Friday, December 19, 2014

Calm, Reasoned (Rather Than Hyper-Polemical) Orthodox Catholic Resources on the "Torture" / "Enhanced Interrogation" Ethical Issue

By Dave Armstrong

I agree with what my friend Christopher Blosser had to say in his article in First Things:

I have little respect for those who cavalierly lobby in defense of waterboarding — or, for that matter, those who who bring a cudgel to the discussion — tar-and-feathering as the “Rubber Hose Right” (to borrow one well-known term) anyone who raises doubts about fundamentalist proof-texting from John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendour that torture, like slavery, is “intrinsically evil”, end of story. ( Cardinal Dulles noted himself in First Things danger of approaching that particular passage in such a manner ). 

I have considerably more respect for Catholic apologists like Jimmy Akin and Fr. Harrison, who address the issue with humility and trepidation, acknowledging the lack of clarity. Father Harrison in particular can be commended for taking into account the width and breadth of Church history and papal teaching. 

Nonetheless, it has been five years of predominantly lay Catholics — some very prominent — in open dispute and confusion on the matter. The positions of both sides has been articulated such that, every time this debate resurfaces in the blogging world, one can predict from memory the various points raised and tactics employed.

I also strongly agree with Jimmy Akin's statement in one of his excellent, characteristically thoughtful and measured articles on the topic (from October 2006):

[having] briefly chatted with Mark about the matter, my impression is that his position is within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought on this, though his is not the only position within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought.” - See more at:
I haven't been keeping up with this debate, including what Mark [Shea] has written about it, . . . I have briefly chatted with Mark about the matter, and my impression is that his position is within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought on this, though his is not the only position within the permitted range of Catholic moral thought.

Briefly, as to my position: yes, of course I (with the Church) oppose torture as intrinsically evil. The relevant question to be discussed, however, is: "what is torture in the first place?" It comes down to definition. And that discussion is (surprisingly or not) an immensely complex one, not simple and absolutely clear-cut as many people seem to be asserting in the present hothouse [so-called, pseudo] "debates" [choke] on the topic.

This is what Fr. Harrison, Jimmy Akin, and Christopher Blosser recognize and deal with in their treatments: where the serious, adult conversation truly lies, and that's why their articles are worth anyone's time to work through and ponder. Don't just read the mutual recriminations and shouting matches. Ignore them like the plague, is my advice (for whatever it is worth).

Someone has to try to foster calm, rational discussion on this topic. What goes on in so many venues is both outrageous and ridiculous. Little is accomplished and folks become estranged on a stupid basis, having (in many cases) mutually misunderstood each other's position all along, or with one party demonizing the other on inadequate (and most uncharitable) grounds from the get-go.

Not all interrogation is torture. Some no doubt is (as secular organizations obviously do not always follow Catholic ethics). I imagine that likely some is, in point of fact, as to what has occurred. I don't claim to know all the answers and ins and outs of this (anymore than Fr. Harrison and Jimmy Akin do or claim to have). I think very few make that claim or do in fact know the answers.

But I know that there are lines here that can be rationally discussed within an orthodox Catholic, magisterial perspective as to the ethical character of different actions.
My position is partly agnostic: it's a complex ethical matter and thus it is all the more the case that we ought not to demonize one another. It's the demonization and hyper-polemicizing of the issue that I detest.

Here are the further resources (if other articles of a similar dispassionate, non-polemical nature are discovered, I will gladly add them to the list):

The Controversial "Torture" Issue as Related to Catholic Development of Doctrine on the Treatment of Heretics [Dave Armstrong, 24 Oct. 2006]  

Waterboarding: Pro and Con [extensive discussion on my Facebook page as to whether it is "torture" and therefore, intrinsically wrong; 5 May 2014] 

Jesus' Parabolic and Analogical Reference to "Torturers" in Matthew 18:34, as a Relevant Consideration in Arguments Over the Ethics of Waterboarding and Coercive or Corporal Punishment in General  [Dave Armstrong, 7 May 2014]

Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part I. The Witness of Sacred Scripture (Fr. Brian W. Harrison)
Torture and Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Moral Theology: Part II. The Witness of Tradition and Magisterium (Fr. Brian W. Harrison)
Clarification on the Definition of "Torture" (Fr. Brian W. Harrison) 
The Church and Torture (Fr. Brian W. Harrison, This Rock, Dec. 2006)

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff in the Great Torture Debate (Christopher Blosser, The American Catholic, 22 Jan. 2010)
Catholic Advocacy of Torture: A Teaching Moment for the Catholic Bishops? (Christopher Blosser, First Things, 12 Feb. 2010)

What About Torture? (Jimmy Akin, 28 June 2004)
Doubts About Torture (Jimmy Akin, 26 Oct. 2006)
Defining Torture: An Initial Exploration (Jimmy Akin, Nov. 2006)

Defining Torture: Proposing A Definition (Jimmy Akin, Nov. 2006)
Defining Torture: One More Thought (Jimmy Akin, Nov. 2006) 

Interrogational Torture (Patrick Lee, American Journal of Jurisprudence: Vol. 51: Issue 1, Article 5; 2006; not sure if the author is a Catholic, but it is a thoughtful article)  

[see also the accompanying Facebook discussion]

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Books by Dave Armstrong: Footsteps that Echo Forever: My Holy Land Adventure of Archaeological and Spiritual Discovery

The front cover photograph was taken by Margie Prox Sindelar on 23 October 2014 at Caesarea Philippi: the stunning location where Jesus designated St. Peter as the “rock” upon which He would build His Church, and gave Him the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:13-19).

[completed on 8 November 2014; 165 pages. Published at Lulu on the same day; co-author Ross Earl Hoffman]

* * * * * for purchase information, go to the bottom  * * * * * 

[Note: Roaming Romans will be offering DVDs and/or CDs of the many hundreds of photographs taken on this pilgrimage by Margie Prox Sindelar, that will serve as a fine and necessary supplement to this book. I'll add appropriate posts when they are available]


I've written 47 books so far, and this one is my honest-to-God favorite. It's special and unique, due to the subject matter, and because it was the result of a dream trip of a lifetime. 

