I apologize due to the upcoming American holiday of Veteran’s Day; there will be no podcast for I was mandated for overtime work this morning. However, I will like to post the introduction of the First Letter of John. In prayer, this morning, I was reading it in a form of Lectio Divina, something called to me to do so, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how beautiful this letter is to the faithful.
The First Letter of John
1 ¶* That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2 the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship† with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 ¶ And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.
God Is Light
5 ¶ This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness‡ at all. 6 ¶ If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; 7 ¶ but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 ¶ If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Christ Is Our Advocate
2 ¶ My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 ¶ and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 ¶ And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.§ 4 ¶ He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 ¶ but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 ¶ he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
A New Commandment
7 ¶ Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 ¶ Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. 10 ¶ He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. 13 ¶ I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the Evil One. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the Evil One.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.
1.The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 1 Jn 1:1–2:17.
I began to be interested in the topic after conversations with several Atheists who make the claim that Moses isn’t real. In fact, these gentlemen would make the claim that the historical consensus has dictated that Moses is a myth. In this regard, they would be correct, the historical consensus would indicate that the Exodus account didn’t take place. However, when presented with contrary evidence, the atheist scholar indicates that they will only accept unbiased work, which means they will only accept a historical thesis by a none Abrahamic believer. The truth of the matter though is that all people have biases when it comes to forming the narrative and conclusions on historical events, a historian learns this in historiography 101. It’s natural that the secular scholar will not actively search for a result that contradicts their beliefs, but expects scholars of faith to do so.
Where’s the evidence? Now, this isn’t a philosophical discussion that relies on the metaphysical like the discussion whether there is a supreme being or not. The thesis being discussed is whether Moses was a living breathing actor in the temporal world. The secular assertion is mostly based on the lack of archaeological evidence, notwithstanding, I personally, as one who has operated in the field of history, do not believe that archaeology has the final say on all events—especially ones where archaeological evidence would be hard pressed to find—in deserts spanning over three thousand years. This debate is as important, if not more, than the metaphysical debate of the existence of God. The ramifications, of course, are that those who wish to discredit the historicity of Moses expand their assertion to the understanding that if Moses is fictional then Christianity is fiction, due largely to the Transfiguration of Christ, among other events. It’s important for our ability to make fishers of men to refute such secular biased scholarship. Egyptologist K.A. Kitchen writes, “Throughout the Hebrew Bible, there is no single event (or theme, if the status of ‘event’ be denied) to which its various writers hark back so pervasively as the tradition of the ancestral Israelites being liberated from servitude in Egypt, then forming a community under their deliverer deity YHWH.”
Scholars to fully consider whether Moses is truly a historic actor must understand that it’s certainly okay as scholars, and furthermore as the faithful, to disregard the consensus, especially if one is seeking to argue against it. There are other modern scholars who have argued for the case for a historical Moses and are basing their findings on archaeological evidence. One of them by the name of Gerard Gertoux who is Ph.D. candidate in France, who based on his biography at Academic.edu has been black balled by French academia, not by his dissertation on Moses and Exodus, but because he is a Jehovah Witness. Gertoux has published another essay on the topic writing:
“Some atheists refuse to take into account the Bible because that book states clearly the existence of God as well as miracles. However, in my opinion, searching the truth must be the fundamental purpose of any honest historian.“What is truth” Pilate said to Jesus (Jn 18:38). For honest and scientific historians, “truth” is based on two main pillars: 1) an accurate chronology anchored on absolute dates(Herodotus’ principle) and 2) reliable documents coming from critical editions(Thucydides’ principle)”
Again, as one who has worked in the field of history, I thoroughly support Gertoux on the above statement. After explaining what Gertoux considers truth he runs through a list of scholarly experts making claims that the Exodus story and Moses are fiction.
Here is an example:
Modern archaeology has shown that the concept of archives kept in Jerusalem with writings of the tenth century, is an absurdity based on a biblical witness and not on factual evidence. Bible stories would rank therefore among national mythologies, and would have no more historical foundation than the Homeric saga of Ulysses, or that of Aeneas, founder of Rome, sung by Virgil –Israel Finkelstein, Israeli archaeologist
Gertoux makes a clear distinction in his essay by stating, “An objective reader should note that most reasons put forward by these prestigious scholars are ideological, not based on any verifiable factual data”
Now it’s important to note that I am not necessarily endorsing Gertoux’s thesis, if this were the case I wouldn’t be interested in researching the topic myself. However, I do agree with is introductory comments on the topic. Here is his thesis:
“According to Egyptian accounts the last king of the XV the dynasty, named Apopi, “very pretty” in Hebrew that is Moses’ birth name (Ex 2:2), reigned 40 years in Egypt from 1613 to 1573 BCE, then 40 years later hemet Seqenenre Taa the last pharaoh of the XVII the dynasty and gave him an unspecified disturbing message.”
