The Less Than Glamorous Side of Catholic Converts

In 2014, The Pew Religious Landscape Survey, a survey of the United States, found that only 2% of Americans born evangelical, or protestant, convert to Catholicism. From that number, it’s safe to say American converts are scarce in ratio to cradle Catholics. Converts are unique to the Church. It’s often asserted that converts make the best Catholics because they are knowledgeable about their faith, chose it for themselves, and are deeply passionate for it. A famous convert that often comes to people’s minds is Scott Hahn, professor at Franciscan University, Catholic writer, and speaker. As a Catholic Convert myself, even though we’re seen as special and unique in the life of Church, there are still struggles that arise with our conversion from a protestant to Catholic, and much of these struggles are not something we talk about. Today, in this blog post, I want to give you a look at what goes on behind the intellectual mind that converts to Catholic faith. I want to show you the less glamorous side of being a Catholic convert.

To begin, per my experience as a convert, being unadulterated Catholic is not as easy as going through RCIA and accepting all the dogmas of the Catholic faith. I am constantly having to throw out background knowledge that I attained through the cultural milieu with my protestant peers, the knowledge I gained from famous speakers like Francis Chan, and Church learning functions. Basically, one has to hunt and locate even simple ideas that are not aligned with the Catholic faith. It’s a process of conversion that is likely to take years. Most of the time, without guidance from my Godparents, I do not recognize small concepts I have that are fundamentalist, or Baptist in nature. For example, I accepted the idea, through my own independent learning as protestant, that if a dating relationship led to you to sin then it was not a relationship that was ordained by God to happen. You were, in fact, in the relationship of your own will and not God’s will, because God’s will would not lead to sin. This idea is not Catholic, and is not accepted by Catholics, it flies in the face of logic and reality. The reality is, God can bring two people together, but just like with everything there is temptation. The aspect of temptation itself was lacking in the “Godly dating” understanding I learned as a protestant. Temptation is a part of life and it’s too simplistic to state that God did not bring a couple together just because there is temptation, or because they mistakenly fell into temptation. Now keep in mind this is only once simple concept that I have shown you as an example for what I am asserting. Now, these ideas, that are not found in the truth of Catholicism, are hard to locate, and can only be done bit by bit. (Unless you find a Catholic book that starts from the very basic of ideas and works its way up to build to the entirety of the true Catholic intellectual mind. However, that is a resource I have not been able to find yet.)  This is likely the first you’re hearing of this phenomenon within Catholic converts, and the trouble doesn’t stop there either.

Besides having no clue about cultural aspects and celebrations of Catholicism, like the May crowning of Mary, converts grapple with the simple logic that was once a part of their faith life as a protestant. Being that I pursued the study of theology in college, as an evangelical we had this saying “God will provide,” in regards to the uncertain future of graduating college with theology degree. The phrase meant that God would provide you with a ministry right out of college. This is also a bit of knowledge that I had to learn was not a statement of truth. Here I am searching for jobs, a year after my college graduation date, and I’m contemplating giving up on my dreams of working in a career field that involves Jesus and christianity. Life is not simple. In the examples, I have provided for you thus far of the struggles of the convert, one can see that the statements are unrealistic. The statements lack the messy dimension of life. They are black and white statements, and life is not totally colored in black and white. Life is messy, and things of faith are not as simple as fundamentalists make them out to be. This bring me to point of this paragraph, The simplicity, the black and white perspective, are things the convert has to unlearn. This likely happens naturally as one matures with age, but being that I’m only 23 years old, I’ve had to focus on this aspect tremendously. The black and white glasses that are typically found in fundamentalism leaves no room for mercy. It’s very hard to understand mercy when one wears spectacles with lenses that are only black and white. This thinking, at its core, lacks an understanding of other people, and understanding is the first step, in my experience, to the virtue of mercy. This particular problem leads into the next struggle that I have only begun to understand.

In relation to what I mentioned above, there is a significant problem that can form within the convert. I, from being a convert, have slight scruples. I suggest googling “Catholic scruples,” if you don’t know what I am referring to as I don’t have the time to explain the idea. Basically, with scruples, and some bad experiences in helping in Catholic education, I have found that with the realization of numerous minor things I once believed false, you can, and I have, come to this sense of questioning if you even know God at all. This is where I am at the moment. Not all of my protestant background knowledge of God can transition over to the truth found in Catholicism. This final point I bring up is truly the spear head of this blog post. Basically, you can lose this sense of who God is. You aren’t quite sure which depictions of Jesus growing up with are accurate. Let me ask you this, if you picture Jesus improperly is it really Jesus you are following? It’s surely possible to make a Jesus in your mind that is not actually Jesus. This is the side I want my readers to think about. The disruption that can be created within the convert of how they picture God. It may not have been a struggle for some, like Scott Hahn, but it is a tangible struggle nonetheless. It is a struggle that I am facing now. This loss of clarity is most troublesome, and is an obstacle in my relationship with God. This problem is truly the pinnacle of hardship in being a convert to Catholic faith.

If you are a convert like my myself, you are not the only one facing these challenges. I am right here with you. You’re not alone. Being a convert is not all fun and games like many people think it is. To be frank, in some ways I envy cradle Catholics because they can trust the knowledge they have of God, and have an image of God that is not influenced by evangelical ideas. They picture God as a what a Catholic is supposed to. This picture they have of God, it is something I have to try recreate, and even then it may not be exactly perfect. Well, to conclude this blog post, this is just only a brief look at the secret struggles that occur within convert Catholics.

