Friday, June 05, 2015

Rose Prince: A Future Saint from a Residential School




In 1951 four gravediggers were re-locating several graves near the Residential School at Lejac, BC (900 km north of Vancouver) as they were too close to a barn. When one of the caskets accidentally broke open the men were astonished to see that the body of the young woman inside was uncorrupted even though it had been buried two years ago. They opened the other caskets and these bodies had decomposed normally. The uncorrupted body was that of Rose Prince.
The gravediggers, including Jack Lacerte, who later became one of the first Native RCMP officers in Canada, reported the incident to the Sisters of the Child Jesus at the school. They came to look at Rose’s body and one of the Sisters, Sister Eleanor, reported, “She was so lovely looking and was smiling”. Sister Eleanor is the only nun who saw Rose’s body and who was still living in 1998 when the documentary, Uncorrupted, was made.
Rose Prince - Beginnings
Rose Prince was born in Fort St. James, BC, Canada in 1915 of the Dakelh First Nation also known as the Carrier Nation. Her father, Jean-Marie Prince, the son of a Chief, was a devout Catholic who helped the priest with translation, prayers and singing. He was known as ‘Church Chief’. People remember Rose’s mother, Agathe, as a very beautiful and kind woman.
Agathe had been brought up by the Sisters of the Child Jesus and she and Jean-Marie met while they were students at the Residential School. They were married and returned to Fort St. James eventually having nine children. Rose was the third child and she first attended the little school at Stuart Lake. In 1922 she went to the newly re-built residential school at Lejac which was run by the Sisters of the Child Jesus. The Lejac Residential School was named after Father Jean-Marie Lejac, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate missionary who co-founded the mission at Fort St. James in 1873.
After Graduation
Her mother died of influenza when Rose was seventeen and her father re-married. After graduation, Rose asked to stay on at the residential school. One source says that her step-mother did not accept her so she didn’t feel comfortable at home, another says that she liked the peace at the school and wanted to be of use there. She used her gifts as a seamstress, cook and substitute teacher. Rose was very artistic and created beautiful embroidered Church linens and hand-made cards with her paintings of flowers which she gave to the Sisters and other friends.
As a child Rose had been injured which resulted in a back deformity making it difficult for her to walk and kneel. It may have also caused her considerable pain but her contemporaries say she never complained. Her friends describe her as gentle and humble and she was said to have a keen sense of humor. Other children would often come to her for advice. During school years she was known as an excellent student and would help the younger children with their homework and encourage them to read books. She loved the prayers and hymns in the Carrier language which had been written by Father Adrian Maurice and when she wasn’t working could often be found in the chapel. But her life was ‘ordinary’ and others did not see her as very much different than themselves.
Sickness and Death
When she was in her thirties, Rose contracted tuberculosis, a disease which was very common in all the population of Western Canada at that time and for which there was no treatment except rest and fresh air. Gradually she grew weaker until she was confined to her bed and unable to work. In August of 1949 she was admitted to the hospital in Vanderhof, BC. Her brother, Paul, was with her. She asked to see the Sisters and Father Mulvihill who celebrated a Mass for her in the hospital chapel. After she received Holy Communion that evening she died. She was only thirty-four. A few days later she was buried in the cemetery at Lejac.
The Story Becomes Known
The story of Rose’s uncorrupt body did not become widely known after it was discovered in 1951. However, in 1996, articles about the discovery and pilgrimages to the site were published in the Vancouver Sun and the Toronto Star.
A miner of Ukrainian descent, Nick Loza, living in Fraser Lake had injured his back and was unable to work. He suffered excruciating pain because of scar tissue pressing on a nerve. One day his parish priest came with soil from Rose’s grave and he put it on Lozas’ back and prayed for him. One hour later, Loza reports, his back felt better and he slept through the night for the first time since his injury. The next day he had no pain, he returned to work and has been well ever since. Others have also reported healings.
In July, 1990 Father Jules Goulet organized a pilgrimage to Rose’s grave in Lejac. That year only 20 people went on the pilgrimage but in 1995 there were 1,200 people and the numbers have grown ever since. The Vatican is aware of the story of Rose Prince but in order for someone to officially be declared a Saint certain conditions must be met. Healings, such as that of Nick Loza, must be thoroughly investigated to rule out other causes of the healing before they can be attributed to the intercession of a saint. It is not known if there is someone collecting information about healings related to intercession by Rose Prince. Further information about the pilgrimage and the history of Lejac Residential School can be found at the following websites: PGDiocese.bc.ca and Lejac.Blogspot.com.
Discussions regarding bodies of saints that have not decomposed can be found on OvercomeProblems.com.

2015 Pilgrimage
The Rose Prince Pilgrimage for 2015 is July 3-5 at Fraser Lake, BC. The pilgrimage began with former students at LeJac Residential School wanting to meet for a reunion. It has grown to include those who are interested in knowing more about Rose Prince. Free campground sites available for tents, campers adn RVs. There is also a choice of local motels. For more information go to the Rose Prince or Prince George website.

Sources
Rose Prince official Website accessed June 29, 2012.
Uncorrupted: The Story of Rose Prince. Documentary by Ken Frith. Shenandoah Films 1998.
CBC News. Trumpener, Betsy. The Grave of First Nation’s Woman, October 16, 2008.
The Diocese of Prince George. Website accessed June 29, 2012.
Lejac Residential School website. Accessed June 30,, 2012.
Overcome Problems. Website accessed June 30, 2012.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

What Does the Catholic Church Really Say About Homosexuality?

