Gulliver Taking His Final Leave of the Land of the Houyhnhnms, Sawrey Gilpin, 1769 (from here)

Imagine that you suddenly discover a horse that can talk. If you wanted to know what horses think, would you ask that horse, or would you ask some horse “expert”? Well, “history” records that Gulliver chose to talk to the horses.

Gulliver in discussion with Houyhnhnms (1856 lllustration by J.J. Grandville.) (from here)

Truth, however, is stranger than fiction. Most of us seem strangely reluctant to get the truth straight from the horse’s mouth.

So here is an opportunity. Want to know what Catholics believe? Then visit Communio. Philip Augustine is the author, and he does an excellent job of explaining what Catholics believe in plain language. Moreover, he writes in a scholarly style with references. Therefore we can look up his references and easily validate he is being straight with us.

Do we have to be a Catholic to read ‘s blog? If you are a Protestant, would it be sinful to read ‘s blog? Of course not. The principle here is simple. If we want to understand someone, why should we bother with secondhand data when we can go to the source?

Since it is Christmas time, ‘s latest includes a bunch of post related to the birth of our Savior.  They are well worth reading.

If you are like me and enjoy polite debate, seems to be open to debate. Since The Immaculate Conception is disputed between Catholics and Protestants, I asked some questions and offered my take. Made for a short but interesting discussion.

Anyway, we should all keep in mind that both Protestant and Catholic clerics are competitors. Therefore, some bias is unavoidable. So if we are Protestants we should go to Catholics to see what they believe, and if we are Catholics we should go to Protestants. There is no substitute for getting the truth straight from the horse’s mouth.


  1. Good stuff Tom. I visited your linked post, and appreciate the civil tone among things that differ.

    For the life of me though, it’s hard to imagine how some folks with bibles in hand, can come to opposite conclusions with things that to me are clear.

    I’ve written essays on this very thing extolling the virtues of Mary, without……………without……..without making her co-equal with God, which in fact we would do, IF we say say she was born sinless. Heck, even her own testimony would disagree with this assertion.

    Being full of grace is hardly a reason to speak ex-cathedra on something which scripture condemns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If all humans had the same set of genes, were strictly logical, and received identical data from the time of birth, I suppose we would all reach the same conclusions about everything, but maybe not. God certainly did not make us all the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe love is an universal common denominator in life for everyone whether they are human, animals, or have beliefs in different deities or not..

    We need wisdom to prevent ourselves from fostering hatred instead of love in our short span of lives regardless of our religious beliefs.

    In my personal opinion, if everyone was a Roman Catholic and followed the basic precepts of the religious beliefs, the world would be a better place.

    However, I also have faith that our Creator has a reason for different beliefs.

    What we need to do in the meantime is find and practice the two most common denominator which I believe is love and wisdom.

    Both have been proven effective in history to eliminate hatred and conflict by us mere mortals.

    This has never happened universally yet in history, but that doesn’t mean we should give up, in my opinion.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.



  3. Tom, thanks for opening up the conversation.

    First, I believe many Catholics are followers of Jesus and many Protestants are as well. You stated well that the Apostle John “What would bother him most would be the people who call themselves Christian, but refuse to confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, that He is both our God and our Savior.”

    I do believe the Immaculate Conception of Mary is in error. The convoluted idea of “original sin” versus “personal sin” is a distinction found no where in the scripture. The idea that Mary was free from sin the moment she was conceived has no Biblical basis that I can see. I’ve read many of the defenses of this believe and can find no references at all to this idea. I have also studied the Greek and the tortured conversation about one Greek word used in only two places stretches the understanding of the original New Testament language. You just “can’t get there from here” as my Dad would say.

    I do know that Romans 3:23 clearly says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” I John 1:8 adds, “If any man says he has no sin he is a liar and the truth is not in him.” These texts could not be clearer “How could anyone believe Mary was free from all sin in light of these Scriptures? What’s more, Mary herself said, ‘My soul rejoices in God my savior’ in Luke 1:47. She clearly understood herself to be a sinner if she admits to needing a savior.”

    God will be the judge on whether this is important in the long run or not. I really don’t know. I do know what the Bible says and that is all that I think should matter.

    Be blessed on this eve of Christ-mas. God is in a great mood!


    1. Agreed. Like the rest of us I fear theologians sometimes get carried away by their own ideas. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, undoubtedly was a wonderful lady. Nevertheless, we can only admire her. We cannot favor her with any gift more generous than God has already given her. Yet it appears that some God-fearing men tried to do so

      The fact that Christians break into different groups and each group worships Jesus in its own way does not much bother me. Left to our own devices, God knows we will do just that. The real problem, as I understand it, arises when we think it is our place to force others to worship our way. This was the evil that blossomed following the start the of the Protestant Reformation. The reforms were needed — even the Catholic Church reformed — but the violence was wrong.

      Which Christian Church has the best doctrine? I don’t know. I don’t think we will solve that problem before the Second Coming. Since churches are run by men — all sinners — they all are imperfect. The best each of us can do is pick a church where we feel the love of people who love Jesus Christ. The best each of us can do is to pick a church that helps us to love God above all else and our neighbors as we love our self.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What I appreciate from Tom is the conversation. There are Catholics and Protestants who are against ecumenical discussion, but I’d rather be friends with my Protestant Brothers and Sisters. I even attempt at times to address us all in my own language as Christians.

    I do believe there will come a time in maybe in a generation where they will line us up and those who do the lining up won’t ask if we’re Baptist, Evangelical, Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic etc. They ask, “is Jesus God?” Or “ Are you Christian?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do believe there will come a time in maybe in a generation where they will line us up and those who do the lining up won’t ask if we’re Baptist, Evangelical, Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic etc. They ask, “is Jesus God?” Or “ Are you Christian?”

      I heartily agree. In fact that already happens in some parts of the world.

      Odd as it may seem, Christian persecutors use your questions, essentially the same test John gave us, to test the “spirits”. Hence, our sectarianism is a very foolish thing, and Jesus seems to have taught against it.

      Luke 9:49-50 New King James Version (NKJV)

      49 Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”

      50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

      That is, at least some take this passage as an injunction against sectarianism.

      Knowing how stupid we can be, is it likely Jesus thought doctrinal purity was especially important? What He seemed to stress above all was putting our faith in Him, not our own peculiar interpretations of scripture.

      Perhaps you have a better take on it, but I have wondered about Jesus’ words when at the Last Supper He washed his disciple’s feet and Peter at first objected.

      John 13:8 New King James Version (NKJV)

      8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

      Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

      I think Jesus wanted His apostles to understand our salvation is about what Jesus has done to redeem us. We have to be humble enough to admit how much we need Him. When in pride we try to make it about us or refuse to obey Him, we can have no part with Him.

      Therefore, the principle thing that makes someone a disciple of Jesus Christ is their answer to your questions, “is Jesus God?” Or “Are you Christian?”

      1-3 John provides basic instructions for testing the “spirits”. This passage seems to me to be the crux of it, and it is about those questions.

      1 John 4:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

      4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

      So it is I think as you suggest. If John came back to teach us today, he would find much to correct in both Catholics and Protestants. Nevertheless, our denominational differences would not be his big concern. What would bother him most would be the people who call themselves Christian, but refuse to confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, that He is both our God and our Savior.

      Liked by 2 people

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