Secondly, I like it because it's thoroughly soaked in the Bible, and that is my specialty as an apologist. This is a book for Bible lovers: a feast

Thirdly, I am thrilled to be able to present some sections of my wife Judy (a very spiritual and "deep" person) explaining her intensely spiritual experiences at holy sites in Israel, as well similar expressions from Margie Prox Sindelar. These I consider (far and away) the best portions of the book, because they are extraordinarily descriptive: akin to the great Catholic mystics (whose works I recently compiled into a quotes book). 

This was a central goal for me in this volume: to convey to readers exactly what it felt like at these holy places. The ladies did a far better job at that than I did, which is fine: as long as the goal is met (I love working with a "team")! You can read examples of that in the online content for "Day Three," but their reports / comments for Day Eight and Nine in Bethlehem and Jerusalem are (trust me) astonishing beyond words. They send a chill up and down my spine every time I read them.

This is also the book above all my other ones, where I really want to reach and touch readers' hearts and souls. Thus, I am very interested in feedback and "reviews" so I can see whether I have accomplished that goal.  Please let me know your thoughts (in the combox below or on my Facebook page) and I will collect them on a separate web page.


Introductory Facebook post about the pilgrimage and my conception of this book. [8-11-14]

Highly related paper: "My Wedding Ring: Now an Extraordinary Third-Class Relic (and an Examination of Fine Distinctions of Relic Classes)" [Facebook, 4 November 2014]

Dave Armstrong, Ross Earl Hoffman, and Margie Prox Sindelar discuss the pilgrimage and book on a two-hour episode of Deeper Truth, on Blog Talk Radio (11-7-14), with Donald Hartley. [play show at the very top of the page]


Dedication (p. 3) 

Introduction: Anticipating and Reflecting Upon the Pilgrimage Three Months Ahead of Time (p. 7) [read online] 

Day One: 18 October 2014 [The “lay of the land”] (p. 15) 

Day Two: 19 October [Mt. Carmel (Elijah) / Caesarea] (p. 21) 

Day Three: 20 October [Transfiguration / Cana / Nazareth] (p. 23)  

[excerpt on Facebook, featuring Judy and Margie's profound spiritual experiences at Mt. Tabor and in Nazareth] 

Day Four: 21 October [Sermon on the Mount / Feeding of the 5,000 / Capernaum] (p. 33)
["Striking Topographical and Acoustic Facts About the Sermon on the Mount": book excerpt, Facebook] 

Archaeological Interlude No. 1: Has St. Peter's House in Capernaum Been Discovered? (p. 37) [read online] 

Day Five: 22 October [River Jordan / Mount of Temptation / Ancient Road from Jericho to Jerusalem] (p. 43)

Archaeological Interlude No. 2: “Bethany Beyond the Jordan”: History, Archaeology, and the Location of Jesus' Baptism on the East Side of the Jordan (p. 45) [read online] 

Day Six: 23 October [Caesarea Philippi and the Primacy of Peter] (p. 69) 

Archaeological Interlude No. 3: Sodom and Gomorrah: the Current Archaeological Trend of a Location North of the Dead Sea (p. 71) [read online] 

Day Seven: 24 October [Feeding of the 4,000 / Miracle of the Demoniac and the Swine] (p. 85) 

Archaeological Interlude No. 4: Has Joshua's Altar on Mt. Ebal Been Discovered and Verified by Archaeology? (p. 87) [read online] 

Day Eight: 25 October [Bethlehem and the First Christmas] (p. 101) 

Day Nine: 26 October [Church of the Holy Sepulchre] (p. 107) 

[read my article, What Does It Feel Like to Visit Golgotha? (Seton Magazine, 3 Dec. 2014]

Archaeological Interlude No. 5: The Locations of Jesus' Crucifixion, His Tomb, and the Route of the Via Dolorosa (p. 115) [read online] 

Day Ten: 27 October [Ascension / Gethsemane / Mary's Tomb / St. Stephen / City of David / Melchizedek / Hezekiah's Tunnel / Pool of Siloam / Rachel's Tomb / Mary's Resting Place] (p. 133)

[see the video of the sunburst and remarkably flowing water at the Pool of Siloam; also a photograph of the sunburst below; also my article about our visit there, in Seton Magazine, 17 Dec. 2014] 

Archaeological Interlude No. 6: City of David and Related Finds: The Exciting Cutting-Edge of Biblical and Jerusalem Archaeology (p. 141) [read the introductory portion and related comments, on Facebook] 

Day Eleven: 28 October [Khirbet Qeiyafa / David and Goliath / Gamaliel and Paul] (p. 155) 

Day Twelve: 29 October [Temple Mount / Pool of Bethesda / Birthplace of Mary / Fortress Antonia / St. Helena's Church / Wailing Wall / Temple Archaeology] (p. 157)  

 ["Why I Walked on the Steps That Jesus Walked On (Holy Places, Relics, and the Sacramental Principle)": excerpt on Facebook] 

[see a video of our guide Meir More talking at the first-century steps leading to the temple, that Jesus would have walked]

Day Thirteen: 30 October [Dormition Abbey / David's Tomb / Upper Room / Caiaphas and Peter's Denials / Prison (Jesus and Peter) / Western Wall Tunnels] (p. 163)


The back cover photograph was taken by Margie Prox Sindelar on 20 October 2014 at the site of the Blessed Virgin Mary's house in Nazareth, where the Annunciation (and first “Hail Mary” spoken by the angel Gabriel) took place (Luke 1:26-38).
Sunburst at the Pool of Siloam: 27 October 2014, just as our guide read the passage of Jesus healing the blind man at this spot, and saying He was the "light of the world." We have the whole thing on video as well: see above, under "Day Ten."

PURCHASE OPTIONS;jsessionid=10EE8BBF31C9393CACBC40E3EC97984D   
Paperback (List: $19.95 / 30% Permanent Lulu Discount: $13.97)

* * * * *

Last updated on 17 December 2014.

