Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Black Nazarene

Yesterday was January 9. Yesterday, in Manila was the festival of The Black Nazarene. The Black Nazarene is a statue of Jesus, kneeling with the cross on his back with Jesus depicted as a black man. You can see the whole festival here.



The video was taken last year but yesterday's affair was no different. Yesterday 2.5 million Filipinos went on pilgrimage to where this statue of Jesus is paraded, in the RC Church of Quiapo, Manila. Yesterday 2 people died. Considering there were 2.5M people who came, forgive me for saying, this was not a bad turn of events, many more could have died!

Why do people go to this festival, risking their lives, even though one can see The Black Nazarene everyday in the Church of Quiapo, any time? Well, they believe that it has to be on this festival day (and mind you not on another day) for this is the day of honoring The Black Nazarene, that is its anniversary. Thus, if you want a blessing, you must turn up on that day at the Quiapo (RC) church, then you can hope for blessings or graces from Jesus to happen. These might be healing of the body or the realization of some private wishes or dreams, perhaps a good year of prosperity or so etc etc. The people believe that by just being able to look at the face of The Black Nazarene as it is paraded will get them blessings from Jesus. Even better if one gets to touch the carriage or even touch the statue itself, that will really ensure graces or favor from Jesus. Some can not get any nearer, so, as an act of faith, they throw their towels to the carriage in the hope that it might reach and gets to touch the statue itself. That will give them comfort that what is required for a blessing has been met.

It does happen as some testify of healing and good fortune. Even the Vice-President of the country goes to this festival because for the last decades (I think I heard from the news he has been going since 1989) now, he has received good turn of events or good outcomes for his life. I think it goes like this: you make a vow to The Black Nazarene (turn up for the anniversary) and in return you can expect a blessing.

Already, today in Manila, devotees are ensuring that the festival will continued in the next generation. Today boys as young as age 3 are now being trained to make vows and be a devotee of The Black Nazarene.

This is theology in practice... from the ground.

20 comments:

Jeff Tan said...

Would it surprise you that this sort of devotion is not my cup of tea? (and would it reinforce your opinion of me in any way, I wonder..)

Not that I'd cast this as a bad form of devotion, as such. It may be a reflex for me to do so, some part of my mind pigeonholes this as superstition, but that would be too broad a brush. I have no doubt that many if not most of these devotees are truly devoted to Christ, gratefully see him as their savior, and strive as best they can to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. No doubt, there would be some, too, who would go through the motions and devotions, then go back to living lives contrary to the gospel. The need to deny themselves is no different to my need to deny myself daily; we are all sinners.

Devotions like these remind me of the woman whose bleeding stopped when she touched the edge of the Lord's garments. That, too, smacked of something superstitious, but the Lord does not hold that against her, and uses it for her benefit.

I have never and will probably never go to the Black Nazarene feast celebrations. But I do rejoice that so many would at least seek refuge in Christ our savior, and pray along with them for fortitude in tribulations and blessings of any sort that come from Him.

As for me, I will seek the Lord's healing, so that I should never, in pride, look down on those whose faith is simpler than my impression of mine. Their theology may indeed be different: down on bended knees more than with books, but who am I to say that theirs is not true faith that comes from the Holy Spirit working in them?

L P Cruz said...

Thanks Jeff,

Would it surprise you that this sort of devotion is not my cup of tea?

I am not surprised Jeff because you have been catechized well. I can not imagine that of you. Why? Well even priests do not go to the festival of touching! Count the number of priests that are there, for the purpose of doing what the crowd is doing - I bet you there is probably none or a handful at best compared to the 2.5 Million Pinoys. There are priest there probably to administer! but not to participate with the crowd and be swamped by the swirling of people around the carriage.

This however this is the way our people have been taught and those who can correct the situation -- the RCC are not correcting it and giving them the proper catechism as you would say.

We know it is not Biblical. My point is that should they not be taught not to put their trust on the act of touching,as superstition as I also agree with you?

The point is that God is merciful already towards them in Christ by nailing all their sins to Jesus and pronouncing forgiveness of their sins, that it is they that that Jesus chose to come and be identified with --- the poor. He did not come as a middle class boy or from a well educated family, he came to the poor and to the one who has no righteousness that can avail before God, he came for those and offer himself as their Man before God. This is hope that will last beyond all earthly misfortune (I should think).