However, there are two particulars of the debate that I would like to discuss and one of them is the term myth. The modern understanding of this word often renders that anything labeled as a myth is fiction; however, this is an incomplete definition of the word. Most ancient oral traditions that would be considered myths effectively conveyed truth to folks who continued to tell the events–a method that was vital before the advent of writing. The Book of Exodus, and the Bible, are not supposed to be read as a historical account per say. It’s merely an account, albeit a cultural one that is a reflection of those who wrote it, of the revelation of God to man. Thus, it is the empiricists who have difficulty understanding that with those who continue to look to this collection of books that appear to reject empirical evidence for valuable information. Empiricists will do their best to dismiss the entirety of the Bible as a credible source, but they negate the fact that it was written by authors who would have recorded events from oral histories that predate the invention of modern historical research and writing. The second part, perhaps broken into subparts, is that does Christianity—due to the Transfiguration—require Moses to be truly historic, and how much of the account of Exodus has to be factual due to oral traditions? (An important point throughout the entire Exodus narrative)
 William G. Dever ‘What Remains of the House That Albright Built?,’ in George Ernest Wright, Frank Moore Cross, Edward Fay Campbell, Floyd Vivian Filson (eds.) The Biblical Archaeologist, American Schools of Oriental Research, Scholars Press, Vol. 56, No 1, 2 March 1993 pp.25-35, p.33:’the overwhelming scholarly consensus today is that Moses is a mythical figure.’
 K.A. Kitchen On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2003), 241.
 Gertoux, Gerard. “Moses and the Exodus: What Evidence?” Moses and the Exodus: What Evidence? Accessed March 24, 2016. https://www.academia.edu/13001480/Moses_and_the_Exodus_what_evidence.
St. Justin Martyr is important for many reasons, in fact, Pope Benedict XVI says that he is “the most important of the second-century apologist Fathers.”Of course, St. Justin’s name is usually paired with his fate; however, it’s also important to note him, as many were in the early years, as a convert to the faith. Reviewing our text, we learn that Justin Martyr was born “about twenty miles to the north of the City of David in the ancient biblical town of Shechem” around the year 100 A.D.
D’Ambrosio explains that Justin grew up in a pagan family, and during the time, it would be desirable to become one of the popular cloak wearing philosophers who were gathering their many disciples. In the last month, listening to one of Bishop Robert Barron’s podcasts, Bp. Barron that if any of us desire to become men and women who are learned in our craft then we must put in the time. So Naturally, Justin’s desire to become a philosopher led him to the great libraries of Alexandria and Ephesus to perfect his craft. During his time in these great cities of learning, Justin would be introduced to “numerous systems of thought—The Stoics, then Pythagoras, then finally Plato,” who would so heavily influence the thought of St. Augustine.
Whilst learning from these various schools of thought, it was during this period in which St. Justin Martyr would be converted to the Christian faith. Pope Benedict gives a stirring account of Justin’s conversion story of a trailing old man saying, “he himself (Justin Martyr) recounts in the first chapters of his Dialogue with Tryphon, a mysterious figure, an old man he met on the seashore, initially leads him into a crisis by showing him that it is impossible for the human being to satisfy his aspiration to the divine solely with his own forces. He then pointed out to him the ancient prophets as the people to turn to in order to find the way to God and ‘true philosophy’. In taking his leave, the old man urged him to pray that the gates of light would be opened to him.” The story foretells the crucial episode in Justin’s life: at the end of a long philosophical journey, a quest for the truth, he arrived at the Christian faith.”
It’s easy for modernity to dismiss this story as nothing more than a pious legend; however, if we take it at face value, can we not ask who was this mysterious old man? Are there mysterious in our lives that have led us closer to Christ? Have we encountered God and should we speak more to these revelations with our fellow Christians?
