Guys, please explain briefly (in a nutshell if you can) what your understanding is of the gospel or good news of Jesus the Christ.
My initial understanding used to be:
God has made the material universe and everything in it for a purpose. We are made in HIs image and so He has an eternal purpose for us. Due to sin entering the world we need to be saved from sin and death and be reconciled to God in order to live forever with Him. He is accomplishing this through His Son. If you choose Jesus, you will be saved. If you reject Jesus, you will be lost for ever.
(Obviously that is a very simple description. I've skipped over lots of key points e.g. Jesus' death, as I want to focus on other points for now. We can come back to that later.)
Several years ago a different understanding of the gospel was presented to me:
God has made the material universe and everything in it for a purpose. We are made in HIs image and so He has an eternal purpose for us. Due to sin entering the world we need to be saved from sin and death and be reconciled to God in order to live forever with Him. He is accomplishing this through His Son. Jesus is the Saviour of the world. He is the last Adam. Just as the first Adam brought sin and death to ALL humans , the second Adam brings life to ALL humans.
I do not see much difference between those formulations. But I'd insist on emphasizing what sin is and freedom, because those words are rendered meaningless or their meaning is nowadays perverted. Gos created us immortal and the world a beautiful and safe place for us, but a condition for this was that we remain in his love, in the union with him. It is not an arbitrary condition, but a natural one - since God is a source of life, love, wisdom etc., we can be immortall wise or happy only in union with him. Sin is a rejection of that union, which had a cosmic effect - our human nature was distorted along with the whole cosmos. We suffer, get sick, die and are unable to live naturally, that is, according to reason.
Note that this whole disaster we call human life now, did not come from the outside, as a sort of natural catastrophe, that we can be saved from by some outward source. God is not a medical helicopter that comes to rescue us from an existential and moral Katrina. We did this to ourselves and, if we are honest, we are not that eager to reject sin in our daily life. We love it. We even refuse to call it sin anymore. And we call this enslavement to sin, this addiciton - freedom and our "rights".
So God cannot save us without us and he cannot save us from the outside. We made serious disaster on the cosmic scale and justice demands some reparation of this disaster. The salvific plan, that as Paul writes, was hidden in God from the beginning and was revealed to us, was that God has become man, so that man can become god.
The New Adam means that because we are so unable to see the truth and to live according to love, God gave us a totally new man, just and loving, as a new model for the whole humanity. Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection transformed our distorted humanity into a divinized humanity. From the inside.
Up to, this point we could think that God just comes and saves us, whether we like it or not, in his Son. But there is no love without freedom and no human life without freedim, because our freedom is a part of our being in his image. So we have to accept our union with Christ as a means of our healing and salvation. We have to be engrafted in his Body. Free decision. And not everyone wants God's love, since love means boundaries, rules, conditions etc.
I see the fact that there is a possibility of hell as a sign of great humility of God who respects our freedom and humbly knocks at our door, humbly begs us to allow him to wash our feet so that we may be pure as he is pure. I do not see it as his lack of compassion.
What the gospel is, is the "good news" (literal translation). Good news of what? Good news of the kingdom of God:
Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Specifically, the gospel is the good news that the kingdom of God is now at hand:
Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
by election I meant the traditiinal teaching on predestination. You emphasize the free will, but how do you understand e.g. what Thomas writes in the Summa I, q.23:
Whence it is clear that predestination is a kind of type of the ordering of some personstowards eternal salvation, existing in the divine mind. The execution, however, of this order is in a passive way in the predestined, but actively in God. The execution of predestination is the calling and magnification; according to the Apostle (Romans 8:30): "Whom Hepredestined, them He also called and whom He called, them He also magnified [Vulg. 'justified']."
There is a sense that the good news IS Jesus: his coming, death, and resurrection -- that the reign of God in our midst is the new life of God that has come into the world through the Incarnation of the Word. Hence, at the Mass, following the Consecration, the priest says: "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith." And the congregation says, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."
Catechism of the Catholic Church on the "good news"
Since it seems the issue of salvation keeps coming up, I will re-post a link I shared on another thread.
I don't have all the answers (not that that ever stops me from expressing an opinion ).
I've come to believe there are actually two gospels:
The first seems more accessible. The second is infinitely more mysterious.