I do not understand people who think it superstition, and not say something to counter it. There is Biblical support for countering this and yet I am puzzled that it can be excused.

BTW faith in the act of touching the statue is not the same as faith in the finished work of Christ for sinners' pardon. In my understanding of the Bible, whenever Paul talks about faith he generally means the latter.

The Devil has faith that Christ is Lord too and even knows it.

LPC

Jeff Tan said...

> My point is that should they not be
> taught not to put their trust on the act
> of touching,as superstition as I also
> agree with you?

Yes, as I said, my knee-jerk reaction is to consider this superstition. But as noted, the woman with the bleeding sickness did the same thing, touching just the edge of Jesus' garments. And what do you know -- she was healed, and the Lord did not then called her down for trusting in that touch.

I do think that there are two groups of people who might touch the Black Nazarene. Many, if not most, are convinced that they are reaching out to Jesus himself, and they trust him, not the garment/wood to heal them. In their sentimental state of mind, and I do not say this in a negative way, seek to touch Jesus himself. And that's quite alright, I think. In our prayers, when graced enough to do so, we sometimes find ourselves truly yearning the Lord's touch and embrace. I don't think the Lord minds, he who, radically for his time, did not mind touching the "unclean" and healing them.

The other group of people, however, are sadly there as well: skeptics and superstitious people who connect with the garment/wood without any mental connection with whom the garment/wood is associated with. BUT.. should the Lord grant them healing anyway, he knows more than we if this, perhaps, is a way to reach the stubborn heart and allow the Holy Spirit to (eventually) grant the gift of faith. The act of touching the statue may not be faith as Paul talks about it, but perhaps it is a miniscule grain of imperfect faith -- maybe at least a suspension of disbelief -- that the Spirit may nurture into true faith, eventually.

Priests and bishops who do not catechize the devotees to such practices are perhaps doing the people a disservice, although they may not have such as their intention. I can imagine that they wouldn't be sure how to catechize such people properly, who are not educated beyond the primary school level (if at all). They may also be wary of breaking what the see as the innocent and child-like faith of such people. I tend to think they should help them rise above that, however, but I don't know that they can organize those people, who spend most of their time at work in the streets, into catechism classes. It wouldn't be the easiest thing.

But the president of the bishop's conference has gone on record to say that the people should mature in their faith and put their trust in the gospel rather than in such practices. I pray that he can figure out how to educate the masses somehow.

Then there is also the importance of not denigrating the sacramental acts of God, who has renewed creation through his Son, thus making sacraments possible in the physical world, e.g., with water, bread and wine.

Jeff Tan said...

Actually, on the thought of touching anything that connects with the sacred, the priests do not need to touch the Black Nazarene because they touch that holiest of physical objects daily: the Eucharist. For me, recourse to the Eucharist puts me in intimate connection to Jesus of Nazareth, and that is better than touching the Black Nazarene.

BUT that comes from my catechism and my understanding of the Eucharist. And who is to say that my life of faith is any better than that of the average Black Nazarene devotee? They bear heavier burdens, and it is of some comfort that they continue to believe and soldier on.

Now I would love it if all Black Nazarene devotees were of mature faith, seek recourse in the Eucharist daily and pray the Bible daily, too. But who will minister to their catechism? ...

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

The analogy of the woman with an issue of blood is not the same, I say this because at her time Jesus was there physically. The wood of the statue of Jesus (The Black Nazarene) is not Jesus.

If you follow the analogy as what you say then one may invent any object and say here - Jesus I fashion this would and when I touch this wood, I expect you to heal me because I have faith etc etc. Now to me this is similar to what Aaron did when Moses was up in the mountain, Aaron acceded to the people to fashion for them a calf of gold.

BUT that comes from my catechism and my understanding of the Eucharist.

Well Jeff you are fortunate, good that you are not in such a bondage as these folks in their thinking but what about our people, surely you must start somewhere.

Actually I would wager this ... If the priest says to the people - stop doing this, you know what they will do? ... They will stop. This allowing and excusing of little faith is compromise and an adoption a self-contradicting rationale.

