgar lores says:

    My apologies to JoeAm for building a “Torre de Manila” on his real estate.

    • Joe America says:

      Your buildings, whether vexed or serene, are always welcome in whatever shape they might take. The landscape is always better for them.

      • i7sharp says:

        Let me jump in on what seems to be the 76th comment (JoeAm’s).

        With all due respect, may I suggest that the Philippines convert to … “Christianity”?

        The home country is said to be as high as 93% Christian.
        93% Christian?
        “Christian” by what measure or definition?

        Perhaps we should define “Christian.”

        How many Catholic churchgoers have read or heard this?
        “Search the scriptures … they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39
        (The quotation is from the KJV – which the Catholic Church will probably never use.)

        Did any of the popes (including the present one) really care about the scriptures?
        Please cite examples of it.

        Has anyone here checked lately where the “Sacred Sciptures” are in the Vatican website?

        The last time I looked (about a week or two ago), the NAB (New American Bible) is the Sacred Scripture.
        At the site the scriptures seem to be available in five (5) languages.

        Good as Martin Luther may have been, Jose Rizal is just as good (if not more so – in some ways).
        Sure we could learn from Luther. So can we from Rizal.

        What can we learn from Rizal?
        For one thing, he was unceremoniously buried (by the Catholic Church) without so much as a coffin.


        • Joe America says:

          @i7sharp, comment #77, We have two cemeteries in town, one Catholic and the other for the rest of us. The one for the rest of us is off some woebegotten path down in a ravine subject to all kinds of natural prey, from water to rodents. The Catholic cemetery is huge and flat, stacks upon stacks of cement boxes above ground, the below ground plots having been filled some time ago, their wooden crosses in worn and forgotten shape. It is fairly well kept, but most of the tending is by people who stop by with candles and flowers and prayers to remember the passed. My wife and I are unlikely to be buried together, as she has the necessary credentials for a stacked box and I qualify for the rodents. I doubt I’ll protest much, but get a twinge of sadness if I think about it.

          But I digress. I have been observing the protests about the condo tower behind the Rizal statue in Manila, and note that there is a kind of religious fervor flowing from that. It leads me to believe that religions flourish under some common conditions: (1) a people, troubled by poverty and earthly or manly travails, as did 1890’s Filipinos under the Spanish Catholic rulers, and as do many today under rule by the entitled, and (2) a really smart guy who got abused and done away with, as did both Jesus and Rizal. It may be taking Jose a little longer than three days to climb from his grave, but in a way, I hope he makes it. He was an amazing guy. All we need do is craft a book of allegorical lessons that can stand as the new scriptures.

        • sonny says:


          “Did any of the popes (including the present one) really care about the scriptures?
          Please cite examples of it.”

          Answer: Yes. 3 popes wrote encyclicals on Sacred Scriptures: 1943 Pius XII, 1920 Benedict XV, 1893 Leo XIII.

          Pius XII: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_30091943_divino-afflante-spiritu_en.html

          Benedict XV: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xv/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xv_enc_15091920_spiritus-paraclitus_en.html

          Leo XIII: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_18111893_providentissimus-deus_en.html

          “Has anyone here checked lately where the “Sacred Sciptures” are in the Vatican website?
          The last time I looked (about a week or two ago), the NAB (New American Bible) is the Sacred Scripture.
          At the site the scriptures seem to be available in five (5) languages.”

          FYI: The Vatican website and other diocesan websites carry NEW AMERICAN BIBLE translation. Probably most if not all Catholic churches carry this English translation and 4 other language translations. The ordinary Catholic prays the Scriptures on Sundays at Holy Mass. The complete Scriptures are prayed at Mass in 3-year cycles.


          • i7sharp says:


            Thank you for your comments.

            btw, I was born and raised Roman Catholic (in the Philippines). I was relatively active in the church: did reading during Mass, was a program director and 3rd degree member of the KofC. I left the RCC when I just over 40. It was not for doctrinal reasons; I just felt I could unburden myself with a Protestant church near my then residence (in California) during a very trying period.