One of the great aspects of the Catholic faith is that is not an either; or religion, we’re not required by our Church to choose between faith and reason, but rather, we’re given the opportunity to have both; and; this system of thought has been exhibited in recent years by the 1998 encyclical of our patron, Pope St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio. The foundation of the tradition of faith and Reason in our church is very much rooted in the writings and life of St. Justin Martyr. As Catholics, we’re accused of being superstitious by tired stereotypes forged by anti-Catholic rhetoric; however, the truth is that we’re not required to be anti-science but rather pro-science. Furthermore, we can’t be afraid of science because in studying the creations of God we can only move closer to God, the creator of the world, and ultimately nothing can be discovered that would invalidate Him. Of course, this train of thought, is what led men like Fr. Georges Lemitre—the Father of the Big Bang Theory and Augustinian Friar Gregor Mendel—the Father of Modern genetics.
We’re also charged with taking up the principles of Logic and philosophy, more of the realm of St. Justin, as D’ambrosio explains, “Justin did not then take off his philosopher’s cloak. Rather, he believed that it was only after baptism that he was finally entitled to wear it. In Christ, he had found the answer to every question, the key that unlocked all doors, just as the old man had promised.”
After Justin’s conversion to Christianity, his desire for knowledge led him Ephesus where St. John the Apostle lived and died, and then from there, to Rome where St. Paul and St. Peter met their reward in which Justin would later take a share in it. It is in Rome where St. Justin Martyr writes two of his most important defenses of the faith, or apologies. Of course, an apology in the traditional sense doesn’t carry the same connotation as in our modern language,. Pope Benedict XVI explains, “the apologists had a twofold concern: that most properly called “apologetic”, to defend the newborn Christianity (apologhía in Greek means, precisely, “defence”), and the pro-positive, “missionary” concern, to explain the content of the faith in a language and on a wavelength comprehensible to their contemporaries.”
Pope Benedict XVI further explains that it was the message of his apologies and its criticisms of pagan culture as “He founded a school in Rome where, free of charge, he initiated students the new religion…considered as the true philosophy. Indeed, in it, he had found the truth, hence, the art of living virtuously. For this reason, he was reported and beheaded in about 165 A.d. during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor to whom Justin had actually addressed one of his Apologia.”
 Pope Benedict XVI, Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2008),17.
 Marcellino D’Ambrosio, When The Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers (Servant Books: San Francisco, 2014), 47.
 Pope Benedict XVI, 17.
 D’Ambrosio, 48.
 Pope Benedict XVI, 17.
 Ibid, 18.
The first Church Father that we’ll examine here in the Bell Tower Chapel is Pope St. Clement I of Rome. Of course with any person of antiquity, often what we know about the individual is pieced together from various sources, some of which may occur a generation or two after an individual has died.
Clement of Rome “Probably wrote in early 70,” as Catholic Apologist Jimmy Akin wrote in his book The Father’s Know Best, and that “Various ancient sources place him as the first, second, or third successor of St. Peter. (Most commonly, he is held to be the third, after Linus and Cletus.) He was the author of a single surviving Letter to the Corinthians, which is often dated around 95 A.D,” but Akin believes “this is too late a date.”
Pope Benedict XVI gave several audiences on the topic of the Church Fathers and specifically on March 7th, 2007 he spoke on Clement of Rome in which he said, “St Clement, Bishop of Rome in the last years of the first century, was the third Successor of Peter, after Linus and Anacletus. The most important testimony concerning his life comes from St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons until 202. He attests that Clement “had seen the blessed Apostles,” Irenaeus had been conversant with them,” and “might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes” (Adversus Haer. 3, 3, 3).
A magnificent introduction to the Father that we’ll spend this evening getting to know more about. One point that we can take from Pope Benedict’s reference Irenaeus’ words is that the early Church viewed Clement of Rome with the utmost respect, as well as, because his relationship with the Apostles, Clement was viewed with a special authority in their community. Pope Benedict explains, “The authority and prestige of this Bishop of Rome were such that various writings were attributed to him.” As we learn more tonight, let us keep that in mind when reviewing some of the content of his Letter to the Corinthians.