Jeff, don't tell me that this thing is still immature, do you know how many hundreds of years this practice has been going on? No less than 200 years. So the RCC wants them more time to mature? 200 years or so was not enough to correct a superstitious practice?

OK the priests are lucky they touch the body of Jesus each time they do mass. Poor souls if only they were priests too, they need not do any of these veneration of statues of wood?



LPC

Jeff Tan said...

Hi Lito. Actually the analogy was between the hem of clothing and the wooden statue. Neither of them are Jesus, but both are associated with Him who is the source of healing/holiness.

As for Jesus not being there, what of Acts 19, when articles of Paul's clothing can cure/heal? We can both agree that the source of healing is God, not Paul, nor the face cloth.

It is certain that the Lord does not require physical objects in order to channel his grace -- "only say the word" and healing proceeds. It is the Lord who chooses to use physical objects (or people) for his greater glory among those whom he heals. There is a basis for what the Black Nazarene devotees observe, but we can agree that these signs/miracles are meant to inspire or deepen faith, and are not the end-all of receiving the very life of Christ.

I don't think they'll stop what they're doing with the priest simply telling them to stop. Consider what the devotees endure each year in this feast. Will they understand the explanations? They continue the practice because they must have felt blessed in past years. Many will get angry, and seek to continue the feast, even without Church assistance.

It will take considerably more effort than you suggest. I'm not saying that such effort should not be made; something should be done. I'm just saying that it isn't that easy and it isn't as simple as "stop this!"

Also, I don't think the feast should stop as such. There is no harm in celebrating the miracle of the statue surviving fires and earthquakes. In such a celebration, they can be inspired in God's power and protection. They only need ensure that people form the right understanding of signs and faith, that the signs are not the end-all of their faith, but to be thankful for any miracles that God sends their way, and to be thankful in general for God's constant providence.

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

Good points on the hem of Jesus and towels of Paul.

However, is the wooden statute connected to Jesus or Pauls as their clothing accessories? No.

I do not deny God heals, but not all healing is from God, some healing may lead us to deepen our superstition.

But there is another possibility why no catechism or no active program to correct the feast,,, and this is the RCC believes that the statue is also miraculous and is sanctioned by them.

Well, then fair enough.

From a Protestant point of view, it is suspicious to invent assumptions of where God might provide healing not prescribed by Scripture. We can lay hands and pray etc.

I am not saying catechizing is easy but what are priests for?

LPC

Jeff Tan said...

However, is the wooden statute connected to Jesus or Pauls as their clothing accessories? No.

Agreed, but I would not confine the Lord's wondrous works in any way. He who can heal from miles away with but a thought certainly cannot be confined to specific physical objects, but it is entirely his business if he wants to. :-)

I do not deny God heals, but not all healing is from God, some healing may lead us to deepen our superstition.

True.. Do you remember Johnny Midnight? The toning (Filipino term that he used) guy? He effected healing, but allegedly, those he healed began to perceive diabolical signs around them after the healing. Certainly possible, since his healing ministry had nothing to do with God at all. It was more akin to New Age (symbols, cyrstals, etc).

But there is another possibility why no catechism or no active program to correct the feast, and this is the RCC believes that the statue is also miraculous and is sanctioned by them.

That is a possibility, but I would not presume to say that it is not, indeed, something miraculous. One primary Catholic criterion for miracles is that it must enrich one's faith and holiness. Just as miracles of healing are effected on the body, they must also have a moral, positive effect on the soul.

From a Protestant point of view, it is suspicious to invent assumptions of where God might provide healing not prescribed by Scripture.

Which is sort of what I mean when I refuse to presume one way or another. However, while you do lock yourself into specifics that are in the Bible, I see no reason to refuse the possibility that, what God has done for St. Paul's face cloth, he can do for any saint and any of their relics. He may also do with any object as he pleases. Hence, another instance of Catholic extra-biblical suspension of disbelief.

I am not saying catechizing is easy but what are priests for?

True.. but I would not wear the shoes of such a priest comfortably: huge responsibilities!

Then, too, you might consider that the feast of the Black Nazarene may square well with a mature faith of many or most of those who observe it, i.e., they are not simply being superstitious. If there is one thing I love about our people, it is that ours can be the most childlike of believers. They may be street smart, but they often exhibit the simple faith that moves mountains. I would not be so quick to alter their faith so heavy-handedly.

