TrinityIn this episode of Catholic Answers Live (March 07, 2017, 2nd hour), Jimmy answers the following questions:

  • How did the Church determine the current election process to select a new pope? How did the Church determine that Linus was Peter’s successor, and how was he elected?
  • How should I deal with a priest who is extremely disrespectful to the pope? He has a podcast and takes time during his homily to criticize the pope. We’ve tried to talk to him and he pulls rank on us. What should I do as a lay person?
  • If God is unchanging, did he have a body eternally, and how does the incarnation relate to God being eternal?
  • I will be coming into the Church this Easter. How do I go about talking with my parents about my faith, who have been resistant?
  • How do we disprove reincarnation through philosophy if that’s the best method for resolution?
  • What is the best way to explain the Trinity to younger students?
  • Is it wrong of me to no longer go to my parish and go to a different parish that seems to have more to offer in the way of women’s fellowship, bible studies, etc?
  • I heard that there was a recent article that states Pope Francis said that people need to have fewer children because of overpopulation. I can’t find the quote. Do you have any information?

Resources Mentioned:

 

 

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 13 February 2017 to 5 March 2017.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Do not underestimate the value of example, for it is more powerful than a thousand words, a thousand “likes”, retweets or YouTube videos.” @Pontifex 23 February 2017
  • “The Christian heart is always full of joy. Always. Joy received as a gift and kept in order to be shared with everyone.” @Pontifex 24 February 2017
  • “Proclaiming to all the love and tenderness of Jesus, we become apostles of the joy of the Gospel. And joy is contagious!” @Pontifex 25 February 2017
  • “I invite you to persevere in prayer, so that Jesus’ wish may be fulfilled: “that they may all be one”.” @Pontifex 26 February 2017
  • “When the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.” @Pontifex 27 February 2017
  • “Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death.” @Pontifex 1 March 2017
  • “God is always faithful and never stops for a moment loving us, following our steps, and running after us when we have strayed from him.” @Pontifex 2 March 2017
  • “Fasting is not only about abstaining from food. It also means sharing food with those who are hungry.” @Pontifex 3 March 2017
  • “Lent urgently calls us to conversion. We are called to return to God with all our heart.” @Pontifex 4 March 2017
  • “Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return.” @Pontifex 5 March 2017
  • “I ask, please, for your prayers for me and my collaborators, who until Friday will be on retreat.” @Pontifex 5 March 2017

Papal Instagram

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no-lies1Scripture repeatedly affirms the truthfulness of God. As early as the book of Numbers, we read:

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it? (Num. 23:19).

The same view is expressed in multiple other passages (e.g., 1 Sam. 15:29, 2 Tim. 2:13, Tit. 1:2). Jesus even declares himself to be “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).

But Hebrews goes a step further, saying not only that God does not lie, but speaking of it being impossible for God to lie:

God, because he wanted to show even more to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his resolve, guaranteed it with an oath, in order that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge may have powerful encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us (Heb. 6:17-18, LEB)

How does this square with the fact God is omnipotent—that he can “do anything”?

If he can do anything, wouldn’t that mean he can lie?

No, and here’s why . . .

 

Talking Nonsense

In my latest book, A Daily Defense, I take up the question of whether God could make up a stone too heavy for him to lift, which poses the same kind of challenge to divine omnipotence that we are considering here.

In response, I point out that theologians do not understand omnipotence to mean that God can do anything you can say.

You can say all sorts of things that amount to gibberish. For example:

God can the helium the the an a five wooden the the the next.

That doesn’t mean anything. It’s just gibberish—nonsense. It doesn’t even obey the laws of English grammar.

And even if something obeys the laws of grammar, that doesn’t mean it makes sense, either.

Linguists have identified sentences like “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously,” which obeys the laws of English grammar but doesn’t mean anything—as long as you give the words their normal meanings.

Taking the terms in their normal senses, this sentence is also jibberish:

God can make colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

But you might not notice that it’s meaningless unless you stopped to carefully parse it. The same is true of sentences like:

God can make four-sided triangles.

