Transferring a few posts from other discussions.
Moved Reply: LOL, I thought it was quite funny that you quoted Matthew and Luke "He who does not gather with Me, scatters",
Now of course that scripture is true and correct...but must be held in tension with the one that I usually think about in connection with it...that is..."For whoever is not against us is for us".
Keep in mind that this man who was not against Jesus did not follow along with the other disciples. Perhaps did not hold the same theology and dogma as the other disciples, perhaps had slightly different ideas about Jesus and the other disciples...but Jesus doesn't seem very threatened by him, doesn't seem to mind that he is off on a slightly different mission to the other disciples.
Now you might read more into what I'm trying to say here. I'm not saying THEREFORE it doesn't matter what we do or say or believe. But I am saying that Jesus seems to have a wider narrow way than some people would like to imagine.
Moved Reply: You know Pop-pop, Jesus had a lot of trouble with people who were trying to exclude others from the kingdom of God.
In fact if you go back and re-read all the passages in which Jesus talks about people going to Gehenna, he is generally speaking to those (e.g. Pharisees) who were trying to exclude others from the Kingdom or who thought that their theology, dogmas or religious practice would get them into the Kingdom. Jesus makes it clear that these are not the ways into the Kingdom, but that entry into the Kingdom goes hand in hand with Love for neighbor irrespective of who that neighbor is (perhaps he is Ken Wilber).
I find it interesting that even those who give a cup of water to another person in the name of a disciple (not even of the Master) will receive a reward...I'm no expert but it doesn't seem possible to receive rewards in Gehenna, so it seems even basic hospitality is enough to gain entry into the Kingdom...how could that be? Perhaps it is because a person who is willing to love another person by giving a cup of water is already in contact with the ONE WHO IS LOVE - regardless of their metaphysical understandings about God and human beings.
Moved Reply: Jacques et al, it would be good to remember that the proper interpretation of any scripture (especially regarding salvation and damnation) must consider the message of scripture as a whole, and (in the case of Catholicism) sacred tradition and magisterial teaching as well. "Prooftexting" is not an effective way to advance an opinion.
- see http://www.reclaimingthemind.o...-with-proof-texting/
Moved Reply: Thank Phil, and I do agree with you of course. I'd be happy to build on my arguments if there is an issue in the way I am using a text. I agree that we need to consider the message of scripture as a whole...in fact that is actually my point. Of course this isn't going to stop people from seeing the scriptures the way that they see them.
I also think it is important to study the history and context of second temple Judaism since it is sometimes easy to misunderstand Jesus when we read him through 2000 years of church tradition (catholic or protestant).
One example, that I'd be happy to extend if there is interest, is Jesus' use of the phrase "Repent and believe in me". Did you know that Josephus uses the exact same phrase while addressing a group of Jews who he is trying to persuade on a specific topic. We often take that phrase to mean something very specific about Jesus' divinity or offer of salvation, but actually in the first century it had none of those ideas attached to it...that doesn't mean Jesus isn't our savior or that we shouldn't repent of our sins, but it is a good example of the way we read scripture.
Moved Reply: Good example, Jacques. I spent a few hours with a scripture scholar yesterday afternoon and he pointed out a number of similar examples of words and phrases we find in the New Testament.
What became apparent to me in dialoguing with this man is that even for scripture scholars, it seems there are a priori theological biases being used to shed light on the meaning of Scripture. Iow, Scripture does not of itself provide a theological framework for its understanding. Biblical scholarship constrains what we can and cannot say about Jesus, but it does not of itself provide comprehensive theological explanation of the meaning of Scripture. Thus it is that N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg -- both brilliant and accomplished Scripture scholars -- disagree about basic issues like the bodily resurrection and the Incarnation.
The Bible is the Church's book and so we need the Church to interpret it. For Catholics, sacred tradition is considered complementary to Scripture to help shed light on the meaning of Scripture. E.g., is God a Trinity of Persons, or are these references to Father, Son and Spirit just metaphors for how God is present to us? One can use Scripture to argue either point. Same for Christ's presence in the Eucharist, the Incarnation and other basic issues. Without sacred Tradition and the interpretive leadership of the Magisterium, we're left to ourselves to determine the meaning of Scripture, as it seems that even the biblical scholars cannot shed sufficient light on even the most basic of issues to conclusively resolve their meaning.
Moved Reply: Right you are Phil, but then we come to the logical end of the issue...who or what is 'the Church'?
If a person's definition of 'the Church' is very narrow and only includes their own tradition then the answers are going to be pretty clean and clear cut.
If however we accept that the Church goes beyond our own tradition, then suddenly the voices are no longer that clear.
Pop-pop asked earlier
The funny thing is, if God wanted to make things clearer, He could have done things quite differently.
I've come to the point where I sense that perhaps all this opinion, confusion, discussion and development is part of the plan or a necessary stage in the journey. Otherwise it just doesn't make sense to me.
I just don't think any ONE tradition has all the answers...it just doesn't seem like the actual way things work. Would be great if it were true, I just don't think it is.
But that doesn't necessarily leave a person in a place of hopeless pluralism and confusion. In fact I firmly believe that Jesus was telling the truth when He said He would send us the Spirit of Truth and that The Spirit would reveal all things to us.
But in order to make effective use of this truth, or rather, to participate in the Truth Telling of the Spirit, we must allow our own preconceived ideas about the Truth to fall away. Allow the Spirit to guide us, even if She ends up guiding us away from our own traditional understandings of things.
One may fear that this could lead one to deny the truth or accept falsehood...but I believe this is only possible if one is not really seeking The Truth. If you genuinely kneel before God each and every day and surrender your preconceived ideas and beliefs and ask Him to lead and guide you, you will remain within The Truth, even if at times you believe things that are untrue.
That's the rub, isn't it, Jacques?
"Traditional understanding" is an ambiguous term, as you're using it here. Do you mean to be including all dogmas and doctrines in this term? These were corporately discerned and hashed out over long periods of time, in some cases. I'm not sure there are many cases when one's individual judgment ought to trump such teachings. They do need to be properly understood, however, and that often seems to be the problem -- maybe what you mean by "preconceived ideas"?
