Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Missouri in the Dixie Revolutionary War

My son Michael poses beneath a period cannon
in 2006 at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.
Don't mess with this boy, he's "packin heat!"
I love history.  The neat thing about that is I'm surrounded by it.  The Ozark Mountains are rich in history, and at one time, this was all Confederate territory.  I live not far from one of the first battlefields in the Dixie Revolutionary War -- Wilson's Creek.  Though not a large battle per se', it is often considered one of the bloodiest.  So far, it looks like my son Michael (much older now than in this photo) is sharing a little bit of daddy's love for history.  He is fascinated with the War.

You'll notice I didn't call it the "Civil War." This is because I'm a student of history, so I recognise that the common classification as a civil war is technically inaccurate. Technically speaking, the war from 1861 to 1865 was not in any way a civil war. You see a civil war is when two rival political entities are fighting for control of the same government. That is not what happened as all in this war. Rather, what we had from 1861 to 1865 was a group of 13 states fighting for independence from one government, in the hope of establishing their own completely separate one. In this sense, the Dixie Revolutionary War was very much like the American Revolutionary War in 1775 - 1783. If we want to talk about war names, the only official name for the war of 1861 - 1865 recorded in the Congressional Record and the Library of Congress is the "War of the Rebellion." While a little one-sided, obviously, it is at least accurate. The war was a rebellion against the United States Federal government, and goes along the same lines of what the British called the American Revolutionary War.

Therefore, in my opinion, there are only four proper, and historically accurate, names for this war. One of them is the "War of the Rebellion" recorded in the Library of Congress. It is a bit one-sided, and slanted toward the North, but it's at least technically accurate. Another is the "War for Southern Independence," which is technically accurate. The third is my own invention, but I'm partial to it. I call it the "Dixie Revolutionary War." It's accurate and brings to mind the parallels with the American Revolutionary War. The fourth and last is a bit slanted toward the South, but technically accurate again, and that is the "War of Northern Aggression."

In California there was plenty of history, and it was very old history indeed, dating back to the Spanish colonial period, but since I am not of any Spanish descent whatsoever, I had difficulty connecting with it.  However, I did like the old architecture. I have sat in homes that were over 400 years old!  I have walked through missions of equal age and touched the articles of clothing and armour once worn by conquistadors. That part I liked, but beyond that, the political history of California is somewhat disconnected from me. Because of my heritage I seem to feel more at home with the history found here in the Ozarks.  Though it is not nearly as old, I do find it more intriguing.

A large Confederate monument
in Springfield Missouri
One of the things I try to do with history is understand it from more than just one perspective.  My view of the Dixie Revolutionary War is a bit dispassionate, and I think that's a good thing.  It amazes me to no end just how passionate people still get about it.  I think I can understand the Southern passion a little bit more. After all, they are a conquered people.  The Northern passion remains an enigma to me.  Why would "Yankees" even care 150 years after the fact?  (I can say "Yankee" because I'm a West Coaster by birth and I frankly don't give a hoot.)  They won, so why gloat?

I'll give you a quick synopsis of how I see this epic struggle that is commonly and inaccurately referred to as the "Civil War."

Thirteen states tried to secede from the Federal Union of the United States unsuccessfully.  That's it.  They did not try to take over Washington DC.  They did not seek to overthrow the Federal government.  They did not go on a campaign of conquest into the Northern states.  They simply tried to break away from the United States, start their own country, and be left alone.  It didn't work.  Now as somebody who is Southern by heritage, through my mother, but born and raised on the West Coast, I tend to NOT get too emotionally tied up in this whole thing.  I've found that people here in the Ozarks get very emotional about it, regardless of which side they fall on.  I suspect that because of the nature of the conflict, it's hard to be emotionally disconnected, unless you were born and raised in an area that had little to do with it.  Yes, I know California did participate in the Dixie Revolution, but let's face it, California's participation was minimal to say the least. The state almost just waited to see who would win.

My view of the Dixie Revolution is what I think to be a dispassionate one.  The Dixie Revolution was really just a war of secession -- nothing more and nothing less.  I see no difference between the Dixie Revolution and the American Revolution.  Both were wars of secession.  In both cases, the secessionists fought against impossible odds.  In both cases, the secessionists were slave territories. In both cases, the wars were unpopular.  The one and only difference is this.  In the American Revolution, the secessionists won.  In the Dixie Revolution, the secessionists lost. That's it.

A Confederate cemetery, joined to cemeteries of other wars,
in Springfield Missouri
Okay, I'm sure that last paragraph shocked some of you. How could I be so cold?  How could I not mention the intense social issues surrounding the time period?  Well, the reason is because that's how I see it.  I told you I have a dispassionate view.

Now if you tend to favour the Northern side of the conflict, you will likely see slavery as the sole motivating force behind the Dixie Revolution.  If you tend to favour the Southern side of the conflict, you will likely see unfair taxes and big-government intrusion as the motivating factors behind the Dixie Revolution.  While I think there is an element of truth to both views, and all of these things did indeed play into the social tensions leading up to the Dixie Revolution, I don't believe any one (or combination) of them was the cause.  No more than I believe any one (or combination) of them was the cause for the American Revolution.  It's funny really, because the common Northerner (or Northern sympathiser) will take the Northern view of the Dixie Revolution, but then turn around and take the Southern view of the American Revolution.  At least the Southerners (or Southern sympathisers) are consistent, taking the Southern view (taxes and meddling government) in both the Dixie Revolution and the American Revolution.  I'll give the Southern sympathisers a "C+" for consistency, and the Northern sympathisers a "C-" for confusion.  However, I still think both of them are wrong, and are over complicating what I see as a very simple explanation for the Dixie Revolutionary War of 1861 - 1865.

The reason for the Dixie Revolution was simply this.  The Southern states wanted to secede and start a new country.  The Federal government said "no" and the Northern states simply did what their overly centralised Federal government told them to do.  That's it folks.  I really don't see it as anything more complicated than that.

Of course, the question begs to be asked as to why?  Why did the Southern states want to secede?  Why did the Federal government say "no"?  Why did the Northern states agree to do the Federal government's bidding?  (By that I mean make war on their neighbours.)  This is where it gets sticky, and this is where all these other factors come into play.  There is only one group of people who can accurately say why they wanted to secede from the United States, and that is the Southern people of that time period.  When you look at their stated causes for secession, you will find some citing the preservation of slavery and others citing taxes, and others citing various other things.  In all of these explanations, one thing remains consistent.  The Southerners all agreed that the Federal government of the United States was getting too big, too powerful, too centralised and was taking on characteristics of the British Empire.  So they did what their forefathers did in 1775 - 1783.  They seceded and started their own country.  In the Northern states, no explanations are given, because they didn't secede from the Union, and so they didn't need to issue any explanations.  They did what the Federal government told them to do; making war on their neighbours to the South, and of course the question begs to be asked as to why?  Would Ohio make war on Virginia today if told to? Would New York attack Mississippi today if the Federal government gave the order?  I dare say "no."  The people in all of these states would be more likely to tell the Federal government to "go to hell" and that would be the end of it.  It wasn't that way in 1861, and perhaps that's why we still have such a fascination with this war over 150 years later.  Here is where I see religion playing a huge role in the conflict.

