Where is the authority?
A recent EDN letter by Daren Zehnle [sic] (Feb. 27) claims I made several errors regarding fasting, even suggesting I claim fasting is sin and that Jesus is a liar. Obviously he did not read my entire letter. In the Feb. 6, 2008, EDN [sic] an article titled “Today is start of Lenten season …” Zehnle states “It’s a time we focus on our sins to prepare for Easter. …Ash Wednesday is a day Catholics fast, abstain from meat …” It appears many area churchgoers do observe holy or non-holy special days, weeks and seasons, even suggesting the Holy Spirit directs their hearts and minds to follow these observances.My response follows:
First of all, the Holy Spirit does not direct us to appose [sic] Scripture (Galatians 4:1-10) but to remember them (John 14:23-26). Those lead [sic] by the Spirit are lead [sic] to obey the words of God (Acts 7:51-53, I Thess. 4:1-8, I John 3:24). If you hear a voice that instructs you to do things not authorized by God, that voice is not the Holy Spirit.
Zehnle suggests that I Timothy 4:1-5 is talking about “the dietary laws of Judaism.” I agree the “dietary laws of Judaism” would be included in the category of “foods created by God.” So under the new covenant there is no restriction that binds any Christian from eating any “foods created by God.” Celibacy and restricting foods on certain days are manmade traditions. But notice in verse 1 who is giving the warning to those who want to abstain. It is the Holy Spirit.
There is no command in Scripture for everyone to fast, just as there in [sic] no command for everyone to be married. However, should one decide to fast (or become married) there are restrictions and examples for us to use. In Matthew 6:16-18, fasting is a secret thing between you and God. You are not to be noticed by others. In Mathew 9:14-15, the disciples did not fast while Jesus was with them. Fasting is not a commandment or Jesus would not have excused them from it. Jesus says they will someday but, once again, does not command them to do so.
Zehnle states Catholic rules for fasting as: “Those between the ages of 18 and 59 are supposed to eat only one full meal, which can be supplemented by two smaller meals. However the smaller meals should be less than the full meal… Wednesdays and Fridays only and not Tuesdays and Thursdays.” [Here, Mr. Antrim has combined two very separate quotes.]
Fasting is not eating a different meal today than yesterday, rearranging meals, restricting ages or restricting certain days. If fasting consists of these things, then Jesus himself violated them. How did Jesus fast? In Luke 4:1-2, “Jesus ate nothing during those days.”
The scriptures are completely silent in establishing a resurrection feast for Christians. A point in which Zehnle suggests is “simply false.” Read the observance written in Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25 and Luke 22:14-29. Now look at Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. It is a remembrance of “the Lord’s death,” of Christ’s sacrifice. Not one of the accounts even mentions the resurrection, including the references listed by Zehnle.
Zehnle notes: “The reason Jesus said the Pharisees worshipped in “vain” [sic] was not because they followed the law but because they did not follow the law in their hearts (Mk 7:1-13). We know this because elsewhere he commands the Pharisees be listened to (cf. Mt 23:2).”
Read the entire chapters of Mark 7 and Matthew 23. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for adding their traditions to the law. Where is the proviso for ceremonially washing your hands, sitting at places of honor, widening collars and putting tassels on their robes, callings themselves Father or Reverend or even leader (for there is only one leader and that is Christ)? All of these things would be a signs [sic] of the apostate (those who have fallen away). Jesus taught the Jews to listen to the Pharisees as long as they where [sic] teaching the word of God and not to accept the traditions of the Pharisees. The same applies to us today (Romans 13:1-13). We are not subject to those things which are not written in, modified or have been added to the word of God. (Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:18-19).
But that brings up once again the intent of my letter. Where is your authority for the special days, weeks or seasons? It is the total and blatant disregard of the word of God and the outright observance of manmade traditions and celebrations Jesus speaks out against (Matthew 15:7-9). Do you then say Jesus was “spouting off”?
Another response to Antrim
In his recent Letter to Editor, “Where is the authority?”, published in the Effingham Daily News 25 March 2008, Mr. N. – whom the EDN routinely allows to attack the Catholic Church through his libelous - is correct on one point: his issues with the Catholic Church rest upon the question of authority.This is the same Mr. N. who has written several letters attacking the Catholic faith on saints (my response), Ash Wednesday and Lent (my response included in link), and salvation and succession (my response included in link).