            Not too long after I had left the RCC, about twenty years ago, I found myself in a bible study group composed of over a dozen colleagues in the office. None of us was a bible scholar. Each seemed to use his/her own favorite bible version. There were times we read together particular verses – and cacophony would reign.

            It was in that bible study group that I became curious about the King James Bible or KJB or KJV.
            You see, the bible study guide we were using (Word Alive! or something) recommended four English versions – including the version (the NIV) I was using at the time.

            The KJV was not among the four. Out of curiosity, I started to do some research.

            Having said, let me cut to the chase:
            Not a bible scholar, still fallible and sinful, I nevertheless feel certain that the KJV is “the scriptures.”
            When I read John 5:39 (“Search the scriptures …”) and Acts 17:11 (“… searched the scriptures daily …”), I think of the KJV.
            I am among those who use the KJV only who can be found here and there. I do not belong to any “KJV-only” group – presuming there are such organized group.

            (I believe I have read somewhere that JoeAm used to use the KJV. I could be wrong.)

            Sonny, what do you think is wrong with my belief?

            To all:
            Before Filipinos convert to anything, perhaps they (the 93% of the home country who are supposed to be Christian) should read and search the scriptures first.

            But *which* scriptures are we talking about?
            The NAB (which, by the way, have been “improved” many times: RNAB, ARNAB, NABRE)?
            There will probably be no agreement or consensus on the matter.

            But why not try looking for “errors” in the KJV – especially those that the NAB and other versions had gotten right?

            If there are errors in the KJV, where could “the pure word of God” be?

            ps I believe only God knows exactly who a Christian is. After all, it is He Who does the choosing. (see Ephesians chapter 1)
            Therefore, while I do not claim to be a Christian, I fervently hope and pray I am one:
            Saved by grace through faith (the faith of Jesus Christ) alone.

            • sonny says:

              “Sonny, what do you think is wrong with my belief?”

              Since you differentiate CHRISTIAN from CATHOLIC, for me the two are 100% synonymous. The term CATHOLIC was originally used in 110 A.D. to refer to the early Christian communities by St Ignatius, third bishop of Antioch. To this day, Christians who follow the Bishop of Rome are called Catholics.

              “To all:
              Before Filipinos convert to anything, perhaps they (the 93% of the home country who are supposed to be Christian) should read and search the scriptures first.”
              This will probably not happen any time soon. There is too much revealed and human knowledge & wisdom to be mined in Catholicism. How to be like our Lord has been mastered by the Saints, both canonized and not canonized. Their record of their lives are almost all accessible. (FYI. St Thomas Aquinas and St Isidore of Seville memorized the whole Bible. Both are Doctors of the Church)

              “But *which* scriptures are we talking about?”
              THE NAB IS THE TRANSLATION OF CHOICE in the Catholic Church because it is error-free and easy to understand, and well-annotated. It was translated from the originals available from the Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic. These oldest originals are found in the Catholic Church.

              • sonny says:

                @ i7star cont’d

                “But why not try looking for “errors” in the KJV – especially those that the NAB and other versions had gotten right?”

                IMO, THE KJV IS BEAUTIFUL TO READ. THE NAB TRANSLATION IS A CLOSE SECOND. I’ll try to research why the KJV is not used by for wide use among Catholics. I myself use MSGR KNOX TRANSLATION, THE NAVARRE BIBLE FOR MY PRIVATE READING. The KJV, by the way, is error-free also.

                “If there are errors in the KJV, where could “the pure word of God” be?”


              • sonny says:

                @ i7sharp cont’d

                Here’s a footnote to why Catholics do not use the KJV.


            • Joe America says:

              The King James Version was indeed my bible when I was doing my bible studies as a youth. I still have a fondness for it, but really search for the lessons around the words rather than the particulars. So, in my state of ignorance, any version usually works.

              • edgar lores says:

                Verily, verily, I say unto you, there is nothing, but nothing, to compare to the KJV for sheer poetry.