The Ray House, is the last remaining structure from
the War era at Wilson's Creek.  It served as a
makeshift hospital after the battle.
You see, there had long been a debate as to whether God permitted slavery or not.  On the one hand, some Protestant Christians, particularly in the South, accurately stated that slavery was permitted (or at least tolerated) in the Bible.  Therefore they surmised that slavery must be a God-ordained institution, and any attempt to eliminate it would be man-centred and therefore misguided. This line of reasoning is consistent with the Protestant Bible Belt understanding of Sola Scriptura (the Bible Alone).  On the other hand, some Protestant Christians, particularly in the North, acknowledged that the Bible recognised slavery, but accurately stated that God reveals to mankind deeper truths in the gospel as time moves on, and when it comes to slavery (just like polygamy for example) God may have tolerated it at times, but he clearly does not like it, and it is not within his perfect will.  What we have here is a simple disagreement over a religious perspective of a social issue. The United States of America was born of the British Empire, and both were fully Protestant nations at the time.  Since Sola Scriptura is the general rule of Protestantism, there is no authoritative body that can authoritatively rule on this subject.  Had there been a Protestant "pope" to say "slavery is wrong" all Protestants might have been able to agree eventually, and perhaps (just maybe) there wouldn't have been so much religious fervour permeating the Northern states leading up to the "War of the Rebellion."  Sadly for America however, there is no such thing as a Protestant "pope," and without any authority to decide between the two factions over slavery, each went their separate ways.  Even the large and influential Baptist Church in America split in two over this issue.  Southern Baptists stuck with the Sola Scriptura view of slavery -- that it was a God-ordained institution.  While Northern Baptists (later called American Baptists) went with the view that man's understanding of the gospel is evolving, and it has become clear now that God hates slavery and that this understanding developed over time.  By the time of the Dixie Revolution, both parties, in the North and South had become religious zealots over their respective views of this cause. There is a reason why the abolitionists in the North were often called "radical." This may, in part, explain why they were so willing to make war on their neighbours at the command of the Federal government.  Such religious zealots are no longer commonplace in America, at least not insofar as being willing to attack our neighbours.  However, when it comes to attacking people overseas today, that is a different story, and religious zeal still has its place -- unfortunately. Now please don't misunderstand.  I am not calling the Dixie Revolution a religious war, because it was not.  What I am saying is that religious zeal may have contributed to the intensity of the conflict, even the savagery of the battles, and certainly a willingness to fight, but the cause of the war was still a political one, and it had nothing to do with religion, slavery, taxes or government meddling.

Period re-enactments are rare at Wison's Creek,
but they are extremely popular.  Here we see
2012 Confederate troops advancing on the Union Army.
You see, the first Southern secessions did not happen under President Lincoln's term.  They actually happened in 1860-1861 under President James Buchanan's term.  People forget this part of history.  When Buchanan was asked what he would do about the secession of Southern states, he said he would do nothing, because the U.S. Constitution does not give the president the power to wage war on the states over secession. He was right.  There is nothing in the Constitution that grants the president the power to do this. Buchanan took the same position as one of his executive predecessors, President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, who faced a similar situation with the potential secession of the New England states over the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 -- a Catholic French territory that New England Protestants feared might upset the political balance of the newly established Federal Union.  When President Jefferson was asked if he would allow the New England states to secede if they tried, he answered that he would let them go, "for they will still be our children." As we know, that secession movement died out in New England, never producing a single split, but the executive precedent was there, and Buchanan followed it. For this Buchanan was derided by the zealots of his time, and everyone thereafter, as a "weak president."  I find it odd that anyone would call him "weak" for following the example of President Thomas Jefferson, the man who wrote our Declaration of Independence, but I think this gives us some insight into the religious zeal of the time period.

Re-enactors depict Confederate cavalry advancing
on Union troops at a reenactment of the
Battle of Wilson's Creek.
The election of 1860 was a four-way race, and Buchanan decided not to seek a second term. (Who can blame him.) Abraham Lincoln actually won by a minority of votes, with less than half (45%) of the electorate casting their vote for him.  The other 55% was split three ways between; Stephen Douglas, John Beckinridge and John Bell.  Had Bell and Beckinridge dropped out, there was a good chance Douglas might have won the election.

Lincoln took a distinctively different view of presidential power and secession than his predecessors James Buchanan and Thomas Jefferson. Lincoln was hell bent on preserving the Union by all means necessary, and even supported a constitutional amendment (the Corwin Amendment) that would have made slavery constitutionally legal in the United States forever, if it would keep states within the Union. The U.S. Congress passed this amendment, but it was never ratified by the states since secession of the Southern states was already under way.  (Technically, it's still a candidate for ratification, even though the 13th Amendment technically nullifies it.)  Lincoln knew the only way to bring the Southern states back into the Union was by force, but if he managed to get a Declaration of War from the Congress, he would effectively be admitting that the South had successfully seceded and formed their own country.  It is doubtful the Congress would have supported such a war declaration anyway.  Lincoln needed to provoke the South into military actions against Federal troops to gain enough congressional support for a "police action."  By refusing to recognise the secession of the Southern states, he could say a rebellion was under way just as soon as Southern troops fired on Federal troops. To get this to happen, he needed to provoke it.  Lincoln began supplying munitions to Federal forts throughout the South, stating openly that he would use harbour forts to stop foreign ships to collect Federal taxes.  The Southern states (especially South Carolina), now an independent nation, interpreted this as a declaration of war from what they considered a foreign country (the United States), equivalent to the hypothetical situation of Canada trying to collect British taxes in New York Harbour.  This is what led to the Confederate firing on Fort Sumpter in Charleston Harbour in 1861.  Lincoln now had the political excuse he needed, a "rebellion" had just begun, so he then commenced a Federal invasion of Southern states.  The interesting thing about Fort Sumpter is that there were no casualties in that battle. Nobody was killed, and nobody was even hurt.  It was just a whole lot of fireworks.  From this, a war commenced that resulted in the deaths of over 620,000 people.

An artist's depiction of the Confederate side just before
the Battle of Wilson's Creek.  Notice the original
Confederate flag looked strikingly similar to the Union
flag at this time.  This caused great confusion on the
battlefield, promoting Confederate generals to eventually
change their banner to the Cross of St. Andrew,
which we are more familiar with today.
In my opinion the whole thing was a waste of time, wealth and human lives.  I am convinced that had the South been allowed to secede, it would have likely rejoined the Union of the United States within a generation or two.  If not, the eventual relationship that would have developed would have been similar to the one that currently exists between Canada and the United States.  Slavery would have died out peacefully, as it did everywhere else in the New World, before the dawn of the 20th century. Human lives would have been spared, economies would have been salvaged, Southern culture would have been preserved.  There would be no battles to commemorate, no war flags to dispute, no long standing animosity between the North and the South, and most of all, the intentions of America's founding fathers would have been preserved.  After all, the United States was founded on the right of secession.  (See the Declaration of Independence for details.)