Anti-Catholic Cluelessness About Biblical Words and Literary Genre ("Paradise") Leads to the Obligatory Rank Insults of Catholics (Yours Truly)

 I received the following letter from one Chris Cole ( It's yet more evidence of the depths of imbecility and slander that anti-Catholics will sink to. If they are this desperate to fault a Catholic, then I think it's a very good indication of the bankruptcy of their own views. Thankfully, the vast majority of Protestants are neither anti-intellectual nor anti-Catholic. His complete letter follows (indented). Because of its slanderous, defamatory nature, I don't have any qualms about confidentiality at all:

* * * * *

Hi, Dave,

I am still reading your book, Biblical Defense. I found an interesting use you make of Scripture. If you did it accidentally, you should be embarrassed. If you did it deliberately, you should be ashamed.

On p. 135, you quote Cardinal Newman with approval, referring to Paradise as a temporary abode of the dead, while they await judgment, but not Heaven. Then, I flip the page to 137, you quote Francis de Sales, WITH YOUR EDITORIAL INSERTION, EQUATING Paradise with Heaven. That is a disgusting jesuitical trick, claiming that Paradise is or is not Heaven, as it suits your purpose. However, by placing the two places so close together, you accidentally showed your hand.

Your apostasy has turned you into a vile and underhanded man. I hope your popish rewards are worth it.

Chris Cole

Okay! First, let's look at the passages he is referring to, from my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. Cardinal Newman is commenting on 1 Peter 3:19-20, whereas St. Francis de Sales is interpreting 1 Corinthians 15:29. I've highlighted the directly relevant passages in blue.

Cardinal Newman comments: 

Our Savior, as we suppose, did not go to the abyss assigned to the fallen angels, but to those mysterious mansions where the souls of all men await the judgment. That He went to the abode of blessed spirits is evident, from His words addressed to the robber on the cross, when He also called it Paradise; that He went to some other place besides Paradise may be conjectured from St. Peter’s saying, ‘He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient’ (1 Pet. 3:19-20). The circumstances, then, that these two abodes of disembodied good and bad, are called by one name, Hades . . . seems clearly to show that Paradise is not the same as Heaven, but a resting-place at the foot of it. Let it be further remarked, that Samuel, when brought from the dead, in the witch’s cavern, said, ‘Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?’ (1 Sam. 28:15), words which would seem quite inconsistent with his being then already in Heaven.

[Footnote: Sermon: "The Intermediate State," 1836]  (pp. 134-135]
[ . . . ]

St. Francis de Sales:

This passage properly understood evidently shows that it was the custom of the primitive Church to watch, pray, and fast for the souls of the departed. For, firstly, in the Scriptures, to be baptized is often taken for afflictions and penances; as in Luke 12:50 . . . and in St. Mark 10:38-9 . . . in which places our Lord calls “pains and afflictions” baptism [cf. Matt. 3:11, 20:22-3; Luke 3:16].

This, then, is the sense of that Scripture: if the dead rise not again, what is the use of mortifying and afflicting oneself, of praying and fasting for the dead? And indeed this sentence of St. Paul resembles that of 2 Maccabees 12:44 [cited above]: “It is superfluous and vain to pray for the dead if the dead rise not again.”...Now, it was not for those in Paradise [Heaven], who had no need of it, nor for those in Hell, who could get no benefit from it; it was, then, for those in Purgatory. Thus did St. Ephraim [d. 373] expound it

[Footnote: The Catholic Controversy, Henry B. Mackey, trans. (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books, 1989), 368-369]

Remember, that our man Cole claims I am "vile and underhanded" in my interpretation, which is a "disgusting jesuitical trick" that ought to make me "ashamed." All I did was make one bracketed clarification that St. Francis was referring to heaven in his use of "Paradise" in this citation. Obviously, he contrasts "Paradise" and "Purgatory" in the same paragraph, so he is not equating them. He means something else then, than that. It is either the "limbo of the fathers" or Sheol or Hades, the netherworld, or he means by it, heaven. That the latter is his meaning, he makes clear on the very next page, two paragraphs later:

If there are some sins that can be pardoned in the other world it is neither in hell nor in heaven, therefore it is in Purgatory.

Compare that to the passage in dispute (minus my bracketed interjection):

Now, it was not for those in Paradise, who had no need of it, nor for those in Hell, who could get no benefit from it; it was, then, for those in Purgatory.

When he used "Paradise" he was clearly using it as a synonym for "heaven." Because some readers may not be aware that it has this meaning, I clarified in brackets. This is precisely what Chris Cole deems to be a dishonest "trick" and my supposed arbitrary twisting of one word this way and that to suit my nefarious "popish" purposes.

Of course, no such thing was done, and this can be easily shown from the Bible and Protestant or secular sources, as I will now proceed to do. Paradise can certainly be used as meaning heaven. Merriam-Webster Online provides three different meanings in its definition of paradise:

1a :  eden 2
b :  an intermediate place or state where the souls of the righteous await resurrection and the final judgment
c :  heaven

Likewise, under heaven in the same reference, one of the synonyms for it is paradise. ("paradise") gives the same information:


1. heaven, as the final abode of the righteous.
2. an intermediate place for the departed souls of the righteous awaiting resurrection.
3. (often initial capital letter) Eden (def 1).

When multiple meanings of words exist, then context is supremely important to determine the meaning. Cardinal Newman's context had to do with Sheol or Hades, whereas St. Francis was using the word as synonymous with heaven.

If our friend doesn't care about secular dictionaries, then let him see what The New Bible Dictionary (edited by J. D. Douglas, Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1962, "Paradise": 934-935), states:

In Lk. 23:43 the word 'paradise' is used by Jesus for the place where souls go immediately after death, cf. the concealed paradise in later Jewish thought. The same idea is also present in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31).

The same article, however, cites the other two instances in the New Testament (2 Cor 12:2-4 and Rev 2:7) as referring to "heaven." Let's look at these three passages:

Luke 23:42-43 And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." [43] And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

2 Corinthians 12:2-3 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. [3] And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows --

Revelation 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God

Jesus didn't ascend to heaven until His Resurrection, which was on a different day than His death. Therefore, He couldn't be referring to heaven in that instance. But in 2 Corinthians, note how Paul uses interchangeably Paradise and third heaven. It's a different meaning than in Luke 23:43. Likewise, paradise in Revelation 2:7 is heaven, since we know by Revelation 22:2, 14, and 19 that the "tree of life" is located in heaven.

