Do we have spirit, soul, and body or just soul and body?

I was at a coffee shop yesterday and I got pulled into a conversation with a stranger about metaphysical nature of the soul.

This man emphasized that we are not simply a soul and body, but that we are spirit, soul, and body.

So what is the Catholic to say?

dante-souls

This the bipartite vs. tripartite debate on human anthropology. The majority position in the Catholic Church is that we have a physical element (body headed by the brain) and a metaphysical element (soul headed by the spirit). The spirit is the highest intellectual faculty of the soul.

The locus classicus on this topic is Hebrews 4:12

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Tripartite advocates point here showing that “soul and spirit” are distinguished and thus separate. The problem here is that if soul and spirit are different entities then our body is also twofold with different entities, namely joins and marrow.

Soul Vocab in Scripture

Let’s review the terminology in Hebrew and Greek:

Hebrew

  • Basar: flesh or body. In Genesis, this comes from dirt, mud, or grime. It is the lowest basest element of man.
  • Nephesh: soul or life force. In Genesis this is the life of a living thing. It can be said that animals and perhaps plants have nephesh or a living force within them.
  • Ruach: spirit or breath. In Genesis, God breathes this into Adam and it is what makes human unique from all other animals. It is something we share with God – the intellectual and voluntary faculty that makes us rational animals or human.

Greek

  • Sarx: flesh. In Greek it is the body but also includes the animal passions of the body for nutrition and sex. Saint Paul typically uses sarx to include the effects of original sin in all humans. Hence sarx has a somewhat pejorative meaning in the New Testament as in the sinful “law of the flesh.”
  • Soma: body. This is a physical body and doesn’t necessarily include the passionate elements of sarx above, but it can. Used 129 times in NT.
  • Psyche: soul or life force. The Greeks explicitly stated that all living things have a “soul” or psyche, including plants, animals, and humans. Some speculated whether each star and planet had a psyche since they also had an interior principle of motion similar to life. Used 105 times.
  • Nous: mind. In Greek this refers to the highest intellectual faculty of the human.
  • Pneuma: spirit or breath. This is a spiritual or supernatural element in man. Used 385 times, but about 80 times for the human spirit, as opposed to the Holy Spirit.

The Church Father Origen (who spoke Greek) speculated that “nous” referred to the human mind, but “pneuma” referred to the human mind redeemed and filled with grace. I rather like Origen’s suggestion. It makes a lot of sense to me.

Early Gnostics (drawing from Paul in 1 Corinthians, esp. chs. 2 and 15) spoke of three kinds of people:

  1. sarkic or fleshly people. He relates this to Jews and unsaved people who have not the ability to see Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior. They live according to sight and according to the flesh. For Paul, the Jewish preoccupation with circumcision is an example of them living “by the flesh.”
  2. pscyhic or soulish people. Common people in the mainstream church who have not been initiated into the deeper knowledge of the Gnostic teachers.
  3. pneumatic or spiritual people. Those who have acquired the secret teachings passed along by visions or by secret traditions allegedly derived from the Paul or the Apostles.

Church Fathers on Bipartite vs. Tripartite

The Eastern Orthodox Church tends toward a tripartite anthropology and this likely derives from the distinctions of Saint Paul, but especially from the writings of Origen and, through his influence, the writings of the three Cappadocian Fathers Saint Basil, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and Saint Gregory Nazianzus. If you are interested in learning more about Origen and these three sainted teachers and their theology, please watch the NSTI video lessons on them in our Historical Theology Modules.

In the West, the Pelagian heretics wrongly taught that the soul and body were corrupted by sin, but that the human spirit remained unaffected by sin and remained righteous and good. Consequently, Saint Augustine and others blew a hole in the Pelagian tripartite anthropology showing that the moral state of the soul was the same as the moral state of the human spirit. The strict tripartite arrangement was associated with Pelagianism and was thus held suspect in the Latin West.

What and How Can We Speak of “Spirit and Soul”?

When speak of the soul by the Hebrews (nephesh) and by the Greeks (psyche), they spoke chiefly of life and motion. Oak trees, weeds, crabs, fish, squirrels, and gorillas possess this “life force” or “soul.” The Jews by divine revelation and the Greeks through philosophy were speaking of the same thing.