The letter from Clement of Rome to the Church of Corinth, in which he didn’t sign, is also called by scholars The First Epistle of Clement to Corinthians. The reason that we know today who authored this letter is from various sources in the 2nd century A.D. who attributed him to the work. The letter written by Clement is a response to an uprising of young Christians who sought to remove and replace established leaders in the church of Corinth in response to the Roman persecutions under Emperor Domitian. At this point, in regards to the historical record, we find a disagreement between Mr. Akin and Pope Benedict. As mentioned before, Akin believes that the Letter to the Corinthians’ dating at 95 A.D. is too late. He mentions in his book, “William Jurgens (American Catholic historian) points to internal evidence that places it no later than 80 or so (the date he favors) and possibly up to ten years earlier. John A. T. Robinson (New Testament scholar and Anglican Bishop) shows internal evidence that places it in the first part of the year 70. Specifically, Clement refers to sacrifices still being offered at the temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in July of 70. Clement also refers to the repeated crises that have prevented him from writing to the Corinthians until now, which is a likely reference to the violent “year of four emperors” in 69.”
Pope Benedict writes that the “These “calamitous events” can be identified with Domitian’s persecution: therefore, the Letter must have been written just after the Emperor’s death and at the end of the persecution, that is, immediately after the year 96.”
Who’s right? Well to be fair, Pope Benedict doesn’t present any evidence with his assertion, this makes Akin’s point appear more convincing. However, Pope Benedict’s view is the historical consensus as conceded by Akin.
I say it’s fair game to speculate a bit. If you’re still reading up to this point, you may have mentally asked yourself, “Does twenty years matter with dating?” If the dating by scholars to 95 A.D. continues to hold true, this letter could be one of the first historically documented records of the doctrine of Petrine Primacy prior to its more solid conception under Pope Leo the Great. In this regard, we see a reversal of Galatians 2 where the successor of Peter corrects and takes “it upon himself to speak to the members of a Church founded by the Apostle Paul…that they needed to restore the properly authorized leaders of the church.”
 D’Ambrosio, 7.
 Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 2010), 56.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2008), 7.
 Marcellino D’Ambrosio, When The Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers (Servant Books: San Francisco, 2014), 5.
 Akin, 57.
 Pope Benedict XVI, 8.
The Didache serves as a good catechism in addressing particular questions about God’s commandments. For example, What does “Thou Shall not Kill” actually mean when God commands the Hebrews to kill the Canaanites? What does “Thou Shall not commit Adultery” mean to the unmarried? 
The Didache addresses both of these topics:
Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not corrupt boys, do not fornicate (have relations outside of marriage); do not steal; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.
Marcellino D’Ambrosio, in his book on the Church Fathers, explains that this is earliest known documentation in Christian literature that murder in accordance with the fifth commandment includes abortion. The document also references a code for sexual relations. Modernity attempts to profess that its views on human sexuality are new and progressive, but this could not be farther from the truth as explained by the Didache’s explanation on the sixth commandment for “In the Greco-Roman society of the time, religion had little to do with sexual morality. Adventuresome sexual exploration was the fashion.”
One of the most interesting facts that we find in the Didache is the instruction of Baptism. When I was a teenager, there was a church that would have bonfires after every football game and most of the high school kids would go to eat free pizza and roast marshmallows. After awhile, the youth minister of this particular church began to attempt to convert us to his faith. It got to the point that this particular youth minister began to tell us Catholics, and other mainstream Protestants, that we were not immersed when we baptized like Jesus in the Jordan River then our baptism was not valid.
So why do we believe our Baptism to be valid? Again, I cannot stress this enough, studying the early Christians allows us to defend our faith. First off, scripture doesn’t necessarily say that Jesus was immersed, it says that “he went up immediately from the water,” “And when he came up out of the water,” So imagine yourself on a riverbank, you have go down a hill to get into the river and to get out of the river you “went up” from it, or you come “up out of the water.” Now, it’s very possible, and even probable that Jesus was immersed, but just because the Gospel records a particular event doesn’t mean it’s a formula. In fact, the only formula for baptism in the Gospel is given at the end of the Gospel of Matthew:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
Now, this could just be my particular interpretations of these particular text, I would imagine the youth minister in Mt. Sterling would tell me that these are Catholic apologist proof texts. So, I ask, what were the early Christian understanding of baptism.
The Didache reads:
“Baptize in running water, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (note that the only no negotiable is based on scripture) If you do not have running water, baptize in some other (form of water). If you cannot in cold, then in warm, If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
The early Christians only understood two necessities: #1 The Scriptural Formula and #2 Water. Different variables of water were allowed, and sprinkling was also allowed by early Christians.
Please read the other posts in this series:
 Didache 2:2 Some argue that abortion was allowed in Judaism; however, we must also keep in mind that Divorce was allowed in Judaism as referenced in Mt. 19, but Christ explains the reasoning why Divorce displeases God. Regardless of Judaic arguments for or against abortion, our faith asserts that the Church has been given the authority to teach God’s will.