Mr. N. believes it rests with his own interpretation of the Scriptures (since he shows that he believes no one else has an authentic interpretation of the Scriptures). Of such personal interpretation, Peter says, “there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation” (II Peter 1:21). Mr. N. even suggests that he knows how the Holy Spirit directs the hearts and minds of believers; apparently the Holy Spirit will not inspire believers to fast even though he inspired Paul and the disciples to fast.
A sincere investigation will find that Jesus Christ gave his authority to the Twelve Apostles who entrusted this authority to their chosen successors, who entrusted it to their successors and so on until today.
This authority is found in the Catholic Church, which alone can claim its historical and theological roots in Jesus Christ and the Apostles, to whom he entrusted the power of binding and loosing, and hence his own authority and, hence, his own authority (Matthew 16:19 and 18:18. See also John 20:23 and Luke 13:20).
Mr. N. claims that Catholics have a “blatant disregard of the word of God.” Seeing that I have given Scriptural supports for the claims of the Catholic Church he has wrongly attacked, there is no credence in his claim.
In his most recent letter, Mr. N. fails to refute our supports for fasting, so I will simply direct him again to our previous letter on this topic and will say nothing more on this topic, other than to point out that the “rules” for fasting are a “minimum standard.” The faithful are encouraged to fast as did Paul and the disciples, as we pointed out in our recent letter.
Mr. N. claims that “under the new covenant there is no restriction that binds any Christian from eating any ‘foods created by God.’” He is incorrect. The Council of Jerusalem forbids “the meat of strangled animals” (Acts 15:20).
He then somehow connects celibacy with fasting, saying, “Celibacy and restricting foods on certain days are manmade traditions.” Again, he is incorrect. If all of Scripture is written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit then fasting must also be inspired by the Holy Spirit.
What is more, Paul, a celibate, says of sexuality, “I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God” (I Corinthians 7:8). Jesus himself says that some “have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12). Clearly, celibacy comes from God.
Mr. N. wrongly asserts the Scriptures do not establish a memorial of the Resurrection. Paul says of the Eucharist, “you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” (I Corinthians 11:26). If the Lord is not risen from the dead he cannot come again.
Now to his new attack (I wondered when this one would come): If Jesus intended his warning to “call no man father” (or teacher) as a literal absolute then anyone who calls their male progenitor “dad” also violates this command. Furthermore, if Jesus had forbidden all use of the word “father” as an address to a man he would have stripped the same word as applied to God of all meaning.
But this cannot be the case, for the word “father” is applied to several men in the New Testament as, for example, when Stephen calls Abraham “our father” (Acts 7:2) and Paul says the same of Isaac (Romans 9:10). Did Stephen and Paul violate Christ’s command?
Likewise, Paul says Jesus appointed him “a teacher” (I Timothy 2:7) and that Christ designated teachers in the Church (cf. I Corinthians 12:28). Did Jesus violate his own command?
Taking Jesus’ words in this regard absolutely literally would even mean that we could call no one “Doctor” (the Latin word for “teacher”) or Mister [Mr.] or Mistress [Mrs.] (a form of “master”).
Jesus’ condemnation is not of titles but of arrogance, which is always demonstrated by anyone who refuses to listen to another. Jesus used strong exaggeration to make his point, as he did when he command, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29).
Paul repeatedly shows his spiritual fatherhood of those under his spiritual guidance, most notably of Timothy (cf. I Corinthians 4:17; I Timothy 1:2, 18; II Timothy 1:2, 2:1; Philippians 2:22; and Titus 1:2). He says of Onesimus, “whose father I have become” (Philemon 10). To the Corinthians he says, “I have become your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (I Corinthians 4:14-15). Peter calls Mark “my son” (I Peter 5:13) and John calls the Christians to whom he writes, “dear little children” (I John 2:1) and he writes “to you, fathers” (I John 2:13).
Catholics recognize the importance and value of spiritual fatherhood and so address priests as “Father.” No amount of anti-Catholic bigotry can change the reality of spiritual fatherhood as attested to in the Scriptures under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
If Mr. N. disagrees with me he should write to me personally, not to the local newspaper. I answer his letters publicly because a public attack must, in justice, be publicly repudiated.
Tomorrow, the publisher of the Effingham Daily News will hear from me. Two months ago, I wrote to him once and left three voice messages asking him to contact me. He has yet to call or write. He had best contact me by the end of the week.
How this particular writer's letter is not libelous against me or the Church is beyond me.
Your comments are welcome.