I'm not aware of any religious tradition that claims to have ALL the answers about anything, including Jesus. That's certainly not what the RCC claims. With religious traditions, it's more a question of which provides the most trustworthy teaching, guidance, and means of connecting and growing in Christ. I don't see how any individual can claim to do this better own their own that they could by belonging to and participating in a Christian tradition. Doing so would not necessarily mean becoming intellectually straight-jacketed, as one could still be open to the riches in other Christian traditions and even benefit from some aspects of other world religions.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
Yes and No. Yes because I believe that if something is really true, then God will confirm it as true, even if I question it. No because I do sense that Christianity as a whole is true and so nothing I question is going to radically alter the Christian faith in a way that is disconnected from the traditional history of the Church.
Let me give you a personal example. A couple of years ago I started questioning the divinity of Christ. The questioning did not actually start at the time, but was carried over from about a decade earlier. My questions did not come out of nowhere, but developed as I read things in the bible that seemed difficult to reconcile with the "easy answers" of traditional Christianity.
So I listened to other voices, primarily Biblical Monotheists (who believe that only the Father is God). Through their teachings I gained a powerful understanding of Jesus as the human Messiah...one that is almost completely eclipsed by traditional Christianity (who even though they affirm the humanity of Christ, often eclipse this humanity in his divinity). I gained a beautiful image of the man Jesus and the lengths he went to to follow the Father and Redeem the world. I didn't mind letting go of the divinity of Christ if it wasn't true...
But I also prayed hard, and asked God to help me. I studied the bible, and read other views. I read Dunn, and Witherington, and Wright and scholarly articles by Eastern Orthodox theologians on the divinity of Jesus and on the Trinity.
In the end I reaffirmed by belief in the Trinity and in the divinity of Christ. Not primarily because the church has always taught it, but because through my surrender and searching God had given it back to me. But now I also had a renewed vision of Jesus as Messiah, one that I believe God had wanted me to gain through my questioning. N.T. Wright has done a lot to further that vision, but it definitely started with the Biblical Monotheists and their human Jesus. The Eastern Orthodox have also given me a powerful model for understanding the Trinity...one that has served me better than any other I have encountered thus far. Now if I had stuck only with the Methodism that I had grown up with, or the Baptist theology that I was re-converted under or even the Western theology that steers most western Christianity, I would not have gone through any of this development. But I had to start with the assumption that my tradition (Methodist, or Baptism, Protestant, or Western) might be wrong or misguided about certain things.
This is how it seems to me too.
What "easy answers" are those, Jacques? There aren't any concerning the divinity of Christ; that took over 300 years to dogmatize, although the affirmations of it were there from the beginning. And why even assume that "traditional Christianity" might teach anything contrary to the Bible? Such an assumption presupposes the Bible to be some kind of objective record that the Church tries to interpret when, in fact, the New Testament is a written account of teachings and understandings that were already cherished by "traditional Christianity." The New Testament is the Church's book.
I'm not sure what you mean by "Biblical Monotheists," as all Jews and Christians are monotheists, though Christians are Trinitarian as well. I can't find anything about a movement called "Biblical Monotheists," but I'm sure there must be something out there that you're referring to.
This would be voices other than what "traditional Christianity" had to say about the divinity of Christ, I take you to mean? OK. The Hindus have an angle as well, you know -- that Jesus is an avatar or something like that. Wilber (thread topic! ) takes him to be an "adept from Judea" and others call him a prophet, a great wisdom teacher, etc. Lots of opinions out there about Jesus, so how to sort that out?
It seems that, for you, the answer is to read, reflect, pray, and trust that the Spirit of Truth will lead you to the truth because you are sincere. That's commendable.
BUT . . .
There are over 30,000 Protestant denominations, as you yourself noted recently. Presumably, each began with a founder who believed he or she was more in sync with the truth than the tradition they belonged to, and that the Spirit had clarified things so that their new denomination would be the one most in harmony with early Christianity, biblical teaching, Spirit-guidance, etc.
SO . . .
Do you plan to eventually check out all 30,000 and compare their teachings, asking the Spirit to clarify this mess for you? <teasing>
It's commendable that you want to find answers and explanations that make sense to you, which is why I stated in my post above that the doctrines of the Church need to be properly understood. If you had poked around in them a little more, you'd find an affirmation of Jesus' humanity just as endearing as the Biblical Monotheists' teach; I know the Methodists believe this as well.
The larger point, however, is that you've set up an untenable situation in expecting the Spirit to clarify for you, personally, which is the authentic Church of Christ, which doctrines are correct, etc. Sorry to say this, but you ain't that special, bud! When Jesus said in John 16:13 that the Spirit would guide "you" to the whole truth, that "you" was plural, not singular. He was not speaking to Mr. Jacques, but to the body of believers. Christ lives more fully in his Mystical Body, the Church, than in any one cell of the Body, and the sense of the faithful regarding Christian truth lies in the Body, not in a single individual. Even our popes cannot teach what the church does not, in fact, already believe.
SO ONE MUST DECIDE . . .
At some point, at some time, after careful search: a Christian must join a community and participate in its life, contributing one's gifts and talents, in order to experience Christ as he intended for us to know him -- not just via an individual faith relationship, but also as part of community, and via the sacraments as well. To do less is to say no to Christ, to some extent.
Moved Reply: It isn't that I assumed traditional Christianity would teach something contrary to the Bible, only that we all interpret the Bible in different ways and some of those ways of interpreting were coming across as pat answers to issues that seemed to require more thought. It may not necessarily be the fault of the people giving the answers...I mean not everybody wants to take such an intellectual approach to Christianity...but it was important for me to dig a little deeper.
I think it is a little too ecumenical to pretend that significant differences don't still exist between the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant branches of Christianity (and within them)...that is not to say that there aren't also many similarities and plenty of common ground to relate well with each other...but the differences still seem to justify my position that somebody is getting some stuff wrong...the problem is that you may agree that we are all getting some stuff wrong...but it will be a lot harder to agree on what each of us are getting wrong (The Papacy, Autocephaly, Mary, the Saints, Purgatory, Predestination, Cessastionism, Atonement theories, The Filioque, Justification by Faith, Sola Scriptura, Woman in Ministry, Contraception, etc. etc. Note I'm not making statements about what our differences on these topics may be, only that we will probably have differences.