When it comes to the Dixie Revolution, I do not blame the North, nor do I blame the South.  For the thirteen Southern states did exactly what the thirteen colonies did in the American Revolution.  They were following the example of their forefathers.  The Northern states were just doing what they were told.  They were following orders, from a centralised government they had already surrendered all of their rights to.  No, the only one I blame for the Dixie Revolutionary War was the man who gave those orders, the man of whom they say "the buck stops here," the one and only man who had the power to stop this tragic cascade of events, and had the example of an immediate predecessor and a founding father to show the way.  I'm talking about none other than Abraham Lincoln.

I know.  I know.  It's American "blasphemy" to say such things.  For Abraham Lincoln is considered a "founding father" himself and is revered as a super-president of sorts -- the supposed greatest one of all time.  Well, you have to remember that the victor of a war writes this history of a war.  The propaganda is old, having been around for over a century, but I would like to think I'm a little smarter than that.  I don't buy it.  If our current president, Barack H. Obama, launched a military attack on California, who would we blame for that?  The Californians?  New Yorkers? The Western states, or the Eastern states?  No, it would be nobody's fault but Barack Obama's, regardless of what events precipitated it.  After all is said and done, he is the President, and "the buck stops" with him.

So why did Lincoln do it?  Or maybe we should ask, why did he allow it to happen?  I think the answer is simple really.  Lincoln believed it was his duty as president to preserve the Union at all cost.  The direction of his predecessors notwithstanding, he could not tolerate the idea of the Union broken up under his presidency.  He didn't want to go down in history as the president who oversaw the breakup of the United States of America. Of this tragic course of action, the notable English author G.K. Chesterton had the following to say...
The American Civil War [sic.] was a real war between two civilisations.  It will affect the whole history of the world. There were great and good men, on both sides, who knew it would affect the whole history of the world. Yet the great majority of Englishmen know about it, or only know the things that are not true.  They have a general idea that it was `all about niggers'; [note: I personally don't care for this word, but Chesterton was quoting others here.] and they are taught by their newspapers to admire Abraham Lincoln as ignorantly and idiotically as they once used to abuse him. All this seems to me very strange; not only considering the importance of America, but considering how everybody is now making America so very important. America is allowed to have, if anything, far too much influence on the affairs of the rest of the world...

....We know, in our own case, that it is sometimes possible to lose a war after we have won it. The American politicians lost something more valuable than a war; they lost a peace. They lost a possibility of reconciliation that would not only have doubled their strength, but would have given them a far better balance of ideas which would have vastly increased their ultimate influence on the world.  Lincoln may have been right in thinking that he was bound to preserve the Union. But it was not the Union that was preserved.  A union implies that two different things are united; and it should have been the Northern and Southern cultures that were united.  As a fact, it was the Southern culture that was destroyed.  And it was the Northern that ultimately imposed not a unity but merely a uniformity. But that was not Lincoln's fault.  He died before it happened; and it happened because he died.

Everybody knows, I imagine, that the first of the men who really destroyed the South was the Southern fanatic, John Wilkes Booth.  He murdered the one man in the North who was capable of comprehending that there was a case for the South. But Northern fanatics finished the work of the Southern fanatic; many of them as mad as he and more wicked than he. Mr. Bowers gives a vivid account of the reign of terror that Stevens and Sumner and the rest let loose on the defeated rebels a pestilence of oppression from which the full promise of America has never recovered.  But I have a particular reason at the moment for recommending to my countrymen some study of the book and the topic.

Every age has its special strength, and generally one in which some particular nation is specially strong. Every age has also its special weakness and deficiency, and a need which only another type could supply. This is rather specially the Age of America; but inevitably, and unfortunately, rather the America of the Northern merchants and industrialists. It is also the age of many genuine forms of philanthropy and humanitarian effort, such as modern America has very generously supported. But there is a virtue lacking in the age, for want of which it will certainly suffer and possibly fail. It might be expressed in many ways; but as short a way of stating it as any I know is to say that, at this moment, America and the whole world is crying out for the spirit of the Old South.

In other words, what is most lacking in modern psychology is the sentiment of Honour; the sentiment to which personal independence is vital and to which wealth is entirely incommensurate. I know very well that Honour had all sorts of fantasies and follies in the days of its excess. But that does not affect the danger of its deficiency, or rather its disappearance. The world will need, and need desperately, the particular spirit of the landowner who will not sell his land, of the shopkeeper who will not sell his shop, of the private man who will not be bullied or bribed into being part of a public combination; of what our fathers meant by the free man. And we need the Southern gentleman more than the English or French or Spanish gentleman.  For the aristocrat of Old Dixie, with all his faults and inconsistencies, did understand what the gentle man of Old Europe generally did not.  He did understand the Republican ideal, the notion of the Citizen as it was understood among the noblest of the pagans.  That combination of ideal democracy with real chivalry was a particular blend for which the world was immeasurably the better; and for the loss of which it is immeasurably the worse.  It may never be recovered; but it will certainly be missed.

-- G.K. Chesterton
On America, from "Come to Think of It"
So when it comes to Lincoln, I am genuinely unimpressed.  I don't think of him as any kind of hero, and I make sure my kids don't either.  I'll not have them participate in the "emperor worship" of a man who clearly doesn't deserve it in my estimation. Not to worry, I have no desire to rip up five-dollar bills, melt pennies, or deface his monuments.  As I said above, I'm quite dispassionate about the whole thing, and I really don't give a hoot.  I've always said if you have a problem with a dead man, dig up his grave and rattle his bones or something, but I have no desire to do that either.  I just find it strange and awkward that so much civil reverence is given to this man.  It boarders on the homage given to the Caesars, and I find that a bit uncomfortable.  I would much rather venerate the angels, Saints and martyrs who have actually earned my respect, rather than some politician who probably wouldn't have even earned my vote had I been around to cast it.  In the end, that's all Lincoln ever was -- just another politician.  He wasn't even well liked in his day. Strange that he is so loved and revered in ours.

In any case, as Chesterton pointed out above, Lincoln may have started the destruction of Dixie, but he didn't finish it. He was the author of the saying: "hard war, easy peace." His commission of General Sherman to commit cultural genocide and war crimes against the South, was tempered only by his willingness to let things go back as they were, if only the rebels would put down their rifles and go home. That ended with his assassination, and the terms of the surrender of General Lee, and his Army of Virginia, were not worth the paper they were printed on by the time General Grant delivered them to the desk of Lincoln's notorious successor, President Andrew Johnson. What followed was the cultural and social dismantling of the South through Reconstruction and the 14th Amendment.