Derek, where are you getting this "two gospels" idea? I've never come across it.
My understanding is that the written gospels were preceded by oral tradition, so for there to be two gospels, there would have had to have been two oral traditions propagated separately. I don't see how that could have been possible.
In the link from Americancatholic as well as in the catechism there is a certain avoidance of the subject of predestination. But the Church did not, of course, reject the teaching of St. Thomas on that. By quoting Aquinas I tried to point out that predestination is more than foreknowledge that Phil mentioned. Predestination emphasizes God's will in our salvation while foreknowledge is nkt "causal". The problem remains delicate - if God wants all to be saved in the same way and some are not saved, because they reject grace, it seems like we decide whether we are saved or not. Aquinas certainly wanted to avoid that aspect. He also referred to his concept of primary cause and secondary causes, which is difficult, but allows to conceive that God saves us and we save ourselves, and the one does not exclude the other. I remember Maritain writing in the "Existent and the existence" that those who accept grace are the chosen ones, but those who reject are not not-chosen. This allows to escape the hardcore Augustinian idea that God justly allows some people to be lost, which by the way was repeated by Aquinas, so I do not see how it could have been rejected by the Church. Maritain's, also pre-Vaticanum II argument, however, was sophisticated and I cannot reproduce it here.
It's my own invention!
The basic division is between Mark 1-10, which take place in Galilee, and Mark 11-16, which take place around Jerusalem.
My observation is that these two sections each has quite a different feel to it. This is why I speak of two gospels.
To some extent, the two are intermingled in the texts we have. The Jerusalem gospel is hinted at three times in Mark 8, 9, and 10. And equally, there are further parables and teachings, typical of the Galilee gospel, in Mark 12.
The Jerusalem gospel gets really dark with the apocalyptic material in Mark 13. Mark 14-15 are the passion narrative. And Mark 16 is the resurrection.
There certainly were different oral traditions. For example, to the Galilee gospel, I would add the Q sayings, which almost definitely circulated separately. And the Johannine love-gospel is a different strand again.
I found a good article:
It suggests that there has been some change in the way the medieval doctrine of predestination is being taught, but no details. Henri de Lubac is pointed to as a bridge towards the Second Vatican teaching on predestination. I don't know anything about it. I only know the Church didn't change the essence of her teaching and that when I read St. Augustine I know his teaching at least sounded, maybe even was different, from the present Catechism.
Perhaps this is something we cannot resolve here. There is a BOOK-LENGTH treatment of the current state of the debate: http://www.amazon.com/Universa...Debate/dp/0802827640 This is from an evangelical point of view, so may be of limited usefulness to Catholics. Still, I'm considering getting the Kindle version while I'm waiting for my package of books to arrive from Amazon. (It has now shipped, and appears to be in the vicinity of San Bernardino, California.)
Thank you for your responses. I've had a quick read and shall re-read tomorrow when I have more time and I will start to address the points you make. Something I'd like to clarify is how each of you came to your understanding of the gospel? My understanding is formed mostly from the Bible. The transition from my initial understanding to the 'UR' understanding occurred with a more in-depth study of Hebrew and Greek word meanings in the Bible, as well as philosophical reasonings. I also learned a little of Church history and found that UR was a very prominent belief among many Christians for the first few centuries. So for me, my understanding is Bible based.
Derek, I've got a friend who's a scripture scholar (Jerry Truex) and who just presented a webinar on "How the New Testament Came to Be" that I hosted. I don't think he'd go along with the notion of different oral traditions that were unaware of each other, nor, even, that Q was written apart from any of these traditions. The early Christians had a lot of contact and communication with each other. Even the Johannine community is deeply connected with those that gave rise to the synoptics.
Here's the link to Jerry Truex's webinar, if any of you are interested. It's about an hour long. Fast forward to about 5 min. and you'll avoid some of our set-up comments. He shares some of the latest thinking on New Testament origins.
Re. pre-destination: it is more complicated than foreknowledge, and I wasn't meaning to conflate the ideas. I like the quote alluded to (I think it originated with Augustine) that "God made us without us, but cannot save us without us." That doesn't get to the heart of whether God wills some to be saved, and some not, but it's clear from the Scriptures and Church teaching that God's offer of salvation is open to all. God could not really be a good and loving God if the grace of salvation were held out only to some, while closed to others, who were destined for damnation. But there is much about all this that is mystery, and which I think we just need to leave to God.