 D’Ambrosio, 13.
 Mt. 3:16
 Mk. 1:10
 Mt. 28:19
 Didache 7:2
It’s natural to ask how the idea of community in the Didache pertains to Christians in our 21st century Church; the idea is very much rooted in Catholic “Body of Christ” Theology. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in section 787-789:
II. The Church—Body of Christ
The Church is communion with Jesus
787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings. Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you.… I am the vine, you are the branches.”216 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (755)
788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit. As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”219 (690)
789 The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.
Recently, I’ve read the Spiritual Diary of St. John Paul II; published for the first time in English. The future Saint wrote about the importance of Christian community in 1978 in his notes, “’Koinonia,’ the community, is the third principle dimension of Christian existence.” John Paul II would return to this theme many times in his diaries and in 1984 wrote reminding us now the dangers of living as an individual in our contemporary society that “Humankind threatened by ‘deindividuation! Contemporary Man. Christianity couters this with the reality of ‘communio’ the communion with God through Jesus Christ, through the mystery of incarnation; the communion of saints.”
Naturally, this is why I have sought to call all of us here together, I desire to foster this community amongst ourselves, but there’s even more that we can do build our community. We need to follow Christ. Remember, the Apostles asked Jesus, “Where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and See.” (John 1:38-41) We encounter Jesus at every Mass during the Liturgy of the Eucharist in our community, we become a part of the Body of Christ during our baptism, but we grow even closer to him by partaking of His body in the Eucharist. As such we use the same language during the mass, we call our celebration of the Eucharist “communion” and before receiving the sacred Body, it is held up the words “The Body of Christ” are spoken prior to reception.
 Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 208.
 Pope St. John Paul II In God’s Hands: The Spiritual Diaries of Pope Saint John Paul II (London: Harper One, 2017), 134.
 Ibid, 229.
The first topic of discussion is not a single Church Father, but rather a 2nd century document called the Didache based on part of one of the oldest known Catechisms in existence called “The Two Way.” The Two Way, as explained by Thomas O’Loughlin, Professor of Theology at the University of Nottingham, gave early Christians a choice between a way of life, either a way of life or death. What the Didache tells us is how early Christians worshiped God and whether our development of our faith is either very different from the faith of early Christians or very much alike. An interesting fact about the document known as the Didache, which means “teaching” in Greek, is that it has been lost for nearly 1000 years before being found by a monk in Istanbul in 1873. The particular Orthodox monk’s name that discovered the Didache was Philotheos Bryennios; “born in Constantinople in 1833.”
Bryennios’ story for me is an inspiring story, as a student of history, I’ve been taught various historical methods to aid my prowess as a historian. In his Book, Professor O’Loughlin explains that Bryennios had such a great aptitude as a scholar that his superiors found funding for him to attend a prestigious school in German to mold his budding skills as a scholar. Interesting enough, it were these skills that gave him the simple perseverance while researching in the library of the Constantinople house of the Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre by simply looking through an entire manuscript that was already well known by scholars at the time.
Now, from a historical perspective, I have to ask, what can be learned by the discovery of such a document? Did we discover that in fact Catholic theology had drifted far away from early Christians or did it faithfully adhere to the early doctrines of the early Church?
Let’s take a look and find out.
Thomas O’Loughlin gives a great foundation for understanding the Christian context of the Didache by framing it within the backdrop of the Judaic understanding of Deuteronomy 30:14-18. RSV
14 But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
15 “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.
Prof. O’Loughlin explains that “the people of Israel are presented with this choice: the way of covenant which leads to life and rejoicing in good things, the way of death which is the result of choosing another way and ignoring the commandments.” As explained, by O’Loughlin, this challenge that was initiated by the Hebrews and adopted by early Christians by ending the idea of cosmic fatalism—being collateral damage of pagan gods—was revolutionary to a great many people in the world; therefore, was extremely attractive to new converts.
The document reminds us that early Christians viewed themselves not as single individuals but rather as a community, as the advent of this type of thinking was created during the 16th and 17th centuries in the period commonly referred to as the Enlightenment. During the Enlightenment, the primary concerns of many philosophers and politicians was natural law and natural rights being inalienable to nature and essence of humanity by the natural order of our creation. However, the detriment of this type of thinking has led to extreme philosophies of individualism, materialism, and scientism.