If any Catholics have book recommendations, containing citations and documentation, on the character of Jesus, or God, I would appreciate it if you commented below with the title and Author. It would be extremely helpful for me, and for other like me! thank you so much, and thankyou for reading this ramble of mine.

Afternote by Author:

If you say that my image of God should not have changed than you don’t see how correct teaching helps correct right relationship, just how correct information creations good relationships with others. If you thought Susie was always mad and yelling at her friends, would that not make you less likely to have a friendship with her? The same is true with God, but in more subtle matters than the obvious deterrent in the example with Susie. Correct teaching, understanding, and image of God are important to the faith life, and to one’s relationship with God.

The Tragedy of Contemporary Christian Lingo

My focus these past few weeks have been about issues that I see within the Catholic Church and in all churches. These issues, I believe, are a relatively recent phenomenon that has resulted because of the last 300 or 200 years of Christian “events,” for a lack of a better word, in American society. I plan on writing a book when I feel like my investigation is complete and I’m able to offer practical solutions to ministers.

I’m writing this at the present moment because I do not feel I can keep quiet about this issue on language. In the contemporary Christian culture the language used has emotionalism and this lack of awareness about it. To clarify, examples of these statements include, “I feel led to go to (X place),” “God laid it on my heart to tell you (X thing),” “I felt in my heart I should do (X thing),” and etc. I do not feel I should have to list all the common phrases used by, at least young, Christians today. If you are involved in ministry or a church you should know exactly what I am referring to.

This language is very flawed. It shows a desperate need for a true interior life and the awareness of something called “discernment.” It lacks the idea of divine providence acting in circumstances without your “feelings” or “emotions.” It focuses so much on how someone feels at that moment which is very likely to be a temporary feeling and not from God. What one is doing when using these phrases is applying authority that they are not certain of, or they are blissfully ignorant in understanding that the “heart is deceitful above all things.” This jargon also lacks humility and tries to assert something that may not be true. What is the better course of action is just to acknowledge that you desire to do something. This is more truthful. Only time and much discernment can lead to the understanding if such a feeling is not just originating yourself.

In Catholicism, this jargon, I believe, is a consequence of Protestant influences and is born out of the faulty movement in Protestantism that focuses on feelings and emotions. This emphasis is because they lack something solid that the Catholic church has, so they put authority on how they “feel” as they think it is the “Holy Spirit” and to assert that they truly have the Holy Spirit.  The Church is having such views leaked into it via popular Protestant singers, at least, to the youth who do not understand the complexities of Christian spiritual life and living for Christ. Additionally, there MAY be a chance Catholics are using the same techniques as a way to ensure that people do not leave the Church. If this is the case, then what we have is a church that is having Protestant social ideas leaking into the Church and creating a mixture of spiritual understanding. This mixture is very likely not stable as I consider most entertainment and emotionalism tactics to be missing the key point of Jesus. It creates a spiritual idea where only the loud and boisterous “passion” or “love” is truly someone following Christ. The mature passion and love of Christ are one that is quiet and reverent.

To clarify what I mean by mature, C. S. Lewis states:

“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

Most experiences where God teaches you or have you do something will not be a drama of emotion. What I see as the issue that is creating problems is the emotionalism which is a result of consumerism in American society. People want something that is not really “Catholic.” Baptism can be accompanied with emotions or it may not be, but just because there are no emotions does not change the beauty of what happens at baptism. There is a stable reality that can be known and is not limited to subjective feelings that tend to be very unreliable.

Now before I let my musings sink in, I want to remind you that this information is a work in progress. It is a tentative theory for things that I see which are problematic in everyday life as someone heavily involved in Catholicism and Christianity. Take my information and think about it. Chew on it. Reflect on it and come to your own conclusion about if the Christian jargon is uneducated and harmful. What I said is not set in stone, but only a tentative perspective.

Sites that helped me put this into words: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2014/02/828/

http://www.ewtn.com/v/experts/showmessage.asp?number=333051

https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2014/02/06/faith-and-emotion/

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2007/07/08/the-spirit-the-modern-world-pentecostalism-and-orthodoxy/

 

Is God to Blame?

The sun was slowly climbing out of bed to give light to the world. The colors of the Sun’s blanket as she slowly lumbered out bed painted the sky in brilliant hues of yellows, pinks, and reds. At the same time, a man climbed out of bed at the sound of his alarm and got ready to start his day. Once dressed, he proceeded to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. In the medicine cabinet, there was an organizer with a little compartment for each day. In the allotted compartments was medication, vitamins, and supplements all organized for each day for the week. Every day the man had to take pills of medication, vitamins, and supplements for a chronic health problem. To many, the idea of swallowing pills as if it is second nature is something to be envied because they themselves struggle with this ability. The irony is to the man they are lucky to not have needed to learn such a skill. Unlike him, God had planned for them to live a relatively healthy life.

This story is not uncommon. In fact, I myself struggle with my own health. In October, my medication for my illness had stopped working. From what I understand, this is a common problem. It is simply that the body has grown use to the medication, and thus, it has become ineffective. Since then, I was thrown back into a struggle that I hoped I had left behind for good. To this day, doctors and other professionals are still trying to find another medication that will help alleviate the worst of my symptoms. It’s a process of trial and error as not every medication will work the same for each person.