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

However, while you do lock yourself into specifics that are in the Bible, I see no reason to refuse the possibility that, what God has done for St. Paul's face cloth, he can do for any saint and any of their relics.

It is interesting that the Pentecostal and your view here coincide. The Prots consider appeal to Scripture is safer.

Although I believe that God answers prayer and part of that is healing, I do believe that based on God's word, the prayer of the elders of the church, the laying of hands as said is sufficient and it is founded on the Grace of God in the Cross.

That is the problem right now with our people, they are gullible, they believe everything -- it can use a bit of scepticism

Here is my take on what Filipinos mean by being saved...

http://extranos.blogspot.com/2005/12/what-does-filipino-mean-by-being-saved.html


But again, I point that when faith is mentioned in Scripture, the Lutheran Prot understands that as faith in the work of Christ as the epitome.

Yes we are to believe that God heals but above all we are to trust that God has dealt with our sins at the Cross of Jesus, paid for.


LPC

Jeff Tan said...

It is interesting that the Pentecostal and your view here coincide. The Prots consider appeal to Scripture is safer.

Agreed: it is safer. But when Scripture is not explicit, sometimes we are not left with the luxury of remaining ambiguous. Take the issues of abortion, polygamy, destructive embryonic research.

Although I believe that God answers prayer and part of that is healing, I do believe that based on God's word, the prayer of the elders of the church, the laying of hands as said is sufficient and it is founded on the Grace of God in the Cross.

True. In general, I think prayer and laying on of hands would be the norm. But as in St. Paul's face cloth, it goes to show that God is not restricted to what is normative that he sets for us.

That is the problem right now with our people, they are gullible, they believe everything -- it can use a bit of scepticism

Agreed.. but again, I would be careful how I introduce that skepticism. I am convinced that we have all been tainted by the excesses of the Enlightenment and rationalism. Note how many Christian denominations consider the most holy sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist nothing more than symbolic. They have become paranoid to charges of superstition, and have bordered on dualism in how they view the physical universe, which contradicts the Incarnation, if they really thought about it.

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

ut when Scripture is not explicit, sometimes we are not left with the luxury of remaining ambiguous. Take the issues of abortion, polygamy, destructive embryonic research

When Scripture is silent then conscience must rule. Yet when Scripture says something, then that must be the end of the matter.

For example, yes God can do anything but positing that to say that God will heal you if you touch the statue of the Black Nazarene is no where can be justified.

This is in logic argument from silence. Notice how one is excusing scripture, yet St James has this on people who are sick or not well...
James 5
14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him,(A) anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

The philosophy that says God can do anything and cause one to get healed here or there is quite superstitious and in fact promotes voodod-- notice how we have so many spiritistas and faith healers back home. Not all healing comes from God, some healing may purport to come from God but only to mislead and cause on to depend not on the promises of the Gospel but else where.

If one tolerates the Black Nazarene practice and rationalizes it with some excuses, I hardly can be convinced that the person is appalled by the practice.

On skepticism : Truth has no credibility if it is not allowed to be challenged. Truth has nothing to fear because it will stand for time and eternity.

LPC



LPC

Jeff Tan said...

When Scripture is silent then conscience must rule. Yet when Scripture says something, then that must be the end of the matter.

That is ideal, but as I said, some issues are too important to be left ambiguously up to individual consciences. Relativism sets in. And on matters of human life, that is not a good option.

This will kick up an anthill, I'm sure, but there are precedents when the matter was too important to be left up to individual consciences. And so we have specific doctrines on the personhood of the Holy Spirit, and the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, and the canon of Scripture.

For example, yes God can do anything but positing that to say that God will heal you if you touch the statue of the Black Nazarene is no where can be justified.

To be precise, positing that the touch is the cause of healing is cannot be justified. But we can say the same of St. Paul's face cloth: the face cloth is likewise unjustifiable as the cause of healing. To be precise, we must posit instead that God chooses whom he heals, and how. And to posit that he chooses to heal everyone who touches the Black Nazarene is also unjustifiable. However, to posit that he may heal someone who exhibits a strong faith, and prayer, is wholly reasonable. Touching the Black Nazarene as an act of trust, as a supplication to God's mercy, is logically akin to touching the face cloth of St. Paul. Akin, but not equivalent, and it would not be justifiable to consider them equivalent. But it is justifiable to consider them akin, as long as there is an equal weight given to God's choice and God's power, i.e., healing is entirely granted by God as he alone wills it.