God can make square circles.

At first glance, those might sound sensible, but if you think about them, these statements also fall apart.

By definition, a triangle has three sides, not four. And by definition, a circle is not square.

Same thing goes for married bachelors, two-horned unicorns, and colorless green ideas.

None of these things can exist because they all involve logical contradictions. That is, the terms used contradict each other. Philosophers thus classify these entities as logically impossible.

Of course, it is possible to play games with words by taking the terms in non-normal senses, like saying that a four-sided pyramid is a “four-sided triangle” or that a unicorn that later grows a second horn is a “two-horned unicorn,” but that’s not what we’re talking about.

These things are logically impossible if you take the terms in their intended, normal senses.

 

What Omnipotence Means

This gets us to the issue of omnipotence. It isn’t the ability to do anything you can say—because you can say a lot of things that amount to gibberish—it’s the ability to do anything that is logically possible.

See St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I:25:3-4.

This gives us the answer to whether God can make a stone too heavy for him to lift. The answer is no.

God’s omnipotence gives him unlimited—or infinite—lifting power, and a stone too heavy to be moved with infinite lifting power would have to have more than infinite weight.

And there is no such thing as “more than infinite.”

Even appealing to the different kinds of infinity proposed by mathematicians won’t help, because—as an All-Perfect Being—God’s power comprehends them all, and there is no such thing as a weight that transcends all possible infinities.

A stone too heavy for God to lift thus involves a logical contradiction, meaning it is not logically possible and thus not something an omnipotent Being could create.

But what about lying? Why can’t an omnipotent Being do that? After all, we can!

 

a-daily-defense_1Why We Can Lie (And God Can’t)

If you think about it a moment, the reason why we can lie becomes clear: It’s because we’re imperfect.

Lying is a sin. Sins are morally imperfect actions. And so a being capable of lying is a morally imperfect being.

That gives us the reason why God can’t sin: He’s All-Perfect, possessing all possible perfections. That means he possesses moral perfection. Moral perfection implies sinlessness. It therefore precludes lying.

To put this in terms of divine omnipotence, the reason God can’t lie—or commit any other sin—is because he’s All-Perfect. If he were able to lie, he would be imperfect, like we are.

The idea of an All-Perfect Being lying thus involves a logical contradiction, just like the idea of a square circle or a married bachelor.

God can’t bring about a situation in which he, an All-Perfect Being, lies any more than he can bring about a situation in which there is a four-sided triangle or a stone too heavy for him to lift.

Such situations are logically impossible because the terms involved contain logical contradictions.

The reason God can’t lie is thus because it’s inconsistent with his nature as an All-Perfect Being.

This idea is reflected in 2 Timothy 2:13, where Paul says that even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.”

God’s own nature—his complete holiness—prevents him from sinning.

By the way, if you haven’t already gotten a copy, be sure to check out my book A Daily Defense, where I go into all kinds of interesting things like this!

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free-will-and-divine-foreknowledgeIn this episode of Catholic Answers Live (March 2, 2017), Jimmy answers the following questions:

  • What’s the difference between God’s foreknowledge of our salvation and being predestined for salvation? Is it possible to desire and seek salvation, but not earn it because you are not predestined?
  • Why is it that the Rite of Blessing of holy water is not done at every Mass before the penitential rite? Would it be allowed for a U.S. priest to celebrate the Ambrosian or the Mozarabic rite in order to give Italian and Spanish Catholics a taste of home?
  • Why aren’t there women priests?
  • My friends asked me to explain what Lent is. I wasn’t sure what to say. How should I have answered them?
  • Is it correct to say we are not only declared righteous, as in a courtroom, but also made righteous by God’s grace?
  • My friends have been praying to have a child for a couple of years. They are beginning to despair. Do you have any advice as far saints to pray for intercessions or ways I can pray with them?
  • How can I explain the Trinity to someone who says it is not biblical and that the verse in Matthew 28 was added by the Catholic Church?
  • I am Evangelical and have been considering converting. As I listen to all these talks on the radio and evaluate, I’m surprised that many on Catholic radio are not priests. Can I really rely on the answers I hear and to know they are representing the true Catholic position? I want to be sure I have the correct information to base my decision to convert.
  • Do we know how Mary’s name was pronounced in her native tongue?