In the midst of the time since then, I was once again plagued with the internal struggle of wondering why God would give and plan my life to have this illness. This was a recurring thought as I struggled through each day at college. It was compounded by the carefree attitudes of my fellow devout catholic peers. Deep in my heart, I wished to be just like them and not know the heavy burden that laid upon my shoulders. Even today, such a desire exists, I am definitely not yet a saint. I graduated this spring with a bachelors in Theology. Thus, my peers and I went our separate ways, and some, like me, started a new chapter in life. Today, I see my peers going on mission trips, summer camps, and other ministry and theological orientated tasks, but instead of feeling great joy and pride in them, I find that I am frustrated because I could be doing those exact same things. I could be but instead I have to attend to my health. Such adventures are on hold until I am healthy again. This sadness and envy at my season in life is not holy, and I say these things to be truthful with my readers and I feel there is an advantage to my message by sharing it.

The thing I want you take away from this, and it took me longer than it should have to discern it, is we tend to think illnesses, and other misfortunes to be what God planned for us and this is an error. This was something I struggled with because of my own suffering, like I showed in the previous paragraphs. Usually, such a thing as suffering would not bother me, but the difference here is the sheer amount of suffering that caused me to really question how God could have planned this struggle for my life. I would tell myself that this will make me a better person, but at the end of the day it was not much of comfort. The truth is God did not originally plan for this to happen to me. God did not plan for me to suffer from poor health. What created this was the first sin by Adam and Eve. It took me too long to come to this conclusion, and I probably should be embarrassed. 

What the first sin by Adam and Eve destroyed was the harmony that God had created. The harmony within the body controlled by the soul’s spiritual faculties was broken. Spiritual faculties did not control it anymore. Thus emotions, mind, and fleshly urges were in disarray and were not controlled by Spiritual faculties anymore. It is from the fall of Adam and Eve that misfortunes and suffering are in life. It is not correct to think that God is to blame for one being sick. Original sin is to blame and God did not create original sin. Original sin and the consequences that arose were created by man, namely Adam and Eve. If you read Gensis, you can see that disorder is let loose into the world by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. I do not feel I am doing it justice, but the harmony and peace that God had created was destroyed by the first sin. This subsequently is why we now sin, and why we need abundant grace from God to attain salvation. What original sin created was a wound “in the natural powers proper to,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 405, human nature. God did not create disease, illness, misfortune, birth defects, cancer, or anything else. The world is fallen and broken because of sin. We suffer because of the effects of original sin. In the case that I am not doing this justice, I recommend you read the Catechism. It can be found online for free. 

The sense that this had not come from God has put peace in my heart. Suffering is beneficial, and, just like with Job, God does allow us to suffer, however this suffering is created by the fall of man. This is the truth of the matter. It was not correct for me to struggle with God over this issue as He did not create suffering. If it was not this suffering than it would be something else. 

This is what I want you to take away from this post,  God is not to blame for our suffering, but He is a place we can run to for security. It’s tragic that we assign, almost on instinct, blame to God when misfortunes come our way. It is damaging to our relationship to God and eats away at our trust in Him. You can blame God for allowing you a certain misfortune, however he did not originally intend for this to happen to you. What made this happen to you was original sin and not God. I hope that what I have written here you take to heart and that it might also bring you peace.

The Spectrum Between White and Black 

I am not certain how to hook you into reading this post, but I always found such things as a “hook” to be arbitrary in the grand scheme of things. In an intellectual book, I care not if the book has a good introduction only that the substance is profound and enlightening. Thus, since I can not come up with a good introduction on whim, I will put it to you plainly. Additionally, In any case, such a situation might be blessing as I believe the “hooks” I come up with to be cheesy. 

Well to be plain, I am in, and have been in, circumstances that have changed me and matured me, much like everyone else has had such experiences. Though currently, I have come to realization that sin and virtues are at times over simplified into simple categories of white and black, especially so, from what I have seen of Protestantism.  I can remember being a teenager and watching hour long sermon after hour long sermon. This activity was what I did for fun back then as I was attending a community college near where I lived. As such, most people at the community college were way older than me and there wasn’t much social bonds or activities to be found. Thus, being the weird 18 or 19 year old I was, I took to watching sermons and trying to answer my own questions about my religion. 

Distictly, I can remember the harsh sound of a preacher who criticized people for being what he called “people pleasers.” From the impression I got, and what I recall, he seemed to think it was a simple choice. He seem to portray it as a simple realization of standing up for yourself. These simplifications, from what I can remember, are very common. Another example, we say jealousy is bad and that we should not be jealous. There are much more examples I can give, but for the sake of brevity I shall stick to these two and clarify how sins should not entirely be looked at in simple terms. 

To clarify my first example, the problem with what the preacher called “people pleasing” is that it seemed to have a personal a opinion and bias to it. However, let’s say such a notion was clearly stated in the Bible to be wrong. The problem with the way he simply puts it, as a change that can happen that night and it’s easy, presents this idea of it not being a more deeper seated issue. Additionally, much like everything else people pleasing is not an entirely bad habit, unless you compromise your own values. I would say, a child should want to please his parents. That is not a desire that is wrong. You should want to please your supervisor at work and do a good job. This, again, is not a bad quality, unless you compromise your own beliefs and values. You should also want to please your wife or your husband. Additionally, should you not want to make a friend happy and make thier day? No, such is a good thing. However, this only explains half of my arguement. What the preacher also did not include was the psychology behind personalty types. The fact is some personalty types get joy from pleasing other. Again, such a thing is not necessarily bad until it is out of balance. Additionally, let’s say one does compromise thier values in a certain situation because they are pressured, guilted, or manipulated into it. In the strict black and white sense, this circumstance, in Protestant theology and opinion, means nothing to how guilty a person is to commiting a sin. The problem with this simple classification is the lack of compassion, forgiveness, and understanding in it’s overall message. It lacks the compassion to see that abuse may have shaped a person into being a people pleaser. And, more importantly, it lacks the sight to see that there will be a struggle because it could be related to trauma. It is not a simple switch with being flipped off because of some enlightening moment, but it is a process. This, from what I can remember, was not mention, and in good will, may have been an oversight. The problem I am addressing is not the preacher, but the black and white categories that sins, and more importantly emotions, are put into.