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian, on the plane returning to Rome from Brazil after World Youth Day in July, 2013.

The Vatican was quick to point out that Francis was not suggesting that priests or anyone else should act on their homosexual tendencies, which the church considers a sin but whether a gay man can become a priest. At one time Bishops did accept gay men for the priesthood but following the sex-scandals in which some priests were convicted of sexually abusing young males it was thought that accepting homosexual men could open the door to more abuse. Since most men in the Catholic priesthood (some priests who have converted from the Anglican Church and, although married, are admitted to the Catholic priesthood) take a vow of celibacy the question of ‘acting on their homosexual tendencies’ is a moot point. A priest, homosexual or heterosexual, is to live a life of celibacy.

What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say?

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

There have been many hypotheses of why people are homosexuals: is it genetic, hormonal or neurological or something else? Although some studies have been done, so far, nothing has been shown unequivocally to be the cause or explanation of why people are attracted to the same sex rather than the opposite sex. Because of this the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that homosexuality's "psychological genesis remains largely unexplained" (CCC 2357).

What does St. Paul Say?
In his Letter to the Roman church (chapter 1:19ff) Paul wrote:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has show it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honour him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
... Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.”

What Do Others Say?

“Marriage comes with the right to have children. How does a same sex couple get children? Not naturally. They use adoption and commercial third party reproduction, including the buying and selling of eggs and sperm, the renting of a surrogate womb, and creating a special class of women called “breeders.”

“The medical process required for egg retrieval is lengthy, and there are serious medical hazards associated with each step in the process,” said Pediatric Nurse Jennifer Lahl in Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family “Equality. Women risk their own future fertility, blood clots, and reproductive cancers. Both surrogates and egg donors die. “Multiple embryos are implanted into surrogates in order to increase the chance of live births. Women are treated as commodities, paid vessels, a breeding class,” Lahl concluded. Multiple children do not survive the process. It’s the old game of kill a baby to get a baby.” http://christsfaithfulwitness.blogspot.ca/2015/05/ireland-creates-modern-day-babel-same.html#.VWox8M9Vikp


The Vote in Ireland
“This “culture war” election was conducted under extraordinary conditions that have never been seen anywhere before in the West. As we described in our pre-election article virtually all of the effort to pass “gay marriage” in Ireland came from massive funding from the United States.” https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/what-really-happened-in-irelands-gay-marriage-referendum

Friday, May 01, 2015

Hill of Crosses

In 1831 in Lithuania, simple hill covered with weeds was transformed into a memorial to those who had been killed or deported to Siberia during an anti-Russian uprising. People began to put up crosses and soon hundreds of crosses covered the hill. During subsequent wars and persecution crosses on the hill continued to multiply over the years.
The Soviet Era (1940-1990)
After WWII when the Soviet authorities took power in Lithuania, people’s freedom to worship was severely curtailed. Again people were sent to cold and miserable conditions in the work camps of Siberia for minor disobediences. As crosses appeared on the hill, the new Communist government declared the place ‘forbidden’ and trespassers were punished. At one point authorities destroyed the crosses in order to extinguish the ‘ religious fanaticism’.
In 1956 people started to return home from Siberia. In thanks to God for their return and in memory of the torture they underwent, they again planted crosses on the hill. The site not only symbolized resistance to violence but also their faith in God.
In 1961 the Soviet government bulldozed the area, burned the wooden crosses and buried the stone crosses. The government destroyed the hill four times. Once in frustration at the appearance of new crosses they flooded the area turning the hill into an island. One cross was put up with the inscription ‘Jesus, do not punish the villains for they do not know what they are doing.”

A Place for Pilgrims and Tourists
After the end of Communist rule in Lithuania (1990)the Hill of Crosses continued to grow. Today pilgrims and tourists from all over the world come to see this emotional site. Many visitors leave a cross behind as a prayer for someone. The total number of crosses is estimated at 100,000 but that number increases every day. In 1993 Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at the site and left a cross.
The Hill of Crosses is both a symbol of heroic resistance to Communist atheism and a symbol of Lithuanian faith in God and freedom.
The Hill of Crosses is located northwest of Vilnius near the city of ƾiauliai. Within walking distance is a large Franciscan Monastery (built in 2000) where Masses are regularly held.
Sources
Wright, Kevin J. Catholic Shrines of Central and Eastern Europe. Liguori, Miss: Liguori Publications. 1999
Varanka, Antanas. Kryziu Kalnas (Hill of Crosses). Vilnius:Leidykla Anvara. 2009

Monday, April 06, 2015

Is the Resurrection of Jesus Really True?



The Resurrection of Jesus is considered the cornerstone of belief of all mainstream orthodox Christians. St. Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, our faith.” (I Corinthians 15:14). In other words without the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Christianity has no valid message. The resurrection is the ‘good news’; Jesus has been victorious over sin and death. The Church defines resurrection as the rising from the dead and resumption of life and has always proclaimed its belief that three days after his death Jesus rose from the dead.
Let us examine, then, the events surrounding the resurrection, the arguments against it and the counter-arguments.

