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Scholars: Heaven, hell, meaningless to most Americans
Vivificat! - A Catholic Blog of Commentary and Opinion ^ | 29 July 2006 | Teˇfilo

Posted on 07/29/2006 10:01:26 AM PDT by Teˇfilo

The root of the problem is that we deny the reality of sin in our lives.

The solution: a return to the Apostolic kerygma.

Folks, AP via the Wichita Eagle reports that The way American Christians conceive of the afterlife is almost meaningless, scholars say. This is an excerpt:

Belief in hell is going to you-know-where. And belief in heaven is in trouble, too.

That's the concern of some Christian thinkers, including Jeffrey Burton Russell, an emeritus professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of the new book "Paradise Mislaid: How We Lost Heaven and How We Can Regain It" (Oxford, $28).

Russell and other fretters aren't impressed by fads like the sudden popularity of the girl's name Nevaeh (heaven spelled backward) or polls that show most Americans believe in some sort of heaven.

The growing problem, according to Russell and others, is that the way U.S. Christians conceive of both heaven and hell is so feeble and vague that it's almost meaningless -- vague "superstition."

It's "not that heaven is deteriorating," he says. "But we are."

Gallup reported in 2004 that 81 percent of Americans believed in heaven and 70 percent in hell. An earlier Gallup Poll said 77 percent of ever-optimistic Americans rated their odds of making heaven as "good" or "excellent." Few saw themselves as hellbound.

"The percentage who say they believe in heaven has remained pretty constant the past 50 years, but what people mean by it has changed an awful lot," Russell said .

Some people are so confused they believe in heaven but not God --"I suppose a New Age thing," Russell said.

But if today's notion of paradise is off base, and sentimental images of clouds, harps and cherubs are the stuff of magazine cartoons, then what's the best way to think of heaven?

Read the entire piece here.

Commentary. Foggy notions of Heaven and Hell--and Purgatory--are not exclusive of Protestant fuzzy thinking. The numbers indicate that Catholics mirror the mainstream's view on the subject. Heck, in most instances, Catholics are the mainstream.

The confusion does not exist due to a lack of formal and/or explicit Church teaching on the issue of the "Last Things." From the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the Catholic Encyclopedia, we find the explicit, de fide teaching of the Church on the Last Things. The problem is that the teaching is too uncomfortable for most of us to hear and for the teachers of the Church to preach on or to expound.

Ms. Barbara Kralis has correctly diagnosed the illness at the root of this illness: a denial of the reality of sin. She didn't hold back any punches:

One useful illustration of this confusion is the bad model some Church hierarchy gives to the faithful laity. What is most excruciating are Catholic bishops allowing the reception of Holy Communion by persons persistently, obstinately and manifestly living in mortal sin. Sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion under the guise of ‘keeping peace among humans,’ albeit a false peace, leads the confused and scandalized laity to question the Church’s Divine Laws, asking,

"Why should we acknowledge and confess our sins when evil legislators are allowed to receive the Eucharist each Sunday, even at the bishops’ own Cathedrals? Does this mean God isn’t offended by sin anymore?"

...To add to the confusion, many of our clergy speak to us only of a loving, forgiving Jesus and not of the ‘just’ Jesus who will be our Adjudicator at our ‘dies irae’ – our Day of Judgment [or wrath].

If there is no sin, there is no need for the Sacrament of Confession. If there is no need for Confession, then, as the modernists teach, there is no hell and everyone goes merrily to heaven.

Nothing is distorted and twisted more today than the teaching of ‘universalism.’ In many places, we hear that everyone is saved, that everyone who dies goes to heaven. This is the result of our denying our sins and it is very difficult to resist this tempting flattery.

Please, read her entire piece here.

Bottom line is: we know what the problem is and we know what the solution is. The questio is: do we what the courage to enact the solution?

What's the solution again? The solution is for preachers and teachers to return to the ancient kerygmatic of the Church. What does kerygma mean? "Kerygma" ("kay-roog-ma", the first 'a' is long and the last 'a' is short) is the Greek word used in the New Testament for preaching. (Source: Wikipedia)

The ancient Christian kerygma as summarized by British scholar C. H. Dodd from Peter's speeches in the New Testament Book of Acts was:

Gino Concetti put it best when he wrote:
... If Christian life is to be renewed, preaching must be renewed, and before being concerned about method, there must be attention to content Scripture is the first source to be approached. The content is the Paschal Christ, crucified and risen for the salvation of man. This was the content of the kerygma of the Apostles and of the early Church. Evidently the mystery of Christ cannot be separated from man because Christ died for the salvation of man.(Source: EWTN)
Those responsible for preaching must renew their preaching by drinking in the waters of the original proclamation of the Apostles. Only then will we be able to rescue the sense of our sinfulness and with it, the right understanding of the realities of Death, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.


TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Theology
KEYWORDS:
Blunders. Typos. Mine.
1 posted on 07/29/2006 10:01:27 AM PDT by Teˇfilo
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To: Salvation; NYer; Nihil Obstat; mileschristi; rrstar96

PING!


2 posted on 07/29/2006 10:02:33 AM PDT by Teˇfilo (Visit Vivificat! - http://www.vivificat.org - A Catholic Blog of News, Commentary and Opinion)
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To: Teˇfilo
Scholars: Heaven, hell, meaningless to most Americans

Well, I think that's usually the case until it's too late.

3 posted on 07/29/2006 10:30:25 AM PDT by InvisibleChurch (No.... wire .... hangers!)
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To: Teˇfilo
"...then what's the best way to think of heaven?"
Elysium, n. An imaginary delightful country which the ancients foolishly believed to be inhabited by the spirits of the good. This ridiculous and mischievous fable was swept from the face of the earth by the early Christians - may their souls be happy in Heaven!
Ambrose Bierce
4 posted on 07/29/2006 10:57:36 AM PDT by GSlob
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To: InvisibleChurch

Most churches today do not even believe in the ten commandments. So what else is new?


5 posted on 07/29/2006 11:03:48 AM PDT by tessalu
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To: GSlob

What is sin, anyway? It is the trangression of the law.


6 posted on 07/29/2006 11:05:02 AM PDT by tessalu
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To: Teˇfilo
***Foggy notions of Heaven and Hell--and Purgatory--are not exclusive of Protestant fuzzy thinking.***

The god* of most Americans is a somewhat senile grandfather who likes to hand out gifts and sees sin as more of a mistake than an affront to his holiness. There is no room for the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Issac in the church of easy believism.

*That's right, with a little g.

7 posted on 07/29/2006 11:07:15 AM PDT by Gamecock ("Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable." Robert Farrar Capon)
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To: tessalu
'What is sin, anyway? It is the trangression of the law."
It could be the feeling of regret at the opportunuity missed...
8 posted on 07/29/2006 11:08:04 AM PDT by GSlob
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To: GSlob

opportunuity=opportunity. Adjacent keys.


9 posted on 07/29/2006 11:08:55 AM PDT by GSlob
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To: Teˇfilo
Those responsible for preaching must renew their preaching
by drinking in the waters of the original proclamation of the Apostles.
Only then will we be able to rescue the sense of our sinfulness and with it,
the right understanding of the realities of Death, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

I would amend that from "the Apostles" to Y'shua
( YHvH is our salvation) and following G-d's Law as Y'shua us commanded in

John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
b'shem Y'shua
10 posted on 07/29/2006 11:26:30 AM PDT by Uriĺel-2012 (Isaiah 26:4 Trust in YHvH forever, because YHvH is the Rock eternal.)
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To: XeniaSt
First, recurring to Hebrew expressions to justify doctrinal positions does not necessarily lead to authentic statements of Christian belief. There's no need to Hebraize everything to make a doctrinal point. Regarding the appeal to "the Apostles," these quotes are also relevant:
"Before we go much further, let us define what is meant by khrugma. Kerygma is a Greek noun meaning a “message” or a “proclamation.” Attic Greek used the word especially in relation to “a herald or public crier” and that it implies a carrier of the message – the Apostles in the case of the New Testament[1]. It is public in nature; Pershbacher uses the phrases “public annunciation” and “public inculcation” in his definition. Arndt & Gingrich underscore the aspect of preaching, and this is in accordance with English translations of the Bible: the KJV, NAS, and NIV render kerygma as “preaching” 83% of the time. Although kerygma means generically a proclamation of any sort, in the New Testament it is always used to describe the Gospel. (Source, emphasis mine)
Also,
Paul himself at least believed that in essentials his Gospel was that of the primitive apostles; for although in Gal. i. ii-i8 he states with emphasis that he did not derive it from any human source, nevertheless in the same epistle (ii. z) he says that he submitted "the Gospel which I preach" to Peter, James and John at Jerusalem, and that they gave their approval. Not only so, but in the locus classicus, i Cor. xv. i sqq., he expressly declares that this summary of the Gospel is what he had "received" as tradition; and after referring to other witnesses to the facts, including Peter, James, and "all the apostles," he adds with emphasis, "Whether I or they, it was thus that we preached, and thus that you believed." (Source)
Thus, the reference to "the Apostles" is completely consistent with the New Testament. It is always understood that the Good News originated from Jesus. The authors of the New Testament granted their audience that much common sense. The New Testament was not written to justify the Good News of Jesus, but to proclaim them, and to demonstrate the authority of the Apostles and their successors to preach them.