  20. edgar lores says:


    I find your comments to be very sincere. Allow me to respond to some of them:

    Q1. “Did any of the popes really care about the Scriptures?”
    A1. Although baptised a Methodist, I did attend Catholic mass as a child a long, long time ago. I am quite certain at that time that Catholics were actively discouraged, if not forbidden, to read the Bible.
    A1.1. The prohibition arose from the Church’s imposition of papal and institutional authority. The Church has always claimed indefectibility, and in past centuries she has shown little faith in the intelligence of the faithful. That attitude persists to this day on many issues.
    A1.2. I am aware that as of the second half of the last century, the Church has changed her policy and now allows the faithful to read the Bible.

    Q2. “If there are errors in the KJV, where could the ‘the pure word of God’ be?”
    A2.1. Excellent question. As I have indicated, I do favour the poetic language of the KJV.
    A2.2. I think that no matter what version of the Bible you use, there will always be ambiguity.
    A2.3. On one hand, this is bad because it leads to relativism, there being no one interpretation of – and consequently no consensus on – the truth.

    A2.4. On the other hand, this is good because it allows us to take whatever understanding we can get from it, and to assign whatever understanding we are prepared to give it.
    A2.5. Significantly, the Bible endorses my view in Matthew 16:19.

    Q3. “I believe only God knows exactly who a Christian is.”
    A3.1. It is my contention that Christ’s teachings have been misinterpreted not only by the Church but by the major streams of contemporary Christendom.
    A3.2. My variance with major streams is in the notion that God is an external Being, distinct and separate from us. I do not see the divine as an anthropomorphic Being at all. I see the divine as inherent and immanent in us and in all things.

    A3.3. An implication of this is that I understand a Christian to be as one who – not follows Jesus – but is Jesus. Jesus is not only the Son of God but also the Son of Man. He and you and I are the Word made flesh.
    A3.4. I read that the phrase “only begotten” can mean “only”, or “only one”, or “legitimate”, or “special”. I will take it to mean in its widest sense that we are all special, the only begotten Sons of God.

    A3.5. So in John 14:6 when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” I take this to mean that all the Sons of Man, who are also the Sons of God, must follow his own special path to divinity.
    A3.6. Our separation from God is an illusion. As I have noted previously, “I” and “Thou” are one and the same.

    A3.7. My analogy is: we are an individual particle, a drop of water in a wave that travels the ocean. As a particle we are Growth Gnosis, a part of the wave which is Seed Gnosis. Inevitably, we fall back into the great ocean… and we discover we are the ocean. This perspective is all-inclusive pluralism.
    A3.8. Try reading the Bible, especially the gospel of John, from my interpretation as if you were Jesus, as if you were the light. You may, or you may not, experience a… revelation.

    • sonny says:

      “A1.1. The prohibition arose from the Church’s imposition of papal and institutional authority. The Church has always claimed indefectibility, and in past centuries she has shown little faith in the intelligence of the faithful. That attitude persists to this day on many issues.”

      Edgar, pls explain Church indefectibility as related to the intelligence of the faithful and “centuries” of this state.

      “A1.2. I am aware that as of the second half of the last century, the Church has changed her policy and now allows the faithful to read the Bible.”



      I am already long in tooth. My education is almost entirely in Catholic schools, I don’t remember any instance where I was prevented from reading the Bible nor any Catholic school ever insult my intelligence. The opposite was true. I learned from these schools that my freedom was of paramount value to exercise.in learning and living to accomplish my calling as a child of God. This is the Catholic cookie cutter that I am proud of !

      • edgar lores says:


        Didn’t you know that the Church discouraged believers from reading the Bible? if you google “do catholics read the bible” you will find support for my assertion. We are of the same age, and I find it curious that you were not aware of church policy in this regard. The reason, perhaps, is that you grew up in our country and I grew up elsewhere.

        This discouragement of Bible-reading alone supports my claim of the Church’s false claim to indefectibility that in the extreme can be found in the doctrine of papal infallibility. The Church is hierarchical, authoritarian and coercive. You don’t believe me? Look at the history of Catholicism in the Philippines, how the Church controlled the state. Not to put a fine point to it, but the Church was complicit in the death of some of our heroes. Look at present-day Philippines, and see how the CBCP attempts to manage personal and secular national agenda.