I am glad that I moved to Dixie.  Missouri is probably one of the most interesting former Confederate states.  The secession of Missouri is disputed, and that's because of the circumstances under which it happened.  Missouri had two secession conventions, both in the same year.  The first overwhelmingly voted to stay within the Union.  The second voted to secede.  What happened in between to change people's minds?  Well, that was the result of a man named General Nathaniel Lyon.  General Lyon served the Union, and he was stationed in St. Louis.  His orders were to cross Missouri and attack the Confederates in Arkansas west of the Mississippi River.  Missouri held its first secession convention and voted overwhelmingly to stay within the Union, but conditionally, stating that it did not want to turn the state into a war zone.  A state guard would be commissioned by the governor to keep the Confederates out of the state, and effectively stop them from advancing through Missouri territory.  In exchange, General Lyon would keep his Federal troops out of Missouri and not draft any Missourians into his Federal brigade. It was a reasonable compromise and a fair settlement. Compromise is how Missourians lived during that time. Missouri was a split state, with Germans settling the northern half, and Scots settling the southern half.  Thus slavery was permitted in southern Missouri, and outlawed in northern Missouri.  Missourians were used to making compromises work.  They thought this would be no different.  When Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson presented the plan to General Nathaniel Lyon, this was Lyon's response...
"Rather than concede to the State of Missouri the right to demand that my government shall not enlist troops within her limits, or bring troops into the State whenever it pleases, or move troops at its own will into, out of, or through the State; rather than concede to the State of Missouri for one single instant the right to dictate to my government in any matter, however unimportant, I would [pointing at the three state officials] see you, and you, and you, and you and every man, woman and child in the State, dead and buried. This means war. In an hour one of my officers will call for you and conduct you out of my lines." -- General Nathaniel Lyon in St. Louis, June 11, 1861
What followed was carnage.  The capital of Missouri, Jefferson City, was attacked and captured.  Some elected officials and high-ranking dignitaries were killed.  General Lyon conducted a military raid against the relatively unarmed and completely unsuspecting people of Missouri.  This caused several state congressmen to flee west toward Neosho, just south of Joplin, near the Missouri-Oklahoma border.  There they eventually gathered enough of their number to form a quorum and the following secession ordinance was passed...
An act declaring the political ties heretofore existing between the State of Missouri and the United States of America dissolved.

Whereas the Government of the United States, in the possession and under the control of a sectional party, has wantonly violated the compact originally made between said Government and the State of Missouri, by invading with hostile armies the soil of the State, attacking and making prisoners the militia while legally assembled under the State laws, forcibly occupying the State capitol, and attempting through the instrumentality of domestic traitors to usurp the State government, seizing and destroying private property, and murdering with fiendish malignity peaceable citizens, men, women, and children, together with other acts of atrocity, indicating a deep-settled hostility toward the people of Missouri and their institutions; and

Whereas the present Administration of the Government of the United States has utterly ignored the Constitution, subverted the Government as constructed and intended by its makers, and established a despotic and arbitrary power instead thereof: Now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the general assembly of the State of Missouri, That all political ties of every character new existing between the Government of the United States of America and the people and government of the State of Missouri are hereby dissolved, and the State of Missouri, resuming the sovereignty granted by compact to the said United States upon admission of said State into the federal Union, does again take its place as a free and independent republic amongst the nations of the earth.

This act to take effect and be in force from and after its passage.

Approved, October 31, 1861.
Source: Official Records, Ser. IV, vol. 1, pp. 752-53.
My son Michael poses before a confederate
monument in 2006 at Wilson's Creek.
Of course the Federal government refused to recognise this ordinance and declared Missouri a Union state. While the Confederate government recognised the ordinance and declared Missouri a Confederate state. The twelfth star on the Confederate flag is for Missouri. As Arkansas state troops moved north to liberate Missouri from Federal control, they were joined by the Missouri state guard. These engaged General Lyon's Federal troops at Wilson's Creek just south-west of Springfield Missouri. There, in the heat of battle, General Lyon took three bullets; one to the leg, another to the head, and a third one to the heart which killed him. He died on the battlefield having slowed but not stopped the Confederate advance. He was the first Union general to die in the Dixie Revolutionary War. All of Southern Missouri was retaken by Confederate forces for a couple of years before they were pushed back toward the middle of the war. One can find Confederate monuments throughout Southern Missouri and there is a fairly large one in Springfield.

Personally, I think Missourians should be proud of their Confederate history.  The Confederates in 1861 did nothing more shameful than the colonists in 1776. If you're proud of the American Revolution, you should likewise be proud of Dixie Revolution. When you celebrate the 4th of July, you should likewise remember those brave Southern states that followed in the colonists' footsteps. They were both "freedom fighters" to use a cliché term.  I love the history here, and its something I'm trying to instill a sense of pride in with my children.  They should be proud that they were born on once Confederate soil, and even though it was essentially a lost cause, that doesn't mean the principles behind it have died.  This is no longer 1861.  The social problems of that era are long dead and buried.  Today we have new social problems, and whole new tensions that have arisen which our children will soon face.  I think it's important for them to have a sense of history and their place in it.  I think it's important for them to know where they came from, and what their values are. I want them to know that the boys in grey who fought so valiantly in that great and terrible war so long ago were American soldiers too.  Lately, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding their monuments, flags and cemeteries, as some very Left-wing radicals would like to tear them all down, and erase them from our collective memory.  These are American soldiers we're talking about here, who fought valiantly for a cause they deeply believed in.  Whether we agree with that cause or not is irrelevant.  I think their memory deserves better treatment than that.  MY children are taught to tread softly near their tombstones, speak with a quiet hush, giving them the respect every American soldier has rightly earned.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Monday, August 29, 2016

I'm WIth Solidarity

So this is it for me. This is the LAST election I will vote Republican in. My sole purpose of voting Republican is to try to stop Hillary Clinton, whom I believe to be the greatest evil in this entire 2016 election cycle. Regardless if she wins or loses, my vote for Donald J. Trump in November will mark the end of a 28-year long Republican voting streak.

I started voting Republican in 1988, the first election I could vote in. 2016 will be my last year voting Republican. I am now a registered member of the American Solidarity Party (ASP), as well as a delegate in their convention that formulated the current platform, and in upcoming elections I will vote accordingly as the party is able to get candidates on the ballot. As a Catholic Christian I believe it is my obligation to do this. I can no longer settle for a coalition party (like the Republican Party) that only supports half of what I believe in, and even then, mostly just in lip service. America now has a truly Christian political party, and that's the one I'm going to be working with in all future elections, and in between.

I hope other Christians will join me in this.

I would have gleefully done a write-in vote for Mike Maturen, the ASP's nominee for president, had the stakes not been so high in this election cycle. I see Hillary Clinton as such a great evil to be opposed in this election that I am willing to vote for somebody I don't particularly like, in the hope of stopping her, or at least denying her an electoral mandate in November. I am thoroughly convinced, that barring a miracle, Hillary Clinton will win the Whitehouse. I am currently giving her an 80% chance of success. That doesn't mean that Trump can't win. He still has 20%, but the odds are stacked against him.

I can't help but seeing some similarities between this election, and the German election of 1932. That was the last election Germans had before the Nazis removed all hope of a free and fair process. During that election, the ballot was split between eight major political parties. Of which, six got over 1 million votes. If just three of those six had allied behind one candidate, they could have stopped Adolph Hitler from ever becoming the Chancellor of Germany, and possibly prevented World War II, the Holocaust, and the disruption of hundreds of millions of lives around the world. That however, didn't happen. The 1932 German election serves as an object lesson of what happens when voters are unwilling to soil their hands a little and vote for somebody they don't like, all for the sake of stopping somebody who is infinitely worse. I am a student of history. I learn from history, so I don't repeat it. Sadly, however, that means I am doomed to helplessly watch as others repeat it.