Not to beat a dead horse, however, I feel I can gain more understanding by discussing the problem with Jealousy. Typically, jealousy is always defined as evil, and yet we, when I was a Methodist, never talk about how God being jelous for his people when they made idols to worship is a good thing. Jealousy in the right context is good. If another man is kissing your wife then you should be jealous. It is the samething as what God felt when his people, who made a covenant with him, started worshiping idols. As you can see, jealousy is wrong when it is not in the right context. However, to expand one’s view beyound that, jealousy is wrong in certain circumstances, but there may be an unmet need associated with jealousy. Jealousy can be a result of more complicated problems that will take time to heal. This, in particular, I am coming to understand myself. Jealousy is not an evil thing  in the sense that everyone chooses to do it like one would with murder. Its a more complicated matter, and there should be compassion for it as well. Yet when we define sins into broad categories and don’t explore the situations, we pigeon whole something and never treat the root cause or figure out how to heal. Even worse, we define it wholly as a sin and do not see that in certain contexts it is not a sin.

To conclude, this rather more lengthy then intended post, things should be meditated on and be understood in a less black and white mindset. It leaves out key information and realistic ways to overcome sin in one’s life. In my opinion, this black and white simplification is at it’s worst when sins are thought to be all equal in value. I can remember as a child telling myself that my little white lie was the same thing as murder. This is unrealistic, and not to mention unbiblical. Additionally, from the perspective of black and white there is less compassion and no regard for circumstances. More importantly, it can be unrealistic. 

   

The Perspicacity of Giving

Hello my readers,

It’s been a long while since I posted on my blog. I apologize for that, but I have a good reason for being inactive. Back in October, October 2015, my antidepressant medication had stopped working. From what I have gathered, it is common for this to happen. Thus, I have lost interest in many things. I have lost interest in video games, reading theology as a hobby, crafting, and other things. At times, I can’t even seem to enjoy the idea of going out with friends to a fair. My doctor and I are currently working on trying to find new medication that will help me function again as I should. It takes more than six weeks to know if a medication is working for me or not. It is a tedious process of trial and error and me feeling like a dart board. The different medications are the darts in this case.

One thing I noticed today and is compounded by something I read is, giving is very hard when I am struggling with depression. The last few weeks I have been so wrapped up in my own pain and anguish that I find it hard to give back to others. On my good days, when I have clarity of thought, I can look outside myself and give to others. I love those days. And I love giving to others, so I am very much struck by my observation that it is hard for me to give when I am suffering a lot. Recently, I wrote my Godparents a letter and mailed it to their house. It took me a few days to write it after I had the idea of writing them a nice letter. Rationally, I waited for a day when my mood was not bad as I noticed that my mood tends to bleed through in my writing. (Thank you, texting! things you realize from being a person who loves texting!) Thus, in a certain way, I already understood that in order to give someone has to be in the right state to be able to give. Though, I had not made the connection itself with giving.

The nature of giving is one that is made out of surplus. If there is no surplus than the giving could be seen as sacrificing. They are two different things. I understand, though I don’t like it, I am not in a very good position to give to others. A person who has no money cannot give money to someone else. Thus, when I have no comfort within myself I can’t really give to others. Thankfully, unlike money, what I give can be considered something that is renewable since on the good days I can give to others. Whereas, with the example of someone having no money they have to save up when they get money so they can give to others. However, as I write this, I realize that it is only recently that I have felt like it has been hard to give to others. There are days that are so bad for me that there is no possible way that I can look beyond my own suffering and help someone else. On the bright side, there are days where I am not doing so well, but I can give to others and do something to show them how much I care.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I see now that there is a time for me to give to others, and a time when I cannot give to others. Thus, I am coming to understand that at times in my depression there are days when it is not the time to give. There are people out there that consider people with depression to be just self-absorbed and self-centered. In a certain way, they are correct, but they use the wrong words. They use words that say that a depressive has a surplus; when a depressive probably doesn’t even have scraps. Granted, these individuals tend to be people who fall away from the mainstream idea that depression is a biological illness, so they don’t see it as a depressive having nothing. They see it as being greedy. This is wrong. However, my focus is on the idea that there is this aspect of perspicacity to the action of giving. Perspicacity, when you type it into google, means “the quality of having a ready insight into things; shrewdness.” I realize that there is a sense of perspicacity in giving. There are times when it is not the time to give, and there are times when it is the time to give.

The perspicacity of giving, also, deals with the understanding of when a person can help someone and when they will only make things worse. Have you ever been in a situation where someone wants to help you, but they only make it worse? I’m sure all of us have some sort of experience with that. I definitely have experiences like that. Ha ha ha, now, since usually it has to do with my depression, I educate people before if they want to help me. I give them articles on what is helpful to say and what makes things worse. (That’s supposed to be funny.) Anyway, there is a certain aspect to the act of giving, when one has to see if they are really suited to helping this person. I can’t tell you how many times good people with good intentions have given me bad advice about my health. There is a time when one needs to discern when they should give and support another person because it suits their abilities and when they should not. Or perhaps, people need to educate themselves before they try to give support to another person. Perhaps, it’s the time to educate yourself and then it’s the time for giving. These things all fall under the perspicacity of giving because one has to know when it is the time for giving.

