Phil, I checked your links. Thank you. I have always struggled with the teaching of the immortal soul. I understand the Bible to teach that God created 'living souls' (humans and animals) and he breathed His breath (spirit) into these 'souls' and they came alive. The spirit therefore is immortal but it goes back to God who gave it. People therefore are not conscious after death but have to await the resurrection when the spirit will be put into a new immortal body. You go back to what you were before you were conceived- non existence, except in God's mind. NDEs are very compelling, but the mind is able to produce very vivid stuff when it is struggling due to ill health or drugs etc.
Mt, I'll now rethink the points you have made but from the perspective that we do have an immortal soul and see if that changes my understanding.
Mt, I must be frank and say isn't this surely speculation? In fact having read that, I'm more inclined than ever to understand 'physical' and 'spiritual/immortal' as I have done up to now: two distinct stages: the physical first, and then the spiritual (after the resurrection). It all sounds so simple the way Paul describes it in 1 Cor 15.?? As I said above though, I will re-read your previous posts and try to understand what you say assuming we are already partly immortal. (See that sounds weird to me!).
While I remember, I found the information regarding apokatastasis and the various 'schools' within Christianity:
''In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six known theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea and Edessa)were Universalist, one (Ephesus)accepted conditional immortality; one (Carthage or Rome)taught endless punishment of the wicked.'' From 'Universalists', Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1912). I'm trying to verify if this quote is correct and if what this encyclopedia says is correct. I'll come back to you when I find out more about this.
Mt, let me see if I understand you correctly:
Adam and Eve were created perfect in body and spirit and so were immortal beings living in a perfect incorruptible cosmos?? If they had not sinned, then they would never die physically and the sun would not burn up or the planet wear away? It was God's intention that they did not sin and for this 'state of being' to continue endlessly? So the state to which we will attain at the resurrection, will be the same as what Adam and Eve had, physically and spiritually?
CR, consider that Jesus believed in the immortality of the soul, as implied in his parables -- esp. the rich man and Lazarus, and others. It's also the teaching of the Catholic Church and most Protestant churches (Seventh Day Adventists being an exception). Maybe look up "Intermediate State" and see if that makes sense to you. Also, Near Death Experiences. The Sola Scriptura approach you take doesn't work very well with many metaphysical and theological issues.
Re. an immortal, imperishable universe for Adam and Eve: that seems scientifically impossible. What's more likely is that they would have lived and died as Mary did, passing over into the next life body and soul. It would have been the same for Jesus, only, as Mt. noted, he surrendered himself into the hands of death, thus setting the stage for his victory over death with resurrection.
What's difficult in dialoguing with you is that you seem to place your personal interpretations of of scripture on different topics on the same level as those of the Catholic Church and most Protestant traditions, who have ruminated deeply on these issues for centuries.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
Addenda: re. the different "schools" of thought on universal redemption in the early Church: that's not the same as different kinds of Christianity ("will the real Jesus please stand up"). We still see differences of opinion among theologians on many kinds of issues (e.g., pre- versus post-millennial eschatology) and they don't usually lead to division. If I'm not mistaken, none of the schools you mentioned broke away from the Church. Sometimes it just takes awhile for an issue to become resolved, and sometimes we just have to live with a certain amount of ambiguity. This issue is not one of them, however, as the teaching of the Church acknowledges the reality of hell and the possibility of eternal damnation.
Re. immortality.Karl Rahner imagined the state of innocence just like you, Phil, but I have a problem with that. Namely, "science" cannot be our criterion here, as you suggest, because there is a lot of scientifically impossible things, like virgin birth or bodiky resurrection. What are the arguments for changing the traditional view that Adam and Eve were simply, literally immortal before the fall?
CR, the beatific state of the saints is not the same as Adam's innocence. It is more.
It's an interesting topic, isn't it, Mt.?
Generally, science does constrain what philosophy and theology can affirm. One basis for acknowledging a miracle is that the phenomenon goes beyond the usual course of nature, which doesn't invalidate science, but demonstrates the existence of higher realms which are capable of altering nature.
I accept that the first humans were immortal beings before the Fall (and afterwards as well, at the level of soul), but don't know if that means they would have enjoyed bodily life on earth forever. Mary didn't, and we believe her status was at least equivalent to that of the first parents. But we note that Mary can come and go into this world, as evidenced by her many apparitions. Perhaps without the Fall there would have been only the thinnest of veils between this world and beyond.