Even more, both understand that within the human person, there was something beyond the life force. Beyond our motion across earth. Beyond our pursuit for food and sex. It was something that set us apart. Something that made us religious and reflective. It is what made us homo liturgicus. It was the rational spirit they sparks within us the questions of “Why am I alive? What is the purpose of life? Who made us? What are we supposed to be doing? Where are we headed? What happens after all this?”

In the Latin West, we call this the “rational soul” or the “intellectus.” Those terms work, but I rather like the poetic distinction between the “soul” and the “spirit” in Scripture. As Saint Paul said, Adam had for us a soul. But Christ became for us a “life giving spirit.” Here Paul doesn’t mean that Christ was a docetic or solely spiritual phantasm. Rather, he is capturing that Christ becomes for us the means by which we find the answers to the spiritual questions that I’ve listed above.

And as Origen (though not a saint and somewhat dangerous) observed, his suggestion that “mind/intellect” and “spirit” are simply two ways of referring to the same thing but from different points of view – with the spirit being the way to refer to the illuminated and redeemed mind.

It seems that the presence of the divine Holy Spirit in our soul transforms our intellect into a spiritual intellect or into a spirit. My guess is that the liturgical response “and with your spirit” is an acknowledgment of this reality in the communal life of the Church. When we respond that way, we aren’t just saying “and also with you,” but we are acknowledging the transformative power of the Holy Spirit within the celebrant.

Taylor Marshall is Part Jewish as it turns out

When I was 22 years old, a Jewish woman stopped me in the street. I remember her cupping my face in her hands and she said, “You are a Jewish boy.”

I said, “I’m not Jewish.”

She responded, “Oh yes you are. You are Jewish. However, you just don’t know that you’re Jewish. I see it in your eyes and in your mouth. You are Jewish.”

She smiled and was so kind and sweet. It was a surreal moment.

But as it turns out, she was correct!

My uncle recently had a genealogical blood test that identified him as 19.3% Ashkenazi Jewish…which makes me 9.65% Jewish.

There have been rumors of our Jewish ancestry for years. My grandfather Philip claimed to be Swedish and Lutheran, but he had the last name of “Koppel” – a traditional Jewish last name.

“Koppel” is the Ashkenazic Jewish diminutive (little nick name) for Jakob, that is “Little Jacob.”

 

So this explains a few Jewish things in my life:

  1. My first book is titled: The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholicism
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  2. That trilogy of books is given to showing how Christianity transitioned from Jerusalem to Rome by God’s design and as a fulfillment of Jewish prophecy:
    screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-4-56-19-pm
  3. My audio series on the book of Revelation is a study on the forgotten Jewishness of the Apocalyptic signs and visions.
  4. A teach a class in Rome for Seminarians that includes the Jewish origins of the Catholic Church in Rome.
  5. A founded the Maccabee Society – a Christian fraternity for men – and named it after the great Jewish warrior and general Judas Maccabeus. I did this before I knew about the Jewish lineage.

So there you have it. My inner Jew has been discreetly speaking all along.

I’m going to anticipate an objection that I foresee in the comments: “You’re not Jewish because Judaism says that your mother must be Jewish in order for you to be Jewish.”

Some Jews may say this, but it’s not biblical and it’s not true. Here’s why Judaism has never truly been matrilineal:

  1. Ephraim and Manasseh were the fathers of two Jewish tribes. Their father was Joseph of the colored coat. And their mother was an Egyptian daughter of an Egyptian priest, that is, non-Israelite. So these 2 men were born of a non-Israelite mother. Are you seriously going to claim that 2 of the 12 Tribes of Israel are not truly Israelite?
  2. Moses married a non-Israelite wife. His children were obviously Israelite.
  3. Boaz married the non-Jewish Ruth. She has a book of the Bible named after her. Ruth was the mother of Obed, the grandfather of David. So if Obed (born of a non-Jewish mother) is not Jewish, then, neither is King David.

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More biblical examples could be given. Israelites are merely children of the Israelites, even if there is a mixed marriage. Michael Barber even has a cool theory that the DNA of Abraham has descended to almost of all humanity through the exile and assimilation of the ten northern tribes.