Now I am not calling Hillary Clinton a Hitler. She is not. I don't think she wants to kill practising Jews, Catholics or even Evangelicals for that matter. Actually, I think she is rather indifferent toward them. However, at the same time, I also believe that once she is president, she will enact policies that hurt these groups, and she won't care. While I don't think she's going to be "hunting" anyone down, I also believe that any cries of religious discrimination will fall on deaf ears with that woman. Frankly, she just won't give a damn. She'll enact the largest abortion-supporting policy in this country's history and she'll make practising Catholics, Evangelicals and Jews pay for it. When we complain about that, she'll just laugh. No, I mean it, she will literally laugh, as in "ha ha" for the cameras. She will mandate that churches and synagogues hire homosexuals and transgenders for their staff, and when we complain about it, she will ignore us, stacking the courts to back her decision. She will enact tough anti-homeschooling laws, and when we complain about it, she'll say its just for the sake of the children. I tell you, practising Catholics, Evangelicals and Jews will have no recourse with this woman, and no way to have their grievances addressed.

On the subject of war, however, I'm not so sure. She and Hitler may have a lot in common. Just like Hitler wanted a pan-European hegemony, Clinton will seek to back America's geopolitical hegemony in places we have no business. I see confrontation with Russia as an inevitability. I see further support of ISIS by means of covert money being sent to ISIS-related military groups in Syria. So when it comes to war, I really don't know what to expect with a Hillary Clinton presidency, but I sense something very negative and ominous on the horizon.

So there you go. These are my reasons for supporting Donald J. Trump in this election cycle. I wish I could say it's for positive reasons concerning Donald J. Trump, but it's not. For me its very simple. He's not her. Therefore he gets my vote.

After that, it's goodbye to the GOP, regardless of the election results. They have failed me. They have failed every single one of us. Every Catholic, and every Evangelical, and every practising Jew, who has ever voted Republican in the hope of stopping abortion, same-sex "marriage," and curbing the decline of America's moral decay, has been let down. It's time we realise the Republican Party used us. They gladly accepted our votes, failed to act upon our wishes, and then told us we had to buy into their Libertarian economics of big business and low wages. They espoused Christian values on moral issues, but attacked them on economic issues. Between the GOP and the Democrats, the American middle-class has been gutted, and with that so as the traditional American family. So in 2016 I'll vote for the last Republican in my life -- Donald J. Trump -- and in 2018 I will vote Solidarity. The same goes for 2020, 2022, 2024 and so on.

Sorry Republicans! You took my vote for granted. Now this is what you get.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

We Should Welcome Hebrew Catholics

A Family Passover Seder Table Setting.

I always get into trouble when I start up a conversation on this topic, but the reason why I keep doing it is because I think its important. The topic is Hebrew Catholics. Within the Catholic Church there appears to be two extremes of thought.

The first extreme is the older one, which holds to the notion that when a Jew converts to Catholic Christianity, he should leave behind all that was of his Jewish heritage and ancestry. He should, in effect, forget that he was ever a Jew and just go on being a good Catholic. Any attempt to commemorate his Jewish heritage is considered "judaising" and is immediately condemned as a form of heresy -- even apostasy.

The second extreme is a newer one, but also a very old one, which holds to the notion that Catholicism must change to accommodate Jewish converts and make itself more "Jewish friendly." This usually consists of having parish-wide Passover seders and/or celebrating other Jewish customs on a parish-wide level.

I believe both extremes are wrong, but it is the latter one that that I have the most experience with.

Evangelical Protestants have taken this latter extreme to new heights by creating what is called "Messianic Judaism," which is really nothing more than Evangelical Christianity that has been re-branded as a form of "Judaism." In these Messianic "synagogues," as they are called, which are really just Evangelical churches, all members are encouraged to wear traditional Jewish worship attire, including tillit (prayer shawls), veils for women and kippa (yalmukah or skullcaps) for men. Jesus' name is replaced with Yeshua. The Holy Spirit is referred to by the Hebrew term Ruach Hakodesh. Worship is held on Saturdays instead of Sundays, and a good number of members practise kosher dietary laws. Some of these "synagogues" have even adopted Orthodox Jewish liturgical practises.

Back when I was an Evangelical, I flirted with Messianic Judaism quite a bit, because I found the liturgical aspects fascinating. In fact, you could say that Jewish liturgy, given a Christian illumination, actually played a significant role in my decision to become Anglican, and then eventually become Catholic. In spite of that, however, I was always amused by how many Evangelicals would suddenly "discover" their "long, lost Jewish ancestry" after joining one of these "synagogues." The pattern was predictable. They would go in as Evangelical Christians, professing to be Gentiles by heritage, then over time start calling themselves "Messianics." After a while longer... lo and behold!... they "discovered" some long lost ancestor from 200+ years ago, they never knew about before, who "just happened to be Jewish." So naturally, that must mean they're Jewish too. From that point on they begin calling themselves "Messianic Jews." Later I came to understand why this was happening. Messianic Judaism (Evangelical Christianity given a Jewish look) is probably the epitome of judaising. You see, the definition of judaising is: "to conform to the spirit, character, principles, or practises of Judaism." In other words, when Christians (who are not Jewish) are encouraged, or even pressured, to start acting like Jews by practising customs and rituals associated with Judaism, that is the definition of judaising. Saint Paul, the apostle, and the first Church Council in Jerusalem (recorded in the Book of Acts), utterly condemned judaising. The Church can never do it.

What does that mean however? It means that the Church can never encourage or pressure non-Jews to start behaving like Jews. The problem with these Evangelical "Messianic synagogues" is that their entire function and purpose is to accommodate Jewish converts to the point where non-Jewish Christians feel pressured to adopt Jewish customs and traditions themselves. In fact, non-Jewish Christians are often made to feel like they're somehow "less than faithful" if they don't. This is why so many of them adopt Jewish practises, start calling themselves "Messianics," and then suddenly "discover" their long, lost "Jewish" ancestry, so as not to feel left out or "second class."

What the Evangelicals have done with "Messianic Judaism" is the extreme form of what some Catholics are doing with their accommodation of Jewish converts. Granted, Catholics usually never go as far as Evangelicals do, but the spirit of judaising can still be there, and yes, it is wrong.

So what is the balanced approach?

Here's the deal. Saint Paul and the Council of Jerusalem absolutely condemned judaising. There is no question about that. There are no exceptions to it. It is condemned, and it is heresy to practise. But what exactly is judaising? As I defined above. Judaising is: "to conform to the spirit, character, principles, or practises of Judaism." By that is meant generally to conform the Church as a whole, and specifically to conform non-Jewish Christians. In other words, if you tell non-Jewish Christians that they should adopt Jewish practises, you are judaising. Likewise, if you change the character of Church devotion or liturgy, so as to pressure or coerce non-Jewish Christians to start acting out Jewish practises, even if its unintentional, you are judaising.