Anyway, this is something that my trial has recently taught me and I thought I would share this insight that I am gaining with you. This is in no way a complete analyzation in the perspicacity of giving. This is only the beginning of the flourishing of what God is teaching me as reflect upon myself and the events in my life. I hope you, at least, found this to be a little bit insightful about the act of giving.

Why Catholic? My Story on Why I Became a Catholic.

I decided to be Catholic based on theological reasons and based on things I found in the bible. I don’t believe in choosing a denomination based on how you feel. I feel like it should be grounded in reason. Choosing on how you feel is typically how people choose a church it seems, at least it is nowadays.

To start off my story, I wanted to be a preacher. With that desire, I knew it came with great responsibility. The bible warns about being a false teacher and I was worried that I could be one. It was my responsibility that if I was to be teaching I needed to figure out which denomination I thought had the truth and believed in my heart to be what Jesus meant. This was really instilled in me when one of my friends mentioned how he didn’t think every church was right, that there had to be one that held the whole truth. He also believed that salvation may be contingent on that too.

While I was 18, I started following some outspoken fundamentalists on twitter. They would criticize well-known preachers that showed on television. I remember there was this one tweet that said something like “false teachers don’t know they are false teachers.” This struck me as something I had never thought of and opened the possibility to me that I could become a false teacher and not know it.

Originally when I read the passages in the bible about false teaching, there was this inherent idea that the teachers knew they were false and were doing something they knew to be wrong. This concept I held unconsciously was revealed to me with that tweet and passages I increasingly read about false teaching gave me this urgency to find what I believed to be the truth. My friend’s idea of how one church has to have the full truth struck me and made me realize correct theology is very important in teaching to others. It shapes your beliefs about Jesus and salvation.

I had the fear of my own salvation when I realized that correct theology could be linked to salvation and also this urgency to be able to lead others towards that truth if that was the case.

Now, that I’m older and more familiar with theology, I realize that idea of fearing for my salvation wasn’t necessarily correct. Christians are not gnostic. This means we do not believe salvation is contingent on special knowledge. Though truth to a certain extent is needed, but enlightenment of something or an awakening, ike gnostics believed, is not needed for attaining salvation.

My search began the summer of 2013. I poured over scripture for months. I spent hours and hours invested into this search. I would wake up each day and read my bible. I learned the gist of various theologies through the internet and tried to compare them to what I found in the bible.

Catholic was 2nd on my list of theologies I really did not like and hoped wouldn’t be found. The 1st on my list of hoping for it being unbiblical was Calvinism.

Scripture started to look catholic to me in my search for biblical truth. What threw me over the edge of affirming the Catholic faith was the most biblical was when I disproved Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is the doctrine of the bible alone. It was made by Martin Luther when he separated from the Catholic Church and formed the Lutheran church. With Sola Scriptura being proven unbiblical, that’s when my eyes were opened and could not ignore what I had just seen.

Now you are probably wanting to know the verses I found that disprove a doctrine held by pretty much every protestant church. Don’t worry, I plan on giving you the list of what I found disproving this doctrine and I’ll talk a little about the verses.

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:15 NIV

Another Translation of this verse says:

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. – 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

This verse implies that not all the teachings are written down and concedes that the bible does not contain the teaching of Jesus passed down by the apostles. A lot of translations use the word “traditions” just like the English Standard Version does. Protestant churches believe in the bible one, but the Catholic Church believes in Tradition and Scripture. It acknowledges that there traditions or teachings that are not in the bible, but were passed down by word of mouth. The very fact the bible doesn’t contain all of the apostles’ teaching really hit home for me and was the big breakthrough for me in turning to Catholicism. The doctrine I had known and practiced all my life was in fact not biblical.

I found other verses besides this one pointing to the same fact that Sola Scriptura was false teaching. The one in 2nd Thessalonians was the just the major one for me.

Here are the other verses I found proving Sola Scriptura unbiblical:

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” – 2 John 1:12 NIV

“I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink.  I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” – 3rd John 1:13 – 14 NIV

These verses were addressed to an elder of the church and the letters mention guidance on spiritual life. Therefore, the letters held teaching and since John had a lot to say I think he had a lot more to teach him. This also shows that not all of the teachings are in the bible.

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” – Jude 1:9

The story that the book of Jude tells is nowhere found in Exodus. This story could have been an oral tradition, but it affirms that not everything was in the Old Testament too.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” – John 21:25

This verse comes from the Gospel of John and clearly states that not everything was written down.

These verses proved to me that Sola Scriptura was unbiblical.

I also found other verses that alluded to the catholic faith besides these. There are verses in the New Testament talking about the sacrament of confession.

“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” – John 20:21–23 

Jesus is talking to the disciples in this verse. He is clearly indicating the sacrament of confession here with the authority given to tell someone their sins are forgiven.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1st peter 4:8

Why would love cover sins if we could just pray for forgiveness for our sins?

I also found the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” – James 5:14

In my faith that I grew up in I had never heard of this being done, but the Catholic Church has this as one of their sacraments.

I also found a reference to purgatory on my search for biblical truth too.

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” – 1st Corinthians 3:11-15 

Notice how the person is put through a fire and in other passages fire is associated with refinement. Also, take note that even though the person was not perfect, nor was his faith, he went through the fire and still attained salvation. This seems to suggest that there some type of thing like purgatory. This not hell because salvation is attained.

Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny – Matthew 5:25-26

This verse also seems to reference a certain purgatory for our actions and how we are punished, but the are released from the refinement we are going through. There is still this aspect that seems to be that we are punished for bad deeds by being thrown in prison. There is this option of getting out, but only if you have paid back everything you owed. Therefore, you are not meant to be in that prison forever. Thus, it cannot be considered hell or an earthly prison. The judge in the passage can be seen to be God. This passage is presented on the Sermon on the Mount and probably is not referring to an earthly prison.

These were some of the verses I found on my journey I took at nineteen. There are many verses I know now that also points to Catholic ideas, but I wanted to give you the evidence I had stumbled upon that let me know the Catholic faith was the one that held the truth.  The full truth. By the way, as a side note, one of the purgatory verses may not be one I found during that time. I don’t quite remember, but nonetheless, it points to the idea of purgatory.

Jesus Went to Hell

The Apostles’ Creed creates a lot of discomfort with a little clause that is present in its lines of affirmations. This clause is the phrase “He descended into hell” and refers to Jesus. Some churches take this as a metaphor or avoid the topic. Some go so far to even omit the phrase from the creed. The claim for this omission of it is that it is not biblical, and, therefore, cannot be true. However, I will prove with logic and scripture that you have to say Jesus descended into to hell to have orthodox Christology and soteriology and it should not be omitted or taken as a metaphor for Jesus’s suffering.

Before I begin, I want you to see the apostle’s creed and the phrase for yourself.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Amen.

Now to start my explanation, the word “hell” in the Apostles Creed is actually the Hebrew word “Sheol.” In Greek the word is translated into “hades.” They are the exact same thing in that the people there do not have any vision of God[1]. Therefore, to proceed in explaining the necessity of statement “he descended into hell,” it is essential that one understands Jewish culture, which should be an inherent concept that one should understand when reading the Old Testament to read it correctly. Not understanding Jewish culture may be a flaw with some church’s reading of scripture and why they omit the phrase from the creed. Anyone of any measure of scholarship and knowledge should use knowledge of Jewish culture in conjunction when reading the Old Testament.  In the beginning, the Jews, at first, did not seem to have a good concept of an afterlife. The afterlife in Jewish culture at the time did not relate anything of joy and happiness. In the book of Psalms there are references to this place called Sheol.[2] Psalm 8:5 states: “The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me.” This scripture verse states that the act of dying is different from Sheol. There is the concept of Sheol and there is the concept of death in the Jewish culture at the time. Psalm 6:6 says, “For in death there is no remembrance of you. Who praises you in Sheol?” This states that death is what leads a person into Sheol. It shows this by the order in how death is mentioned first. Numbers 16:30 says, “But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the Lord.” Jewish tradition considered Sheol to be beneath the earth. Numbers 16:30 reflects this view that Sheol was beneath the earth. It also uses the word “descend” just like the Apostle’s Creed does. It is important to mention that it wasn’t until the book of Daniel that the idea of the resurrection is first mentioned.[3]  The righteous and the non-righteous did not have the same fate though in this concept of the afterlife. The righteous were held in Abraham’s Bosom, and these are the people Christ came to save from within Sheol.[4] Second temple Judaism had an eschatology that developed throughout the past and culminated into this eschatology.[5]

With establishing the existence of Sheol and how it is valid to the Jewish culture at the time, the idea of liberation for those souls by the death of Jesus and his descent is made to be more probable than not when one considers Jesus as the savior of all. Psalm 49:15-16 mentions the redemption of the just souls from Sheol. It says:

This is the way of those who trust in themselves, and the end of those who take pleasure in their own mouth. Like a herd of sheep they will be put into Sheol, and Death will shepherd them. Straight to the grave they descend, where their form will waste away, Sheol will be their palace. But God will redeem my life, will take me from the hand of Sheol.

It is presumed that David is writing this, and therefore we should consider the author to be a righteous and just person. The fact that the author knows that there will be redemption from Sheol for him suggests that the righteous will be redeemed. This also states that are awaiting Jesus’ descent into hell and that there is a place called Abraham’s bosom where the righteous go[6]. The purpose of the death of Jesus was to allow humanity to gain entrance into heaven. The people of humanity before Jesus did not have access to heaven and therefore there needed to be this place for the righteous. Therefore, those who came before Jesus were in another place and we have confirmed in Jewish tradition to be Sheol.  To deny Jesus’ descent becomes very problematic in that sense.

The concept of Jesus descending to Sheol when omitted or taken as a metaphor becomes very problematic. Not only does it become scripturally a problem because much of scripture is left with no meaning, but it creates a problem for one’s Christology and soteriology. When one denies that Jesus went Sheol, he is denying Jesus came to save all. He is, instead, asserting that Jesus came to save those people alive in his time period and afterward. This becomes problematic because the crucifixion can be seen as not totally fixing what humanity did in bringing death into the world. It’s claiming, essentially, that Jesus is not fully divine, and therefore, could not repay everything humanity owed.  On the other hand, one can also be asserting Jesus did not have enough humanity to be the repayment on behalf of humanity, nor was his humanity valid enough for him to go to Sheol just like other humans. This assertion would mean that man cannot be resurrected, due to the fact we can’t be the level of human Jesus was. Therefore, there would be no resurrection. You cannot say Jesus is fully human without saying He went to Sheol. Jesus faced death which was a design not part of God’s plan for creation, yet it was man’s fate. Therefore, Jesus in humanity should have also descended into Sheol because of the fact He was fully human. To deny the descent is to deny the resurrection is possible for humanity because it states Jesus is not fully human. The denial of the descent, at most, states Jesus is a mixture of Divine and human that make up this being of the Christ. This is idea of a mixture is condemned in some of the early creeds that came about within early Christianity. The mixture idea of divine and human would fall under the heresies by Apollinaris, Theodore of Mopsueste, or even Nestorius.