My apologies re. Biblical monotheism, it is actually Christian Monotheism and Biblical Unitarians .
I agree with your point regarding the 30 000 Christian denomination. Which is why I so seriously considered whether I should convert to Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism. But in the end I didn't find these options to provide any more solid ground than my own Protestant heritage. It wasn't that I thought the one was better or more true than the other, in fact it was just the opposite, I found all arguments to be sound and potentially true. In the end, there is not absolute proof, only faith.
Well, I do have faith, I have faith in Christianity as a whole, but that means I also listen to some of the lesser known voices in the flock. I don't go looking for difficult and controversial topics, but I do explore whatever I feel God brings across my path.
And you are right, that traditional Christianity provides just as much emphasis on the humanity of Jesus, as I noted, N.T. Wright is great in this regard, but I don't think I would have found N.T. Wright if I hadn't had the courage to face the issue in the first place. Or perhaps I would have...who knows, but I happened upon the route I took and that is that.
Again, I agree, but again, WHICH CHURCH? The three great traditions do not agree on all things...you may like to say they agree on enough, but that still leaves a lot of gray areas. And that is fine, but it leaves me unable to tie myself down to just one tradition...I'm not saying that you are saying that I have to be, but I'm just saying that I can't
Agreed, which is why I am part of a Protestant community, a Vineyard Movement church, and while I love it, I will never be just a Protestant, because I'll always be a Disciple of Jesus and a member of His Mystical Body
Moved Reply: Jacques,
In my country the Driver’s Manual states that “STOP signs are red in color and octagonal in shape.” The manual is applicable for drivers of autos, trucks and motorcycles alike … as are the STOP signs.
A driving examiner in marking test results for folk pursuing a driving permit looks for the correct answers to test questions. Correct answers indicate an applicant has basic knowledge and understanding of the Driver’s Manual content (which knowledge and understanding will guide and safeguard the applicant and other drivers … and pedestrians).
A typical question is: “What shape is a STOP sign?” or “How many sides does a STOP sign have?”
Some questions for your consideration:
Is triangular a correct answer?
Does scoring an applicant’s answer (of triangular) as wrong indicate that the examiner rejects or dislikes or has any personal issues regarding the applicant?
Does the examiner do the applicant a disservice or perhaps even malign (JUDGE) the applicant if he rejects the validity of the applicant’s answer?
Would an examiner merely be assuming an applicant’s answer (of triangular, for example) was a false understanding of the Driver’s Manual and based on just the examiner’s understanding of the manual and not on what the Driver’s Manual really states? Or would the examiner be correct in JUDGING the applicant’s answer (triangular) as false?
Is this a worldview or meme-applicable issue? Are STOP signs octagonal only for blue-memes, while hexagonal for green-memes, square for yellow memes and round for turquoise?
A good number of applicants in my country do get this question wrong – a plurality of responses is not atypical. Some answer: triangular; others: square, etc, etc. Should the existence of a plurality of answers affect the examiner’s scoring of the applicant’s test paper?
Should the existence of a plurality of answers affect the applicant’s answer? Does the applicant profit by his/her listening to (or considering) the answers of others or should he/she be focused on the Driver’s Manual and respond per its content?
Would the applicant be rejecting other applicants if his/her answer reflects what the Driver’s Manual states despite the plurality of answers that typically exist?
The Divine Revelation of Jesus Christ is the manual that Christians are to drive their lives by.
Just as octagonal means octagonal, eternal damnation means eternal damnation, punishment means punishment (not restoration) and mention of hell (in many places) means there is a hell. Where the manual informs the reader that Jesus said ‘the road to hell is wide and smooth and many choose to walk it’-- means what it says not what others opine. And a disciple drives his life by what the manual states not by the myriad of opinions that others put forth.
The following are extractions from your post of 18 April 10:18 AM: (As Jimminy Cricket might sing: “Give a little listen, give a little listen.”)
Where I struggle is that you automatically assume that anybody who deviates from your understanding of the scriptures is a false teacher, heretic or in bed with Satan.
But in the end what that did was it brought me into a place in which I needed to listen to others and not judge them because they were saying things that contradicted my current interpretation of truth.
Some believe that even Satan and the fallen angels will eventually come to Christ.
There are many other beliefs and ideas,
I'm not saying that any one of these ideas is correct (or incorrect for that matter), only that they are ideas that Christians hold
In both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions there have been those who have held to the POSSIBILITY of universal reconciliation of all things.
what I felt was the leading of the Holy Spirit in accepting people.
in order to accept them I had to allow for other interpretations
I'm not saying there is no hell, but I am saying that we need to be careful about prescribing our view and interpretations on the whole of Christendom and assuming that we have the right interpretation.
But likewise I hold a view in which Catholics and Protestants and many others fit into God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
??? Is the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth (in fact, THE Spirit of Truth) ….. or … is He the Spirit of accepting people?
Is His revelation a light for our path ….or… a fog within which we tolerate the plurality of mankind’s thoughts and ideas?
Is God really merely wanting his people to assure themselves and others that they have remained within the morass of confused religious political correctness?
When Christ said, “He who is not with me is against me”, did He really mean “He who is not with Everybody is against Me?”
When Christ said, “He who does not gather with Me, scatters;” did He really mean “He who does not gather with Everybody, scatters?”
LOL, or did He really mean “He who does not gather with Everybody … is being JUDGMENTAL!”
I hear many many folk these days caught up in just such a fog.
Certainly, none of those sheep are being ‘judgmental’ as they march off the end of the bridge together … (you gotta give em that!). Ole Scratch, he laugh and slap his thigh! He laugh an laugh … an hold his belly and slap his thigh.
This sheep says: BAH!
Moved Reply: Hey Pop,
I hear your point, but I think you go a little too far.
I believe you can answer the Question "who do you say He is?" with "Lord and God" and still be interested in dialogue with people who do not answer this way.
If Phil had never interacted with Hindu theologians, mystics and gurus he may never have fully understood his own spiritual experiences with Kundalini. It didn't draw him away from his faith in Christ, but instead gave him words to describe his own experiences.