Resources Mentioned:


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twelve apostlesIn this episode of Catholic Answers Live (Feb. 23, 2017, 2nd hour), Jimmy answers the following questions:

  • My wife divorced me, how do I get an annulment?
  • Why do we never hear about the Apostles children?
  • What’s the Catholic teaching on predestination?
  • What is the Douay-Rheims Bible and is it a valid translation?
  • When I explain the Immaculate Conception to my Protestant family, I get to the point where I say “It is fitting that Mary was Immaculate Conception” and my family says, “Well, it might be fitting, but that doesn’t mean it is so.” How can I explain this better?
  • If you’ve had spiritual experiences, how do you explain them? I’ve seen things that are hard to explain.
  • How do I correct the false teachings of my RCIA director?
  • Are the miracles of Medjugorje valid?
  • I invited two Mormons to breakfast tomorrow, how should I steer the conversation?

Resources Mentioned

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barnabusbIn its entry on the (apocryphal) Epistle of Barnabas, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary states:

Although Barnabas 4:14 appears to quote Matt 22:14, it must remain an open question whether the Barnabas circle knew written gospels. Based on Koester’s analysis (1957:125–27, 157), it appears more likely that Barnabas stood in the living oral tradition used by the written gospels (Treat, J. C. (1992). Barnabas, Epistle of. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 1, p. 614). New York: Doubleday).

The connection between Barnabas 4:14 and Matthew is, indeed, striking. Barnabas 4:14 states:

Moreover, consider this as well, my brothers: when you see that after such extraordinary signs and wonders were done in Israel, even then they were abandoned, let us be on guard lest we should be found to be, as it is written, “many called, but few chosen.” (Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers: Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed., p. 283). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.)

If the last bit of this is a quotation from one of the Gospels, it can only be from Matthew 22:14, for this verse has no parallels in the other Gospels.

However, the idea that Barnabas is borrowing this from oral tradition is extremely implausible. The author introduces the quotation with the formula “as it is written”–not “as it is said.” This not only implies he is using a written source but also that he regarded it as scripture, for “it is written” is a standard formula for introducing scripture quotations.

The probability is thus that Barnabas was quoting Matthew’s Gospel, and that would let us establish a terminus ad quem (roughly, a latest possible date) for Matthew if we could establish when Barnabas was written.

It was clearly written after the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, for Barnabas 16:3-5 refers to that event:

(3) Furthermore, again he says: “Behold, those who tore down this temple will build it themselves.” (4) This is happening now. For because they went to war, it was torn down by their enemies, and now the very servants of their enemies will re-build it. (5) Again, it was revealed that the city and the temple and the people of Israel were destined to be handed over. For the Scripture says: “And it will happen in the last days that the Lord will hand over the sheep of the pasture and the sheepfold and their watchtower to destruction.” And it happened just as the Lord said.

Precisely how long afterwards Barnabas was written is not clear, but it is certainly early. In fact, it is likely the first surviving piece of Christian literature written after the destruction of the temple. In The Fathers Know Best, I date it to around A.D. 75.

The fact that Barnabas records the destruction of the temple as a past fact (“And it happened just as the Lord said”) but Matthew presents it only as a future fact, with no notice of the prophecy’s fulfillment, suggests Matthew was written before 70.

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AlienSouls-660x330

In this episode of Catholic Answers Live (Feb. 23, 2017, 1st hour), Jimmy answers the following questions:

  • Appreciating science fiction from a Christian perspective
  • I’ve seen people touch the monstrance, is that okay?
  • What’s the Church’s position on transgender issue?
  • In the bible, there’s a footnote on the USCCB’s website under Genesis 2:8 on the garden in the east, saying it’s a pleasure park. What’s the Catholic understanding of this?
  • Hypothetically, if the Pope allowed divorced and remarried people to receive communion, what would that mean for the Church?
  • My husband and I just had a baby, and I’m not ready health wise for another baby, and I asked my husband if he could get a vasectomy, how big of a sin is that? Can I still receive communion?
  • Is there a possibility of intelligence life outside of us? What would that mean for theology and God’s relationship with those beings?
  • Should we be filled with the Holy Spirit so we’re speaking in tongues? Is it another language or is it just babbling?