The four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) all give accounts of the death of Jesus by crucifixion, the discovery of his empty tomb and the appearances of a living Jesus after his death. The Catholic Church and other orthodox Christians believe in the historical reliability of this Scriptural account. Although the four accounts relate some different details they are basically the same and do not contradict each other.
While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was arrested and then brought before the Sanhedrin, the council of Jewish leaders. Although there were other charges against him, the main charge against Jesus was that of blasphemy. He had claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God (Luke 22:70,71); a very serious matter in Jewish law. The Jewish leaders brought him before the Roman authorities as they had no authority to execute criminals in the Roman Empire. At first the Romans said it was not their problem. Pilate said he did not find that Jesus had done anything illegal according to Roman Law but in the end, at the insistence of the gathered crowd, he agreed to crucify Jesus, the Roman method of capital punishment at that time.
Reports of the Resurrection
After he was taken down from the cross, Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Jesus, and the tomb was sealed by a huge stone at the entrance. The chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to place guards at the tomb because they were afraid his disciples would come to the grave, steal the body and then claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. Jesus had implied that he would rise from the dead saying, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.’ (see John 2:19-22). He was referring to his body and not the literal temple. The disciples, however, did not understand Jesus’ meaning until after his resurrection.

In the morning, several guards hurried to the chief priests to report that during the night there had been an earthquake and an angel had rolled the stone away . The guards were struck with fear. The chief priests decided that they would pay the guards to say that the disciples had come and stolen the body while they were sleeping and promised them they would not be punished for the disappearance of the body. The guards must have been well-paid for they agreed to tell that version of the story even though it made them look very incompetent!
The disciples did not go to the tomb on Saturday which was the Jewish Sabbath and it was forbidden to travel. On the first day of the week (Sunday) some women followers of Jesus went with spices to embalm the body. When they arrived they found that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. An man in white clothing, an angel, asked them why they sough the living among the dead. He told them that Jesus was not there but had risen from the dead. The women hurried back to tell the disciples the news but they thought it was an idle tale - as usual the women were imagining something! But Peter and John wanted t o check the story out and ran to the tomb confirming that Jesus’ body was no longer there.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
After this Jesus appeared to many of his disciples: Mary Magdalene, the twelve Apostles hiding in a locked room in Jerusalem, two believers on the road to Emmaus, two groups of ‘pious’ women and his disciples again on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius. St. Paul reports that Jesus also appeared to Cephas and 500 believers, many of whom were still alive at the time St. Paul wrote the letter to the Church at Corinth (see I Corinthians 15:5-7).
The Church has always believed the accounts of the Gospel writers but there are several alternate theories of what could have happened.
The Stolen Body Theory
This, of course, was the first theory that was circulated by the Jewish authorities of the time: the disciples of Jesus came and stole the body. According to the Gospel accounts the guards were bribed to lie and say that this is what happened. But, if the disciples had come to steal the body, why didn’t the guards prevent the disciples from rolling away the stone? After all, that is the task they had been hired to do, they were armed and probably outnumbered any disciples who would have come. The guards claimed that they had fallen asleep but surely guards would have taken turns sleeping in order to prevent a theft. Would they have slept so soundly as to not have heard a group of men rolling away the stone? If they had fallen asleep and failed to prevent the theft of the body, they very likely would have been punished. In the end, the money, and the promise that they would not get into trouble for their incompetence, was enough compensation for them to tell the lie.
If the disciples did indeed steal the body what did they do with it after? Anyone wanting to discredit them would just have to prove that the body of Jesus had been buried elsewhere.
The apostles spent the rest of their lives preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead. Would they do this for what they knew was a lie? What did they gain from it? Wouldn’t it have been better to keep a low profile and go back to what they had been doing before they met Jesus? Instead many of them died for their faith. Would not at least one of them confessed rather than lose his life for something that was not true?
The Swoon Theory
This theory claims that Jesus did not die but was just unconscious when he was put in the tomb. When he revived, he came out of the tomb and was seen alive by his disciples.
Since Jesus had been whipped before his crucifixion and then spent agonizing hours hanging on a cross meant to kill him, it is unlikely that he survived. Before taking Jesus’ body down from the cross a soldier thrusts a sword into Jesus’ side and blood and water pour out. His body is placed in a tomb where there was little air and no food or water for three days. If Jesus was not dead and merely revived was he able to move the heavy stone at the entrance or did someone else move it? If this theory were true, Jesus would need a lot of care after leaving the tomb. If he did recover would he not eventually be seen and recognized by others? The Gospel accounts say that after his resurrection, Jesus only appeared to those who believed he was the Messiah. And if this theory is true, when did he die? One day there would be a dead Jesus and if someone discovered the body, the game would be up!
The Hallucination Theory
This theory proposes that the followers of Jesus so much wanted to believe that he was not dead and that he had risen, that they had visions of him after his death and burial. In their stressful mental state and knowing that Jesus said ‘he would return’ they were susceptible to having hallucinations. It is true that people have had this type of vision after the death of a family member or close friend, however, it is unusual for many people to have the same vision. As well, normally visions do not last as long as the appearances of Jesus did . And why did the visions end abruptly? Luke reports that Jesus ascended to heaven and after that no one saw him again.
The disciples had not really understood what Jesus had said about being ‘raised up in three days’ and only understood his meaning after they had seen the resurrected Jesus. The two men on the road to Emmaus had to have it explained to them by Jesus, whom they did not recognize at first.
The story of the disciple Thomas is interesting in the light of this theory. John writes that Thomas was not in the locked room when Jesus first appeared to the Apostles. When hearing what had happened during his absence, Thomas says he will not believe unless he sees the wounds with his own eyes. Jesus later appears to Thomas, shows him his wounds and even allows him to touch them. If the psychological vision theory were true it is unlikely that Thomas would have this kind of vision. And if the resurrection were not true for any other reason, it is unlikely that any gospel writer would include this story of a ‘doubting’ disciple who eventually believed that Jesus had risen from the dead.
The Modernist or Myth Theory
The most recent theory is one which says that Jesus’ body remained in the tomb and decomposed and the resurrection spoken of in Scripture is not a literal but a spiritual or supernatural ‘resurrection’. It is meant to portray Jesus’ spiritual victory over death or his immortality in a spiritual sense. Some would also claim that the resurrection crept into the Gospel accounts from ancient religions. However, the Greeks believed in the resurrection of the soul but not the body. Other religions (Hinduism and Buddhism, for example) believe in re-incarnation - the soul living on in another body but not a bodily resurrection. There was a tradition of resurrection of the body in Judaism amongst the Pharisees whereas the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. St. Paul, a Pharisee, used this disagreement to his advantage when on trial, "For the Sadducees claim that there is neither resurrection, nor angels nor spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all these things." (see Acts 23:8)
The Modernist Theory gives rise to the same problem as those in the other theories. Why didn’t someone produce the body of Jesus? There would have been many who wanted to discredit the claim of the disciples. Why has the so-called myth persisted for 2000 years? Why has it been literally believed world-wide by people of many different cultures, education and backgrounds?
Conclusion
As mentioned, the simplest way to disprove the resurrection would have been to produce the body of Jesus. No one was able to do this, in spite of the fact that many would have wanted to show that the disciples had lied. Those who had bribed the guards would have loved to have found the body of Jesus in order to prove that they were right.
For the remainder of their lives, the apostles put themselves in danger by preaching the death and bodily resurrection of Jesus. They were stoned to death (Stephen), put in jail (Peter, Paul), and crucified (Peter, Paul). Many later believers were also killed by the Romans. In fact, there are still people being killed worldwide for their faith in a Jesus they believe rose from the dead.
Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that they, too, will be raised to everlasting life. "But Jesus said to her (Martha), "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live." John 11:25

