Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

Archive for October, 2007

More Contra Sola Scriptura

Posted by Tony Listi on October 29, 2007

“The Bible is all we need, not the Pope, not the Church!” Unfortunately, the Bible alone theory is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us and shows us that the Church came before the Bible. After all, what books did Jesus write? None! Jesus deliberately chose NOT to write. Instead He chose to establish a Church to teach in His name!

The Catholic Church believes that both the Bible and Church are both necessary and one cannot exist without the other. Here are some questions non-Catholics must consider…

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Questions for Protestants (Part 2)

Posted by Tony Listi on October 29, 2007

More food for thought. 


“Catholic questions?” you ask. “Isn’t it our business to provide Catholic answers?” Yes, but asking the right questions can engage people in actively thinking through the issues, the result being that they often see their prejudices more clearly and appreciate the truth they’ve “discovered” more deeply.

Of course, it’s extremely helpful to directly provide answers for those who are seeking the truth about the Catholic faith. However, when we feel assaulted by anti-Catholic accusations, rather than allowing ourselves and our Church to be put in the position of a criminal defendant (presumed guilty until proven innocent), it may be time to step out of the witness box and begin asking a few questions of our own. We do this not to be argumentative but simply to reveal some of the inconsistencies of Protestantism as well as the complete soundness of the Catholic faith.

In the first part of “Catholic Questions” (This Rock Oct-Nov-Dec. 2001), we began by using just such inquiries to show our Protestant friend that the early Christians didn’t actually rely on the “Bible alone” as their guide to truth but looked to the teaching of the apostles in the Church. But before he can accept the Catholic Church—and the Bible it uses—he’s bound to raise some objections.

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Questions for Protestants (Part 1)

Posted by Tony Listi on October 29, 2007

I first saw this in a note posted by Jonathan Smith from Pittsburgh. It is hardly different than what I have been saying in my own notes, but I like the style better and its appeal to the mode of teaching and persuasion that Christ himself used (and Socrates as well). Questions are less blunt, more humble, and more interactive and thus more appropriate for ecumenical dialogue. They are less likely to provoke heated exchanges. Whether they intend to be or not, declaratory statements, especially in written form, come off as arrogant and unwelcoming. The direct and purely logical approach comes off as beating someone over the head with argument, no matter the real intent.

In general, I prefer substance over style, function over form. Style and form have a tendency to make something appear more substantial than it really is. So at first glance, it seems a bit silly to continuously answer one question with another question (when the real intent is to make statements and the objective result is the same) just so no one feels bad. And back-and-forth dialogue is more tiresome through email/Facebook. But nevertheless, I have realized that the style and form of an argument actually do have ethical implications, as well as practical implications, and I should have known that and apologize for my lapses. One can use people merely as a means of testing one’s arguments, which may be very useful but also uncharitable, or one can truly engage others in a way that recognizes their innate dignity, in which the testing of one’s beliefs is a side-benefit. It is possible and necessary that we strive for Truth (who is Jesus) without comprising one of the greatest truths: we should love one another as He has loved us.


Jesus knew the power of questions. In evangelization and apologetics, we often (myself included) present the truth by laying out the facts as if we were presenting a court case. That’s a necessary part of getting a message across. But recently I’ve come to appreciate a somewhat overlooked means of bringing others to recognize truth: the question.

Two things sparked my interest in questions. While reading the Gospel of Luke, I noticed that when the child Jesus was in the Temple amazing the teachers with his wisdom, he wasn’t—as he is sometimes pictured—lecturing them. Instead he communicated his wisdom by “listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2: 46).

After becoming attuned to Jesus’ use of questions, I began to notice how often they occurred in his preaching (e.g., Mark 11:29–30, 12:16). His inquiries were like arrows dipped in the oil of the Holy Spirit, piercing hearts and minds as they penetrated to the very core of the matter.

The second cause for my new interest in “question apologetics” was my own failure. Not long ago I had the opportunity to meet with someone who had questions about the Catholic faith. He asked and I answered—or tried to. Afterward, thinking he seemed little moved by our discussion, it occurred to me that I might have better revealed the truth—both of his position and of the Catholic faith—had I asked some questions instead of only trying to answer them.

That led me to think it would be helpful to commit to memory some questions dealing with issues most often debated by Protestants and Catholics. And what better place to begin than with the hotly contested topic of just what is the source of truth? If we could agree on that, on how much more could we agree?

A widely held, foundational belief in Protestantism is that all theological truth is contained in the Bible alone, and it alone is the sole rule of Christian faith. When this is asserted with sincerity and conviction, we Catholics often get mired in giving specific Bible references for every word we utter. Instead, I thought, in response to the question “Where’s that in the Bible?” why don’t we ask a few pertinent questions of our own?

A word of caution here. There is an inherent danger in listing questions out of the context of a conversation. It can give the impression of a cross-examination. For the best use of space and the easiest way to remember the key questions, I have listed them. But I don’t suggest that we ambush our friends or challengers with one inquiry after another. Instead, we would do better to listen with respect, as Jesus did in the temple, and then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, decide how to respond. Our goal is not to force-feed people the truth of Catholicism but to make them hungry for it.