So to summarise, judaising simply means making non-Jews act like Jews. What it does not mean, however, is allowing Jews to act like Jews.

The Catholic Church, in order to remain Catholic, must always have a universal appeal. It must appeal to non-Jews alongside of Jews. It must be a religion that non-Jews can easily adopt, without having to feel like they're changing their culture and diet to do so. To simplify, the Catholic Church, in order to remain truly Catholic, must be a Church for all peoples. It cannot allow itself to become solely a Church for only one type of people.

Now this doesn't mean that the Catholic Church, in certain places, can't take on the cultural flair of the people who live there. For example, Catholic churches in Ireland have a very Irish flair. Catholic churches in Mexico have a distinctively Mexican flair. There are even certain uses and rites that appeal to specific cultures as well, having been born of those cultures. However, in spite of all this, the Catholic Church remains universal. No convert is expected to take up strict dietary laws, or exchange the culture they observe in their home, for another completely foreign to them. For example; as an American of north European descent, I could join a Byzantine Catholic Church if I wanted to, and worship God according to Byzantine Catholic ways. In my private home however, aside from some Byzantine prayers I might use, my life would essentially remain north European in style and character. I could continue to use traditional English prayers and devotions as I like, and have some tea and crackers in the afternoon, which I enjoy from my British heritage. I could continue to eat pork, sausages, schnitzel and bacon cheeseburgers, which is something very important to a Swedish-German American. I would not have to change my manner of dress, or be expected to wear anything distinctive in public or private. I would continue going to Oktoberfest in the fall to celebrate my German heritage, Yulefest in December and Midsommerfest in June to celebrate my Scandinavian heritage. In other words, I am still very much connected to my ancestral culture, and a good Catholic at the same time. See? The Catholic Church is universal. I don't have to become something I'm not to be a good Catholic Christian. The apostles saw this cultural flexibility as absolutely essential to preaching the gospel and saving as many souls as possible. They did not limit the gospel only to people who were willing to become culturally Jewish.

So judaising is about making non-Jews act Jewish. But judaising has nothing to do with Christian Jews who just want to be themselves by acting Jewish.

What does this mean?

It means if a Jew converts to Catholic Christianity, he can go on observing certain Jewish cultural norms, provided these in no way interfere with his newly adopted Catholic Christian faith. In other words, the Catholic Church just treats Jewish converts the same way as she treats everyone else. That is the balanced approach.

What we have to understand is that there is a culture that surrounds Jewish communities. Yes, the religion of Rabbinical Judaism played a significant role in forming that culture, but just because that religion played that role, doesn't mean the Church should obliterate the culture. That's not her way. It never has been.

So to summarise, a Jew can convert to Catholicism and become a Hebrew Catholic, maintaining many cultural traditions he/she is accustomed to, so long as it is understood that these cultural traditions in no way contribute to their necessary religious obligations as Catholics, and they in no way make them "superior" Catholics for observing them. They are just cultural traditions. So for example; if a Hebrew Catholic wants to keep kosher, observe Passover and other festivals privately in his own home, and wear a yalmukah and tillis during mass, all of this would be acceptable, so long as he understands that this does not contribute to his religious obligations as a Catholic, nor does it in any way make him a "superior" Catholic for practising them. It is just a cultural expression.

Could non-Hebrews participate in these activities as well? Yes, but a word of caution is in order here. Non-Hebrews might be easily misled, even unintentionally, into believing that these Hebrew traditions somehow contribute to their religious obligation, or in some way make them "superior" Catholics. I say this only from experience, because I've watched it happen. Hebrew Catholics should take extra care to make sure that any Non-Hebrew, who joins in their celebrations, is not doing so for misguided reasons. Priests and bishops should be especially sensitive to this as well, pointing out the teachings of Saint Paul and the Council of Jerusalem.

Does that mean that some Catholic parishes might actually take on a Hebrew cultural flair? I suppose one could, but only if said Catholic parish happens to be erected in a heavily populated Jewish area, with primarily Hebrew members. The same would be the case with any culture. However, it would be wrong to give a Catholic parish a Hebrew cultural flair if it's not primarily a congregation of Hebrew origin. Take for example places like Tel Aviv, or even some neighbourhoods in New York City. We could possibly see Hebrew Catholic parishes develop organically in these places, but its pretty hard to imagine them developing anywhere else. That being said, the sacramental nature of said parish would have to remain totally untouched by Jewish cultural norms. Any Catholic would need to be able to receive the sacraments there, comfortably, regardless of his cultural heritage or sensibilities. Likewise, there is no way the sacraments could be connected to Hebrew rituals in any shape of form. The two would have to be totally separate. Just like they are with the cultural rituals of other peoples.

So with that I will introduce the following videos. I am not alone in this opinion. I'm not just "winging it" here. I'm in good company. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a pillar of orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the Catholic Church today, while he was Archbishop over the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, had quite a bit to say about this topic...

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We simply have to understand that what we're talking about here is nothing new. The early Church was highly accustomed to the mingling of Hebrew and non-Hebrew Christians. They laid out the rules very clearly in their time period. Hebrews can be Hebrews. They're allowed to express their cultural norms. However, they must freely associate with non-Hebrews as brothers, and are never allowed to impose those cultural norms on non-Hebrews. Nor are they permitted to think their cultural norms somehow make them "better" than other Catholic Christians. They don't. A Hebrew Catholic is no different than an Irish Catholic, or Italian Catholic, or German Catholic, or a Catholic who follows the Anglican Patrimony, or the Byzantine Rite, etc. We are all just Catholics, and none are "better" than the other. Our justification/sanctification is dependent on our union with Jesus Christ, not the particulars of the cultures from whence we came.  So long as we follow this rule, I think we will be balanced.

Along that line an organisation has developed that functions much like a support group for Jewish converts to the Catholic Church. It's called the Association of Hebrew Catholics. This was the organisation that provided the interview with Cardinal Burke in the videos above. The organisation simply helps Catholics, of Jewish heritage, express and live out that heritage within the context of "keeping it Catholic."

I bring this up because I sense that in the years ahead, we may be seeing a larger number of Jewish people convert to the Catholic Church. We need to be prepared for them, and we need to know exactly where everything stands. Again, this is nothing new. They're very old rules actually. It's just that we haven't had need to use them for a long time. I think that is about to change, and with that understanding, we should welcome Hebrew Catholics with open arms.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Shocking Truths for Christians

The following are shocking truths that every Christian should know. Surprisingly, many Christians are completely unaware of these things, especially in North America, and a great many Christians have no interest in learning them at all. However, they are essential to our faith as believers in Christ, and no Christian should be without knowledge of them. Read on to learn the shocking truths that every Christian should know...

Did you know the Bible says we are NOT saved by Faith Alone?

The Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther (AD 1483 - 1546), made "Faith Alone" (Sola Fide), one of the "Five Solas" of Protestant theology. He even added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28, in his German translation of the Bible, thereby changing the whole meaning of the verse.
Original Greek version…
λογιζόμεθα γὰρ δικαιοῦσθαι πίστει ἄνθρωπον χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου. 
Common English translations...
(NIV) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
(NRSV) For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
(ESV) For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
(NASB) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
(RSV) For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.
(KJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 
Martin Luther's German translation…
So halten wir nun dafür, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein durch den Glauben. 
English equivalent...
For we account a man to be justified by faith alone, without the works of the law..
Do you see how he added the word "alone" here. It changes the meaning of the verse. Most Christian denominations today developed their salvation theology (soteriology) around Martin Luther's Five Solas, which means that most Christian denominations, particularly those in the United States, teach some form of salvation by Faith Alone. But what does the Bible really have to say about this. We see above how Martin Luther mistranslated Romans 3:23, but to do this, he had to completely ignore James 2:24…
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Throughout the whole New Testament, the authors speak of faith and works operating together in the life of the Christian believer, and that in the end, Christ will judge us not only by our faith, but by our works of love as well…
For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body. -- 2 Corinthians 5:10
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. -- Galatians 5:6
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. -- 1 Corinthians 13:2
 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. -- John 14:15
And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” -- Matthew 19:16-17
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. -- Philippians 2:12
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. -- John 14:21
For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. -- Romans 2:6-8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. -- Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation (justification) does not come by "faith alone." It never did. The whole thing is based on a mistranslation of the Bible from one man back in the 16th century. Does your church or denomination teach salvation (justification) by "faith alone?" If so, your church is going against the plain and clear teaching of the Bible. Sadly, many Christian churches in North America do just that.

Did you know that nowhere does the Bible say to use the Bible Alone?

That's right. There is not a single Biblical passage that says the entire Christian faith is contained solely in the Bible Alone. Go ahead and try to find one -- just one. You won't be able to. Yet, the majority of churches in America teach that we must only believe what is written in the Bible Alone. Where did they get this idea? Obviously, it didn't come from the Bible, because it's not in there.

Actually, the got it from a single man living in the 16th century. Yep, it's Martin Luther again. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) was another one of his Five Solas. He had not a single verse of Scripture to back it up, but in spite of that, millions of people embraced the idea. So what does the Bible actually say about this?
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. -- 1 Corinthians 11:2 
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. -- 2 Thessalonians 2:15 
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. -- 2 Thessalonians 3:6 
But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. -- John 21:25
As you can see, the Bible plainly teaches that the word of God is revealed to us not only through the pages of the Bible, but also through the oral traditions handed down from the apostles. But how can those oral traditions be known today? The early Christians, specifically those of the early Church, who suffered persecution for their faith at the hands of the Pagan Roman Empire, recorded for us how this works...
"The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the apostles, and remains in the churches even unto this present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with the ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition." 
-- Origen, Fundamental Doctrines 1:2, written in AD 230. 
So there you have it. This was written back when Christians were being fed to lions in the Roman circuses and burned alive as torches for Caesar's gardens. The early Christians followed not only Scripture, but also the oral tradition of the apostles, handed down to them through an order of successors. These successors were known as bishops. We read about them in Scripture...
The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. -- 1 Timothy 3:1 
For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain. -- Titus 1:7
You see, a bishop is a "little apostle" in the sense that the apostles gave the bishops their apostolic authority, entrusting them not only with proper interpretation of Scripture, but also with the oral traditions not contained in Scripture.

It helps to understand that the Bible itself wasn't compiled as a single book until the late 4th century. Prior to that, the Bible existed in separate scrolls, and each church had a different number of them in different regions of the world. So for example; prior to the late 4th century, Christians in Spain might have a completely different Bible from Christians in Italy, and Christians in Greece might have a completely different Bible from Christians living in Egypt. Everyone had a different Bible, and this is why three church synods were held in Rome, Hippo and Carthage, in the late 4th century, to determine once and for all what the Christian Bible is supposed to look like. After this, the Bishop of Rome (sometimes called the Pope) took the recommendations of these three synods and made the Bible we know today as the official Christian Bible for all Christians. Its the same Bible most Christians use today, except for many Christians in North America. They often use a shorter one.

So does your church teach that we must only believe what is in the Bible Alone? If so, your church isn't following the Bible.

Did you know that most Christians in North America don't even use the complete Bible?

Yes, it's true. Many Christians in North America today don't even have a complete Bible. It's been shortened and truncated -- specifically missing seven books from the Old Testament, and entire chapters from the books of Esther and Daniel. It's very sad, you see, because most of these Christians don't even know their Bible is incomplete. Here are the books most Christians are missing...
  1. Tobit
  2. Judith
  3. Wisdom
  4. Sirach
  5. Baruch
  6. 1 Maccabees
  7. 2 Maccabees
  8. Chapters 10 - 16 of Esther (including the dream had by Mordecai, contents of the decree against the Jews, and a copy of the decree in favour of the Jews)
  9. Chapters 2, 13 and 14 of Daniel (including the prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon)
If these books and chapters aren't in your Bible, you're missing the complete Bible. It's not your fault. You were robbed. Who robbed you? Once again, it was that German Protestant Reformer named Martin Luther, who removed these books and chapters from the Bible by none other than his own self-given authority in the early 16th century. Many other Protestant churches followed his lead, so that even today, five centuries later, most Bibles sold in North America are missing these 7 books and additional chapters to Esther and Daniel. You can read more about this here.

You see, these books were part of the Christian Bible for over 1,500 years. It's only been in the last 500 years that these books and chapters have been removed by certain Bible publishers after promptings from Martin Luther. If you want the complete (unabridged) Bible, you can read it for free here. Or you can purchase a copy of one here or here or here.

Does your church use a complete and unabridged Bible? If not, your church doesn't have the full Scriptures.

Did you know that literally ALL CHRISTIANS prayed to Mary and the Saints prior to the 16th century, just 500 years ago?

It's true, and there is so much historical record to support this, that it seems almost silly to post it here. Feel free to check your local library to see if this is true. You'll probably be shocked to discover that literally ALL CHRISTIANS prayed to Mary and the Saints prior to the 16th century, and even that first generation of Protestant Reformers (including Martin Luther) held to strong Marian devotion. So for simplicity's sake, I'll just cite a few references from the ancient Church...
"For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against His Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word. The former was seduced to disobey God, but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve. As the human race was subjected to death through [the act of] a virgin, so it was saved by a virgin." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V:19,1 (written in AD 180) 
"Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God. Do not reject our supplications in necessity, but deliver us from danger, [O you] alone pure and alone blessed." -- Sub Tuum Praesidium, Egypt 3rd Century, From Rylands Papyrus 
"O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides." -- Athanasius, Homily of the Papyrus of Turin, 71:216 (AD 373)  
"Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground." -- Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 24:11 (A.D. 379) 
Why did they do this? It's simple really. You see, true and authentic Christian theology teaches two things. The first is that physical death has lost its sting and means nothing to Christians. Our place in the Mystical Body of Christ remains intact even after our death. The second is that all Christians are connected to each other through the Holy Spirit, and that those who have died are more in tune with the Holy Spirit in death than they ever were in life, which means they can hear our prayers and requests. So just as one living Christian asks another living Christian to pray for him/her, so to a living Christian can ask a deceased Christian (such as a Saint) to pray for him/her as well. To deny this is to deny the power of Christ over death.