Sources
Berkhof, L. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans. 1962.
Hahn, Dr. Scott. The Bodily Resurrection of Christ. CD Sycamore, Il: Lighthouse Catholic Media, NFP. 2011
Catholic Encyclopedia- New Advent website. Accessed July 8, 2012.
New American Bible. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co. 1970.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Easter and Passover: What's the Connection?

Easter and Passover
As we approach both Passover and Easter you may wonder if there is a connection and, if so, what it is.



We know that Jesus was a Jew; his mother, Mary, and step-father, Joseph, were Jewish. His Apostles were all Jewish. They all celebrated the
Feast of the Passover every year as Jews have done (and still do) since it was instituted by Moses (Exodus 12). The Passover is celebrated to remember the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.
If you have seen movie 'The Ten Commandments', you will remember the plagues that God brought upon the Egyptians in order to let the Hebrews leave Egypt. The final plague was the death of every first-born male. The Hebrews could only escape this last plague by killing an unblemished lamb, sprinkling its blood on the doorways of their houses and then roasting the lamb and eating it together as a family. They were to eat it with unleavened bread (without yeast) as they would not have time to let the bread rise before leaving. Unfortunately, the recent series The Bible, did not show the important meal of the Passover. It does show the sacrifice of the lamb, putting the blood on the lintels of the door but it does not show the people actually eating the Passover meal. We will see why this meal is important to both Jews and Christians.
The last plague was the breaking point for Pharaoh who finally let the Israelites leave Egypt(although he regretted it later and chased after them). This last plague was the death of the firstborn of every household in Egypt except those that had the blood of a sacrificed lamb on its door lintel. Moses told the Hebrews to remember this night and observe the Feast of Passover on the 14th of the month of Nisan as a perpetual ordinance for themselves and their descendants: “This is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses.” (Exodus 12:27)
It is Passover that Jesus and his disciples were celebrating, many years later, just before Judas betrayed Jesus and Jesus was arrested. This is what Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper portrays. But does Passover really have anything to do with Easter?
The Passover was much more linked to the death and resurrection of Jesus than just occurring at the same time of year. On the first Passover, the Hebrew people chose one of their own lambs on the 10th of Nisan and killed it on the 14th of Nisan for the family meal. During the time of the prophet, Jeremiah, because the people went to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a sacrificial flock of lambs raised for this purpose were brought into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan. People could then purchase a lamb for their family’s celebration of the Passover feast rather than bringing one from their hometown some distance away. The sheep were brought into the city by the Sheep Gate.
It is believed that Jesus entered into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey on the 10th of Nisan. He was greeted by cheering crowds who waved palm branches and cried, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” Luke 19:38. Jesus is believed to have entered by the Golden Gate and came as a King but would be sacrificed like the lamb. This entry is remembered as Palm Sunday celebrated the week before Easter. The Golden Gate was sealed by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman in 1541 possibly to prevent the return of the Messiah.
Jesus celebrated the Passover seder meal with his disciples and we read in Luke 22:14, “Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which shall be given for you; do this in memory of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you.’” (Luke 22:19-20). This was all done before Judas betrayed Jesus and before Jesus was arrested. The Apostles did not yet know that Jesus would be nailed to a cross to die. Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection were part of God’s plan to bring people out of bondage to sin. It had been foretold as far back as in the Garden of Eden after the first sin. (see Genesis 3:15)
Three years before Jesus was crucified, John the Baptist had seen Jesus walking by and pointed him out, saying, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Years later, St. Peter would write to the churches, “...you were ransomed by your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” (I Peter 1:18,19)