I don't think we need to say that the usual course of natural events was altered because of the existence of the first humans, but it's likely that they would have been capable of creating a highly spiritualized environment around their communities, and this would have influenced the natural environment round them. In other words, we can affirm the cosmic significance of the creation of the first humans (and the Fall as well) without requiring nature to operate under different laws than it does now.
But with Mary we talk about a resurrected body, so sth that was planned by God after death, unwished for, entered this world. Adam was the first plan and why would it have been less miraculous than resurrection? Look at what kundalini can do with our fallen condition - why the Holy Spirit would not provide an endless life on this earth?
Phil, you sound very scientifically But it seems to devoid the Eden-world of its cosmic dimension. Maybe it was not only our "green" attitude to the earth, but some deeper connection that was broken amd hence this world was subjected to vanity, as Paul notes.
Can God create a world for their beloved children without earthquakes and hurricanes? With lions not attacking humans?
I can see it looks like that. My interpretations are not really 'mine' but come from many years of studying the Bible via many resources, from churches of different denominations and a mainly Baptist/evangelical influence. Having studied how the 'church' evolved over the centuries and became the 'Roman Catholic' Church, and then how it too had break away 'churches' etc., I have to make an evaluation of what I believe to be the truth of the matter and so I believe the types of churches I have belonged to (Baptist, Evangelical) are closer to the original truth. So I am not alone in disagreeing with the Roman Catholic Church. Amongst the Christians I have met with and studied with, are many that also disagree on some of the key doctrines like the soul and hell. We check the scriptures against Hebrew, Greek, known culture of the time etc. and try to determine how beliefs have evolved over the centuries. I always check things out with scripture first, to see, like the Bereans, if something is right. I don't just believe something because the church leaders tell me to. If I'm not sure about something, I pray about it and ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the truth. I am finding it very hard to discuss these things with you guys because you are Roman Catholics. I haven't conversed with Roman Catholics like this before. It has always been Christians who only use the Bible as the final word on a matter. So our mind sets and belief systems are very different indeed. It's going to be very hard to try to progress in this discussion because we are coming from such different perspectives and understandings.
Here though is what I think we can agree on regarding the gospel:
It is the news of how God is going to save people from sin and death through God's Son Jesus. Jesus' life, death and resurrection provided the way for this to be possible. When we die, we will face judgment and depending on how we lived, we will either enter God's presence (the Kingdom) or we will be punished.
That is how most Christians I have known, believe the gospel to be. There is a 'renaissance' of universal reconciliation amongst a growing number of Christians who believe the 'judgment' is not the end of the matter but that holy judgment is primarily about chastisement that leads to correction, and so no one will be eternally lost but all will eventually be restored. Or at the least they are hopeful that that is the case.
It's interesting that universal reconciliation was taught in many of those orthodox schools and people were forced (by Rome??) to deny that belief. If that encyclopedia is correct, then 4 out of the 6 schools believed in UR, and yet only the one which believed in eternal torment/punishment managed to quash the majority??
CR, the process of evaluating and discerning you describe has integrity, but, in the end, it seems you place more emphasis on your opinion than the discerned doctrines of the Church. You also must inevitably view Scripture as something distinct from the Church and its teaching -- all every Protestant, and the dynamic which has brought us hundreds of different Protestant sects. It may well be that Catholics aren't completely right about some of the issues we've been discussing, but it doesn't follow that individuals and groups disagreeing with the Church are more correct because they interpret Scripture differently. The issue, "who teaches Christian truth," is at the heart of it, and Catholics do indeed have their own way of understanding this in terms of the Spirit's gifting of Magisterial leadership and teaching.
Nevertheless . . . most of the issues we've been discussing are of the kind that Christians can disagree about, but need not divide over. This includes Universal Reconciliation, which I've noted has great appeal to me, even while being at odds with Scriptural/Church teachings.
Also, it's not really necessary to have complete clarity about any of this to have faith. Faith grows through time spent in prayer, through involvement with a Church, and through service. This faith is not a feeling, but our "yes" to God that establishes in us a deep openness and receptivity to grace, the divine life. This life in us does produce good fruit, and so it's not simply imaginary. Maybe one way to answer the question about "what is the good news of Jesus?" is that it is the divine life of God dwelling within us -- a life communicated by the Spirit of Jesus, received through faith, expressed in love.