I also think you overstate the number of pro-choice Christians, I don't personally know any Christians who would say it is okay to kill a baby in the womb, how many do you know personally? That is not to say they don't exist, but simply that your fear seems to increase the numbers of your enemy.
I also don't see the flood of Christians trying to dilute the gospel or dethrone Christ. I'm not saying these people don't exist, but there are plenty of committed Christians who find value in interacting with psychology, eastern mysticism, evolutionary biology etc, without loosing their faith in the God who saves them.
As for hell, various theologians, Catholics and protestants, even some popes, have over the centuries held to the possibility of universal salvation, seeing hell as corrective rather than punitive - see http://www.romancatholicism.or...versal-salvation.htm
I don't think the view of hell as restorative does anything to lessen the value and sacredness of Christ's saving work.
Moved Reply: Jacques, (and others)
I’ve read your comment post of 10 Apr 10:41 AM and have visited the website you had provided therein and have read its content.
I understand that you see things a bit different than I. (Lol, we’ve been here before). It’s not unusual for differences of opinion to exist relative to how folk see things. Quite often the boundary between what one person considers unnecessary caution – even fear or paranoia – is in another’s view … prudence. Where does the boundary lie? And can wisdom and perhaps humility play a role in any of this?
The pursuit of knowledge is a beneficial and normal and a commendable human activity. Certainly there is nothing necessarily sinful in seeking knowledge and understanding and in expanding one’s knowledge. The Spirit is not a spirit of fear, after all, eh? This is what you might want to remind me to consider. And of course you might like to see me more Pollyanna.
And yes, it is certainly true that there can be valuable insight available in the thought and knowledge of various peoples, religions and cultures.
And it’s true (as you point out) that Phil has not suffered (to date anyway, lol) from his involvement in exploring and seeking understanding of the thought of various world religions, worldviews, gurus, kundalini masters, and new-age teachers and devotees.
‘Test everything and retain what is good,’ is the counsel that we as Christians have been given. And perhaps Phil’s spiritual survival is a reflection of the graces given him – of his personal faith, his vocational call as teacher and the companion graces supplied him to accomplish his teaching; and of his knowledge of and very importantly his docility to scripture and church teaching, and his frequent testing of the spirits.
Is everyone as graced? Is everyone as commissioned? Has everyone similarly studied and attained a firm knowledge of their own Christian scriptures and catechetical teachings? Does everyone test the spirits as robustly perhaps as does Phil? Has everyone retained the docility to scripture and the church’s teachings as Phil has done?
I am not endeavoring to put Phil on a pedestal by any means, but rather to provoke some thought relative to what each of us is being called by the Lord to be and do based upon our graces, vocation and roles relative to who we are and where we have been placed. “What is committed to you, attend to, for what is hidden is not your concern.” (Sir 3:21)
Where does being ‘Here, Now in Love’ occasion us?
On another note, it is also true (methinks) that not all knowledge is necessarily beneficial to man, nor is the pursuit of any and all forms of knowledge always beneficial.
As examples: is the experiential knowledge of the pleasureable effects of heroin a benefit to a person? Should such knowledge be recommended for pursuit by all – in the interest of knowledge for knowledge sake? Is the knowledge of how to effect the extremes of torture by perfecting the techniques of crucifixion a beneficial pursuit? Should it be pursued in the interest of knowledge for knowledge sake? Is the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of manipulation and blackmail beneficial to man? Is the evolution of new strains of germ or chemical warfare a beneficial pursuit? Is it beneficial to seek knowledge into websites that maximally stimulate one’s pornographic dependency? Is it beneficial to research occult practices? Etc. etc.
Christ said that “He who does not gather with Me scatters.” Is it possible to be scattered and diluted in our focus on spiritually growing in Christ, and in living the First Great Commandment by gathering with gurus, new-age teachers and studying non-Christian religious teachers? Even if we do not lose our faith, could our time be better spent? Is the Spirit leading me? Is the Spirit leading me to Ken Wilbur – that was a focus of my earlier post.
Where does wisdom lie? Where does prudence lie? That is what we are about in this discussion.
I don’t have a vast window on the world of contemporary spirituality. My visits to SP are the essence of most (not all) of my exposure to non-Catholic contemporary religious thought and witness (via the posts). But what I read here at SP occasions and sustains my concerns.
Evidently …. folk indeed do get themselves into trouble via the pursuit of new age thought, gurus, kundalini and various occult practices and with the teachings of false teachers.
I read here at SP of folk undergoing hallucinations, physical ailments and delusional thinking. I read of folk happy to be out from under the dominance of a guru. I read of folk once deeply interested in Christ and the saints and mystical prayer who now no longer consider Christ as the only begotten Son, who have abandoned the primacy of Christian Revelation, who consider Jesus as just another wisdom figure – an avatar among avatars. I read of folk now pursuing enlightenment and altered consciousness instead of holiness and devotion to Christ, and of folk lost in no-self. And I read the posts of some very intellectual folk with sharp minds and lots of religious knowledge who used to be docile to the RC church but no longer fully are – who are Unitarians these days. Pluralism has taken its toll – some toll anyway (despite Phil’s survival). How did such movement away from Christ and the church and prayer come to pass? Could such movement away from Christ really have been the work of the Holy Spirit? Aiyee!
So is there NO cause for concern then? Was my post really a bit too far as you suggest?
Many RC saints (including as well, the NT authors) caution against false teachers and openness to heresies.
The NT informs us that Satan is a real entity and aggressively adversarial. SJOC and STA and many others counseled against his deceits and those of his realm.
Being blue-meme clan I believe that Christian revelation clearly informs us in this regard. As for psychology and its slant – psychology is not necessarily the domain nor purview of spiritual men and women; not necessarily the domain of Christians. Christ’s revelation trumps man’s understanding of man’s behavior and the means and ends to man’s behavioral development.
And since I believe in the fallen angels, I believe that Lucifer can be – par excellence – an intellectual’s intellectual (so to speak). The most intelligent and beautiful of the angelic realm, he is more than capable of fooling us – particularly if with pride of intellect we believe we are beyond his snares – believe that others perhaps (though not we) are liable to being deceived.