Why is it called 'Easter'?
Unfortunately, the English language uses the word “Easter” for the celebration when Christians remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. The word, Easter, is thought to originate from Estre, a Teutonic goddess of light and spring and so it was the feast that commemorated the pagan goddess of spring. In German, it is Ostern. The Church in Anglo-Germanic countries often ‘Christianized’ pagan feast days by using the name of the pagan feast or certain symbols of the celebration (such as the Yule tree at Christmas time) for Christian festivals. The symbol would be given a Christian meaning and so change the significance of the symbol. For example, the Christmas tree, an evergreen, came to symbolize ‘everlasting life’ which Jesus promised to his followers. In a similar manner, the eggs and young animals (chicks and rabbits) of Easter came to symbolize ‘new life in Christ’.
Other languages more correctly reflect the Aramaic form of the Hebrew pesach. So we have Greek, Pascha; Latin, Pascha; Italian Pasqua; Spanish, Pascua; French, Pâques; Scottish, Pask; Dutch, Pasen; Danish, Paaske; Swedish , Pask; Swedish , Pask. In the Lower Rhine provinces of Germany the people call the feast Paisken not Ostern.
By the way, the same ‘problem’ arises with the Anglo and Germanic languages using Sunday and Sonntag (referring to the pagan Sun god) whereas the Latinate languages use cognates of Latin, Deis Dominae ‘the day of the Lord’: Italian, Dominica; French, Dimanche; Spanish, Domingo.
Setting the date for remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus was somewhat complicated and was not settled until years later. The Jewish Passover is set following the lunar calendar whereas Rome (and later the Western Church) followed a solar calendar. The Church could have set ‘Easter’ (the time of celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection) on the same date as the Jews celebrated Passover (the 15th of Nisan) but they desired to celebrate the Resurrection on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day, as it had originally fallen on that day. Because of the difference in the lunar calendar and the solar calendar the date of Easter would not be the same every year. Eventually the Western Church set Easter Sunday as the first Sunday which occurs after the first full moon following the 21st of March. As a result, the earliest possible date for Easter is 22 March and the latest is April 25th. The Orthodox Church sets the date differently. see http://www.zenit.org/article-32165?l=english

References
The Bible. History Television http://www.history.com/shows/the-bible
The Catholic Encyclopedia / New Advent http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05224d.htm
The Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=99&letter=P

Saturday, March 07, 2015

The Tale of a University, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Anti-Christian Culture

Women who have been sexually assaulted on university campuses are not taken seriously by the university. Dalhousie Dental students post disturbing and sexually explicit comments about female students on Facebook. Rape chants highlight Frosh Week at some Canadian universities.

One would think with headlines like that a university at which students promise to abstain from premarital sex (as well as harassment, gossip, vulgar language, drunkenness, use of illegal drugs, cheating and stealing) would be welcome news. Not only does “‘no’ mean ‘no’” but the question is never even asked! And yet many have given Trinity Western University in Langley, BC a failing grade for that very reason. The ‘community covenant’ that students are asked to sign states that they will voluntarily ‘abstain from sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman’. It’s this part of the covenant ‘between a man and a woman’, that some claim, discriminates against married gay persons who would want to study law there. Obviously it does not discriminate against unmarried gay or lesbian persons because the same rule of abstinence applies to both unmarried heterosexual and homosexual persons.

It should be pointed out that as lawyers, graduates from the proposed law school at TWU would have to uphold the law of Canada which allows for same-sex marriage. TWU acknowledges that Canadian Human Rights Laws and the Charter and Section 15 of the Charter protect against and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and that “the courses that will be offered at the TWU School of Law will ensure that students understand the full scope of these protections in the public and private spheres of Canadian life.” (see the website for Trinity Western University).