The Didache, in many ways, reminds us that our Western civilizations continue to move away from orthodox (small “o”) Christian thinking and culture. O’Loughlin says, in accord with choosing the way of life—following Jesus Christ—“the individual had to accept the way as a member of the people, but was the whole community that had to choose to sset out on the way of life. Moreover, when individuals abandoned the commandments then the whole community was in jeopardy.”
 D’Ambrosio, 11.
 Thomas O’Loughlin, The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), 30.
 Ibid, 1.
 Ibid, 3.
 Ibid, 5.
 Deut. 30:14-18 RSV
 O’Loughlin, 29.
 Ibid, 30.
Nicholas responded to my short essay on Christ teaching the doctrine of purgatory in the Gospel of Matthew.
It needs to be clarified in accord to Catholic theology that Christ has already paid the debt of our original sin; however, as exemplified by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 13, because we are still scarred by concupiscence we may need to cleanse ourselves of sin before entering into the Kingdom of Heaven.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 15 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.
Nicholas claims that he proves a lack of clarity, of course, this is false. In regards to my prior post, I broke down Christ’s teaching in my eschatological assertion that according to Mt. 5: 5:23-26 that there will be an accuser, a judge, and price to be paid for not settling our sins here on earth. Now in the comments section, there was mention of Maccabees, but I wish to refrain from that point, as I did in the original essay for the reason that book is disputed within the canon between Protestants and Catholics. However, Luther and his contemporary reformers did keep the title in the appendixes as it does have value in understanding the beliefs of Judaism in the period.
Regardless, my response here is to disprove a lack of clarity, which as I claimed, Jesus says there will be an accuser, a judge, and penance (payment). Of course, for the purpose of showing clarity, it would be wise to seek the wisdom of the Church Fathers. I think here, as I am about to give a talk at my parish on various Church Father will state my introduction of said fathers:
““The Church Fathers are those great Christian writers who passed on and clarified the teaching of the apostles from approximately the second through the eighth centuries.” I believe this to be a very distinct and thorough definition but if one is looking for a more generalized definition, Catholic Apologist provides a more generalized definition explaining, “In time, the concept (Church Fathers) came to be applied in a general way to those who shaped the faith and practice of the Church in its earliest centuries. They became “Fathers” not only for their own age but for all ages that would follow. Some of these—the ones who heard the preaching of the apostles themselves or lived very shortly after the time of the apostles—came to be called the “Apostolic Fathers” or “Sub-Apostolic Fathers.” Together with the Fathers of later ages, they were important witnesses to the apostolic Tradition.
Also, as Chalcedon’s connection with John Henry Newman, as well as my budding respect for the man, I’ve included his view on the importance of what the Father’s claim:
“When they (the Church Fathers) speak of doctrine, they speak of them as being universally held. They are witnesses to the fact of those doctrines having been received not here or there, but everywhere. We receive those doctrines which they thus teach, not merely because they teach them, but because they bear witness that all Christians everywhere then held them…they do not speak of their own private opinion; they do not say, ‘This is true, because we see it in Scripture’—about which there might be differences of judgment—but, ‘this is true, because in matter of fact it is held, and has ever been held, by all the Churches, down to our times without interruption, ever since the Apostles.”
After stating the importance on the Church Fathers thought in forming orthodox Christian theology, it would be prudent to take a look at what they actually have to say about this passage, as proof that I’ve not created a supposition out of then air which lacks clarity in thought, as well as not all orthodox Christian theology is found jumping out of canon, but can be located in its subtleness.
Fortunately, the great Saint, theologian, and scholar Thomas Aquinas has already compiled s document with views of Church Fathers in a commentary of the Gospels called Catena Aurea.
In regards to this particular passage: St. Augustine writes of the judge, which, of course, is the Son of God, The Christ Jesus:
Whosoever then shall not have been reconciled in this life with God through the death of His Son, shall be by Him delivered to the Judge, that is, the Son, to whom He has committed all judgment.
In the comment section of the previous essay, as I was commenting during my breaks at work, and did not have the material readily available to make certain my assertions, I did error in regards to St. Ambrose speaking in regards to Mt. 5 23-24; however, the passage has a correlating passage in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 12:57-59 in which Ambrose does share his thoughts on the accuser.