Question: Has anyone else out there discovered a Jewish heritage later in life? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Shalom,
Taylor Marshall

Catholic Webinar on the Book of Revelation with Dr Marshall

This Thursday night at 8pm I’ll be hosting another free Catholic Webinar on the Book of Revelation from a biblical, traditional, and Catholic point of view. If you’ve ever had questions or confusions about the End Times of the Book of Revelation, you won’t want to miss this Catholic Webinar Event.

YOU WILL DISCOVER:

  • Why the Book of Revelation was written
  • a Catholic interpretation of Revelation based on Scripture, Tradition, and Church Fathers
  • the Virgin Mary in Revelation 12
  • the Mark of the Beast and 666 from a Catholic view point of view
  • EVERYONE THAT ATTENDS WILL RECEIVE a FREE pdf worksheet of the Webinar. Dr Marshall will make available his 16 part series on Catholic Revelation.
  • Register to reserve your spot by clicking here.

Register here no border

St Michael vs. Lucifer: Why St Michael Won!

Catholic Video Lesson

Saint Michael was one of the lower angels. Lucifer was the highest angel. How did Lucifer fall and how did Saint Michael get his name (Mi Cha El?).

Here’s a free video from the New Saint Thomas Institute on the subject of Satan and Michael. You’ll learn about the creation of the angels, the fall of Satan according to Saint Augustine, and the reason Saint Michael is called “Mi Cha El.”

Don’t see the video? Click here to watch it.

Are you not yet a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute? If not, Fall Enrollment is now open. Join well over 3,000 Members of the New Saint Thomas Institute from all over the world as we study Catholic theology together.

There are limited spots and our tuition sale is limited. We also have a bunch of great bonuses for this fall. Want to join? Learn by clicking here.

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How to Explain Sign of the Cross to Protestants

Sarah K, a Premium Member student at the New Saint Thomas Institute recently asked:

What is the history of the Sign of the Cross? How can I defend this practice to Protestants/atheists/other religions?

St Helen and the true cross

St Helen and the true cross

Many of our students responded with excellent answers (if you’re a student of NSTI, you can read them here), but here is my advice to Sarah:

Sarah,

When talking about this with a non-Catholic, you should be succinct and convincing. Protestants prefer “Scripture alone” but they can be swayed by quotes from the earliest Church Fathers. So I would recommend this line of argument:

The Apostles would place the sign of the cross on the foreheads of newly baptized people in fulfillment prophetic visions found in Ezekiel and Revelation. After baptism, Christians would continue to make the sign of the cross on their foreheads, and we see evidence of it in the Bible and Church Fathers. When Christianity became legal, the larger sign of the cross made from head to stomach became adopted. But the original form is simply made with the thumb on the forehead.

SCRIPTURE
Ezekiel speaks of the “mark of the t” administered by the heavenly “man in linen” on the head of the faithful. “Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”

The heavenly “man in linen” is the Second Person of the Trinity. Revelation depicts Jesus Christ as the man in linen.

So Ezekiel describes Christ placing a saving “t” or “x” shaped letter on the forehead. The Book of Revelation carries on the description of placing the cross on the forehead.

For my in depth discussion on the sign of the cross as “the mark of the Christ” in the Book of Revelation (in contrast with “the Mark of the Beast:), you can listen for free here.

CHURCH FATHERS
For Church Fathers goes with Tertullian. Writing in around A.D. 204, Tertullian explained that Christians mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross.

In all our travels and movements in all our coming in and going out, in putting of our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross. (Tertullian, De corona milites, 3)

My bestselling novel Sword and Serpent features early Christians often making the signum crucis on their foreheads. You can read a sample and reviews by clicking here at amazon.com.

Sword and Serpent

Catholic Video: What is the Historical Date of Mary’s Assumption?

In what year did Christ raise and elevate the body of His Blessed Mother into Heaven? Some say in the AD 40s or 50s. I argue based on data in the New Testament that Mary was assumed in AD 63. Please watch the video lesson that I’ve prepared on this topic for NSTI.