In the preamble and section 3.1 of the Civil Marriage Act of Canada there is also protection against discrimination of those whose religious beliefs do not allow for their participation to perform marriages which are not in accordance with those same religious beliefs:

WHEREAS nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs and the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs;
WHEREAS it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage;

3.1 For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.


The BC Civil Liberties Association, which has often defended gay rights in British Columbia, wrote to the Law Society of BC in support of the TWU
Law School in March, 2013 as follows:

TWU is a private religious university. TWU requires its students, as a
condition of enrolment, to sign a Community Covenant under which
they agree to “voluntarily abstain” from “sexual intimacy that violates
the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” While it is
the implications that this aspect of the Community Covenant have for
LGBTQ students that that have received the most attention in this
current controversy, it is worth noting that that is only one part of a
comprehensive faith-based code of conduct that members of the TWU
community agree to abide by.
Were such conditions imposed on students attending a public faculty of
law they would rightly be seen as unlawful discrimination contrary to s.
8 of the Human Rights Code of BC, as well a breach of students’ rights
to equality under s. 15 of the Charter. But it is crucial to remember that
TWU is not a public university and these conditions are not imposed on
TWU students – they are voluntarily accepted by those students who
choose to attend TWU. .... People who are not members of a particular

religion (and even those who are) may not approve of or be comfortable
with the beliefs of that faith. However, BCCLA’s position – in accordance
with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Trinity Western University - is that
the repugnance of a certain set of beliefs even to a majority of Canadians
cannot be the basis to deny a public good, such as entry to a profession,
to members of that faith.
In this case, the public good is accreditation for the purpose of
admission to the bar by students graduating from TWU’s proposed law
school. The denial of that public good to graduates of TWU’s law
school would infringe the freedom of religion, of association and of
expression of the members of the TWU community. We are unaware of
any sufficient rationale being offered that would justify that infringement.
Permitting graduates of TWU to enter the legal profession does not send the message
from the state to LGBTQ Canadians that they are less worthy of respect than others nor
does it deny them any rights or freedoms to which they would otherwise be entitled.
All it does is respect the freedom of those who wish to govern their own conduct in
accordance with the religious tenets encompassed within the Community Covenant.

(e-mail from the BC Civil Liberties to The Law Society of British Columbia. March 3, 2014. The entire e-mail can be viewed on
http://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/page.cfm?cid=3891&t=Bencher- meeting-consideration-of-TWU,-April-11,-2014 under Public Submissions).

The Benchers of BC’s Law Society approved TWU’s Law School in the summer of 2014. However a group of lawyers in British Columbia asked for a membership vote on the matter rather than accepting the ruling of their governing body. In the fall of 2014 a majority of members voted against the approval of accepting graduates of TWU Law School as members of the Society. The Benchers of B.C.’s law society then reversed their previous approval of TWU Law School. Since then in December, 2014, BC Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virka also revoked the consent he had previously given for Trinity Western University to offer a law degree program.
TWU President Bob Kuhn said that he was disappointed with the decisions, “As a private Christian
University, Trinity Western has demonstrated its place in Canada’s academic community, delivering some of Canada’s highest ranked professional programs. We believe in diversity and the rights of all Canadians to their beliefs and values.”
It all boils down to this: if you don’t agree with the rules of a school or university then don’t go there. There are other law schools in Canada and in British Columbia. Surely students would be happier studying where they agree with the rules and are with those who share their beliefs. Trinity Western says it is based on Christian principles and the Bible. If this is not your thing, why would you want to study there?

Some groups, yes, even well-known, banks and corporations, that oppose TWU’s Law School, say it is because they support ‘diversity’ in Canada. Apparently to them ‘diversity’ only means the diversity which they approve. Is that true diversity?

Ezra Levant, a journalist with the now defunct Sun News, reported on the vote against TWU's Law School in 2014, Listen to it at www.ezralevant.com/the-real-bigots

To learn more about Trinity Western University in Langley, BC go to their website at www.twu.ca







Thursday, February 26, 2015

Are Coptic 'Christians' Really Christians?



The Italian news agency ANSA reported on February 17, 2015 that Pope Francis offered up a Mass for the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS militants on the weekend. At the end of his address to Scottish Bishops on the Pope gave this comment about the men who were so brutally killed:
“I would now like to turn to my native tongue to express feelings of profound sorrow. Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: “Jesus, help me!” They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. You, my brother, in your words referred to what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians”.
From an article on Catholic World Report by Catherine Harmon

Christians of all denominations from many countries tweeted their outrage at the actions of ISIS and their support of those fellow Christians who were suffering.
Then comments by a Southern Baptist (or was it many) surfaced. He (or they) said that it is fine to sympathize with and pray for the families of those killed but the men who were killed could not be considered Christian because the Coptic Church believes (along with Roman Catholics) in salvation by works and not by faith in Christ. I don’t know the origin of this claim but this article about it can be read at Pen and Pulpit. (see http://pulpitandpen.org/2015/02/16/coptic-christians-not-christians-southern-baptist-leaders-need-reminded/) .
Just a minute here - you mean to say that someone who dies rather than denounce his faith in Jesus Christ is not a Christian? Someone who dies with ‘Jesus, help me’ on this lips is not a Christian?
Some lone individual has the audacity to say what a Christian is? Just what is his authority? He, of course, would answer, that Scripture is his sole authority. And so probably would those members from any of the 33,000 denominations of Christianity that exist today- all affirming that the Holy Spirit has led them to the truth in Scripture! How then do we know who is right? What does Scripture give as the criteria for salvation? And what does the Bible say about who and who is not a Christian?
There are many references that do say ‘faith’ is what has saved a person. Most of these passages are those in which Jesus (or one of the Apostles) has healed someone. For example, Jesus says to the woman who touched the hem of his garment ‘Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.” (Matthew 9:22) The healing or forgiveness of sins has come about because of the individual’s faith. In most cases, their faith is outwardly expressed by an act (or a work?) such as the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment or the crippled man taking up his bed and walking.
Here are some other similar passages:
"They brought a paralyzed man to him, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.’" Matthew 9,2

In this case, Jesus sees not the faith of the paralyzed man himself but of his friends who have brought him. Can the faith of our friends save us?