        Catholics are asked to submit to the authority of the Church. The Church allows you to read Scriptures, but does not allow private interpretation. No interpretation of the Bible can contradict Catholic teaching. And yet some Catholic practices contradict what is in the Bible. You can google what I am saying, and you will find extensive support for what I say. You can meditate on scriptural verses, and find a light within you that is not compatible with Church teachings. Note that I do not rely on googling alone as I speak from personal knowledge and insight.

        Certainly, the Church may encourage learning but it is channeled, and there is no true spirit of inquiry. This is part of the insult to intelligence that I speak of. Evidence? The Church condemns anything unorthodox as heresy. There is a long list of heresies that you can google. And there is an equally long list of heretics that stretches from the era after Christ’s death up to the time of Luther and into the modern era. Giordano was burned at the stake. Or take de Chardin, for another example, whose writings were banned, who was forbidden to teach, but who has been brought back into the bosom of the Church – posthumously, I might add.

        It is not for me to prove alone the claims that I make from personal knowledge. I have given you a general idea of my thinking and I have listed some references. And it would take us forever and a day to discuss specifics. You can deny my claims and be secure in your belief. My advice is for you to stay in Seed Gnosis, as you are comfortable there. Spirituality can coincide with religion. But if it is important to you, you may research my claims on your own, keeping your mind open, and grow. As I indicated, water seeks its own level.

  21. i7sharp says:

    I don’t know (because I have not really checked) what Leonardo da Vinci’s religious beliefs are but I like his “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

    How are these for simplicity:
    1. I am the truth.
    2. Search the scriptures … they are they which testify of me.
    3. The truth shall make you free.
    4. When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.

    In the book of John, “truth” is mentioned, if I counted right, 27 times – the 27th time being,
    “What is truth?” – in John 8:38

    From my fallible viewpoint, the truth is what you find in the scriptures – and only in the scriptures alone.

    But *where* are the scriptures? Where is *the* word of God, the Bible?

    My belief is … the King James Bible is *the* word of God.

    It should be easy or simple to prove me wrong:
    1. Find an error in the KJV – and show where, in another version, is the truth.
    2. Name another bible or version that is more accurate than the KJV

    The NAB is the word of God?
    Some people, including, some Catholics do not seem to think so.
    See http://www.firstthings.com/article/2001/05/bible-babel

    Before Filipinos convert to anything, they should first make sure they know where the scriptures are.
    In most cases, they use so-called bibles that have added to and/or taken away from the word of God – in violation or wanton disregard of God’s warnings found in Revelation 22:18, 19.


    • Joe America says:

      The additions and subtractions from the bible are rather confusing, as if teams of mankind can be like the Supreme Court and overrule God on what he includes in his instructions. I find the arguments impossible to resolve, because everyone has a good reason for the adaption. I tend to read for the lessons and how they speak to my heart, more than head. So they represent my truths, and I don’t impose them on others except in the exercise of reason.

      • i7sharp says:


        I believe there are simple ways to resolve arguments.

        One of the ways is to start from the very beginning of the Bible,
        Genesis 1:1, where we can already see differences in translations.

        The KJV says “heaven.”
        – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

        The NAB (and many other modern versions) say “heavens.”

        Exercising due diligence, one can resolve this pretty quickly – and actually see, in my opinion, that the KJV is correct.

        Another way is to google for information such as those found in the First Things article,

        The author seems to be very knowledgeable such that it is definitely worth looking into the version that he prefers over the KJV: the RSV (Revised Standard Version).

        In my next post, I hope to be able to show – using a very simple example – that the RSV cannot be trusted.


        • sonny says:

          here’s an excerpt from Raymond Brown on the Bible. (He is a biblical scholar. Why listen to scholars? The original authors of the books of the Bible are centuries removed from us the current readers of the the Holy Book. They are our best connections to the language and meaning of the inspired authors. We, in these century, are lucky to have mostly error-free translations and can be read in equal security by anybody, Catholic, Protestant, Christian, etc. IMO, Stay away from the bible of Jehovah’s witnesses)

          Q: What is the best Bible to read?