[If you don’t see the video in your browser or email, click here to begin watching.]

This is lesson 7 of Church History: Module 2 – Redemptive History: Christ of the Covenants. To sign up and watch the rest of the lessons and modules in this Catholic Church History Course (and earn a Certificate), please visit: New Saint Thomas Institute’s Certificate in Catholic History:

Question: Do you agree that dating the Dormition/Assumption to AD 63 makes the most sense? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

And here are some interesting resources for you as we celebrate Our Lady’s Dormition and Assumption:

  1. Did the Virgin Mary Die? The Answer May Surprise You (The majority tradition in Catholic history is that Our Lady did experience the separation of body and soul.)
  2. Audio: Mary as Assumed in Revelation 12 Podcast: Our Lady of the Apocalypse
  3. Did Christ receive an assumption or ascension or both?
  4. The year of the assumption according to Maria Agreda
  5. The Assumption of Saint Joseph – A forgotten tradition
  6. If you deny the Assumption – You have fallen away!
  7. Saint Gregory of Tours on the Assumption
  8. The Assumption of Mary in the Book of Psalms
  9. Does the Rosary Pre-Date Dominic?
  10. Mary’s Special Role over Purgatory
  11. Mary’s Empty Tomb Information
  12. Did Pope Pius XII Teach that Mary died? Yes he did

Enjoy!

to Jesus through Mary,
Taylor Marshall

Islam Will Destroy Itself By Creating Christian Martyrs!

Nero did not understand it. Diocletian did not understand it.

God’s greatest love is unleashed into creation through martyrdom.

When a believer in Jesus Christ surrenders his life in death for witness of Christ, suddenly and immediately the power of the crucified Lord enters into the world.

Two “citizens” of the Islamic State beheaded the 86-year-old priest Father Jacques Hamel. Like Nero and Diocletian, the Islamic State does not comprehend the power they are fighting.

Fr Jacques Hamel pray for us!

Rome molested the Church. And Rome was overcome through martyrdom. Islam has been molesting Christianity for 1,400 years. And Islam will be defeated through martyrdom. It’s easy to day, but the difficult questions are these:

  1. Do I believe that God would give me the grace to die as faithfully as a martyr?
  2. Would I be willing for my children to demonstrate the witness of a martyr in the future?
  3. Would I rejoice to be a martyr as so many thousands of martyrs have in previous centuries?

It is helpful to remember that from AD 60 till AD 313, receiving sacramental baptism meant that you were enrolled for martyrdom. Every parish and every diocese on the planet during those years could name martyrs from their midst. Every Christian community possessed martyrs: Jerusalem, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Carthage, Lyons, etc.

Martyrdom was so common that Christianity underwent a crisis of identity after Constantine legalized Christianity: Can Christians truly be Christian without the reality of impending martyrdom?

The monastic revolution of the 4th and 5th centuries was a response to this identity crisis – the monastics sought to regain the danger and asceticism of carrying the cross.

For me personally, this is a moment of personal crisis. I wrote books about Christ. I record podcasts and videos about Christ. I talk about Christ frequently. But am I ready for this to happen to me:

…two Islamic State knifemen who cut the priest’s throat after bursting into a French church and taking nuns and worshippers hostage before being shot dead by police.

Question: What about you? Do you feel ready? What if it comes to this in the West? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Father Jacques Hamel, pray for us.

In defense of “I am not worthy” in the Roman Mass

The Huffington Post recently published an article titled “Dear Pope Francis, End the Religious Ritual that Devalues Human Life” by Christine Horner.

Ms. Horner writes:

Every single day before communion, millions of Christians verbally declare one of the most destructive phrases in human history.

Stop the press.The tribunal of the Huffington Post’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has made a judgment. According to them, Catholics are daily reciting: “one of the most destructive phrases in human history.” How awful. Catholics are ruining their self-esteem daily by saying these words in public:

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

This statement, a recitation of Matthew 8:8, is one of the most destructive phrases in human history…and it has a long history. Every Roman Catholic Pope, bishop, priest, and pious laymen has been reciting this (biblical) phrase daily for over 1,300 years. Yet according to Ms. Horner this acclamation of “unworthiness” is one of the most destructive things a Christian can say.

domine non sum dignus padre pio

She is incorrect, but I can see where she is coming form. Our American culture is a cult of self-esteem. In the United States, we are taught that depression, theft, rape, murder, racism, war, unemployment, etc. are essentially caused by a lack of self-esteem.