It is so important to know the scriptures and to test the spirits in accordance with the scriptures. Lucifer was brazen enough to endeavor to seduce Jesus. He quoted scripture to Jesus -- as do some third millennial teachers quote scripture to us.
I must admit Jacques, that your post saddens me. (Alas, it does not surprise me).
As for the website you provided, that website’s content (in truth) angers me – angers me despite it being titled a Romancatholicism.org website -- actually, all the more since it is titled a Romancatholicism website. Aiyee. You know me to be RC so finding such a site to sustain your position must have been right tasty. Ha.
I had started my earlier post’s lead-in with a remark that I sometimes feel myself a stranger in a strange land when encountering posts of folk at SP. Had I encounters with folk at Romancatholicism.org I would feel just as strange – and even more so (realizing its claim as RC) just as frustrated or perhaps more accurately stated: irritated.
Your post (imo of course) is a testament to the scripture (2 Tim 4:3) concerning those who will seek out false teachers who will tickle their ears. Imo, this is what you’ve done. And that website material is what you’ve found in your searching the internet. The website content you supply in your post reflects such a tickling – the tickling that pleases your intellect (that there is no eternal punishment to be concerned about). [The internet can certainly assist third millennialists with ready access to whomever one wants to flock with]. You are certainly not alone in the abandonment and/or modification of belief in hell and punishment -- which is why I am responding here.
Per your comment-post, there is nothing eternal and nothing really a punishment that mankind needs to be concerned with … (per the gospel of Jacques: restorative not punitive, eh? – and temporary not permanent … not … eternal.)
As for that website -- its content is (imo) pernicious! It distorts the gospel. It does a disservice to the gospel. It aids in your seduction into error … and to others as well, quite likely.
The website presents things out of context and misleads -- the net effect of which is erroneous information (false teaching).
Scripture clearly informs us there will be a punishment (2 Thess 8&9), (2 Pet 2) and (Heb 10:26-31) for some examples; and that there is a hell.
In the interest of brevity, while I had listed in my earlier post some scriptures supportive of the existence of hell and eternal punishment, I had by no means listed all references. Nevertheless you dismissed what I had presented, despite ALL scripture being inspired of God (2 Tim 3:16 & 17) and scripture’s admonition that we not ‘add to’ nor ‘subtract from’ the content of divine revelation.
I realize you are protestant and non-concerned with the CoCC that sustains the validity of the existence of hell (p.269 # 1033-1037) and the consequence and punishment (p.271 #1038-1041) of mortal sin (p.456 # 1861), nor that you believe in the private revelation of some RC saints regarding their visions of hell.
Well enough, but we all (Protestants, Orthodox, RC and the various rites) have the identical NT scriptures to enlighten us – scriptures that all Christians are to place faith in – to have their minds renewed by, scriptures for us to be transformed by (Rom12:2).
Salvation is not guaranteed, despite God’s awesome love and mercy.
Divine Revelation informs us not only of God’s love and mercy (certainly the primary focus) but also of mankind’s role and responsibility and the angelic realm’s roles and responsibility in the issues of salvation and salvation history. It is not ALL about God. He has ordained otherwise.
Yes, as many of the website references state, God is merciful and the church is ever hopeful and solicitous of man’s acceptance of salvation, but none of that reality negates the companion reality that man who has been blessed with free will and interior freedom (to a degree that he is not tested beyond – 1 Cor 10:13) can -- and indeed does -- reject God and God’s ever merciful and solicitous invitation of salvation (JN 3:19).
Your thought, Jacques, is contradictory of scripture -- (as is the thinking of Unitarians as well). That thinking might delight you and Unitarians, but it doesn’t delight the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is a slap in the face of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth.
How can I say that?
How can I say that with certainty when others have other opinions – others with far greater intellects?
Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ; adherents to the Truth that He preached and that He is.
All Christians (as I mentioned above) have the revelation of the same NT scriptures before them. Jesus (as I had mentioned in my original post) and other NT authors (some apostles) informed us of the existence of hell and of the possibility of eternal punishment.
NOT ONLY did Jesus teach us of these realities, these truths; but the Holy Spirit AS WELL subsequently brought to the NT writers’ minds both the recollection of Jesus’ teachings in this regard and the impetus to include those truths in their writings! (There were many things Jesus had taught and done that nonetheless were not captured
[Jn 21:25]). But these truths on hell and eternal punishment were not lost to us, nor considered non-essential to the Gospel message and unnecessary of capture and inclusion.
Evidently, both Jesus AND the Holy Spirit (AND we can believe the Father – who sends us the H.S. per Jesus’ prayer [JN 14:16 & 17 and 17:24-26] and whom Jesus is ever obedient and docile towards – does as well) desire mankind to live in, and act under, the tension of the eschatological reality of hell and of eternal damnation. There was a reason behind the teaching of these realities. God didn’t bring all this to our attention just because He likes to hear Himself talk! Or that He might be corrected in the third millennium by wiser folk.
That Christians, be they theologians or third millennial website creators or misguided intellectuals (of whatever meme-color they like to consider themselves) would in any regard, by their teachings or witness undermine this Trinitarian dispensed truth and desire, is patently wrong (as a minimum) [i.e. sinful] and quite evil in that it plays into the hand of he who has asked for us (Lk 22:31). To undermine and to contravene the expressed truths and desires of God, the Holy Spirit, is evil. Such undermining seduces mankind into non-chalance, and betrays the teachings of Christ and that of most Christian churches throughout history.
Judas was blessed with more awareness of the reality of Christ’s teachings and Christ’s works of mercy and power than are we privy to. Yet he chose to and did betray Christ – the very essence of Divine Mercy before him; the Divine Mercy that had chosen him and had anointed him!
Christ says woe to him (let us not say otherwise – let us not contravene Christ in this. Aiyee!) Who are we to say otherwise?
Ananias and Sapphira betrayed the H.S. (Acts 5:1-11) -- let us not contravene the testament of the H.S. in this). Who are we to say otherwise?