The Greek word is paradeisos: Strong's word #3857. Thayer's Greek Lexicon (cited in the link to the left) gives the same variant meanings that I accept:

3. that part of Hades which was thought by the later Jews to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection: Luke 23:43, cf. 16:23f. But some (e. g. Dillmann (as below, p. 379) understand that passage of the heavenly paradise.
4. an upper region in the heavens: 2 Corinthians 12:4 (where some maintain, others deny, that the term is equivalent to τρίτος οὐρανός in 2 Corinthians 12:2); with the addition of τοῦ Θεοῦ, genitive of possessor, the abode of God and heavenly beings, to which true Christians will be taken after death, Revelation 2:7 (cf. Genesis 13:10; Ezekiel 28:13; Ezekiel 31:8).

Other lexicons agree. Kittel notes these different meanings, etc.

I'm afraid that the compelling "case" that my legion of anti-Catholic foes try to make; that is, that I am a lying, deceiving, scurrilous scumbag and all-around thoroughly wicked wascally wascal, will, I'm afraid, have to be made on grounds other than this.

Y'all keep on making your arguments against my character and basic abilities as an apologist (as you see it), and I'll keep on exposing and broadcasting them as the ridiculous charades and farces that they are.

God sees all. He knows (whatever my mistakes and errors may be) that I am not a deliberate deceiver, and He sees when folks bear false witness against others. God is not mocked. Lying about others and slandering them are very serious sins indeed. You hurt your own soul and your own less-than-stellar anti-Catholic "cause" in acting like this. The sooner you learn that, the better.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Pope Francis for Dummies": Helpful Resources for Folks Who Are Puzzled, Perplexed, or Bamboozled by Ubiquitous Media Imbecilities and Remarkably Christlike Words and Actions

I wrote on 9-20-13:

For all of you out there worried about the pope. Relax; chill. All is well. We have a pope who says the unexpected: a lot like Jesus. And, like Jesus, those who don't get it and are outside looking in, will misunderstand, and those who are in the fold will grasp what is being said, in the context of historic Catholic teaching, if they look closely enough and don't get hoodwinked by silly media wishful thinking.
Those who are outside often hear only what they want to hear (God loves everyone, even sinners!!!) and not what they need to hear (stop sinning; stop this sin . . .).

I wrote in a letter to a friend:

It's the same old dumb misunderstandings: media misreports what the pope said; never understand what he means in context, and in context with past teachings. Don't fall into their trap! Pope Francis is a good Catholic; nothing to be alarmed about at all. The world wants Christians to renounce their teachings. We're the guys who have never done so. We keep the same moral teaching that the Church had from the beginning: no abortion, no divorce, no contraception, no same-sex "marriages," etc. Virtually no one else has done so! So the attack is against us to change traditional morality, and we will never do that.

Nine things you need to know about Pope Francis's inaugural Mass (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 3-17-13)

Should We Be Concerned About Pope Francis's Inaugural Mass? (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 3-18-13)

Pope Francis on Homosexual Unions (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 3-20-13)

Behind the Campaign to Smear the Pope (Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Crisis / The Wall Street Journal, 3-22-13)

How Should We Understand Pope Francis Washing Women's Feet? (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 3-28-13)

Canon Lawyer Pete Vere on the Pope Francis Foot-Washing Controversy (Dave Armstrong's Facebook page, 3-30-13) 

Radical Catholic Reactionary Super-Site Rorate Caeli's "Cherished Friend" and Featured Pope-Basher, Marcelo González, is a Holocaust Revisionist (Dave Armstrong, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, 4-8-13)

Pope Francis and lying to save life  (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 5-15-13)

Did Pope Francis Preach Salvation by Works?? (Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing on My Head, 5-23-13)

Dreadful Misleading Headline of Catholic Online Pins Heresy on Pope (Brian Kelly,, 5-23-13)

Did Pope Francis Say That Atheists Can Get to Heaven by Good Works? (Jimmy Akin,, 5-24-13)

Did Pope Francis poke Protestants in the eye? (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 6-4-13)

Pope Francis and the Vatican "gay lobby"—10 things to know and share (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 6-12-13)

From the IOR to the gay lobby: Pope Francis tells all on flight from Rio to Rome  (Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider, 7-29-13)

Seven things you need to know about what Pope Francis said about gays (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 7-29-13

Pope Francis and the Franciscan Friars (Michelle Arnold, Catholic Answers, 7-30-13)

Don’t Tell the Press: Pope Francis Is Using Them (Elizabeth Scalia, First Things, 7-30-13)

Misinterpreting Francis [Homosexuality] (Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, 7-30-13)

Franciscans of the Immaculate decree worries traditionalists (Catholic News Agency, 7-30-13)

Pope Francis on Homosexuality: Take a Deep Breath (Scott P. Richert, Catholicism, 7-30-13)

On the Pope’s Remarks about Homosexuality (Scott P. Richert, Crisis, 8-1-13)

What Did the Pope Really Say about Gays in the Priesthood?  (Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M. Cap., Crisis, 8-5-13)

Pope Francis Uses the Terminology of "Extreme Traditionalism" (Some Quibbles with Kevin Tierney's Arguments) (Dave Armstrong, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, 8-5-13)

Pope Francis Will Enliven the Benedict Legacy (Jeffrey Tucker, Crisis, 8-12-13)

What should we make of Pope Francis bowing when greeting people?  (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 8-30-13)

Is Pope Francis about to eliminate celibacy? (9 things to know and share) (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 9-12-13) 

What Pope Francis really said about atheists (Stephen Kokx, Catholic Vote, 9-13-13)

Did Pope Francis say atheists don’t need to believe in God to be saved? (9 things to know) (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 9-15-13)

Pope Francis Focuses on the Bigger Picture With New Interview (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register,  9-20-13)

Pope condemns abortion as product of 'throwaway culture' (Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service,

Go Home New York Times, You’re Drunk  (Steven D. Greydanus, National Catholic Register,  9-20-13)

Francis’ Interview and the Unexpected Unity of the NY Times and the Francis Haters (Mark Shea, Catholic and Enjoying It, 9-20-13)

Pope Francis Contradicts Himself! (Mark Shea, Catholic and Enjoying It, 9-20-13)