Dignus, Dignity, and the Imago Deo

Since our culture has lost its roots in the virtue tradition of Christendom, we no longer understand human dignity in terms of being conformed to the imago Dei (image of God). Our worth is no longer related to a divine being that loved to create us and loves to redeem us.

True human dignity relies on theism. When we say in Mass “Lord, I am not worthy, the Latin is “Domine, non sum dignus.” You don’t need to know Latin to see that dignus (Latin: “worthy”) is related to our English term “dignity.”

This is where Ms. Horner at the Huffington Post misses the mark. She claims that our saying, “Lord I am not worthy” is a form “negative reinforcement.” For her it confirms the alleged Catholic strategy of drowning people in guilt and unworthiness – which to her translates as fostering low self-esteem.

Self-Esteem or God-Esteem

The Huffington Post lacks the theological foundation to understand that promoting self-esteem without God-esteem is the path to destruction and sorrow. The “You go girl!” culture of self-affirmation and self-esteem trumpeted by secularist outlets like the Huff-Po for the last 30 years attempts to produce “esteem” from a collective. If enough people say, “You are so beautiful” then this will translate to a girl truly believing she is beautiful. If enough people just say, “You are so intelligent,” it will translate into intelligent people.

The problem for them is that this approach to esteem relies on a consistent collective that reinforces the message. This is why “bullies” are such a problem in the modern self-esteem cult. They are destroying the collective affirmation process. And then there is also the inconsistent messaging. Every one is told they are equally special and worthy, but the media outlets quietly suggest that some are more special and worthy. Taylor Swift, Robert Downey Jr, Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone seem be more worthy than the rest of us.

So where do we find find esteem or worthiness?

Worthiness, Suffering, and Martyrdom

When we look at Christianity at the turn of the 4th century, we find Christians standing up to the supreme arbitrator and law giver (the Roman Emperor) and the entire political/social collective (the Roman Empire) for the sake of a dignus that was not granted by collective, the media, the culture, or the secular state.

They discovered a divine dignus.

Saint Agnes of Rome cannot be persuaded to abandon Christ, her virginity, her modesty, or her virtue. Why is she so strong? Because the collective is coming together to affirm her?

No, she is so strong because she finds herself unworthy of anything outside of her life in Christo. Her esteem is thousands of times higher than the richest matrons of Rome – even higher than that of the senator or emperor himself. If Christ rose from the dead, and Christ is truly “under her roof,” well then she has it all.

The Huffington Post and the women’s mags at the supermarket checkout line are trying to lift “self-esteem” to empower people to love themselves and value themselves.

They are telling us, “Don’t say ‘I’m unworthy,’ but rather say ‘I am worthy of everything.’ Deep down inside say to yourself, ‘I have a perfect body. I’m rich. I’m popular. I’m basically Leonardo DiCaprio/Taylor Swift,’ and then you will be so!'”

But let’s be honest. That doesn’t work. And even if you are the sexiest or richest person of the year, does that translate to worthiness and happiness? Apparently not.

Liturgical Worthiness

Our liturgical affirmation Domine non sum dignus is not isolated. It is placed in a context. Let’s look at its location within the Roman Rite:

  • Eucharistic Prayer
  • Our Father
  • “The peace of the Lord be with you always.”
  • Agnus Dei
  • “Lord I’m not worthy…”
  • Reception of Communion

The acclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) by Saint John the Baptist is theologically proximate to “I am not worthy,” since John the Baptist also says, “even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:27).

The Christian who says, “I am not worthy” has just recited the Our Father, declaring that God is our Father. Not something we are inherently worthy of, but something He grants as a gratuitous gift. Next, the believer hears “The peace of the Lord be with you.” The liturgical context is essential familial, peaceful, and redemptive.

We do say, “I am not worthy,” but the “but” is important. We say, “but only say the word and my soul shall be cleaned.” This statement is an affirmation of hope!