Why don't you study how that actually came about, and why? You seem to assume that Christian truth is a matter of majority rule, but it's not. In Catholicism (the only kind of Christianity around way back then), disparate opinions were resolved by the pope in union with the bishops (what we call the Magisterium). Catholics believe the Spirit guides the Magisterium in matters of faith and morals, and so this leadership and guidance in a source of unity for the Church. I haven't gone deeply into this historical issue, but I'm thinking the Magisterium must have found the position backing the possibility of hell to be more congruent with the teaching of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Tradition of the Church.
Good points Phil. Here's the crux of the matter (sorry if I'm repeating this, can't remember if I've mentioned it already). My identity as a Roman Catholic came to an end at the age of 15 when I was visited by Jehovah's Witnesses. So from an early impressionable age I have developed a mind set that must test everything for yourself. Each doctrine has to be weighed against scripture to see if it is right. Also, the first thing they taught me was that the Roman Catholic Church was like the anti Christ. After about a year of study I could see that many of their beliefs didn't add up. I left and haven't really been able to fit in anywhere within Christendom. It's true to say I'm like a boat being tossed by the wind in this and that direction. Many times I've wished that they'd never knocked my door and I would be blissfully ignorant or rather happy as I was. I have very happy and positive memories of when I was 'still' a Roman Catholic.
Despite all that, I have tried to not let doctrinal differences stifle the love which Jesus stood for. I love the parable of the Good Samaritan because it was so shocking for His audience who would have expected Jesus to pick a Jew as the hero. Instead He picks the lowest of the low (to the Jews) someone who had the wrong religious system and beliefs. Love conquers wrong doctrines. This is why I try to strip it all back to that very basic understanding in my last post.
Yes Phil, I am presently studying how that came about. I have various sources to check. In light of your other reply, I think I need to properly study Chruch history and how the church formed over the first 5 or 6 centuries. That way I can better understand the different schools and hopefully why UR was deemed a heresy.
You are quite right that a majority doesn't mean something is right. It struck me as interesting though.
CR, I've taken a little time to look up some references on UR, or Apocatastasis, as it's sometimes called.
- http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01599a.htm gives a good history of the teaching, and its eventual opposition by St. Augustine.
http://www.tentmaker.org/artic..._roman_catholic.html claims that Vatican II and recent popes are sympathetic with the doctrine.
- http://www.vatican.va/archive/...atechism/p123a12.htm is the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaching on the final things. This is from 1995, and is a compendium of Catholic teaching. Hell is mentioned as a possibility (Part IV. 1033-37). I would say this is the "official teaching" on this matter. Note the footnotes for the points made.
Some theologians have jokingly stated that it is theologically necessary to declare the existence of hell, but it just might be that no one is in it.
Of course, talk of hell cannot be separated from talk of Satan, demons and the like, which the Church also affirms as real.
you refer to the Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. But I've just checked a "Cambridge History of Early Christianity", published in 2008 (I use it, when I teach early Christian literature at the university, it's a very sound, accessible academic handbook) - and there is no mention of universal salvation, or hell, for that matter. All instances of "universal" concern the universality of the Church and not universal salvation. So it seems, at least, that the problem of universal salvation was not one of important issues in the first 5 centuries of Christianity. If those "four out of six" schools were proposing this solution, why it is not mentioned on 556 pages of a Cambridge handbook of early Christian theory and practdice? The answer is that even if some Antiochean or Alexandrian theologians considered that possibility, it was a marginal thread in their thinking, and gradually it was questioned and replaced by the widely accepted idea that hell is for ever.
I don't know what you mean by "Roman Catholics", when you call us so. We may sound like people who refer to authority, instead to the Scripture or reason, but that is obviously not the case. We just point out, as far as I can speak for Phil and Derek, that we do not have to invent the wheel. There is an immense body of theological literature and it is better to read this than to try to interpret the whole New Testament on our own. (Of course, prayer and lectio divina is a totally different thing. Now we speaking about doctrine.)