A third of the angelic realm, also gifted with free will and of beauty and intellect (exceeding our own) reject the Trinity’s, the ever merciful Trinity’s, expressed desires – i.e. they contravene the Trinity’s expressed desires. Let us not contravene the Trinity’s desires -- as do the fallen angels. Who are we to do so?
God doesn’t need anyone to rewrite or clarify His revealed truths with third millennial concepts of restorative versus punitive, nor temporary versus eternal punishment, nor the non-existence of hell (because God is merciful).
God does not need or mankind profit by (as many maintain) a changed emphasis on Christ’s words relative to the road to hell being wide and smooth and many choosing it (versus no such place as hell -- or essentially no such place) nor of the entrance to the kingdom of heaven being a narrow gate – as opposed to the 3rd millennium’s contemporary thinking of it as … a ‘boulevard’.
Let us not be unwitting evangelists for the father of lies.
That one can find birds of the same feather on the internet … is meaningless. That one can find websites with impressively long Greek words to substantiate erroneous thought is similarly meaningless.
At the end of the OT we read Malachi (2:12) stating: “You have wearied the Lord. Yet you say, ‘how have we wearied Him?’ ‘By your saying that every evildoer is good in the sight of the Lord, and He is pleased with him,’ or else, ‘Where is the just God?’ ” In these third-millennium days, one would simply edit ‘just God’ to read: ‘merciful God’.
In other regards per your post, I do in fact personally know a woman who believes that if abortion was wrong it wouldn’t be permitted by American law. She has been secularized in this regard despite her being a good Christian to her way of thinkung.
While I don’t know personally the professed American Catholic politicians who give scandal to the Christian faith and the teachings of their Catholic Church regarding the acceptance and promotion of abortion and gay marriage currently sanctioned by law in America (Pelosi, Sebelius, Biden and Cuomo for examples) religion in my country, is presently under assault legally, and with an increasing (not diminishing) pressure. Freedom of Conscience and Freedom of Religion are now under severe attack and leaders of many Christian denominations, not the least of which are the US bishops of the RC church, are fighting and litigating against contemporary American political law and pressures. Our Supreme Court is studying the legality of a new healthcare law in this regard. You can visit usccb.org to explore the religious freedom issue if you desire.
Anyway, Jacques, perhaps what I have written in this post may alter your thinking – evidently my initial post and its scripture references were dismissible.
How can one test the spirits if the scriptures themselves are dismissible? Can I get a big -- Aiyee!?
Btw, what meme-color is associated with the dismissal of scripture?
Pro-choice folk dismiss pro-life folk. All consider themselves pleasing to the Lord.
It all kind of brings zest to the scriptures of 2 Thess 2:11 & 12.
It brings zest to Yeats’ “The Second Coming” too -- imo.
In Jn 14:26, Jesus states that the Holy Spirit would bring to believers -- remembrance of all that He had said to them.
Moved Reply: The Catholic Church does indeed hold out the possibility of salvation for all, including those from non-Christian religions or even those who do not belong to any religion at all. To my understanding, that's not what is meant by universal salvation, which is often interpreted as meaning that all people will be saved. There's a big difference between a possibility and a certainty (ask the bookies in Vegas ).
I've never run across the idea of hell as restorative. That's how Catholics view Purgatory -- a state in the afterlife where purifications continue to prepare a soul for heaven. We don't really know how this works, of course, but we have been given to understand that our prayers are of assistance to such souls in Purgatory.
Hell is for the damned -- those who have refused God's offer of salvation to such an extent as to have closed themselves off to God's saving grace. This possibility has to be taken seriously due to Scripture's clear indications of the reality of Hell, and because free will implies the freedom to say NO to God. We do understand the fallen angels to be denizens of hell, as their NO was a complete and total rejection. It is different for humans. One reads on this and other boards of people who loved God, then were atheists, then into drugs, then new age, then back to Christ, then loving God, etc. We are a fickle species! But if you fickle around too long on the dark side, it may well be that your consciousness can become closed to the divine.
In short, God does not grant salvation to those who do not want it. But I am also sure that God finds a way to break through if there's the slightest possibility.
Moved Reply: Hey Pop-pop,
Thanks for the response. I appreciate your desire to please the Lord and defend his Church, and her doctrines and dogmas. I find you to be honest and well intentioned.
Where I struggle is that you automatically assume that anybody who deviates from your understanding of the scriptures is a false teacher, heretic or in bed with Satan.
Deception by Satan has been a long-standing concern of mine. Since I desire to please the Lord, and spend eternity worshiping and serving Him, I have been ever suspicious of being deceived by the "appearance of an angel of Light". It has been one of the main motivators in my constant research and exploration of the wide realms of Christianity.
There was a time where I was convinced that Phil and others like him had come under the deception of Satan because Kundalini seemed to me to be the great equalizer of all religions and negated the need for Christ and the Church.
At times I have been concerned to become involved with Roman Catholics or Charismatics, or Eastern Orthodox, or NIV Bible readers, or (fill in group of choice), because I was worried that I would be deceived by their teachings and that my salvation was at risk.
But over time I realized that Phil just keeps loving Jesus, even if I don't agree with everything he says, and those NIV Bible readers seems to love Him too, and the Orthodox have some awesome theology that challenges and excites me, even if I don't buy into everything they say, and Kundalini seems to exist in people who continue to love and serve Christ and so maybe I need to reconsider that too etc. etc.
But in the end what that did was it brought me into a place in which I needed to listen to others and not judge them because they were saying things that contradicted my current interpretation of truth.
Take Universal Salvation for example. It appears I have struck a really sensitive nerve with this one.
I'd like to say first off that I'm not a Unitarian or Universalist. Over the years I've considered various positions on Hell.
The Orthodox for example believe that Heaven and Hell will exist in the same place. That God's presence will fill all in all, but that sinners will experience that presence as Hell because they refuse to accept it as the Love that it really is (1 Cor 15:28).
Some Christians believe that Hell is a metaphor for eternal destruction or annihilation - since many of the hell texts speak of eternal destruction (once something is destroyed how can there be anything left?) (2 Thess 1:9).
Some believe that even Satan and the fallen angels will eventually come to Christ (Since eventually ALL things will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil 2).
There are many other beliefs and ideas, including the traditional view of everlasting eternal torment.