CR, it seems we cross-posted.
I'm actually sympathetic with UR theology, though, as Mt. noted in another post, I've no idea why someone who doesn't really want to be with God and go to heaven should be required to do so. I don't think it was ever a dominant position, and certainly never achieved doctrinal status.
Also, since you have studied the scriptures so diligently, you may have noticed all those references to hell? Even from Jesus!
So which are you, CR -- a sola scriptura Catholic, or a Bible-believing atheist?
re.your remark about "schools" in early Christianity. They were indeed heretical schools and orthodox schools. In orthodox Christianity there were different opinions but only about things outside the apostolic creed. For instance Tertullian and the majority of African believers considered human soul to be material, corporeal. Augustine fought this, arguing that the Platonic idea of the souk is more congruent with the Bible etc.
I'm not a specialist in Eastern Fathers, rather in Augustine, but I study patrology to a certain extent. You mention the idea of salvation for all as a "school", as if it were some important option. In fact, it was the opinion of Origen, that after a purification, all souls and even demons can be saved. He also believed that the souls sinned and because ofmthat were joined to the bodies. The idea of apokatastasis (complete renewal and universal salvation) can be found in the writings of Gregory of Nyssa, perhaps it was believed by other disciples of Origen, like Evagrius Ponticus. But they were quite cautious to write about this, because Origenism was already doubted and discussed in the East, until was, perhaps too harshly and undiscrimnately condemned in 553. So it was a marginal idea, present in some intellectuals, but it was never popular or important topic of discussion, like divinity of Jesus or his two natures.
Actually, nearly all or simply all possible interpretations of the Bible were formulated in the first 8 centuries of Christianity, they were dicussed and the false concepts were refuted and condemned. So the orthodox faith is not a school among other schools, but a result of serious controversies and discussions. By the way, it is interesting that some orthodox ideas survived at all, like consubstantiality, equality of The Father and the Son, given that the majority of bishops and the political power was on the Arian side, not on the orthodox side. The same with Donatists against Catholics in Africa. Augustine fighting with Pelagians (who believed we can save ourselves by our effort and we can live without any sin, if are ascetic enough) had a hard time convincing the Pope that there is actually sth deeply wrong with the Pelagianism.
Right, Derek, that was the topic, "How the New Testament Came to Be," and he spent a lot of time on the 1st C. developments, especially the transition from an oral culture of faith to the beginnings of writings. Sorry you had such a bad tech experience. The sound could be better, but I hear him well enough.
Well-said, Mt. And it was never as though the Bible was some extra-ecclesial document (a product of supernatural dictation, for example) to interpret correctly, with the gnostics doing it this way, the Apostolic group, that, the Arians, another, etc. The scriptures we call the New Testament are from the Apostolic tradition, so it's ridiculous to think that they can be used to condemn the core beliefs held by the Apostolic Church (Catholics, Protestants).
'So which are you, CR -- a sola scriptura Catholic, or a Bible-believing atheist? Big Grin''
Very good Derek. . lol. My faith has stirred somewhat in the past few days, but I am still very unsure of it, and so I suppose I am discussing these things from the perspective of when I was still a believer. I would consider myself a non denominational Christian who believed the Bible was the main authority on things of theology and religious practices etc. So when I present my thoughts they will mainly be from the Bible.
Phil, I can't wait to get onto 'hell'.
Mt, when I mentioned the different 'schools', I had read (if my memory serves me right) that there were about 5 main schools and that 'apokatastasis' was one of the doctrines believed by a majority of those schools. I don't think that UR was what formed the basis of those schools. I shall find the source where I got that from and come back to you on that.
I shall now re-read your previous posts and come back to you shortly.
'Derek, I'll start with your initial reply.
I agree that the gospel is about the Kingdom of God. A simple view of that, is that the Kingdom of God is present now spiritually: Christians live in Christ and conduct their lives according to Jesus' commandments. The realisation of the Kingdom won't happen fully until all God's enemies are put under Jesus' feet. The reconciliation of all things to God will culminate in God being all in all, and so the ultimate reality of the Kingdom: immortal sinless people in a new heaven and earth (new dimension of reality I take that to mean, maybe not a literal physical new planet).