And what is the next phrase that the priest proclaims to the Christian? He proclaims, “The Body of Christ,” and the believer receives the Eucharist. That is the word that makes clean. That is the word that makes worthy.

Conclusion on “Being Worthy”

Ms. Horner does a disservice by isolating one line of liturgical text from the whole of the Eucharistic liturgy. Most non-Catholics have no idea about its placement proximate to the Our Father, the peace, or the climax of Catholic liturgy in the reception of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Most non-Catholic readers do not understand that Christ enters “under the roof” of our mouths and that we become one in Him and He in us. Yet this is where we find our worthiness. When we esteem God, we find our dignity fully. God designed it that way.

Sadly, the cultural self-esteem cult of finding an ever larger and louder voice of affirmation will not transform a man or woman into something beautiful or truly worthy. Only God can do that for us. Without this Eucharistic miracle “under our roofs,” we will continue to be plagued by cultural decline, despair, and violence. With your kindness and love, share the Gospel with others. Invite them to Mass with you this Sunday. Let others see the hope that we have in the Eucharist.

Godspeed,

Taylor Marshall

 

Elijah as a Type of Triple Baptism and Pentecost

Triple baptism and Pentecost’s baptism of fire are prefigured in Elijah’s challenge by fire to the 450 prophets of Baal. Here’s the account from 1 King 18 and I’ll note the important features as you read through it:

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30 Then Eli′jah said to all the people, “Come near to me”; and all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; 31 Eli′jah took twelve stones [prefigures the 12 Apostles], according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed [2 measures of seed comes again with Elisha as a prophetic sign in 2 Kings 7]. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering, and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time [triple pouring on the sacrifice with water – as a kind of baptism]. 35 And the water ran round about the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O Lord, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. [here we have a prefigurement of Pentecost with the fire coming down from Heaven upon the “baptized sacrifice”] 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Ba′al; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there.

The Church East and West conforms to a triple affusion (pouring) or triple immersion (dunking) with the recognition of the three Divine Persons of the Trinity. Prophetically, Elijah has the attendants pour water on the slaughtered sacrifice three times. It’s also no accident that Saint John the Baptist was the “new Elijah” teaching a new baptism.

Elijah poured water on the sacrifice to show that God’s fire is so hot and powerful that water cannot prevent it from burning the sacrifice.

I recently spoke of the life of the follower of Jesus as “being on sacrificial fire” (click here to read “Do you have fire in your soul?”). You may also want to listen to my presentation on on the apocryphal 1 Enoch and Tongues of fire here.

There is a connection between the mystery of water (baptism in Christ) and the mystery of fire (confirmation or chrismation in Christ), as Saint John the Baptist relates in his speaking of baptism by water and fire.

We do this every day. We wash our food and then we place it in the fire. When you slaughter animals, you wash the meat and then cook it. The many mikvehs of the Old Covenant were washings to prepare the believer for becoming a burnt sacrifice for God.

Hence, Christ’s baptism is a preparation for His burnt sacrifice (crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, pentecost).

The priest washes his hands ceremonially because his hands are about to hold the burning coal of the sacrificial body of Christ.

In the Solemn High Mass (pre 1970), the priest sprinkled the faithful in the pews – to prepare them to become a burning sacrifice.

And of course, we will all be “salted with fire” when we die. It’s just a matter of whether we burn in this life (as sacrificial love) or burn some in the next age (in the purgatorial fires of 1 Cor 3:15).

Make your life into a bonfire.

Godspeed,

Taylor

PS: If you want to learn more about Old Testament and Jewish origins of Catholic sacraments and Catholic theology, check out my book The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholicism.

Video Class: St Justin Martyr and Tatian the Heretic

Today is the feast day of the Saint Justin Martyr of Rome. Below is a sample lesson video from the New Saint Thomas Institute featuring a brief bio of Saint Justin Martyr, an analysis of his contribution to Catholic Theology and a brief intro to one of his students named Tatian who became a heretic. Saint Justin Martyr, pray for us!

Question: Do you have questions about Saint Justin Martyr? If so leave a comment. You can leave a comment by clicking here.