Francis Confounds the Associated Press (Elizabeth Scalia, The Anchoress, 9-20-13)

Francis and Benedict, Peter and John (Thomas L. McDonald, God and the Machine, 9-20-13)

The key to understanding Pope Francis: the 99 lost sheep (Phil Lawler,, 9-20-13)
Pope Francis and His Critics  (Scott P. Richert, Crisis, 9-23-13)

Pope Francis Has Not Diluted the Pro-Life Teachings of the Catholic Church (Fr. Frank Pavone,, 9-23-13)

The Mission of Pope Francis, S. J. (Michelle Arnold, Catholic Answers, 9-23-13)

Report: Pope Excommunicates Priest for Supporting Gay Marriage, Female Priest (Dr. Susan Berry, Breitbart, 9-24-13)

The Papal Interview: A Survey of Reactions  (Joseph Meaney, Crisis, 9-25-13) 

Pope Francis and ‘The Interview’ (Abp. Charles Chaput,, 9-25-13)

Pope Francis: Every Unborn Child Has the Lord's Face (Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq., Catholic Online, 9-26-13)

A Big Heart Open to God: The exclusive [complete] interview with Pope Francis (Antonio Spadaro, S. J., America, 9-30-13)

Did Pope Francis just say that evangelization is “nonsense”? 8 things to know and share  (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 10-1-13)

The Pope, Abortion, Mercy and Context  (Fr. Frank Pavone, National Catholic Register, 10-1-13)

Is Pope Francis about to “rip up” the Vatican constitution? 12 things to know and share (Jimmy Akin,  National Catholic Register, 10-2-13)

The Pope’s Pro-Life Declaration “in Context”  (Dr. William Oddie, Crisis, 10-3-13)

Vatican: Scalfari Interview Misses Details, Conflates Facts (Edward Pentin,  National Catholic Register, 10-5-13)

Atheist interviewer didn’t take notes, record interview with Pope Francis: Vatican spokesman  (John-Henry Westen,, 10-7-13)

Pope Francis’s new letter to homosexual Catholics (9 things to know and share)  (Jimmy Akin,  National Catholic Register, 10-11-13)

Is Pope Francis going to let the divorced and remarried receive Communion?  (Jimmy Akin,  National Catholic Register, 10-22-13)

Why the media keep getting Pope Francis all wrong (Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, 11-7-13)

Papal Style: Caring for Souls while Leaving Doctrinal Exposition to Others (Dr. William Oddie , Crisis, 11-19-13)

Pope's words in interview may not have been his own, Scalfari says (Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency,  11-21-13)

Only Fools RUSH in Where Angels Fear to Tread: Limbaugh Excoriates Pope Francis Unfairly (Fr. John Trigilio, 11-30-13)

Would Someone Just Shut That Pope Up? (Patrick J. Deneen, The American Conservative, 12-5-13; mostly about economics)

The Thing That Used to Be Conservatism Puts Out a Hit on Francis (Mark Shea,  National Catholic Register, 12-5-13)

The Controversy Over Evangelii Gaudium  (Rachel Lu, Crisis Magazine, 12-9-13)

Pope Francis addresses Marxism charges, women cardinals in La Stampa interview (Catherine Harmon, The Catholic World Report, 12-15-13)

Pope Francis takes on allegations and rumors about his papacy: 9 things to know and share  (Jimmy Akin,  National Catholic Register, 12-15-13)

Pope Benedict Defends Francis on Markets and Ethics (Andrew M. Haines, 12-16-13, Ethika Politika)

Pope Francis on the “parable” of the loaves and fishes: 11 things to know and share  (Jimmy Akin,  National Catholic Register, 1-1-14)

Don’t fall for this Pope Francis hoax: 5 things to know and share (Jimmy Akin,  National Catholic Register, 1-2-14)

Dialogue: Has Pope Francis Changed the Constant Catholic Prohibition of Contraception? (Dave Armstrong, 1-3-14)

What did Pope Francis say about the children of homosexual couples? 8 things to know and share  (Jimmy Akin,  National Catholic Register, 1-4-14)

Does Francis Really Have a Marxism Problem? (David Byrne, Crisis Magazine, 1-10-14)

Did Pope Francis baptize a baby whose parents aren’t married? 12 things to know and share (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 1-12-14)

Il Papa’s Not a Rollin’ Stone  (Christopher Manion, Crisis Magazine, 2-3-14)

The War on Pope Francis (M. Anthony Mills, Real Clear Religion, 2-3-14) [economics issues]

Quotes from Pope Francis [great website that notes the massive distortions and spin taking place about the pope; added on 2-8-14]

Judge Not (Tim Staples, Catholic Answers, 2-14-14) [Same-sex couples and homosexuality]

Vatican’s Cardinal Burke: Media is ‘mocking’ the Pope by creating a liberal caricature (Hilary White, LifeSiteNews, 2-25-14)

Did Pope Francis just diss apologists? 9 things to know and share (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 3-9-14)

The Media’s Fictional Francis (John Paul Shimek, The Catholic World Report, 3-13-14)

Pope Francis’s First Year (George Weigel, National Review Online, 3-13-14)

Did Pope Francis tell a divorced and civilly remarried woman she could receive Holy Communion? (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 4-23-14)

Vatican responds to Francis’ call to Argentinian woman; more details emerge (Catherine Harmon, The Catholic World Report, 4-24-14)

Pope Francis: Zacchaeus and “legitimate redistribution” (Ed Morrissey, Hot Air, 5-9-14)

Breaking: Pope Francis is not an anarcho-capitalist (David Freddoso, Conservative Intelligence Briefing, 5-9-14)

Totally Missing the Pope Francis Story, Yet Again (Kathryn Jean Lopez , National Review Online, 5-9-14)

Muslim Prayers in the Vatican…Shock Horror?!!? (Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing On My Head, 6-7-14) [+ follow-up article]

Pope Francis on Sound Doctrine, Memory, and Adoration (Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, 7-10-14, Views from the Choir Loft)

Ten Things to Remember if Pope Francis Upsets You (Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing On My Head, 7-15-14)

No scandal here: How the 20 couples married by Pope Francis were legit (Kevin Jones and Ann Schneible, Catholic News Agency, 9-15-14)