"Then Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of this illness.’"
Mark 5,34

Many well-known passages about faith are in the letter from St. Paul to the Romans:

"God makes us righteous by means of faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe, without distinction of persons." Romans 3,22
"By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips you are saved." Romans 10,10
"By faith we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Romans 5,1

There are even passages which say that it is faith that saves but not our ‘works’:

“...he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5

But there are other passages that seem to give other criteria for salvation (belief in Jesus, calling on the name of the Lord, washing of regeneration, enduring to the end, obedience).
And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21 (Peter speaking on the Day of Pentecost)
“...he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
Some would say that ‘the washing of regeneration’ refers to baptism.
Acts 16:31 “’What must I do to be saved?’ And they (Paul and Silas) said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”
Does this mean that they must believe that Jesus is God? Or just that he has been sent by God? Ot that he was the Messiah for whom the Jews waited.
Matt 10:22 “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake, But he who endures till the end will be saved.”
We must ‘endure till the end’ - it is not automatic.
Hebrews 5:8 “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”.
And there is a dire warning for those who say, ‘Lord, Lord’, perhaps those who are smug about their salvation but are not doing God’s will
Matthew 7:21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
There are passages of Scripture that indicate the role of baptism: it goes along with belief and with repentance.
The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned."
Mark 16,16

Peter answered: "Each of you must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2,38

“And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by calling upon his Name." Acts 22,16

We see that there is a relationship between faith or belief and obedience or works. It is in the letter of James that we especially read about this relationship. We cannot ‘see’ or ‘know’ the faith of someone - we only know it by the outward things he or she does. Jesus could see into the soul of a person to see if he had faith in God or not but we can’t. And so James, said that faith without works is dead. The ‘works’ or ‘deeds’ a person does are proof of his faith.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” James 1: 22
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some will say, “You have faith and I have works’. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith....Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled, which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.” James 2: 17ff
Martin Luther did not want to include the letter of James in the Bible because it did not ‘agree’ with his interpretation of Romans and the emphasis on faith.
But it is not only in James that we read about this relationship. We also see the relationship between obedience or works with faith in the Epistles of John.
“He who says, ‘I know him’ but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his words, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him; he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” I John 1:4
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God ... By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” I John 5:1


And there are other passages in the New Testament that refer to ‘works’ and ‘good works’ and their role in our salvation.

"Our people must learn to be outstanding in good works and to face urgent needs, instead of remaining idle and useless." Titus 3,14

"Do not neglect good works and common life, for these are sacrifices pleasing to God." Hebrews 13,16

“I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering. I know you cannot tolerate evildoers but have tested those who call themselves apostles and have proved them to be liars."
Revelation 2,2

"I know your works: your love, faith, service, patient endurance and your later works, greater than the first." Revelation 2,19

"Wake up and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of my God." Revelation 3,2

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!" Revelation 3,15

"Fine linen, bright and clean, is given her to wear. This linen stands for the good works of the holy ones."
Revelation 19,8


The Italian news agency ANSA reported on February 17, 2015 that Pope Francis offered up a Mass for the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS militants on the weekend. At the end of his address to Scottish Bishops on the Pope gave this comment about the men who were so brutally killed:
“I would now like to turn to my native tongue to express feelings of profound sorrow. Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: “Jesus, help me!” They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. You, my brother, in your words referred to what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians”.
From an article on Catholic World Report by Catherine Harmon

Christians of all denominations from many countries tweeted their outrage at the actions of ISIS and their support of those fellow Christians who were suffering.
Then comments by a Southern Baptist (or was it many) surfaced. He (or they) said that it is fine to sympathize with and pray for the families of those killed but the men who were killed could not be considered Christian because the Coptic Church believes (along with Roman Catholics) in salvation by works and not by faith in Christ. I don’t know the origin of this claim but this article about it can be read at Pen and Pulpit. (see http://pulpitandpen.org/2015/02/16/coptic-christians-not-christians-southern-baptist-leaders-need-reminded/) .
Just a minute here - you mean to say that someone who dies rather than denounce his faith in Jesus Christ is not a Christian? Someone who dies with ‘Jesus, help me’ on this lips is not a Christian?
Some lone individual has the audacity to say what a Christian is? Just what is his authority? He, of course, would answer, that Scripture is his sole authority. And so probably would those members from any of the 33,000 denominations of Christianity that exist today- all affirming that the Holy Spirit has led them to the truth in Scripture! How then do we know who is right? What does Scripture give as the criteria for salvation? And what does the Bible say about who and who is not a Christian?
There are many references that do say ‘faith’ is what has saved a person. Most of these passages are those in which Jesus (or one of the Apostles) has healed someone. For example, Jesus says to the woman who touched the hem of his garment ‘Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.” (Matthew 9:22) The healing or forgiveness of sins has come about because of the individual’s faith. In most cases, their faith is outwardly expressed by an act (or a work?) such as the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment or the crippled man taking up his bed and walking.
Here are some other similar passages:
"They brought a paralyzed man to him, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.’" Matthew 9,2

In this case, Jesus sees not the faith of the paralyzed man himself but of his friends who have brought him. Can the faith of our friends save us?