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Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Religion and Theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Witness of Mary Magdalene: Evidence in Support of the Truth of Christianity

Posted by Tony Listi on October 29, 2007

“Now, as a woman of that time in history, Mary Magdalene’s testimony to the fact of the Resurrection would not have been accepted like that of a man’s. Jesus nevertheless appeared first to her, in defiance of the customs of the time, and then told her to go tell the men. Some scholars cite this fact as one of the strongest proofs that the Resurrection actually took place: If the story had been fabricated, no one would have made a woman the first witness to the defining miracle of Christianity.”

This small but interesting insight hits me as another piece of countercultural evidence (Christianity grew out of direct opposition to the Jewish culture of the time) against fabrication, if not in positive support of Christianity. I think I had heard this point before, but it takes on greater significance and irony now that I think about The DaVinci Code.

In addition, while there are many aspects of patriarchy in Christianity, feminity is not despised or of any lower dignity. Only through the false feminist world-view in which power, wealth, and status are the chief virtues could someone see Christianity as justifying male oppression of women. Male dominance and governance within marriage/family in itself no more equates to oppression than Christ’s monarchical governance of humanity. That is not to say that husbands have never abused or will never abuse their wives. It is only to say that the mere fact that ultimate authority is not shared is not in itself unjust or sinful.  

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Global Cooling: Past Consensus of Media and Alarmist Scientists

Posted by Tony Listi on October 22, 2007

There was scientific consensus about planetary motion before Galileo and Copernicus, there was scientific consensus on racial differences and eugenics in the 20’s and 30’s, etc. There is always scientific consensus before the next revolution comes along.  Let us think twice before declaring the infallibility of science and thus realize science by its own nature revises itself. There is a big difference between the Law of Gravitation and climate change theories. Let us proceed with caution before proceeding with carbon emissions policies that will heavily depress economies and hurt the poor the hardest. 

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The Ultimate Global Warming Challenge: Can You Save Al Gore?

Posted by Tony Listi on October 22, 2007

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Debunking Al Gore’s Global Warming Claims

Posted by Tony Listi on October 22, 2007

Posted in Global Warming and Environment, Government and Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by Tony Listi on October 22, 2007

The Democrats are correct that income inequality in America has increased over the decades, but their “egalitarian” attacks are misleading, says Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute,

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Gini coefficient,” in which zero indicates no inequality and one is perfect inequality:

-Over the past 40 years, the Gini coefficient in the United States has increased by a quarter, to .47 today from .39 in 1970.
-In European countries, Gini coefficients generally sit below .30, indicating substantially less income inequality.
Yet income is just one item of importance in the lives of Americans, says Brooks. There are many others — from love to faith to happiness — that we care about, some of them far more:

-For example, the 2004 General Social Survey’s measure of happiness generates a coefficient for the inequality of American happiness of .18 (using the Gini coefficient model), while the 2002 International Social Survey Program produces a coefficient of .20.
-Moreover, while the average happiness level in America has not changed much since the early 1970s (and remains above that of most of our European allies), the inequality in our happiness has fallen by about a point since then.
If greater income equality is our end goal, bringing the top down is as useful as bringing the bottom up, says Brooks. This is about as sensible as depressing the happy for the sake of the sad. There is no doubt the egalitarians among our politicians and pundits want the best for America. But to focus on inequality — and then only inequality in income — creates policies based on either rank materialism or raw envy. These motivations do little to inspire, and even less to lead.

Source: Arthur C. Brooks, “Happiness and Inequality,” Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2007.

For text:

For more on Social Issues:

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English ‘pull own teeth’ as dental service decays

Posted by Tony Listi on October 16, 2007

LOL. The jokes all makes sense now! This is why the British have such bad teeth! Behold the absurdity of socialism! How many examples do liberals need before they finally see the truth that socialism makes problems worse? When will they finally realize that their good intentions are no substitute for free market-oriented policies?

Interesting how the article does not care to speculate on the cause of the scarcity of government dentists. The cause is simple economics: the government does not pay dentists as well as the free market or offer them flexibility (regulations, work load, etc.). So they stop taking government patients.

Beware America, health care under the Democrats (Hillary) will be like dental care under the British. See also 

LONDON (AFP) – Falling numbers of state dentists in England has led to some people taking extreme measures, including extracting their own teeth, according to a new study released Monday.

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Posted by Tony Listi on October 16, 2007

How powerful is the media, the guardians of the truth of daily events? It never gets bad press. That’s a pretty good position to be in.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? “Who will guard the guardians?”- Juvenal (through Plato’s Republic)

“For some it seems that as long as you get a front-page story, there is little or no regard for the collateral damage that will be caused. Personal reputations sometimes have no value. They report with total impunity, and are rarely held accountable for unethical conduct. Given the near instantaneous ability to report actions on the ground, the responsibility to accurately and truthfully report takes on an unprecedented importance. The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media, appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry.

“Once reported, your assessments become conventional wisdom and nearly impossible to change. Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda-driven biases sometimes contributes to this corrosive environment. All these challenges combined create a media environment that does a tremendous disservice to America, in some instances. Over the course of this war, tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for our country because of the tremendous power and impact of the media — and by extension, you individually, the journalists.

“My assessment is that your profession, to some extent, has strayed from these worthy ethical standards and have allowed external agendas to manipulate what the American public sees on TV, what they read in our newspapers, and what they see and read on the Web. For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases, or agendas.”

For full text of Sanchez’s speech:

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