          RB: The most appropriate Bible translation must be judged from one’s purpose in reading. Public reading, as on Sunday or in other communal services, requires a certain solemnity: therefore, highly colloquial translations are not appropriate for that purpose. Private reading, on the other hand, for the purpose of spiritual reflection and refreshment, is sometimes best served by a translation that has an eye-catching, “user friendly” syle. Other private reading is for the purpose of careful study; and then a more literal translation that preserves the difficulties and ambiguties of the original would be more desirable.
          Perhaps the best overall answer I can give you is to point out that in the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts of the biblical books, there are phrases that are difficult to understand or are ambiguous. Sometimes the authors did not write clearly. Translators have to guess at meaning a certain percentage of the time. Therefore they must make a choice to translate literally and preserve the obscurity of the original or to translate freely and resolve the ambiguity of the original. A literal translation needs to be accompanied by footnotes or commentary suggesting possible resolutions of the obscurity that has been preserved in the translation. A free translation represents a choice already made by the translators as to what they think an obscure passage means. In a sense the commentary is built into the translated text. For that reason a free translation is easier to read but harder to make the subject of careful study.

        • sonny says:

          PS. Father Richard Neuhaus is a saintly man. He is a convert to Catholicism. His devotion to our Lord is genuine before or after his conversion


          • i7sharp says:

            Sonny, thank you for your input.

            Fr. Neuhaus wrote in
            “If I had the authority,” declared the leader of an evangelical parachurch empire, “I’d almost be ready to decree that we go back to the King James.” That in response to my having written here that, if I had the authority, everybody would use the Revised Standard Version.

            Here is the very simple example that I said can show that the RSV cannot be trusted:
            2 Chronicles 4:5
            “… it held over three thousand baths.”
            The KJV renders the verse as “… it received and held three thousand baths.”

            I say it is very simple because the very simple word, “received,” that you find in the KJV translation of the verse has disappeared from the RSV …
            – as well as from many other versions as you can see here:
            (More on 2 Chronicles 4:5 – and a related verse, 1 Kings 7:26 which reads “two thousand baths” – in due time.)

            Please note that not only has the RSV taken away “received,” it also added “over” (viz, “over three thousand …”).
            Let us keep this in mind when we read God’s stern warnings in Revelations 22:18, 19.

            Here is someone’s viewpoint on the RSV that I think is interesting, if only because the Jehovah’s Witnesses bible that you say we should stay away from is used as another example in it):
            “The Revised Standard Version Exposed”

            by the way, Sonny, I believe that the *real* author of the scriptures is the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (see 2 Peter 1:21, for example)
            the Spirit of truth, that Jesus has said will guide us into all truth. John 16:13

            Thank you.


            • sonny says:

              “… by the way, Sonny, I believe that the *real* author of the scriptures is the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (see 2 Peter 1:21, for example)
              the Spirit of truth, that Jesus has said will guide us into all truth. John 16:13”

              @ i7sharp this is the absolute truth. If one does not believe this, the reading of the Bible is for nothing.

              thank you too. 🙂

            • sonny says:

              What the Catholic Church affirms about Sacred Scriptures and her relationship to these Scriptures can be found in paragraphs 100 through 119.


              • i7sharp says:

                Thank you, Sonny.

                Perhaps another way to look at the Catholic Church’s stand or teachings on scriptures can be gathered from here:
                where you will find the scriptures available in
                Chinese, English, Italian, Latin, Spanish

                (btw, I took a look at the Spanish bible and I could not find in it the equivalent of 1 and 2 Chronicles that I find in the NAB.)

                But, why only in five (5) languages.
                For example, why is not Filipino or Tagalog included?

                The ethnologue – http://www.ethnologue.com/ – says there are 7,106 known living languages.
                (Hmm … on certain days, depending on the tide, aren’t there 7,106 visible islands in the Philippines?)

                There are more than a billion Catholics, isn’t it?
                Let us presume they speak 1,000 of the 7,000 known living languages.
                So, once again: Why only five languages at the Vatican site?

                Thank you.


              • sonny says:

                @ i7sharp

                I suggest that you try to answer your questions so that answers will be to your satisfaction. I’m beginning not to see where you are going with your questions. Sorry.