Phil, I agree with you when you say ''The good news IS Jesus''. (I haven't took part in a mass since I was about 12 and so it is a strange thing for me to relate to something like that). Jesus is the means by which everything can be reconciled back to God. I'm trying to keep it very simple at the minute.
Mt, your reply was the most complex and so I need to clarify the points you make. Derek and Phil, please chip in with your thoughts about these points too.
''God created us immortal''. Sin has had a 'cosmic effect' not only on us humans but 'the whole cosmos'.
I'm struggling to agree with you here Mt. My understanding from the Bible (and science) is that we were NOT created immortal. As you know, this material universe is governed by laws that mean everything is winding down. They were winding down long before Adam and Eve allegedly sinned. I understand living 'forever' and immortality as not the same necessarily. Adam and Eve could only live 'forever' as long as they ate from the tree of life. The Hebrew word for 'forever' here, is actually a word that means 'mystery time', or 'continuing for an unknown duration'. It's used of hills in the Bible. We know hills are not eternal. They will wear out one day. IT was used of Jonah, when he was in the belly of the whale.
The natural man comes first, and then the spiritual (immortal man). We have to put on immortality. I understand Paul in Romans 8:20,21 to be referring to Creation from the start. ''For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.''
Physical things will wear down. Freedom comes when we put off the physical and put on immortality. When Jesus became a man, he didn't sin and yet he was able to be killed. If he was immortal, he would not be able to be killed. (He had put off His immortality and became lower than an angel).
You go on to say: ''Note that this whole disaster we call human life now, did not come from the outside, as a sort of natural catastrophe, that we can be saved from by some outward source. God is not a medical helicopter that comes to rescue us from an existential and moral Katrina. We did this to ourselves...'' Again, I'm struggling to agree with you. My understanding is the opposite:
'Sin' was 'outside' or already in existence before Adam and Eve. An outward influence (the devil) deceived her. So she wasn't living in absolute perfection. Paradise already had evil in it. We need saving from the 'outward' crap (all that can go wrong physically e.g. meteorites left over from the Big Bang) as well as the inner (spiritual) stuff. When Jesus comes again He IS going to rescue us from everything that is not good, including wills not in union with His. Whether we're to blame for why we need rescuing and cannot rescue ourselves, will be expanded on later.
So in a nutshell, my understanding of 'the Fall' is that the physical universe was 'good' but not 'perfect'. Material things wear down. Mistakes are made (Eve was tricked due to lack of knowledge). We are learning about good and evil whilst in a limited life form. We won't attain immortality until we have learned to hate and reject evil.
The natural man comes first and then the spiritual. Sin and death are necessary or rather unavoidable parts of the material universe. God chose to create man in His image not in heaven FIRST as spirit beings, but as physical beings who had not yet reached perfection.
Guys, I welcome your thoughts on this.
Hang on a minute, CR. Let's get back to the Bible.
There are five mentions of the "gospel" in Matthew, of which three specify explicitly that this means the "gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14). Mark also has the "gospel of the kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14, 1:15, although it may be a scribal insertion in the case of 1:14), but also the "gospel of Jesus Christ" (Mark 1:1, although "Son of God" at the end may be a late addition).
So does "the gospel of Jesus Christ" mean the good news about the kingdom as conveyed by Jesus Christ, or does it mean the good news about Jesus Christ?
It could be argued, as Phil does, that the two point to the same thing.
But a subtle change takes place if you always talk about the "gospel of Christ" and never mention the "gospel of the kingdom."
We see this in Paul. Where Paul is more specific than "gospel," it is most frequently the "gospel of Christ" (e.g. Romans 1:16, 15:19, 15:29, 1 Corinthians 9:12, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 10:16, Galatians 1:7, Philippians 1:27, 1 Thessalonians 3:2).
Where is the "kingdom" in all this?
I've often observed that the "kindgom," so important to the Synoptic Jesus, is rarely mentioned by modern preachers.
Got to go now, but I'll look at your Romans 8:20-21 later.