But if you rely on the Bible so much, how you explain all those statements of Jesus:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Mt 25:41)
"The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mt 13:42)
"it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mk 9:48)
"Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Mt 7:23)
Of course, I know Greek, so I realize that "aionios" used by the author of the gospel can have a meaning of "a very, very long time". But if you argue on the basis of one (optional) meaning of "eternal" as having an end after a long time, what will you do with the Johannine term "eternal life", "aionios zoe" - does it mean that heaven, just as hell, is just a very long period which will eventually come to pass? The Bible is poetry, not philosophy, so you cannot just take phrases and words.
By the way, in what Jesus says about hell, I do not find ANY GROUND to argue that it is a purification, or some educational suffering ending with transformation or anything resembling the Catholic idea of purgatory. Jesus clearly means some ultimate judgment. Why would he call "cursed" those who will just undergo purification? What about all those "away with you" etc., which he uses often in this context. What about "I never knew you, away from me!" - do you say those things to someone who is going to purify themselves and then be saved? Of course, you can bend the meaning, if you wish, but if you just listen to those words of Jesus, it is not what you hear immediately.
If you're interested in the cultural context of early Christianity, I can give you a very simple explanation, why Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and other theologians from Antioch or Alexandria might have considered hell as temporal (given that it was a marginal idea, as I argue above). They were suffused with Greek philosophy and culture, when there was a lot of circular thinking - history is not a line, it doesn't have a beginning and an end, but it goes in cycles. Like four mythical ages of humanity, the eternal return of the Stoics, also in Plato hell is obviously temporal punishment, just as heaven is temporal rewards, and there is reincarnation in Pythagoreanism and Platonism. So the Greeks were thinking that nothing in the world, except from the highest God, is for ever. The influence of Greek philosophy (and, btw, I adore Greek philosophy and study it professionally) is reponsible for almost all heresies. So the idea of universal salvation is very Greek, moreover it is very Buddhist or Hindu, but not very Christian.
Phil, thanks for those links. I shall check them out tomorrow. (I'm familiar with the Tentmaker site).
Mt, I'm pretty sure that 'universalism' per the four schools was to do with the eventual reconciliation of ALL persons, and not 'universality of the church'. I will recheck though. You make some very good points which I do believe can be addressed sufficiently enough to be able to still hope that UR is a strong possibility. (It's true that UR is found in pagan religions, but isn't it the case that 'resurrection' is found in pagan religions?) Regarding your last points, please check out this short article that covers some of the points you make:
It's a short article on Ilaria Ramelli's book: ''The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis.'' To quote: '' It is a remarkable work of critical scholarship. Ilaria Ramelli is no mean scholar. She is highly regarded by her professional peers and has published dozens of books, essays, and monographs in patristic scholarship. The rehabilitation of Origen and a correct reading of his doctrine of apokatastasis has been one of her primary projects. She devotes over 90 pages of the book to Origen’s teachings. If her reading of Origen is correct, then the Emperor Justinian and his theological pereti did Origen a terrible injustice when they posthumously anathematized him and proscribed his writings.''
I might try to order it from the Library.
I shall come back to you regarding the scriptures you quoted.
Ok, I'll take a look at Ramelli.
In the mean time, NO, THERE IS NO RESURRECTION IN PAGAN RELIGIONS. Resurrection is not coming back to life and it is not a common myth of Osiris, Tammuz, Dummuzi, Adon, Adonis, Dionysius, that is, of going back to the underworld for the winter period and returning every spring. Of course, the Church since the beginning saw in those myths the "bits of truth", as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (and J. Ratzinger, for that matter) did more recently. The cyclical coming back to life of gods, heroes or even the whole world, may be a dim premonition of the resurrection and salvation, but it is different, precisely because it is repetitive and cyclical, and, second, because it is coming back to the same life, while resurrection is a profound change (see of course Paul in 2 Cor on the seed vs. fruit difference between the mortal and the glorified bodies).
If I've understood that short article and her quotes correctly, it's the case that there was a kind of UR in pagan religions just as there was a kind of resurrection in pagan religions. All religions seem to have 'bit's of truth wouldn't you agree?