I'm not saying that any one of these ideas is correct (or incorrect for that matter), only that they are ideas that Christians hold and that those Christians love Jesus and want other people to Love Him too.
I also don't think that removing the threat of eternal damnation removes the impetus to love and serve the Lord.
Even if I knew without a doubt that i wouldn't go to hell if I sinned, but I still knew that my sin hurt and disappointed God, I would strive to be sin free.
In both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions there have been those who have held to the POSSIBILITY of universal reconciliation of all things. That is not to say that they taught it as a definite fact, but that they held it to be an Orthodox HOPE.
Though you say that websites with long Greek words hold no interest to you, I do think it would help for you to consider the fact that your English translation is not the original document and that the word eternal in your English bible may not be the ONLY way to interpret the word. This does not hold only for discussions on Hell, but other words, translations and doctrines as well.
But again...I'm not trying to mess with tradition or change dogmas. I'm just trying to remain true to what I felt was the leading of the Holy Spirit in accepting people like Phil, NIV Bible readers, Eastern Orthodox, Charismatics and the rest of the landscape of Christians who love Jesus.
But in order to accept them I had to allow for other interpretations of things I thought I already knew and understood. I had to challenge my preconceived ideas, allow a little grace and withhold my judgments.
I'm not saying there is no hell, but I am saying that we need to be careful about prescribing our view and interpretations on the whole of Christendom and assuming that we have the right interpretation.
I respect that you also rely heavily on the teachings of the CoCC. There was a time when I thought that the CoCC was deception and trickery on the part of Satan to draw away unwary disciples of Christ. Of course I no longer think this, but I still don't think that the CoCC is 100% right and infallible.
I respect that you may think of it as infallible but here we may have to disagree. I have seen the Holy Spirit working too far afield to believe that one group holds infallible truth. The RCC once considered all Protestants, Eastern Orthodox and disciples of other religions as damned. I understand that that position is now nuanced and interpreted in a slightly different light. I understand how I as a Protestant fit into the boat of RC Salvation since Vatican II. But likewise I hold a view in which Catholics and Protestants and many others fit into God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ...we may disagree but I'm not angry about that or upset with you for believing differently to me.
Hey Phil, if we take the whole argument of whether or not the verse by Christ is "The Kingdom of Heaven is (within you) or (Amongst you)" ...in context of the broader scope of what Christ said we can find much more evidence for going within and an Inner realm.
Matthew 13:33 & Luke 13:20 (The Leaven bread parable)(Paraphrased) The kingdom of Heaven is like Leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal....
Mathew 13:31, Mark 4:31, Luke 13:18 (Mustard seed parable: Paraphrased) Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which initially is buried in the earth. Eventually Grows so big, its a perch for birds. (From the tiniest comes the greatest)
Mathew 6:22 & Luke 11:34 "If Thine eye be Single, they whole body be filled with Light" This is something I have experienced (An inner eye that was filled with Light) Meister Eckhart also said that "The Same Eye that I see God with, is the same Eye that God see's me with." This would involve going within, knowing or studying self, to find this single eye within.
II Conrinthians 3:15,16:...the veil is upon their heart. When they shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away."
Ephesians 3:16 "I pray that out of his Glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
Matthew 13:44 "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field; that which when a man found, he hid, and for joy went and sold all that he had and bought that field"
For myself, the following really hits hit home as far as context for the "amongst you" vs "within you" debate:
Luke 11:52: Woe unto you, Lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered"
If we take all the verses above and keep in mind all the posts on this forum that include inner experiences add to that the testimonies of the saints/monks/mystics/hermits, it really does point more toward "within you" as opposed to "amongst you".
Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" is also extremely interesting and brings many philosophical questions up for discussion. When Jesus said this on the Sermon of the Mount, all the people in the crowd where still Jews, many without the Holy Spirit. So the question goes, is Matthew 5:8 a perennial wisdom statement applicable to all? Or is it only for those who become Christians with the Holy Spirit and Ego death.
There also many other references in the Bible of purifying the heart, veils over it, and so forth, all of which require much inner work.
Right, I've heard it used as support and evidence that enlightenment is the highest spiritual state, that Jesus was touting nonduality and we, too, can discover this inner Kingdom/nonduality. Well, if that's all Jesus meant by God's Kingdom, we certainly wouldn't need Christ's death and Resurrection, Pentecost, etc!
What is starkly missing is the consideration of *all the other Kingdom parables* that our Lord used to speak of our journey to God! These other parables are about using good judgement, discerning good from evil, being alert, avoiding temptations to self-destruction, reverently investing our gifts, being the least, and overall submitting our will to God! None of which can be easily accomplished through a facile (to borrow a favorite from Johnboy)interpretation of "the Kingdom of heaven is within you."
We have to be so careful don't we, not to allow our extraordinary supernatural experiences, whether procured or graced, understood through pop or scholastic circles, to cause us to deny good judgment in seeking God's Will. The Will of God doesn't tend to figure largely in Wilbur's teachings, does it?
I'm really grateful that you've taken the time to write your reflections. I find myself resonating very much with what you've shared above. I was one of those folk severely burned by my arrogant pursuit of supernatural knowledge and experience.
The fallen angels with extraordinary beauty and intellect, the Prince of the Air as *ruler* of this world...easy to forget how vulnerable we can be as human creatures.
Moved Reply: Dominicus, those are all good quotes and references to Jesus' emphasis on God's inner presence and the importance of inner transformation. Maybe you didn't see another of my posts below the snippet you were replying to.
Shasha has echoed this concern about overly emphasizing the message of Jesus in terms of inner transformation. He spoke about many other topics as well, as she noted -- especially, relationships.
In two forums on this board (Growing in Christ, and Come Holy Spirit), we've had good discussions on how Jesus is present to us interiorly through the Holy Spirit, and also through a personal relationship with him, or through the medium of community, sacrament and cosmos. So he IS indeed present within us and in so many other ways as well.
As for the meaning of entos and Jesus' intent in his teaching, I'll leave that one to the scripture scholars to sort out.