This is in logic argument from silence. Notice how one is excusing scripture, yet St James has this on people who are sick or not well...

But does this exclude St. Paul's face cloth? Apparently not.

The philosophy that says God can do anything and cause one to get healed here or there is quite superstitious and in fact promotes voodoo

Indeed, God can do anything, but the error is the notion that one could wrest control over His actions through a ritual. As long as there is the right understanding that God is not a genie, then I can accept the same sentiments that allow Christians in the Apostolic age to put some trust to a face cloth simply because it belonged to Paul of Tarsus, or a Black Nazarene statue whose deliverance from a fire and an earthquake defied probability.

notice how we have so many spiritistas and faith healers back home.

Yeah.. I know.. My wife has some scars to prove that, although that was mild (albularyo) in comparison to serious pagan mystics. It's part of the pagan past.

Not all healing comes from God, some healing may purport to come from God but only to mislead and cause on to depend not on the promises of the Gospel but else where.

Absolutely.

If one tolerates the Black Nazarene practice and rationalizes it with some excuses, I hardly can be convinced that the person is appalled by the practice.

I never said I was appalled by the practice per se. If I were appalled by it, then I might as well be appalled at the recourse to touching the Lord's garments, or St. Paul's face cloth.

I am careful not to generalize with too broad a brush. As I opined, many if not most of those who observe the feast probably understand rightly that it is God, not the touch, that heals. I would add that they would be right only if they also understand that it is God who chooses when to heal, not the supplicant.

On skepticism : Truth has no credibility if it is not allowed to be challenged. Truth has nothing to fear because it will stand for time and eternity.

Very true, and I agree. The problem is not that one must introduce healthy skepticism, but must also introduce thorough investigation. It is not truth that stands imperiled, but the skeptic. There are skeptics who question for the sake of questioning, in order to avoid the answers, or to avoid taking stands. There are skeptics who question with a preconceived answer, biased. There are skeptics who question without informing themselves of proper answers, assuming that the first answer they find is sufficient.

I am not in any way passing judgment on our people. But you are yourself aware of their limitations, the lack of literacy, the weight of daily existence that makes thorough study hard to squeeze in. I simply say that it is not as simple as that.

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

never said I was appalled by the practice per se. If I were appalled by it, then I might as well be appalled at the recourse to touching the Lord's garments, or St. Paul's face cloth.

No you are not because you are really also adopting a Protestant mind set, that is you are allowing them to exercise their freedom of conscience, do you not? Why I do I say this? Because you do not go to the Black Nazarene festival year after year. You do not have a vow to keep, you do not have a vow because you prefer other means as you explained before.

Surviving fire and earthquake?

There are many things in this world that survive fire and earthquake, are we saying that is the criteria that says that God is with that object?

If we follow that argument, when the Tsunami of 2004 struck Thailand and Indonesia, there where objects that survived, so will they now say Budha or Allah must have been with so and so object because such an object survived tsunami.


Paul was an apostle, Peter's shadow caused others to be healed, but we do not have the Apostles now.

Also on Paul's aprons: these where from his body.

The statue is not from the body of Jesus. The analogy fails.

Also Marilyn Hickey a Pentecostal woman preacher has been sending pieces of cloth she laid hands, to which she sends ala Paul to her listeners abroad, what would your attitude be to this, following your reasoning.


To say that it is not easy to educate our people is of course, it is like that -- nothing is easy, but we do not and should not encourage ourselves that a thing has to be done because it is easy, a thing has to be done because it is right.

For more than 200 years this festival has been practiced and in those years people die, I think the RCC has had enough time to correct this but they don't.

Or perhaps, I should stay away and make it not my concern because I am not a practicing RC.

I love to stay away, but it is my fault, I shouldn't care but I can not help it, I do.


LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

"Paul was an apostle, Peter's shadow caused others to be healed, but we do not have the Apostles now."

yes, signs of the apostles. Miracles and wonder-working were signs of the apostles. Apostles were part of the foundation of the Church. Once the foundation was laid, that's it. You don't need apostles any longer. we don't need visions, dreams, speaking in tonuges, and other "mystical experiences" because we have SCRIPTURE. Scripture is sufficient, Tradition comes in TRANSMIT Scripture by way of PROCLAMATION and CONFESSION. At the very least, Scripture is materially sufficient. Formally, the Church and Tradition witness to Scripture and has Scripture in her possession.

Jeff Tan said...

No you are not because you are really also adopting a Protestant mind set, that is you are allowing them to exercise their freedom of conscience,

Catholics do believe in ultimate recourse to conscience as well, believe it or not. But we also believe that it must be an informed conscience, as with the need for witnesses in deciding a dispute, e.g., between one's understanding and that of another's. Hence we have recourse to the teaching authority of the Church.

Because you do not go to the Black Nazarene festival year after year.

The feast of the Black Nazarene is not mandatory to all Catholics. There are surprisingly few mandatory feasts, including Christmas, Easter, and the commemorations of Lent.

You do not have a vow to keep, you do not have a vow because you prefer other means as you explained before.

True, because I am not ordained to any vow, which are made by those who are called and committed to their calling. Actually I do have a "light" promise to the holy rosary (being a member of the confraternity), but it is not under pain of sin; it is not a vow.

There are many things in this world that survive fire and earthquake, are we saying that is the criteria that says that God is with that object?

Remember the seder meal tradition? What do they do first? They commemorate God's saving power, and not simply the exodus from Egypt in particular. Nor only the safety of the ark during the great flood.

If we follow that argument, when the Tsunami of 2004 struck Thailand and Indonesia, there where objects that survived, so will they now say Budha or Allah must have been with so and so object because such an object survived tsunami.

Yes, that may indeed happen for their adherents. That is not to say, however, that God does not show his power in deliverance from such calamities. And yet it is not meant to overshadow the greatest deliverance of all in Calvary, which is why, Lent and Easter, and every Sunday where the paschal mystery is celebrated, are necessary celebrations, whereas feasts such as that of the Black Nazarene, are optional.

Paul was an apostle, Peter's shadow caused others to be healed, but we do not have the Apostles now.

Does that mean that things that pertained to those Apostles only are now ineffective? There is now no need for someone to feed the sheep and lambs, since Peter has been dead for almost 2000 years? There are now no bishoprics because the Apostles, Paul, Timothy and Titus are gone?

Also on Paul's aprons: these where from his body.

Does this mean then that only the Apostles and Paul receive the promise of holiness even in their bodies, incorruptible by the power of the Spirit?

The statue is not from the body of Jesus. The analogy fails.

What makes consubstantiation possible for Lutherans then?

Also Marilyn Hickey a Pentecostal woman preacher has been sending pieces of cloth she laid hands, to which she sends ala Paul to her listeners abroad, what would your attitude be to this, following your reasoning.

I would say that God blesses whom (persons) he will, and he may choose to use physical objects as he will. But, along with the Catholic Church, I would be wary of such claims, as the Church continues to be wary of Medjugorje and most reports of miracles in present day. The official criteria is faithfulness to Scripture and Tradition, and the fruits of holiness being manifest and verified to be so. You will recall St. Bernadette Soubirous, a peasant girl from Lourdes, and how vigorously the Church investigated the allegations of miracles, taking an agonizingly long time to affirm the miracles.

To say that it is not easy to educate our people is of course, it is like that -- nothing is easy, but we do not and should not encourage ourselves that a thing has to be done because it is easy, a thing has to be done because it is right.

Amen. Actually I was pleased to note that the Philippine bishops have not been as lax in this as one would think. Apart from what is said in Nicea II, Trent and the catechism, and various other documents along the way, the Philippine bishops have been careful to issue guidelines. I posted about this in my blog. Please visit for details. :-)

For more than 200 years this festival has been practiced and in those years people die, I think the RCC has had enough time to correct this but they don't.

Again, I cannot speak from the ground where I am not. But I see signs that they have tried in more recent years, and I haven't investigated deeply enough to confirm whether they have done more than that.

Or perhaps, I should stay away and make it not my concern because I am not a practicing RC.

No, that's fine, there's nothing wrong in your concerns. We love our people and should do so, even in criticism.