People object to Jesus’ descent into Sheol because they claim there is no narrative in gospels about the event. However, death is a solitary experience and two people cannot enter death together. Therefore, it is rather foolish to think an apostle could write about the account of Jesus going to Sheol.  However, it should not be misunderstood to be that the apostles did not know that Jesus was to descend into Sheol. It is revealed in the new testament Jesus was to descend into Sheol. There are New Testament references even if it is not a narrative of Jesus being in Sheol. Mathew 12: 40 says: “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jews at the time believed Sheol was at the center of the earth. This verse corresponds with the place they knew Sheol was. The tomb Jesus’ body was put in was not at the center of the earth or under the earth. Matthew 12:40 could not possibly be referring to the tomb. Another aspect that further emphasizes the relation to Sheol with Matthew 12:40 is Jonah while in the belly of the whale uses a hyperbole to Sheol. This parallel further gives indication that Jesus descended into Sheol.[7] In the idea that Jesus rose from the dead is another example of a reference within the New Testament. The specific use of the word “rose” or “rise” is an indication of Sheol as well.[8] Jesus’ body was not placed at the center of earth, so it is wrong to say that he rose from the dead and to deny the descent into Sheol. In order for something to “rise” into life upon earth, it would have to have descended first. This descent gives the idea that there is a place below the earth and Jesus departed there because he had to “rise” from the dead. To deny the descent could be to deny the resurrection. To deny the resurrection becomes its own problem which unravels one’s Christology. The resurrection is arguably the most important event in Christendom.[9] Therefore as you can see scripturally it is an error to state that there is no scriptural evidence or to state that the clause in the Apostle’s creed is meant as a metaphor.

There is the a verse in 1st peter that Augustine talks, about but I find the passage too ambiguous and thus, have some doubts about what it is referring to and have not mentioned it for a reason. However, did you know when you go to the website biblegateway and select NASB translation and then type Sheol into the search 65 verses with that word come up? That is a big number and shows that it is not something that should be overlooked. In other translations, it is referred to it as Hades or as the realm of the dead. This little word is rooted in history and should not be ignored like it seems to be.

The lack of a straight forward narrative in the New Testament should not totally discount the concept in the Apostle’s Creed. The use of such an argument shows the lack of full knowledge of scripture within the Old Testament and an understanding of Jewish culture. Another reason this argument is invalid is because John 20:25 says, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” This verse states that not everything Jesus did was written in the bible. If everything was written down the bible would be much bigger than what we have today. It is a fallacy to believe that everything Jesus did was written down and contained within the bible. Therefore, one cannot cite that argument, especially because the argument proposed the idea of the Trinity would not stand up to that question. The Trinity is not specifically and straight forwardly mentioned in the bible.

In conclusion, the clause “descended into hell’ is an orthodox statement. It can be found in scripture and logically based on Jewish tradition is an event that took place. It is incorrect for the phrase to be omitted from the Apostles’ Creed or to be taken as a metaphor. Christology and soteriology would incompatible with scripture if the belief of the descent is not held. Without the belief of the descent Jesus cannot be named the savior of all. It leads to problems within ones theology and leaves a hole in Christianity itself. Therefore, it seems that one needs to say that Jesus descended into Hell in order to have orthodox Christology and to understand the salvific purpose Jesus came to fulfill.

References/footnotes:


[1] Catholic Church. 1994. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[2] Boadt, Lawrence. 1984. Reading the Old Testament: an introduction. New York, N.Y.: Paulist Press. 216-217.

[3] Boadt, Lawrence. 1984. Reading the Old Testament: an introduction. New York, N.Y.: Paulist Press. 217.

[4] Catholic Church. 1994. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[5] Levering, Matthew. 2012. Jesus and the Demise of Death : Resurrection, Afterlife, and the Fate of the Christian. Waco, Tex: Baylor University Press, 2012. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 21, 2015). 15.

[6] Catholic Church. 1994. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[7] “Why Did Jesus Descend to Hell.” Catholic Answers. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/why-did-christ-visit-hell-after-his-death-0.

[8] Matthew 28:7

[9] Ashwin-Siejkowski, Piotr. 2009. The Apostles’ Creed the Apostles’ Creed and its early Christian context. London: T & T Clark. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=601623. 63.

How to Love Your Enemy

Jesus calls us to love our enemies. This calling is not an easy thing to do at all. Though, this is something I am getting better at.

Now, before I begin, I want to say this is not a sure-fire way to learn to love your enemies. It may work for some people and for some it may not work. It may depend on the person’s disposition.

The way I have gotten a little better at loving my enemies is by praying for them and trying to understand why they did what they did. Loving is much easier when you forgive, and forgiveness is much easier to give once you have understanding. In understanding, you realize things aren’t black and white, and there is the shade of gray.

Now, forgiveness doesn’t have to be the first step. However, If you can simply pray for the person’s well-being and growth in the faith; you are likely going to develop good will for people. The practice may be very uncomfortable. From this uncomfortableness, you’ll grow and mature into it so that it becomes second nature to you to pray for people who have hurt you and hold malice for you. It is praying for them and wishing them well in my prayers that I have seemed to have formed the habit of loving my enemies. It helped me see beyond the black and white. And it helped me see beyond how what their actions affected me, and, also, how they might be just very confused or be in a bad situation themselves.