Yeah I agree, Wilbur has taken on his teachings to be more Universal and married to Science, Philosophy, psychology, etc. I think Wilbur has some key points he's making that do help in our walk with Christ, but in Wilbur's stuff, where is Christ?
I still have a hard time with "Christ is the Only Way" to be honest. I remembered myself to have pre-existed and being in that state without Sin. In this body I am now, I have definitely sinned and have had to deal with that, which was by repenting and accepting the Lord as Savior. However, I experientially take myself to be a Spiritual Being in a human shell, human world, simply passing through.
However there are many unresolved questions: God creates billions of people, who come to a place where everyone sins, are doomed from birth to hell from sin, and the only way they make it out is to chose Jesus. Then we have to look at History, all the people that have existed prior to Christianity. We have to look at bias/brainwashing/programming in the example that many people based on their cultural upbringing will, by default, be raised in religions other that those that are Christ based. Their parents will ingrain in them Islam, or Judaism, etc. So all these billions of people are doomed because on this planet the odds are not very good that most will come to Christ, let alone the Christians that will really in their hearts choose Christ and be transformed as even in scripture(Mathew 7:21-23 Jesus says And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’” I myself have witness window-shoppers and luke warm Christians who eventually leave "The Way/The Path."
If we say these odds are not that great to be saved from doom and eternal hell, then I myself would wished to never have been born, knowing the odds are against me. I have sat for hours on end praying in repentance that it would have better not have been born, than to be born and have sinned against God. Furthermore, I would wish that people stop re-producing adding to the terrible odds that most face.
Also my own philosophy, based on the above mentioned argument, would be also to not myself have any Children, because as much I can bring them up in a Christ based house-hold, once they reach an age of reason & logic, university, etc ...there so much in the world that can convince them to not walk with or choose Christ. So would I ever risk having children knowing that the odds are not 100% that they will be with me in heaven? No way jose, not worth the risk.
Don't get me wrong, I myself am a Christian, Love God and see Jesus as my savior, best friend, Mystical teacher, and I bow in humbleness to his Divinity. But there are core philosophical questions that really need to be addressed for some folks. Being a former Atheist & knowing of militant Atheist groups, they have field days with these type of ponderings and there are many folks who leave Christianity due to these militants who for fun, surf Christian message boards to try and knock "atheistic reason/logic" into them in hopes of making them leave the flock. And many do so because of these types of arguments.
In my sake, my direct spiritual experiences from getting Baptized completely solidified in me that beyond a doubt God is real, Christ existed, and there is an after life and Spiritual realm. It crumbled all previous doubts into a million pieces. I have Scriptural support that the things I experienced are backed by the good word, but also the good word says "The Word killeth, and the Spirit Giveth Life." .
The Bible is a pointer on how to have a relationship with Jesus & God. The Bible itself isnt God. Some fail to see that and we see all types of atrocities caused by Religion, in the name of God, in the name of the Bible that seriously disgusts me and gives power to Atheism to convince others not to go to Christ. So the Bible is inspired God, but so is the Philokalia(Eastern Orthodoxy), the writings of the Desert Fathers, the teachings of our Faiths' Mystics, etc. We also, our experiences, have words inspired by God.
In my example I have been shifted into a naked timeless, boundless, Now which helps me to be like a rock and not let things get to me. On this rock, exists an island of Love, reverence, & awe for God and the things of Christ.(That was my God inspired insight). And these insights help many. When I first underwent my Mystical experiences, I got kicked out of Evangelical Christianity, the Catholic Priests had no idea, & eventually someone pointed me into the direction of Orthodox monks who finally told me I'm undergoing the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God and put me on to St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart, all of whom have been my life jackets over the last decade, in trying to understand all the changes I have been going through and my longing for Union w/ God (the details of which I could never find in a literal catholic/evangelical/western interpretation of the Bible)
All things have there place and there is still much to be discussed.
Moved Reply: Just a reminder, folks: it's Wilber, not Wilbur.
Dominicus, you wrote:
We had an exchange above about universal salvation and Christ's reach beyond Christianity. You might check that out. It seems you're operating out of what we call an "exclusivist Christology," which is one way to understand how Christ works, but it's not how Catholicism or the mainline Protestant churches understand things (inclusivist Christology(.
- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theology_of_religions for a good summary of these positions.
You've mentioned your experience of "pre-existence" several times now, and it seems that this made a deep impression on you. I take your experience of this seriously, and believe what you may have been given to see was the truth of Jer. 1:5: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." It may be that the soul is something of a "seed" in God before it is planted in the zygote in the womb of the one who will be its mother. The Church has condemned the doctrine of pre-existianism as heretical because it ultimately denies the fundamental unity of a human being as body-and-soul. Some of your comments above suggest as much, but those seem to be interpretations of your experience that you might consider re-thinking. E.g., while it is true that the soul is a "spiritual being," it doesn't follow that the body is just a "shell" or some kind of random vehicle or bio-spacesuit for the soul to have a "human experience." Remember, when Christ is raised, his body is raised with him, thus demonstrating that the body is an essential and indispensable part of human nature and the soul's exercise of its spirituality. Without a body, all you have is this simple, non-reflective awareness -- an undeveloped seed, as mentioned above. With a body, the soul can develop its consciousness and become what God has created it to be: in your case, a human being. So Catholicism parts ways with the statement, "I am a spiritual being having a human experience," as though one could just as well be a Klingon, Vulcan, or Antarian in another life. Maybe that soul seed had some kind of choice about what kind of soil it would be sown into, but after that, your destiny proceeds as a member of that species.
(Just to pre-emptively respond to a possible objection someone might venture, here: no, I do not believe in reincarnation. We've already had an extensive discussion of that on this board.)
Oh, please do not not let that kind of thinking keep you from having children. God took the risk to bring forth the creation, and the odds are stacked strongly in God's favor if you bring them up in a loving environment and see to it that they have good, sound religious formation.
Moved Reply: I agree with a lot of what you said above Phil. The final Christian hope is not for a disembodied existence in heaven, but for a resurrected body living with God on the New Earth. Our bodies are fundamental to our existence as beings and a vital part of who we are...we won't spend eternity without it.
That's because you're an anonymous Catholic!
Moved Reply: Hahahaha, loved that. You make me smile Phil
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