CR, when Mt. says that we are immortal, he is referring to the soul, which is spiritual. The understanding, here, is that the human soul lives forever, but this tells us nothing about whether it goes to heaven or hell. Perhaps you're conflating immortality and eternal life? They're not the same thing. Immortality is a property of spiritual beings; eternal life is life in God.
With the Fall, the soul didn't lose its immortality, but its participation in divine life. That's what sin did/does. So that life-connection needed to be restored, hence the gift of Christ and his Spirit.
- see https://carm.org/dictionary-immortality which is an evangelical web site.
- also: http://www.gotquestions.org/hu...mortal-immortal.html
- http://www.vatican.va/archive/...techism/p1s2c1p6.htm (Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially #366)
I think Near Death Experiences (NDEs) give us a glimpse of life as a disembodied soul.
both Wisdom 2:24 and Romans 6:23 tell us that before the fall there was no death. We know the universe as we know it now, but God is omnipotent, so he could give humans immortality and even protect us from meteorites and stuff like that, with little difficulty on his part. All ancient Fathers were convinced that pre-fall humans were immortal and had some kind of deep union and vision of God, but lesser than the saints in heaven.
Of course, Jesus and Mary, who are free from the effects of original sin, were not as Adam and Eve. Jesus died, Mary,, as we believe, never died, but what is essential ismthat they never sinned. Note that in John 10:28 Jesus says that he dies only because he wants to give hid life. So he wasn't subjected to death like the rest of us.
On Romans 8:20-21, I agree with you that it refers to the whole of creation. But not when you say, "We have to put on immortality." That would be active on our part. The text has, "the creation itself will be liberated" in the passive voice. This is something done for us -- a grace -- not something we can do ourselves.
Re.immortality Summa Theologiae I, q.97. a.1. c.
A thing may be incorruptible in three ways.First, on the part of matter--that is to say, either because it possesses no matter, like anangel; or because it possesses matter that is in potentiality to one form only, like the heavenly bodies. Such things as these are incorruptible by their very nature.Secondly, a thing is incorruptible in its form, inasmuch as being by nature corruptible, yet it has an inherent disposition which preserves it wholly from corruption; and this is called incorruptibility of glory; because as Augustine says (Ep. ad Dioscor.): "God made man's soulof such a powerful nature, that from its fulness of beatitude, there redounds to the body a fulness of health, with the vigor of incorruption."Thirdly, a thing may be incorruptible on the part of its efficient cause; in this sense man was incorruptible and immortal in the state of innocence. For, as Augustine says (QQ. Vet. et Nov. Test. qu. 19 [Work of an anonymous author, among the supposititious works of St. Augustine): "God made man immortal as long as he did not sin; so that he might achieve for himself life or death." For man's body was indissoluble not by reason of any intrinsic vigor ofimmortality, but by reason of a supernatural force given by God to the soul, whereby it was enabled to preserve the body from all corruption so long as it remained itself subject to God. This entirely agrees with reason; for since the rational soul surpasses the capacity of corporeal matter, as above explained (76, 1), it was most properly endowed at the beginning with the power of preserving the body in a manner surpassing the capacity of corporealmatter.
Derek- yes of course we DONT do the putting on. It's God that bestows immortality on us. I was quoting 1 Cor 15:53.''For the perishable must cloth itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality.'' It's a given that it is actually God that is doing that.
Regarding your points about the Kingdom, I have only been giving simplistic responses. Many Christians I know believe that there is going to be a literal earthly Kingdom where Jesus as the King will rule from Jerusalem in a new temple and from there He will extend His rule over the whole earth, bringing about perfection during a 1000 year period. Others believe it's not here on earth but in heaven etc. Some believe it's a bit of both. All I can be sure of for myself, is that the Kingdom is God's will or being in union with God NOW, in a spiritual sense and after my death I will be in the Kingdom (whether in heaven or resurrected onto a restored earth) where only God's will is done and whre sin, death etc are gradually eliminated forever. The Kingdom has been a reality from the beginning, all through the history of God's people (when it was a literal earthly theocratic government with an anointed King). Sorry I'm rambling. I've heard pastors preach on the Kingdom and it is always about being in God's will/God's rule and following Jesus, so even if the 'Kingdom' is not mentioned much by some, I suppose it is 'there' within the other teachings. Hope you can see what I'm getting at.
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