An essential point I want to mention is that this love is more of an act of will than emotion. It is something you will for. You may still hurt inside, but through your will you can want good for them and want what’s best for them.

It may take a while though. I may not hold malice for a girl at my university that slandered me and my reputation, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid of her or wasn’t trying to avoid her. Though, my therapist told me I am not allowed to be around her physically or emotionally for my mental health.

Loving your enemies is definitely a process and something we have to work on. It’s definitely not something you’ll just wake up and have one day. You have to make a choice to start doing it and trying your best at it. You have to choose to love your enemy and from this choice you will grow more into that virtue with practice!

I want to wish all my followers a Happy good Friday and easter! I hope you have a great Holy Week!

Who I Was and Who I Am

On this late night many things are on my mind. Things involving my past and the person I am today. Looking back at just two years ago, the change of my understanding of love is astounding to me. My aptitude to give love and love people despite the hurt they inflict on me is something I didn’t have before. The loving and sweet person, some of you know today, back then was a slightly different person two years ago. There are many things different about me today as compared to two years ago, but most of it boils down to truly learning what Love is. It’s incredible how I can still love the girl who spread rumors about me and would even likely take her back and be friends again if she would talk to me and try and reconcile with me. This is not something that just happened overnight this willingness to love someone like that. They say suffering teaches us lessons we have yet to learn and helps in our sanctification. And there is truth to that statement.

There is a quote by Mother Theresa which basically states love hurts. Loving someone is not easy, especially since we are called to love like God. This means loving when they hate you or are angry at you for stupid reasons. It means loving them and caring about them even when they ridicule you or make fun of you. God reconciles all people if they have a true heart and are guilty for what they have done. Love is painful because despite someone hurting you, you don’t harden your heart. Your heart is still open to love them. It’s still warm, and not ice cold to them. You haven’t turned away from them completely and still have hope in your heart for them.

They also say forgiving is hard, and I will be first to vouch for that statement. The more I reflected on forgiveness this semester and what makes, at times, some things easier to forgive than others, I found was if I had an understanding of why someone did what they did. Understanding in my perspective became key to forgiveness, because in the end everyone is just trying their best and most of the time trying to do what they think is right. I can’t say I have met a person who didn’t have a piece of goodness in them. I would even contend Adolf Hitler still had a shred of goodness in him after all the terrible things he did. There is some goodness in everyone and when you understand they are not doing the things they are doing, most of the time, because they are bad or evil then it makes it easier to forgive. You have this understanding of how a deed transpired and how the options were not black and white. Basically to restate my key point, forgiveness seems to be tied to understanding and understanding helps one forgive another.

I have found the person I am today tends to cherish the good in people and, sometimes to a fault, try and look for that good in a person and give the person the benefit of the doubt. Only more study of my faith and more guidance from God will tell me if I am on the right track in following Jesus and his steps. One thing I am learning at present is the reality of who I am is not contingent on others thoughts or words. I am what I am, and someone’s skewed perspective of me does not change who I am or what is true. What false things people think about me doesn’t matter. What people say or think doesn’t mean it’s who I actually am. This is especially true if the person is not my friend. Wounds and reproves from a friend can be trusted. And from my experience with rumors, I have learned to get to know a person and know the real them, before listening or giving heed to things being said about them.

To wrap this up, the only thing I can say for sure is there is more growing to come and I pray God gives me great patience on my journey to be what I am called to be.

Did God Forsake Jesus on the Cross?

Mark 15:33-35 is a well-known passage. People take the words that Jesus cries while on the cross to mean God had forsaken Him or He was separated from God in the moments before his death is written in the gospel of Mark and Matthew. This is the passage I am referring to from the gospel of Mark,

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

The same passage can be found in the gospel of Matthew since it is thought the author of Matthew used the gospel of Mark as a source when writing his Gospel. The Gospel of Mark is actually the first Gospel to be written and one can tell in the writing style Mark was in a rush while writing it. The gospel of Mark is thought to be written around the time of 60 AD.
Jesus in line 34 says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” This verse can be really hard for Christians without good knowledge of the Old Testament to understand. The New Testament is filled with quotes and references to the Old Testament scripture. The Old Testament was the only scripture the early Christians had at the time till the bible was canonized in the 4th century. I should also mention, Jesus quotes Old Testament scripture numerous times in the New Testament. What Jesus is doing when he says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” is quoting Psalm 22. Psalm 22 states:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.[b]

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.[c]
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you[f] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

If you notice it speaks of events that have happened to Jesus himself like his hands being pierced and his garments being casted lots for. The Psalm parallels the things that happened and were happening to Jesus. The main verse I want to point out is verse 24. It states that God has listened and has not left or forsaken Jesus. It takes this turn from the previous stanzas beginning in verse 22. Therefore, in my mind one cannot say God had forsaken Jesus on the cross because of the turn that happens in this psalm. The writer of Gospel perhaps only recorded the first line Jesus spoke. It is very likely Jesus spoke the whole psalm and not just the first verse. This psalm can be seen as prophetic writing and the last stanza can be seen as something that has come to pass already in our own time because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Did God forsake Jesus on the cross? The answer to me is no. Many people misunderstand that specific passage in the gospel of Mark and Matthew because they don’t realize Jesus is quoting Psalm 22. The lack of that knowledge prevents one from understanding that God did not forsake Jesus, but Jesus was quoting a Psalm that fit his situation and gave a message to the people watching His crucifixion. It kind of was like He was teaching, as well as praying to the Lord, until He drew His last breath.