Sorry, But Media Coverage of Pope Francis is Papal Bull (Elizabeth Dias, Time,  10-29-14)

Is Pope Francis Duping Liberals on Marriage? (Paul Kengor, American Spectator, 11-21-14)

Pope Francis As Reformer, Evangelizer — And Doctrinal Conservative (National Public Radio; All Things Considered: review of The Great Reformer by Austin Ivereigh, 11-30-14)

What Hierarchy Really Means (By Eric Johnston, Crisis Magazine, 12-1-14)

The Pope's True Agenda (William Doino, Jr., First Things, 12-1-14)

No, Pope Francis Did Not Call the Koran a “Prophetic Book of Peace” (Thomas L. McDonald, God and the Machine, 12-5-14)

Pope Francis on Cardinal Burke (+ Discussion) [Facebook, 12-8-14]

Sorry, Fido. Pope Francis did Not say our pets are going to heaven (David Gibson, Religion News Service, 12-12-14)

[see also my book, Pope Francis Explained: Survey of Myths, Legends, and Catholic Defenses in Harmony with Tradition]

* * * * *

Updated periodically with new relevant articles. Last update: 13 December 2014.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Books by Dave Armstrong: The "Catholic" Luther: An Ecumenical Collection of His "Traditional" Utterances

[in progress]



Introduction (10-10-14)

On Sacramental Confession [Facebook, 10-14-14]  

Invocation of  the Blessed Virgin Mary [Facebook, 10-16-14]

Casual Reference to Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) as Scripture [Facebook, 11-6-14]

On What is "Biblical" [Facebook, 11-10-14]

On Merit [Facebook, 11-10-14] 

On Eucharistic Adoration [Facebook, 11-11-14] 

On the Veneration of the Saints [Facebook, 11-11-14] 

Acceptance of the Eucharistic Principle of Ex Opere Operato [Facebook, 11-12-14]

On Mary's Virginity "in Partu" (During Childbirth) on Account of Her Sinlessness [Facebook, 11-13-14]

On Purgatory [Facebook, 11-17-14] 

On Nestorius and the Bankruptcy of His Reasoning Against Mary as the "Mother of God" [Facebook, 11-17-14]

On Sharing the Sufferings of Christ [Facebook, 12-1-14]

Luther Accepts the Sacrifice of the Mass (and He Doesn't) [Facebook, 12-3-14] 

Luther Calls Wisdom of Solomon "Scripture" [Facebook, 12-4-14] 

Luther's Excellent Argument Against "Believers'" (Adult) Baptism [Facebook, 12-6-14] 

Luther's Solid Arguments in Favor of Infant Baptism [Facebook, 12-6-14] 


* * * * * 

Last Updated on 6 December 2014. 

Veneration of, and Bowing Before Angels and Men: Absolutely Forbidden in the Bible?: Genesis chapters 18-19 and Revelation chapters 19, 22 [Etc.] (vs. Ken Temple)

 This brief exchange came about amidst combox comments for my paper,  Dialogue with an Anglican on "Praying to Mary," Patron Saints, Etc. (vs. Dr. Lydia McGrew). Pastor Ken Temple is a Reformed Protestant anti-Catholic polemicist, whom I have engaged numerous times. His words will be in blue.

* * * * *

I wrote, in the above dialogue:

Oftentimes, sadly, yes, because human beings have an endless capacity for self-deception, self-justification, and rationalization. What we need to remember regarding idolatry, is that it resides internally in the heart, first and foremost. One has to be consciously aware of what they are doing and what they believe. If a person is to replace God with a saint (as if the latter is equal to or higher than God), then they are consciously, deliberately doing so, or else it isn't idolatry per se. It may be spiritual laxity or even gross negligence, but not idolatry.

Ken then asked:

Do you think the apostle John was consciously and deliberately committing idolatry when he bowed down to the angel and was rebuked for it in Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9?

Revelation 19:10  Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Revelation 22:8-9 I John am he who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; [9] but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."

I replied:

Fair question. Here's what I think about that:

It is the spontaneous reaction of human beings (seen throughout Scripture) to be awed by angelic appearances or theophanies or direct manifestations of God.

In the moment you don't think "this is just an angel." You react with awe, which is what John did. He wasn't thinking theologically, as we have the luxury to do in our armchairs, but he was thinking, "this is a far greater Being than I!"

Moreover (and more to the point at hand), often in the Old Testament the Lord and His Angel ("angel of the Lord") are virtually indistinguishable, to the extent that these angels are called angels in one second and God in the next, so it wouldn't necessarily be clear which was the case.

Even in the burning bush, there is a reference to "the Angel of the Lord" (Ex 3:2) and yet two verses later, "God called to him out of the bush." John may have very well thought that this was a direct manifestation of God, in that sense, but was mistaken and corrected by the angel.

That's what I think was primarily going on, in which case it wasn't idolatry at all, because he thought it was God, or such a direct communication from God through the angel that "worship" was the proper response. 

My take apparently isn't an isolated one. The old [Catholic] Haydock Commentary stated at 19:10: 

St. Athanasius and St. Augustine think St. John took the angel to be Jesus Christ, and as such was desirous of paying him the supreme homage, or latria.

Not bad company or support for an exegetical opinion, but Ken is quite capable of blowing them off, if they don't support his (anti-Catholic) line of reasoning. Ken then counter-replied (the blue print below). My original answer was as follows:

We can speculate all day what we think an angel or God or inspired writer coulda woulda shoulda said. I think my answer was quite sufficient. As usual with you, we could go round and round forever, . . . You disagree, huh? Another shocking revelation! The anti-Catholic disagrees with the Catholic take! Stop the presses!

But since Ken is pushing the issue with a new provocative post, I decided to expand upon my reply.

I appreciate the way you answered that.

So, why did the angel rebuke John for it? 

Because (I think) he had mistaken him for Jesus. It was a category / identification mistake.

Since you say he was temporarily overwhelmed and/ or thought it was a Theophany - like in Genesis 16, or Gen. 18 or Joshua 5, etc. in which case it would not have been truly idolatry (In your opinion), why did the angel rebuke him for it?

See my last reply.

Since it does seem like it was sometimes Theophanies in the OT - and John is an apostle ( !!!)