57 ¶“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”
For this particular passage, St. Ambrose writes, “Ambrose. Or our adversary is the devil, who lays his baits for sin, that he may have those his partners in punishment who were his accomplices in crime; our adversary is also every vicious practice. Lastly, our adversary is an evil conscience, which affects us both in this world, and will accuse and betray us in the next. Let us then give heed, while we are in this life’s course, that we may be delivered from every bad act as from an evil enemy. Nay, while we are going with our adversary to the magistrate, as we are in the way, we should condemn our fault. But who is the magistrate, but He in whose hands is all power? But the Magistrate delivers the guilty to the Judge, that is, to Him, to whom He gives the power over the quick and dead, namely, Jesus Christ, through Whom the secrets are made manifest, and the punishment of wicked works awarded. He delivers to the officer, and the officer casts into prison, for He says, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness. (Matt. 22:12.) And he shews that His officers are the angels, of whom he says, The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; (Matt. 13:49.) but it is added, I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the very last mite. For as they who pay money on interest do not get rid of the debt of interest before that the amount of the whole principal is paid even up to the least sum in every kind of payment, so by the compensation of love and the other acts, or by each particular kind of satisfaction the punishment of sin is cancelled.
Now there are several elements to tease out here.
#1 St. Ambrose indicates that Satan is the accuser of which Christ speaks. In fact, his protégé, St. Augustine admits it to be a possibility:
“Augustine. (Serm. in Mont. i. 11.) Let us see who this adversary is to whom we are bid to be benevolent, It may then be either the Devil, or man, or the flesh, or God, or His commandments. But I do not see how we can be bid be benevolent, or agreeing with the Devil; for where there is good will, there is friendship, and no one will say that friendship should be made with the Devil, or that it is well to agree with him, having once proclaimed war against him when we renounced him; nor ought we to consent with him, with whom had we never consented, we had never come into such circumstances,”
If one takes a closer look at Aquinas’ commentary, we do not find anything in regards to the payment in Matthew’s commentary. However, in regards to Luke’s passage, we find quite a bit from the Venerable Bede on the topic in which Bede writes:
“If I paid every man every thing, I come to the officers and answer with a fearless heart, “I owe them nothing.” But if I am a debtor, the officer will cast me into prison, nor will he suffer me to go out from thence until I have paid every debt. For the officer has no power to let me off even a farthing. He who forgave one debtor five hundred pence and another fifty, (Luke 7:41.) was the Lord, but the exactor is not the master, but one appointed by the master to demand the debts. But the last mite he calls slight and small, for our sins are either heavy or slight. Happy then is he who sinneth not, and next in happiness he who has sinned slightly. Even among slight sins there is diversity, otherwise he would not say until he has paid the last mite. For if he owes a little, he shall not come out till he pays the last mite. But he who has been guilty of a great debt, will have endless ages for his payment.
Again, I must assert that logically “the prison” cannot be hell because In the context of Jesus’ words when one pays the penny, they will be released, the judgment of hell is final. Furthermore, I would hope that it being heaven is quite obvious. Now, as Nicholas has concluded, the early church understanding of these topics does provide substantial evidence for the practice of penance which would also indicate, albeit, I’ll admit, circumstantial evidence of state in which penance would be needed to purify the soul. I hold firmly that all of this is more than enough evidence to point to clear theological discourse of purgatory in the Gospels. And, in the sentiment of John Henry Newman, for one to conclude that there isn’t enough evidence, let that one also claim clear and precise theological evidence for the Holy Spirit in scripture. Of course, this is not to discount the person in the Trinity, it only serves as an example that one has to look for more textural imagery for some concepts.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), 1 Co 3:10–15.
 D’Ambrosio, 2.
 Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 2010), 23.
 Dave Armstrong, Quotable Newman (Sophia Press: Manchester, 2012), 169-70.
 Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 1 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 182.
 The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), Lk 12:57–59.
 Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, 473.
 Ibid, 181–182.
 Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 3 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843), 474.
What is it about purgatory that divides Catholics from Protestants? Does it actually have to do with justification? At first, I think it’s important to state that there is only so much that we can possibly know about purgatory—like Heaven or hell.
My post here will be mostly informal and written from my observations having spent a great deal of time and having a magnificent opportunity listening to confessional Lutherans. I’ve heard told in many circles that Martin Luther, a pious Christian, had been using the sacrament of confession; however, after each time of reconciliation, the Augustinian monk, would hesitate a bit while walking back to his theological studies as he just remembered sins that he forgot to confess. Luther, then, thought something of the nature, “I must still be damned.” The term for this is called scrupulosity, in fact, I was having a discussion on Justification and purgatory one night, I said, “I believe that at best, I will no doubt have to be purified in purgatory, I then used the term, scrupulosity, in response to being told, “I just want you to have peace.” I looked very puzzled at the reply, “peace?” The individual thought that there was no possible way that I could be confident in my salvation if I had to continue to worry about my sins and practice the sacrament of confession. However, my response, “I already have peace. I can be confident in both my state of grace and the mercy of God; however, If I do deserve damnation, I have faith in God’s true justice.”