I did some research on Ramelli in jstor.org. It seems she's solid as a scholar. I can access some of her articles via my university jstor database, so I'll take a look at them. But I already noticed that she specialized in apocatastasis in Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. As I mentioned in one of my post, it's hardly to be found anywhere else, so perhaps we can let go of those "four schools out of six" from Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. It's really about Origen and Gregory following him on that, but soon the Church questioned many ideas of Origen, and apocatastasis among them. I don't say it's not sth theologians can discuss, because they do. But, CoxRox, you argued that it is a Christian view. But Tertullian believed that remarrying after a spouse's death or going to a circus is a mortal sin. should we avoid going to cinema and remarrying? Not everything that was defended by a great theologian of antiquity is "Christian truth", is it? And neither Origen, nor Gregory of Nyssa, although great philosophers, had a great authority in Eastern or Western Churches, not mentioning Protestants.
Hi Mt, that's great you can access some of Dr Ramelli's articles. Your evaluation of her would be most appreciated. That link from Fr Kimel's blog has some interesting comments below it. Not sure if you checked them out too. I suspect even if I could get hold of Dr Ramelli's book it would be too 'heavy' for me as I don't have much training in these matters. There is another on line book that I will read, which covers the first 500 years of the Church: ( http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Prevailing.html#5 ) It may shed light on the 'four schools' claim, but hopefully I might get an idea about how legitimate the claim that UR was a popular belief in the early church is. If you study the claims of UR from a Biblical basis, then there is a very strong case to be made for it I believe. It takes time to test the scriptures and the points about hell and judgment that you mentioned in your other post. In the meantime may I refer you to a short you tube video (it's just under 17 mins long) that is the most succinct, profound, exciting, persuasive and thoroughly enjoyable overview of UR that I have had the privilege of watching. I would ask that you watch it in one go. Try not to pause it. The man in the film (who made the film) is an ordained minister and everything he says is testable via the Bible, Greek etc. Let me know what you think:
On several occasions, Jesus' references to hell have been mentioned in this discussion. Paul also takes the prospect of being lost seriously. So I'm confused, here: if Scripture is to be considered (by CR, especially) the primary authority in such matters, then why the heck are we continuing to debate UR? It's pretty clear from Mt. 25 and many other places that Jesus considered hell a real possibility, that, indeed, the road leading to perdition was wide compared to the road leading to life (Mt. 7:13). Additionally, the early Church then (as now) rejected the idea after considering it for awhile.
So where in the Scriptures are we to receive assurance that all its references to hell are not to be taken seriously -- that everyone slips on through to heaven in the end? There's no doubting that the NT asserts that the invitation to salvation is open to all, but it does not follow that all will therefore be saved. I can't think of one single biblical reference to base such a belief on.
Well, in fact this discussion went to a strange place ;-)
Anyway, I think that the exchange about "UR" has reached a conclusion: it was a hypothesis which Origen in the 3rd age and Gregory of Nyssa in the 4th have considered on the margin of their very wide theological interests, perhaps due to their Platonic proclivities. This hypothesis, however, was for one or another reason, rejected in the 5th and 6th centuries by the universal Church. It wasn't seriously considered again by the mainstream Protestant communities, until recently. CoxRox believes it can be reconciled with the Scriptures, I'm sure it cannot be, as well as Phil and, as far as we can assume, over a billion of Christians in the world.
But what I learnt in the course of this discussion, CoxRox, is that you seem to have a peculiar Protestant attitude towards faith, which is more than "Sola Scriptura", as Derek labelled it. You seem to try to look on your own the meaning of various Christian truths, with the help of the Bible and biblical studies, selective reading of books or discussions with scholars and pastors. But what seems evident to me, and Phil pointed this out, is that you do not consider seriously a Christian community (in a wide sense, I'm not talking necessarily about the Roman Church Magisterium) as a source of understanding in this religious enterprise. I'm not sure this attitude is Protestant - despite of the great deal of individuality and suspiciousness of authority in Protestantism, the mainstream Protestant communities, like Lutherans or Calvinists, or Southern Baptists, or the Church of England for that matter, do believe that it is not up to any Christian to decide what the Scripture says.
So if I see any reasonable way for further discussion, it would be precisely that: the relationship between faith, the Scripture and the community. St. Paul says that faith comes from listening. Not from trying to figure out what this or that book of the Bible says, but from listening to a preacher, that has an Apostolic succession. There were people who knew Christ in the flesh and who say him resurrected. They handed over their faith to their disciples and they to their disciples and so on. CoxRox, where is your position with respect to this line of tradition?
|Powered by Social Strata||Page 1 2 3 4|