Resources Mentioned:


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popr-francis-teachingThis version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 28 January 2017 to 22 February 2017.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “I invite you to join in the fight against poverty, both material and spiritual. Together let’s build peace and bridges of friendship.” @Pontifex 16 February 2017
  • “A youthful heart does not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference.” @Pontifex 17 February 2017
  • “How often in the Bible the Lord asks us to welcome migrants and foreigners, reminding us that we too are foreigners!” @Pontifex 18 February 2017
  • “Let us be moved by the Holy Spirit in order to be courageous in finding new ways to proclaim the Gospel.” @Pontifex 19 February 2017
  • “If evil is contagious, so is goodness. Let us be infected by goodness and let us spread goodness!” @Pontifex 20 February 2017
  • “God knows better than we do about what we need. We must have faith, because his ways are different from ours.” @Pontifex 21 February 2017
  • “Jesus entrusted to Peter the keys to open the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, and not to close it.
    @Pontifex 22 February 2017

Papal Instagram

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popr-francis-teachingThis version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 2 February 2016 to 15 February 2017.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Let us never forget to pray for each another. Prayer is our greatest strength.” @Pontifex 3 February 2017
  • “Take action! Live life to the full! And when others see the witness you give, they may ask: why do you live this way?” @Pontifex 4 February 2017
  • “Those who do not believe in or search for God have perhaps never been challenged by a testimony of faith.” @Pontifex 5 February 2017
  • “Being a believer means learning how to see with eyes of faith.” @Pontifex 6 February 2017
  • “Let us hear the cry of the many children who are enslaved. No one must remain indifferent to their sorrow. @M_RSection” @Pontifex 7 February 2017
  • “Those who traffic human beings are ultimately accountable to God. Let us pray for the conversion of hearts. @M_RSection” @Pontifex 8 February 2017
  • “Hope opens new horizons and enables us to dream of what is not even imaginable.” @Pontifex 9 February 2017
  • “Let us be close to our brothers and sisters who are going through illness and also their families.” @Pontifex 10 February 2017
  • “I encourage all of you to see in Mary, Health of the Infirm, the sure sign of God’s love for every human being.” @Pontifex 11 February 2017
  • “The dignity of children must be respected: we pray that the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.” @Pontifex 12 February 2017
  • “Let us never place conditions on God! Entrusting ourselves to the Lord means entering into his plans without demanding anything.” @Pontifex 13 February 2017
  • “It is good to know the Lord takes on the burden of our fragilities and patiently gets us back on our feet with the strength to start over.” @Pontifex 14 February 2017
  • “The throwaway culture is not of Jesus. The other is my brother, beyond every barrier of nationality, social extraction or religion.” @Pontifex 15 February 2017

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Here’s my recent appearance on Catholic Answers Live where I discuss whether you need religion to be moral, and many other questions!

In this appearance on Catholic Answers Live (Feb. 2, 2017), Jimmy Akin explains how he lost 100 lbs and answers questions about:

* How the Eucharistic fast works
* How the Church is able to know that saints are in heaven
* What kind of medical care needs to be given to the aged
* Was there a “Council of Jamnia”?
* How to respond to atheists’ assertions that you don’t need religion to be moral
* Whether you receive “more God” when you receive the Eucharist under both kinds
* Why does only Matthew mention the dead who were raised when Jesus died?
* How to become a spiritual director
* The morality of British authorities letting Nazi attacks succeed to keep the Nazis from knowing their codes had been broken
* What was the status of the people who Jesus addressed when he said “Do this in memory of me”?

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