Sadly, in recent centuries, following the Protestant Reformation in Europe, many Protestant Christians gradually adopted Muslim-like beliefs that there is a vast separation between Christians who are living and dead, and there can no longer be any communication between them. This defies the plain teaching of Scripture and the Early Church, and denies the power of Christ over death, but sadly, that's what many Christians believe now, especially many in North America.

Does your church encourage prayer to Mary and the Saints? If not, your church isn't following the Bible or the faith of the early Christians who suffered and died for the faith.

Did you know that up until just 500 years ago, literally ALL CHRISTIANS believed the communion bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ?

Yes, that's right. All Christians believed this, up until just 500 years ago, when some Christians began denying it. Now, in North America, most Christians deny it entirely, in spite of what the Bible says...
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. -- John 6:52-57 
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” -- Matthew 26:26 
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? -- 1 Corinthians 10:16 
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself. -- 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
The early Christians, who died for their faith in the Roman Coliseum and circuses, firmly believed this, and even wrote it down for us in their own words...
"For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." -- Justin Martyr, First Apology 66 (AD 110-165) 
"He acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as his own blood, from which he bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of creation) he affirmed to be his own body, from which he gives increase to our bodies." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies,V:2,2 (AD 200) 
"They [heretics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again." -- Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 7,1 (AD 110)
Again, these were the Christians who suffered and died for their faith at the hands of the Pagan Roman Empire. They died believing the bread becomes the literal flesh of Jesus Christ, and the wine becomes his literal blood. In fact, that was one of the charges the Pagans levelled against them -- cannibalism.

Does your church teach that the bread and wine in communion are the literal body (flesh) and blood of Jesus Christ? Or does it teach that its only symbolic? If its the later, your church is not following the teachings of the Bible or the early Christians who died for the faith.

Did you know that up until just 500 years ago, all Christians confessed their sins to a presbyter or bishop (priest)?

The practise comes straight from the Bible. Jesus entrusted his apostles, and their successors (the bishops, as well as their presbyters), also known as "priests," with his own power to forgive and retain sins...
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” -- John 20:20-23
Yes, it's true, and there is so much historical information to prove this, that it would be ridiculous to cite it all here. Again, just go to any local library to look it up and see for yourself. Instead, I'll just cite one of the earliest sources from a Christian who lived during the time when Christians were dying for their faith in the Roman Coliseum and circuses.
"In addition to these there is also a seventh, albeit hard and laborious: the remission of sins through penance... when he does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord." -- Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 2:4 (A.D. 248)
Does your church offer private confession opportunities with a presbyter or bishop, who has the authority to forgive sins on Christ's behalf? If not, your church isn't following the faith or practise of the early Christians.

Did you know that all the early Christians followed the Successor of Saint Peter, who is known as the Bishop of Rome (a.k.a. The Pope)?

Yes, it's true, and this comes from Jesus Christ's words to Peter when he said...
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. -- Matthew 16:18-19
Keys were a Biblical symbol of authority, which a Jewish king would give to his prime minister. (See Isaiah 22:21-22) How was this interpreted by the early Christians, who gave their lives for their faith in the Coliseum and circuses of Rome? Read it for yourself, in their own words...
"The Church of God which sojourns in Rome to the Church of God which sojourns in Corinth....If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." -- Clement of Rome, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians 1,59:1 (AD 96) 
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High God the Father, and of Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is sanctified and enlightened by the will of God, who formed all things that are according to the faith and love of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour; the Church which presides in the place of the region of the Romans, and which is worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of credit, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love..." -- Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans, Prologue (AD 110) 
"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorised meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organised at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:3:2 (AD 180) 
"And he says to him again after the resurrection, 'Feed my sheep.' It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly should we hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcopate itself to be the one and undivided." -- Cyprian, The Unity of the Church 4-5 (AD 251) 
"Stephen, that he who so boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid...Stephen, who announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter." -- Stephen I of Rome, Firmilian to Cyprian, Epistle 74/75:17 (AD 256)
The earliest Christians, the most faithful among us all, who gave their lives to lions in the Roman Coliseum and circuses, and allowed themselves to be burned alive as torches in the gardens of the Caesars, all professed obedience to the Bishop of Rome (The Pope) as the Successor of Saint Peter the Rock. Their testimony is undeniable. This was part of the faith they died for. Does your church profess loyalty to the Bishop of Rome (The Pope) as the Successor of Saint Peter? If not, your church isn't following the example of the early Christians who sacrificed everything for the faith. Sadly, many North American Christians profess no loyalty to the Bishop of Rome, and are ignorant of both the faith and sacrifices of the early Christians.

Did you know the early Christians called their churches "Catholic?"

The word "Catholic" is Greek and means: whole, complete, unabridged and universal. In other words, a Catholic Christian is one who believes the whole, complete, unabridged and universal faith taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles. If we likened the Christian faith to a salad bar, the Catholic Christian is one who goes through the bar and takes a little helping over everything offered on the bar, leaving nothing behind. Many Christians, especially those in North America, are not "Catholic," which means they pick and choose from the salad bar that which they like and don't like. They treat Christianity as if it were a buffet, wherein one can pick and choose what to belief based on personal preferences. That's why there is only one Catholic Church, but many different kinds of non-Catholic (or Protestant) churches. There are as many Protestant churches as there are different opinions about what to believe and reject. This problem is nothing new. The early Christians dealt with it as well. But for those who chose to accept the whole and complete Christian faith, leaving nothing out, the word that was used to describe them was "Catholic."
See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. -- Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8 (AD 110)
Ignatius was a bishop in the Early Church who oversaw the Church of Antioch. He was ordained a presbyter in his youth by Saint Peter the Apostle, and then later made a bishop by Saint John, the youngest Apostle. The words you just read above were written by a man who was made a bishop by the same man who wrote the Gospel of John, three Biblical epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Ignatius was captured by Roman authorities during one of the early persecutions of the Church. He wrote these words as he was being taken back to Rome to be executed in the Coliseum. These were some of his last words, before he was mauled to death by lions. You have just read above, the last words of a man who died for the Christian faith, and was made a bishop of that faith by a major author in the Bible. Now you know the shocking truth.

What will you do now?

Will you ignore his words? Will you just pass them off as irrelevant? Will you ignore everything written here, including the writings of others who suffered for the faith, and the words of the Bible itself? What will you do now?

Sadly, many Christians will just ignore all this. It's easy. Many have been doing it for some 500 years, and in North America for some reason, many Christians find ignoring history and the Bible especially easy. Some however, a few of you, will not ignore these things. Some of you will take action. Some of you will make the necessary changes in your lives. I don't know who you are, but I do know you're out there, somewhere.

If you would like to learn more about what you can do, I encourage you to talk to a Catholic Christian priest about it. I will make some recommendations below...

  1. First, check and see if there is one of these parishes near you. I recommend trying to go here. (click here)
  2. Second, if nothing is available nearby, I recommend going here. (click here).
  3. Third and lastly, if none of the above are available nearby, I recommend going here. (click here)



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

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