  22. i7sharp says:

    In what seems to be the 98th comment in this “Lutheranism” thread, Sonny wrote to i7sharp:
    I suggest that you try to answer your questions so that answers will be to your satisfaction. I’m beginning not to see where you are going with your questions. Sorry.

    Sonny, I apologize if I did not make myself more clear.

    Let me try another tack.

    From the get-go I have suggested that Filipinos search the scriptures first before they convert to anything – such as Lutheranism.

    Why that suggestion?
    Because Jesus Christ Himself – He Whose name 93% (it is said) of Filipinos wittingly or unwittingly use when they profess to be “Christian” – has said,
    “Search the scriptures … they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39 KJV

    Granted that the Vatican site has the NAB (and four other versions in other languages) available, and granted that most Filipinos can understand English, but how come the scriptures are not available in Filipino or Tagalog, in Bisaya, in Capampangan, etc.?

    If the Vatican has approved a Tagalog version, can you (or any other Catholic here) help us find it online?
    (Being a Capampangan, I am curious where I can read the version approved by the Vatican.)

    Thank you.


    • sonnyis says:

      @ i7sharp

      I understand. Allow me to touch as many points as I can starting from the last.

      *There is a Filipino translation of the Bible. I also suggest to Google “tagalog bible” there are links to bible sites in different Filipino languages. I have a Tagalog Bible published by Claretian Publications.


      *translations of the Bible in 5 languages only? I am guessing there is a need for translators and money and technological limitations (computer memory capacity) of the Vatican website. English, Spanish, Chinese, Latin, Italian translations covers the need of almost all the Christian world (2.1 billion)

      *Chronicles? i’ll research this when I got the time.

      • i7sharp says:


        Thank you for your response.

        I could have told you sooner that, despite my initial impression, 1 and 2 Chronicles are actually found in the Spanish version of the scriptures found in the Vatican site … but I had kind of waited for you to tell me so.

        This has probably become boring to most people so let me start closing with this:
        To search the scriptures and get to the truth, one should try to determine where they are and how attempts have been made to corrupt them. One of the many sites you might want to visit is …

        IMO, it is a very helpful site (at least, to those who “search the scriptures”).

        I have mentioned that “in due time” I will share more information about
        1 Kings 7:26 vis-a-vis 2 Chronicles 4:5.

        Perhaps this is as good a time as any to do that …
        if only because, in the aforementioned site, you will not (thus far) see the two verses used as examples.

        One needs only look at the endings of the verses in the KJV.
        “… it contained two thousand baths.” 1 Kings 7:26
        “… it received and held three thousand baths.” 2 Chronicles 4:5

        Now take a look at how other versions have rendered the two verses.
        One of the things you will notice is the disappearance of the word, “received,”
        which I found, using a concordance, is translated from the Hebrew, “chazaq.”

        Most likely, you will find footnotes relating the two to each other.
        The footnote in the bible I had used for many years “explains” that this is due to “scribal error.”
        Some defenders of modern versions say this is a case of “pleonasm.”
        They could have said “neoplasm” and I would have been equally impressed.

        Whoa! How is that for a closing.
        Sorry, I got long-winded.

        This, below, is from God … so I think I should really close with it:

        “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing:
        but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
        – Proverbs 25:2 KJV



        • Joe America says:

          Not boring. I am pleased when discussion here goes deep, you know, beyond chit chat, so please . . . carry on!

          • i7sharp says:


            Thank you. I saw your response the day you posted it … and I have been thinking of what to say next.

            Sorry, it took so long.

            Earlier this morning (California time), I ran across a TV program while switching channels.
            After watching/listening to it for about half an hour, I deemed it worth sharing it with you and others here.
            I have never before read or heard of the man hosting the program.
            What impressed me was his seeming desire to be precise – very precise.

            Here is the audio of it:
            [audio src="http://vps11938.inmotionhosting.com/~lesfel5/mp3/04-2-3.mp3" /]

            And here is the website:

            A couple of hours after that, I came across this one,
            The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
            which I thought also worth sharing.



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