So, why do I have confidence in the doctrine of purgatory, as opposed to this individual and Luther? There are various proofs in Scripture that Catholics point to in regards to Purgatory such as 1 Cor. 3:11-15, Jn. 14:2, Mt. 12:32.
However, my confidence rests on the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew Ch. 5:23-26
23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. 
The great accuser—The opponent– that we will all have at our judgment is Satan. So, here are two topics that many Christians fail to speak about in this day and age, Satan and Sin, mainly because most no longer believe in either. So, if most do not believe that there are Satan and Sin, is it fair to say that it would be difficult to believe in a purification of Sin? Could one make the argument that our failure to acknowledge such is founded in Sola Fide? Perhaps not, after all, many Catholics no longer believe that Satan or Sin exists. In regards to on the way to court, of course, this means our life on the way to the beatific vision, and our way to settle our debt of sin is with confession and penance.
It’s important to note that Christ then says, “you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” Christ couldn’t be talking about hell as the verdict from the Judge by this statement because if the judgment is hell, the judgment is final; however, purgatory is not a final state, but rather a purifying state, in which one will be “released;” therefore, their judgment of salvation has been assured.
One of the best pieces of Western Literature is Dante’s Divine Comedy, one of the great attributes of the text is that it speaks to us today of the Christian worldview of a faithful Catholic in the 13th century before the Reformation.
Notice, even in both Canto III’s of the Inferno and Purgatory the difference of the fates of those souls:
Here sighs, with lamentations and loud moans,
Resounded through the air pierced by no star,
That e’en I wept at entering. Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swell’d the sounds,
Made up a tumult, that forever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stain’d,
Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.
I then, with horror yet encompast, cried:
“O master! what is this I hear? what race
Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?”
“O spirits perfect! O already chosen!”
Virgil to them began: “by that blest peace,
Which, as I deem, is for you all prepared,
Instruct us where the mountain low declines,
So that attempt to mount it be not vain.
For who knows most, him loss of time most grieves.”
In Dante’s Hell, those souls, as with every circle of hell, are continuously moved in endless unending circles, but notice, that in purgatory, as Virgil says as the souls approach him and Dante, “O already Chosen!” those spirits are beginning to move forward as pilgrims to the reward they’re already assured as they can not move back.
The Book of Concord reads in regards to penance in indulgence:
They add further that satisfactions ought to be works of supererogation. These consist of the most stupid observances, like pilgrimages, rosaries, and similar observations, none of which have the command of God.  Then, just as they buy off purgatory with satisfactions, so they also devised a way to buy off satisfactions, which turned out to be very profitable. For they sell indulgences, which they interpret as the remission of satisfactions. They collect this revenue not only from the living but even more from the dead. They buy off the satisfactions for the dead not only with indulgences but also with the sacrifice of the Mass.
As I read the above text, I hear the “voice” of the writer, in respect, to being angry at the selling for profit of indulgences in regards to removing penance. I fully admit that those in the Church, and yes even leaders, are sinners and did egregious actions. Regardless, Catholics and Protestants differ on how God conducts commands. Protestants claim Sola Scriptura while Catholics claim that Church tradition can also produce theological truths. However, after applying Christ words using scripture, can it truly be claimed there is no command from God? Furthermore, is it “works” to simply pray for souls in purgatory? It’s well noted in the historical record that Luther edited books from the canon that displayed prayers for the dead, as it opposed to his prospective theology. It’s clear from Catholic theology that souls who receive no prayers will still be purified and receive their reward, in this regard, no action from anyone is meriting salvation, as salvation is assured. God initiates by a free gift salvation. I implore my Protestant brothers and sisters to see that “works” is not a bad word. If salvation is granted to us Prima Gratia, Christ still speaks time and time again about “storing treasures in Heaven” by actions on earth.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mt 5:22–26.
 Dante Alighieri, The Harvard Classics 20: The Divine Comedy by Dante, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 13–14.
 Dante Alighieri, The Harvard Classics 20: The Divine Comedy by Dante, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 157.
Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 190.