Seems like if that was going on in John's mind, the angel should have said, "that's ok, I realize you think I am "the angel of the Lord" as in Genesis 16 or 18 or the Captain of the Lord's host in Joshua 5 (Theophanies), but I am not; I am just a creature created by God; but since you have subjectively distinguished in your mind and heart; then that is ok, since you are sincere. "

But the angel did not do that - he said "don't do that!" and "Worship God!" 

Yes, and he said, "I am a fellow servant with you" (19:10). I don't see any implausibility in believing as I do, with regard to the angel's response. It makes perfect sense in that scenario. He just didn't say as much as you thought he should. Big wow.

John sincerely thought it was God, in your opinion, or was just emotionally overwhelmed with "this being is mightier than me"

But in Roman Catholic Marian Piety, there is deliberate and planned and structed prayers and with flowering languge of praise and many times descriptions that should only be reserved for God - " I fly to you for refuge", "I cast my anxieties to you, O Mother of God"; "save me in this hour", etc.
So, there is no suddenly being overwhelmed in RC Marian Piety. And in RC Marian Piety, they are supposed to know in their mind that this statue of a woman is not God nor a manifestation of God; and indeed they probably DO realize that. 

That's another topic entirely, and I don't play the rabbit trail" game. But, nice try.

And John realizes that also, once the angel tells him that he is not a theophany as in Genesis 18 or Joshua 5. So why does the angel say, don't do that, and only worship God? 

See my 4th reply up, above.

I think it is obvious that it gives the appearance of idolatry, and no one can tell the difference between real idolatry and RC Marian piety. Only the devotee him or herself can testify as to the subjective experience in their heart and mind. 

Now I will flesh out my argument here a bit. As to the sometimes "textual confusion" of the "angel of the Lord" and God Himself, see, for example:

Genesis 18:1-4, 22 (RSV) And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. [2] He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself [shachah] to the earth, [3] and said, "My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. [4] Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, . . . [22] So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham still stood before the LORD. (cf. Heb 13:2: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.")

The text in-between goes back and forth, referring to "men" or "they" or "them" (18:9, 16) and "The LORD" or first-person address from God (18:10, 13-14, 17-21) interchangeably, for the same phenomenon and personal / physical / verbal encounter. But there are three men here; they can't all plausibly be God. Two of them were angels (indicated by 18:22 and 19:1). Thus, Abraham venerated them, too. St. Augustine argued that all three men were angels, but this seems ruled out by the presence (twice) in the text, of "the LORD".

A "man" is equated with God also in Genesis 32:24, 30. See the related passages Ex 3:2-6; Num 22:22-27, 31-35; Jud 6:12-16, 20-23. Here is a particularly striking and explicit example of this confusion:

Judges 13:15-22 Mano'ah said to the angel of the LORD, "Pray, let us detain you, and prepare a kid for you." [16] And the angel of the LORD said to Mano'ah, "If you detain me, I will not eat of your food; but if you make ready a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD." (For Mano'ah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) [17] And Mano'ah said to the angel of the LORD, "What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?" [18] And the angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?" [19] So Mano'ah took the kid with the cereal offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD, to him who works wonders. [20] And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar while Mano'ah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. [21] The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Mano'ah and to his wife. Then Mano'ah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. [22] And Mano'ah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, for we have seen God."

This passage is remarkable in that it goes back and forth between God (13:16, 19, 22) and the angel of the Lord (or of God) as His direct representative (13:15-18, 20-21 and in the larger passage, 13:3, 6, 9, 13). The angel is honored (v. 17), they fall on their faces to worship (v. 20) and at length the angel is equated with God as His visible manifestation (v. 22). But the difference between the angel and God is highlighted by the angel being described as a "man of God" (13:6, 8) and "the man" (13:10-11).

The Angel of the Lord is also equated with God (theophany) in Gen 31:11-13; Jud 2:1; but differentiated from God as well, as a representative: (2 Sam 24:16; 1 Ki 19:6-7; 2 Ki 19:35; Dan 3:25, 28; 6:23; Zech 1:8-14).

Lot also clearly venerated two angels, who appear by the text (again, 18:22 cf. 19:1) to be the same angels whom Abraham had talked to and venerated:

Genesis 19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening; and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed himself with his face to the earth,

They distinguish themselves from the LORD:

Genesis 19:13 for we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it."

All of this suggests that it was quite possible indeed that John could have mistaken the angel for Jesus. After all, Jesus had appeared to him earlier in the book, and when He saw Him, he "fell at his feet as though dead" (1:17; cf. 1:10-20). We also know that the post-Resurrection Jesus was not recognized for Who He was, several times (cf. Lk 24:16, 31; 36-39; Jn 20:14-18, 21:4).

In any event, since angels were venerated in the Bible in Genesis 18 and 19, by Abraham and Lot, without rebuke, we know that Revelation 19 and 22 cannot be seen as "proof" (as many hopeful Protestant commentaries claim) that such veneration is forbidden, and indeed, idolatry. Ken argues that any such veneration is too confusing, too easily descends into idolatry or is seen as such by observers; therefore, shouldn't take place at all. Funny, then, that God in His inspired word (two times) sees it as perfectly acceptable (from Abraham, yet!) and doesn't rebuke it in the slightest.

Moreover, angels are bowed to in the New Testament, with no rebuke at all:

Luke 24:4-5 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; [5] and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" 

Even men (apostles) are venerated in the New Testament:

Acts 16:25-31 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, [26] and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one's fetters were unfastened. [27] When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. [28] But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." [29] And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, [30] and brought them out and said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?"  [31] And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

No biggie. King David was venerated in the Old Testament, too:

1 Chronicles 29:20 Then David said to all the assembly, "Bless the LORD your God." And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads, and worshiped [shachah] the LORD, and did obeisance [shachah] to the king.[KJV: "worshipped the LORD, and the king"]

So was Daniel (without rebuke from him):

Daniel 2:46-48  Then King Nebuchadnez'zar fell upon his face, and did homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him.[47] The king said to Daniel, "Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery." [48] Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts,

The king was venerating or honoring God through Daniel, as is evident by his words. This is the sort of principle elaborated even by Martin Luther:

Thus, too, I would solve the question about adoring and invoking God dwelling in the saints. It is a matter of liberty, and it is not necessary either to do it or not to do it. To be sure, it is not so certain that God has His dwelling in many men as that He is present in the sacrament, but we do read in I Corinthians [footnote: 1 Cor 14:24-25] that an unbeliever will fall on his face and worship God in the saints, if he hears them prophesying; and Abraham saw three angels, and worshiped one Lord; and (to use your own illustration) what do we do when we “prefer one another in honor,” except honor and adore God in ourselves? Let it be free, then, to call upon God in man or out of man, in creatures or out of them, for “I fill heaven and earth,” saith the Lord. Here faith goes the safest way, for in all things it sees only God, but we cannot say enough of this to unbelievers, or prove it to them, because they are always worshiping themselves.