-Theo

11 posted on 07/29/2006 11:54:03 AM PDT by Teˇfilo (Visit Vivificat! - http://www.vivificat.org - A Catholic Blog of News, Commentary and Opinion)
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To: GSlob

I love Ambrose Bierce; he's one of the most underappreciated American writers of the last 150 years.


12 posted on 07/29/2006 12:26:28 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I've always wanted to be 40 ... and it's as good as I anticipated!)
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To: Teˇfilo
Thus, the reference to "the Apostles" is completely consistent with the New Testament. It is always understood that the Good News originated from Jesus. The authors of the New Testament granted their audience that much common sense. The New Testament was not written to justify the Good News of Jesus, but to proclaim them, and to demonstrate the authority of the Apostles and their successors to preach them.

1 Corinthians 1:22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,

1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

1 Corinthians 1:24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

b'shem Y'shua
13 posted on 07/29/2006 12:34:26 PM PDT by Uriĺel-2012 (Isaiah 26:4 Trust in YHvH forever, because YHvH is the Rock eternal.)
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To: GSlob; tessalu
'What is sin, anyway? It is the transgression of the law." It could be the feeling of regret at the opportunity missed...

Nope, tessalu is correct.... 1 John 3:4

14 posted on 07/29/2006 2:07:01 PM PDT by Diego1618
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To: Diego1618

As the song went, "don't bible at me, don't bible at me..."


15 posted on 07/29/2006 2:14:01 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: GSlob; Diego1618
"don't bible at me, don't bible at me..."

"Captain, to engage in discussion with the inhabitants of the FR Religion Forum and not expect to be bible'd would be - illogical."

16 posted on 07/29/2006 4:24:14 PM PDT by siunevada (If we learn nothing from history, what's the point of having one? - Peggy Hill)
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To: siunevada
Why, from Bacchus worshipers one would hope to get a few really good cocktail recipes!
17 posted on 07/29/2006 5:01:18 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: GSlob
from Bacchus worshippers

Dionysius say, "Buy and hold Australian varietal reds."

18 posted on 07/29/2006 5:25:37 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I've always wanted to be 40 ... and it's as good as I anticipated!)
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To: Tax-chick

Another repartee to the biblers, dating from [and based upon] Yaroslav Hasek, goes along the lines: "I'm afraid you have a mania developing. In a hospital you'll pretend to be Sts. Cyril and Methodius [variant: Cosmas and Damian] so as to get double dinner..."


19 posted on 07/31/2006 1:50:32 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: GSlob

That's cute, too! It's true one must expect Bible content on FR religion threads :=).


20 posted on 07/31/2006 2:15:46 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I've always wanted to be 40 ... and it's as good as I anticipated!)
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To: Tax-chick
Why, one could always claim that Bacchic and phallic worshipers on those threads could be a source of useful or amusing information...
21 posted on 07/31/2006 2:22:27 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: GSlob

Discussions on the Religion Forum must be kept clean and polite!

The mention of Bacchus reminds me that I need more Australian red wine, too :-).


22 posted on 07/31/2006 3:08:16 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I've always wanted to be 40 ... and it's as good as I anticipated!)
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To: Tax-chick

I'd recommend older Armenian brandies: pretty good and as smooth as the French [horribile dicti] cognacs at 2-3x the price.


23 posted on 07/31/2006 3:11:00 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: GSlob

I'm not a fan of brandy. My mother is in Romania right now; wonder what she's drinking!


24 posted on 07/31/2006 3:32:37 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I've always wanted to be 40 ... and it's as good as I anticipated!)
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