“It certainly does help. I believe much, if not all of what you say.”
What is it that you disagree with?
“Even the book concerning ‘The Catholic Catechism’, of which I bought a while back, has shown how much the Christian faith has grown within the Church. I know many Protestants that do not believe that the Old Testament has any value regarding the New Testament and some go as far as to say that the Ten Commandments have no bearing on our theology. Yet, as you said and I agree, Christ not only kept these commandments, but fulfilled them and breathed new life into them.”
Indeed. Rejection of the Old Testament was part of the Marcionist heresy of the fifth century (I think). This rejection led Marcion to many other erroneous conclusion. He believed that there were actually two gods, one from the Old and one from the New Testament. The Old Testament god was a malicious vindictive god and the New Testament god was a benevolent god which set us free from the old. Suffice to say, he developed a host of other false doctrines. Many Christians fall into similar traps as Marcion, though perhaps not as profound. Some Christians seems to distance themselves from God and His mighty deeds in the Old Testament. They think that He wasn’t being nice, as if human morality is superior to the divine. In so doing, they end up losing track of the fact that God is the same ‘yesterday, today, and forever’.
“I am sure you have heard of Scott Hahn and have heard his Covenant Theology. There are many of his views that I agree with and he was one of my first influences concerning not only Catholicism, but also hearing of his conversion from the Presbyterian faith was inspiring. If I remember correctly, even John Wesley considered them immobile concerning their faith.”
Scott Hahn was very influential early in my conversion. I listened to the tape he made about his conversion and found it very interesting. Another apologist who influenced me was the former Methodist Dave Armstrong (http://falcon.ic.net/~erasmus/RAZINDEX.HTM)
Scott Hahn has done a lot of good work in Covenant Theology, but I take issue with some of his theological opinions. Hahn is a pre-millenialist, meaning he believes that the thousand year reign was ushered in with the Kingship of David. This flies in the face of Saint Augustine’s clear amillenialism, a theological position which has never been dethroned and is the preferred position of the Church (though this issue has yet to be dogmatically defined). Scott Hahn also teaches that the ‘works of the Law’ Saint Paul refers to only encompass the ceremonial law of the Old Covenant. The Council of Trent on the other hand, makes no distinction between the moral, civil, and ceremonial law of the Old Covenant. I think this is a very grievous soteriological error. He teaches some other strange doctrines as well.
“Anyways, I was wondering what you thought about the idea of the ‘Spirit of the Lord’ as having been moving throughout history. What I mean is that it seems that also in the Old testament that there are places where one can see a vision of the Holy Spirit working within Israel. I had at one time been moved to read the Battle of Jericho and the process leading up to it. There were many things that were done by to be a rememberance and to purify the people before going into battle. It even seemed that there was a symbolism of baptism within the text. I don’t want to go into detail, but I might later see if I can find the notes or scriptures I highlighted concerning this. For now, I can say that I started on Joshua ch 3 and read through ch 6. It was interesting what things were done and how they pointed to some kind of rememberance of Hebrew traditions.”
Many things throughout the Old Testament point to New Testament realities. Circumcision foreshadows baptism. Many symbols of baptism exist throughout the Old Testament. The crossing of the red sea, Noah being saved out of the waters in the ark, the healing of Naaman’s leprosy by water. These things also show sacramental realities in the Old Testament. God uses secondary material causes to effect miracles. As for the spirit of the Lord, there is a lot of theological speculation on this topic. Some go so far as to claim that the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the unincarnated Jesus. Examples of the Trinity can be seen everywhere. All three persons are seen in the creation accounts. God refers to Himself as a plurality ‘we’. Then there are the three persons who meet Jacob.
It certainly makes a lot of sense. To see the workings of the Trinity in the Old Testament gives us a more continuous understanding of how God operates. Probably the most striking and mysterious thing in the Old Testament for me is the Person of Melchizedek. Genesis 18:18-20 “18 And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.” The description of Melchizedek in Hebrews is quite intriguing. Hebrews 7:1-4 1 This “King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him”; 2 and to him Abraham apportioned “one-tenth of everything.” His name, in the first place, means “king of righteousness”; next he is also king of Salem, that is, “king of peace.” 3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. 4 See how great he is! Even F39 Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils.
Who is this Melchizedek, with neither father nor mother nor genealogy, nor beginning nor end? This isn’t the description of any human. It seems that the Epistle to the Hebrews is saying that Melchizedek is divine, and thus perhaps the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Melchizedek is described as the King of Peace, a title given to Jesus. He foreshadows the Mass by offering sacrifice in the form of bread and wine. Could it be Jesus himself who meets Abraham and blesses him, thus foreshadowing the Covenant of Faith in Abraham?
I read your comments about personal infallibility with great interest. Though we do not possess infallibility in the sense of a Pope or Council (in that we cannot define the truth for ourself), nevertheless, by submitting to infallible doctrines and faith we perform a flawless act. The works of the Spirit are perfect. If we do these works, and submit to the true faith, God could indeed be said to be working His infallibility through us. If I profess the truth, then I think it is proper to say that I speak infallible words. This comes entirely from God though. In the same way, the Popes and Councils are speaking for God when they pronounce that which is infallibly true. They didn’t make it up though. It is not human doctrine or traditions that are infallible, but the Word of God and the Apostolic teaching (Tradition) that humans affirm and bind other humans to.