(Letter to Paul Speratus, 13 June 1522)

Daniel venerates an angel (seemingly Gabriel) later in the chapter, without rebuke:

Daniel 8:15-17 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. [16] And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the U'lai, and it called, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." [17] So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was frightened and fell upon my face. But he said to me, "Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end."

That's now seven instances of permitted veneration of creatures: four towards angels, and three towards men; five from the Old Testament and two (one of each type) in the New Testament. The Greek for "fell down before" in Acts 16:29 is prospipto (Strong's word # 4363). It is also used of worship towards Jesus in the following five passages:

Mark 3:11 And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."

Mark 5:33 But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.

Mark 7:25 But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet
Luke 8:28  When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me."

Luke 8:47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.

So why didn't Paul and Silas rebuke the jailer? I submit that it was because they perceived his act as one of veneration (which is permitted) as opposed to adoration or worship, which is not permitted to be directed towards creatures. Note that the word "worship" doesn't appear in the above five passages, nor in Luke 24:5 or Acts 16:29, or most of the other passages above, in the RSV. When "worship" does appear in connection with a man or angel, it isn't permitted:

Acts 10:25-26 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped [proskuneo] him. [26] But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man."

Thus, we see the same in Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9, because St. John mistakenly thought the angel was Jesus, and so tried to worship / adore the angel whom he thought was God. The same thing happens, of course, when men thought that Paul and Barnabas were Zeus and Hermes and "wanted to offer sacrifice." They were rebuked, as mistaken (Acts 14:11-18).

Therefore, we conclude (as Catholics always have) that worship / adoration is reserved for God alone, while veneration / honor is encouraged to be offered to worthy, saintly men and the holy angels. All this is plainly seen in the Bible, in the examples above.

In the comments for his article, Ken kept up the litany of unbiblical falsehoods:

The problem is the statues and icons in a worship context. . . . I have no problem with pictures/icons for historical purposes or teaching purposes. The problem is when the RC or others bow in front of them and start talking to them and praying to them.

Once again, Ken has a huge problem with the Bible. As a pastor, he shouldn't be so abominably ignorant of what it teaches. 

The Jews were commanded to fashion the ark of the covenant (Ex 25: 8 ff.). God revealed to them that He was present in a special, profound sense above the mercy seat on top of it (Ex 25:22; 30:6; Lev 16:2; Num 7:89; 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 1 Chron 13:6). It even contained manna inside (Heb 9:2-4), and bread and wine were priestly offerings (Gen 14:18; Lev 23:3; Num 15:5, 7, 10). The Jews bowed towards the temple when they prayed and worshiped (2 Chron 7:3; Ps 5:7; 138:2), which was a physical object thought to be particularly holy precisely because God was "specially present" inside of it.

Now here is the "clincher" and where the point is established beyond any doubt: the Jews would not only bow down, but prostrate themselves before the ark of the covenant and pray and worship God. That's already an inanimate object fashioned by mens' hands, and people are bowing before it. This is gross idolatry, according to classical Calvinism. Here are the biblical proofs of all my assertions:

Joshua 7:6-7 Then Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust upon their heads. [7] And Joshua said, "Alas, O Lord GOD, why hast thou brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!" (cf. 1 Chron 16:1-4)

Thus, here are the Jews, by God's permission and command, bowing before an "icon" made by human hands, and praying to God at the same time: exactly as Ken claimed shouldn't be allowed, since he thinks it is "idolatry."

But Ken might retort: "What has any of this to do with statues?" Well, the statues were the large cherubim that sat atop the ark of the covenant: representations of winged celestial beings, with feet and hands. God said that He was "enthroned" on the mercy seat on top of the ark, between the two cherubim with outstretched wings (see references above for the mercy seat; also the passage immediately above; Ps 80:1; 99:1; Is 37:16; Ezek 10:4; Heb 9:5). These were described in the detailed instructions for constructing the ark (Ex 25:18-22).

Therefore, whenever the Jews or the high priest alone or other important figures prayed and worshiped before the ark of the covenant, they were doing so also before two statues (of creatures) made by men. The objections above, from unbiblical traditions of men, are thus annihilated from explicit Scripture. God can't command and condone in one place what He supposedly condemned and prohibited in another.

Moreover, it wasn't just the ark of the covenant that had statues on it. The temple itself was filled with images and statues of cherubim (Ex 26:31; 2 Chron 3:7), so that every time worship took place in it, statues and other images were involved.

Herod's temple didn't have the statues, but rather, paintings of cherubim on the walls. The first Christians (and Jesus Himself) were still worshiping in the Temple (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 21:26; 22:7; 24:12, 17-18) and abiding by Jewish rituals. The sacrifices were still being made there.

No (desperate) objection can be made concerning the absence of literal statues in the third (Herod's) Temple, however, because the ones in Solomon's Temple (1 Kgs 6:23-35) had been approved by God ("I have consecrated this house which you have built" -- 1 Kgs 9:3). God couldn't say one thing at one time, and change His mind later on and say it was a grave sin (the omniscient God cannot change His mind, and that would overthrow His own morality, anyway, which is equally impossible). Therefore, having mere paintings later rather than statues is no indication of any fundamental change.

The Jews also worshiped God via the images of clouds (Ex 33:8-10) and fire (2 Chron 7:1-4): all expressly sanctioned by God and not condemned at all.

Ken's assertions are, therefore, decisively refuted from Scripture at every turn.

[for further discussion see my cross-posting on Facebook]