I love to stay away, but it is my fault, I shouldn't care but I can not help it, I do.

Nothing wrong with that, Lito. If anything, I am guilty of not having cared enough myself. I've never been devoted to such practices, as the circle of family and friends are likewise detached from these. But I've seen it from afar and have never thought about it carefully before. If something must be said, it must indeed be said.

Jeff Tan said...

You don't need apostles any longer.

Actually, the anointing of Matthias, Titus and Timothy as bishops suggest that the bishopric continues.

we don't need visions, dreams, speaking in tonuges, and other "mystical experiences" because we have SCRIPTURE.

I am not familiar with Scripture stating such a claim.

I also understand from Christ encouraging us to prayer that he can grant miracles as he wills. He can do so as a sign for our benefit (and/or for others), and so our joy may be complete.

It can also be proven that signs continued throughout the ages, as the Church fathers attest to:

http://www.catholic.com/library/Do_Miracles_Still_Occur.asp

I can't also help but point out that miracles occur daily in the Eucharist: when Jesus Christ becomes really present in the bread and wine.

At the very least, Scripture is materially sufficient. Formally, the Church and Tradition witness to Scripture and has Scripture in her possession.

Hmm..

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

Actually, the anointing of Matthias, Titus and Timothy as bishops suggest that the bishopric continues

Well it is curious that both Pentecostals and RCs affirm the continuation of Apostleship.

So we wonder what the Scripture is there for.

The issue of miracles is not the question, the question is do we have unction from God that he has bound himself to elements he has not prescribed in accordance with Scripture, such as the statue of the Black Nazarene. At least I think you are arguing for possibilities here correct?

However, arguing from possibilities is also not the issue but actualities, for anything is possible with God, but has he bound himself to the folk belief of people that by touching the statue they will get good fortune?

Miracles do happen, each time a person trusts solely in the finished work of Christ alone for one's redemption, a miracle happens, a gift has been received.

LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

Yes, Bro. Lito, the Roman Catholics and Enthusiasts have one thing in common - Scripture PLUS ..., including mystical experiences. Scripture warn us not to add or take away from itself as the WORD OF GOD. The awful warning in Rev. 22 does not merely refer to the Book of Revelation as such but the entire Bible. We know this is so, because the Book of Revelation is an INTEGRAL part of the Word of God. Take away the Book of Revelation, and the compilation of the canonical books would have been incomplete. By extension, take away the equally Word of God in the Book of Revelation, and one takes away from the rest of the Word of God.

Whatever visions, divine revelation, etc. have already been MEDIATED to us by the Canonical Scriptures. To deny that is to confuse the foundations of the Church and the rest of the Church itself. Our Lord singled out Peter's confession upon which the Church is built. THAT is an unique event, non-repeatable. The other alternative would be perpetual RECURRENCE of the foundations of the Church which is simply means that the doctrine of the Church undergoes changes for the most part, like Liberalism (e.g. Bultmannianism!) or the the elevation of some of the extreme Marian beliefs into dogma.

No, the Church no more ordain female priests than she acknowledge Mary to be Co-Redemptrix because the teachings of the Church founded upon her foundations as inscripturated in Scripture is solidly inviolable and immutable.

Therefore there must be LIMITS or boundaries placed on the divine revelation. It has stop somewhere in time and space for the foundation to be COMPLETED. The roots have been planted, it's just the tree will continue to grow and develop and increase in size.

The only dynamic witness of the Church's life of belief and practice is doctrinal development, firmly grounded in Scripture as the all-sufficient source and norm. Scripture with Tradition as the paradosis or organic instrument of doctrinal continuation of the apostolic faith as the only ecclesial institution of confession are the only framework by which doctrine develops, not the institutional church. The reference point therefore is not bishops (or tactual Apostolic Succession), but the faithful proclamation of Word and Sacraments as concrete events and expressions of theological Apostolic Succession in doctrine and liturgy). In other words, the reference point is not the structure of the Church as embodied in its hierarchy as is the case of the RCC, but inner witness and testimony of the Church in grasping, being convicted and articulating the truths of dogma, like the creeds and confessions (Book of Concord).

Augustinian Successor said...

Phenomenal miracles CLAIMING to be the work of God cannot be confirmed or verified. In addition, Satan comes as an angel of light (2 Corinthians) and his ministers masquerades as ministers of light.