"Then Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of this illness.’"
Mark 5,34

Many well-known passages about faith are in the letter from St. Paul to the Romans:

"God makes us righteous by means of faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe, without distinction of persons." Romans 3,22
"By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips you are saved." Romans 10,10
"By faith we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Romans 5,1

There are even passages which say that it is faith that saves but not our ‘works’:

...he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5

But there are other passages that seem to give other criteria for salvation (belief in Jesus, calling on the name of the Lord, washing of regeneration, enduring to the end, obedience).
"And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21 (Peter speaking on the Day of Pentecost)
“...he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
Some would say that ‘the washing of regeneration’ refers to baptism.
Acts 16:31 “’What must I do to be saved?’ And they (Paul and Silas) said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”
Does this mean that they must believe that Jesus is God? Or just that he has been sent by God? Ot that he was the Messiah for whom the Jews waited.
Matt 10:22 “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake, But he who endures till the end will be saved.
We must ‘endure till the end’ - it is not automatic.
Hebrews 5:8 “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”.
And there is a dire warning for those who say, ‘Lord, Lord’, perhaps those who are smug about their salvation but are not doing God’s will
Matthew 7:21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
There are passages of Scripture that indicate the role of baptism: it goes along with belief and with repentance.
"The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned."
Mark 16,16

Peter answered: "Each of you must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2,38

“And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by calling upon his Name." Acts 22,16

We see that there is a relationship between faith or belief and obedience or works. It is in the letter of James that we especially read about this relationship. We cannot ‘see’ or ‘know’ the faith of someone - we only know it by the outward things he or she does. Jesus could see into the soul of a person to see if he had faith in God or not but we can’t. And so James, said that faith without works is dead. The ‘works’ or ‘deeds’ a person does are proof of his faith.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” James 1: 22
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some will say, “You have faith and I have works’. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith....Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled, which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.” James 2: 17ff
Martin Luther did not want to include the letter of James in the Bible because it did not ‘agree’ with his interpretation of Romans and the emphasis on faith.
But it is not only in James that we read about this relationship. We also see the relationship between obedience or works with faith in the Epistles of John.
“He who says, ‘I know him’ but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his words, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him; he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” I John 1:4
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God ... By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” I John 5:1


And there are other passages in the New Testament that refer to ‘works’ and ‘good works’ and their role in our salvation.

"Our people must learn to be outstanding in good works and to face urgent needs, instead of remaining idle and useless." Titus 3,14

"Do not neglect good works and common life, for these are sacrifices pleasing to God." Hebrews 13,16

“I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering. I know you cannot tolerate evildoers but have tested those who call themselves apostles and have proved them to be liars."
Revelation 2,2

"I know your works: your love, faith, service, patient endurance and your later works, greater than the first." Revelation 2,19

"Wake up and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of my God." Revelation 3,2

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!" Revelation 3,15

"Fine linen, bright and clean, is given her to wear. This linen stands for the good works of the holy ones."
Revelation 19,8


Of course, someone could be very good at doing ‘good works’ and not really know God or even belief that Jesus is truly God. Atheists claim that they also do good works but these good works will not save them it they do not believe that Jesus is God. And those who merely do good works but do not know and obey Jesus will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you.”

“Not every one who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not cast out demons and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, you evildoers.’" Matthew 7:22

Here Jesus is not condemning all works done in his name but only those that were done by those who had no relationship with him or did not know him.

The writer of the article being discussed claims that the Coptic Church and the Roman Catholic Church do not believe that salvation is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Is it embracing a meritorious, works-based salvation nearly identical to that of the Roman Catholic church? Is it in aggressively denying salvation by a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ? We ask because that’s what Coptic ‘Christians’ believe. This really isn’t new, and we have to wonder why our leaders don’t know what Coptics believe and if they do, what on Earth makes them think they should be categorized as Christians”. (Pulpit and Pen.org see link above).

Perhaps the writer of the article doesn’t know what the Roman Catholic Church believes about salvation. All he would have to do is pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read what it says.

“Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. Since ‘without faith it is impossible to please God and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone attain eternal life ‘but he who endures to the end.’” C of the CC 161

“Faith is necessary for salvation. The Lord himself affirms: ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” ( Matthew 16:16) C of the CC 183.

There is a Coptic Orthodox Church and a Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt. The Coptic Catholic Church believes the same as that expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church quoted above. The Coptic Orthodox Church would be similar if not identical.

The 21 men who were killed by ISIS were members of the Coptic Orthodox Church which traces its origin to St, Mark whom they believe went to Egypt to evangelize. We do not know the personal lives of the men. What we do know is that rather than change their faith to Islam they did not deny that Jesus is truly God. Muslims believe that Jesus is only a prophet but is not divine.

In any case, it is not for us to judge for only God knows the condition of their souls. Since they, like the early martyrs, were killed for their faith rather than deny Christ, I think we can safely say that the men were Christians. They died calling out for Jesus to help them and I’m sure he met them at the gate of heaven. Instead of putting our own spin on who is a Christian and who is not perhaps we should pray to God that in the same circumstances we would make the right choice, too.