8 Things You Need to Know About St. Paul and His Conversion

01/23/2013 Comments (20)

Paul was converted when Christ appeared to him. What should you know about St. Paul and his conversion?

This Friday, the Church celebrates the conversion of St. Paul.

Here are eight things you need to know about him--and his conversion.


1. Where was St. Paul from?

In Acts 21:39, St. Paul states:

"I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city."

Tarsus was the capital city of the Roman province of Cilicia. This is on the southeast coast of modern Turkey, so St. Paul was not from the holy land. He was actually a Jew born in what is now Turkey.

It was a port city and a noted commercial center. For these reasons, and because it was the capital, he can describe it as "no mean city" (that is, no common, ordinary city). It was famous.

One of the things it was...READ MORE

Filed under bible, conversion of st. paul, liturgical year, paul, st. paul

Will we have free will in heaven?

01/20/2013 Comments (52)

Will we have free will in heaven?

Will we have free will in heaven?

If so, does that mean we might sin and fall again?

If not, what kind of free will would we have there?

And if God can harmonize our free will and sinlessness in heaven, why doesn't he do so in this life?

Here are some thoughts . . .


A Robot "Loves" Me. Big Deal.

NOTE: This is part of a series on the problem of evil. Click here to read the previous posts in the series.

In a previous post, we looked at a common answer to the problem of evil--that God allows sin and the suffering it causes to exist because the only way to eliminate them would be to eliminate free will.

Without free will, according to this view, something important would...READ MORE

Filed under free will, heaven, problem of evil

Was Jesus Dissing His Mother When He Called Her "Woman"?

01/16/2013 Comments (20)

At the wedding at Cana, Jesus told Mary: "Woman, how does your concern affect me?" Was he showing disrespect to her?

This Sunday we're going to hear the gospel account of the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turns to Mary and says, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”

Sounds disrespectful, doesn't it?

Or at least you could take it that way.

But Jesus wasn't being disrespectful at all.

Here's the story . . .


Pronoun Trouble

First, the translation "How does your concern affect me?” (John 2:4 in the NAB:RE) is not a literal rendering of what Jesus says in Greek.

Word-for-word, what he says is "What to me and to you?"

In context, Mary has just come up to him and informed Jesus that the people running the wedding have no wine, so you might literally translate...READ MORE

Filed under cana, gospel of john, gospels, liturgical year, liturgy, mary, wedding at cana

Why does God allow sin and suffering?

01/14/2013 Comments (45)

Why does God allow evil to exist? Why is there sin and suffering in the world? And, what's love got to do with it?

The most perplexing problem in apologetics is the problem of evil: Why would an all-good, all-powerful God allow evil to exist?

There is a real mystery here, and we can only give partial answers.

Here are some of mine . . .


Two Kinds of Evil

We need to recognize that there is more than one kind of evil.

When we use the word "evil," we often mean moral evil (sin), but historically it was frequently used for other things, such as suffering.

These two forms of evil are linked: It is a sin to cause needless suffering, for example.

This brings us to an important question . . .


Could God Stop These Evils?

Yes. God is omnipotent. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the...READ MORE

Filed under apologetics, evil, free will, freedom, love, philosophy, problem of evil, sin, suffering

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

01/09/2013 Comments (6)

Jesus--who was completely without sin--insisted on being baptized. Why?

This Sunday, the Church celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ.

It's an event that is recorded in all four gospels, so we know it's important.

But there's a question that has puzzled Christians all down through the ages.

It even puzzled John the Baptist, who performed the baptism.

Why was Jesus baptized?


The Problem

We all know what baptism does.

According to the Catechism:

The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes:

  • forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins,
  • birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit.


By this very fact the person...READ MORE

Filed under baptism, baptism of jesus, jesus, liturgical year, liturgy

The Biblical Hero Who . . . Killed His Daughter???

01/08/2013 Comments (35)

Jephthah made a tragic vow, and to fulfill it, he would have to kill his daughter. What are we to make of this?

The book of Hebrews has a whole chapter about Old Testament men (and women) who achieved great things by faith.

One of them had his daughter killed--as a human sacrifice.

What are we to make of this?


Hebrews on Jephthah

NOTE: This post is part of a series on the "dark passages" in the Bible. Click here to see all of the posts in the series.

Hebrews 11 discusses various Old Testament figures who had faith in God and did amazing things. Toward the end of the chapter, we read:

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets--who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received...READ MORE

Filed under dark passages, jephthah, old testament

9 Things You Need to Know About Epiphany

01/03/2013 Comments (14)

The magi followed the star and found Baby Jesus. What are we to make of this mysterious event, and does it mean astrology is okay?

On January 6 the Church celebrates the feast of "Epiphany."

This feast commemorates the mysterious visit of the magi to the Baby Jesus.

Who were the magi? What led them to visit Jesus? And what lessons should we--and shouldn't we!--learn from this incident?

Here are nine things you should know . . .


1. What does the word "Epiphany" mean?

"Epiphany" means "manifestation."

It comes from Greek roots that mean "to show, to display" (phainein) and "on, to" (epi-).

An epiphany is thus a time when something is shown, displayed, or manifested to an audience.


2. What is the feast of the Epiphany about?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Epiphany is...READ MORE

Filed under bethlehem star, epiphany, liturgical year, liturgy, magi, star, star of bethlehem, wise men

Was It Okay for Jacob to Lie to His Father?

01/02/2013 Comments (19)

Jacob deceived his father to keep God's promises on track. Was this right?

The book of Genesis records an instance in which Jacob deceives his father, Isaac, by pretending to be his brother.


He does this so that he can inherit his father's blessing.

All of this seems to happen in fulfillment of God's plan for Israel.

Does that make it right?

Here's the story . . .


Jacob and Esau

NOTE: This post is part of a series on the "dark passages" in the Bible. Click here to see all of the posts in the series.

Here is how the book of Genesis describes the birth and early life of Jacob and his twin brother, Esau:

Genesis 25

[22] The children struggled together within [Rebekah]; and she said, "If it is thus, why do I live?" So she went to inquire of...READ MORE

Filed under bible, esau, isaac, jacob, lying, rebekah

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About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to Catholic Answers Magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."