The "miracle" of the real presence for Lutherans is different from the RCs. In the case of the Lutherans, the ministers are not secondary transubstantiators, they do not effect the Words of the Institution. The WOI are itself the promise of Jesus to be present here and now for His people. The WOI therefore no more depend on apostolic succession than the standing of the minister's ordination, but solely on the promise of Jesus. The legitimacy of only validly ordained ministers deals with the issue of the validity of the administration, not efficacy. Lay-people have no right to preside at the Supper because only they do not share in the sacramental priesthood of Jesus, nothing more. The sacramental priesthood relates to the delivery of the efficacy not effecting the efficacy itself.

In other words miracles depend not on man's belief or standing but on God's sovereignty. God is sovereign. He can grant a miracle or not. But the practical thing for Christians to know is that the sovereign God works through means. Lutherans have always stress the God Who speaks to man through man, Who encounter man through means. God hides Himself in the works of His creation.

Jeff Tan said...

Lito: Well it is curious that both Pentecostals and RCs affirm the continuation of Apostleship.

So we wonder what the Scripture is there for.


That's ironic since I cited Scripture to show that the Apostles Peter and Paul considered the bishopric important and themselves anointed other bishops to follow after. St. Paul tells Timothy to continue this tradition of succession with care. And this is consistent with the OT tradition of succession in the offices of prophets and judges, too.

The issue of miracles is not the question, the question is do we have unction from God that he has bound himself to elements he has not prescribed in accordance with Scripture, such as the statue of the Black Nazarene. At least I think you are arguing for possibilities here correct?

Well said, and yes, I am arguing for possibilities. These two extremes are obviously dangerous and false: either in saying that all supernatural signs are of God or in saying that all supernatural signs are not of God (in the assumption that God will no longer work miracles past the Apostolic age). Scripture provides ample support for the middle ground: that miracles will continue, normatively by prayer, laying on hands, and -- yes -- in unexpected ways, such as through St. Paul's face cloth, which its owner would have found surprising. Which is why it is important to investigate such claims vigorously, but it is also important not to dismiss all claims outright. Automatic support for or dismissal of claims of miracles are both extreme and dangerous. St. John said to test the spirits in 1 John 4, so he takes the same middle ground that the Church advocates, because the signs may be true or false. Note that he did not state to shun all spirits. Likewise does St. Paul teach about spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 12, which include toungues and prophecy.

However, arguing from possibilities is also not the issue but actualities, for anything is possible with God, but has he bound himself to the folk belief of people that by touching the statue they will get good fortune?

That is why we test the spirits indeed. The other extreme I mentioned is to shun them all outright. This is extreme because this proceeds from a presumption that we may safely reject all signs for the sake of prudence, running the risk that the Spirit has something to say through the signs. The problem is that the Spirit will not speak up in these signs without good reason. If the Spirit is speaking, it is important to pay attention, although this carries with it the sticky task of discerning that it is the Spirit speaking. But as St. John and St. Paul wrote to us, this is not something we need to dread and avoid doing.

Miracles do happen, each time a person trusts solely in the finished work of Christ alone for one's redemption, a miracle happens, a gift has been received.

Amen, for that too is a primary criterion by which we can discern true miracles from false deception. Yes, we know that the Enemy is also an angel, and devoid of holiness, the Enemy seeks our ruin. And so there are many false signs in the world. None of his signs are intended to bring about a Christ-centered life. There is no validity in a sign, no matter how incredible and supernatural, if it does not bring about holiness and recourse to Jesus Christ.

I must point out that the Black Nazarene devotion, for example, is explicitly meant to bring about a Christ-centredness, "strengthening their faith or fulfilling their vow to the Lord" [quote from the archdiocese message on the feast].

Now I will agree that there is a cultural influence in the fact that many if not most devotees will ask for health and prosperity, as well as peace and protection from calamities. People will carry this in different ways. I doubt that they deliberately ask for excessive luxury, however, since most of these are in poverty, and their wants are likely to be reasonable, e.g., there will be enough to make ends meet and send everyone to school through to completion. Perhaps this is one area where, without claiming that we should not ask for our daily bread, the bishops should balance the feast with a renewal of minds and hearts, and a call to discipleship.