Skip to comments.Scholars: Heaven, hell, meaningless to most Americans
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.
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.Read the entire piece here.
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?
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 Churchs Divine Laws, asking,Please, read her entire piece here.
"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 isnt 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.
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:
- The Age of Fulfillment has dawned, the "latter days" foretold by the prophets.
- This has taken place through the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God as Messianic head of the new Israel.
- The Holy Spirit in the church is the sign of Christ's present power and glory.
- The Messianic Age will reach its consummation in the return of Christ.
- An appeal is made for repentance with the offer of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and salvation.
... 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.
Well, I think that's usually the case until it's too late.
Most churches today do not even believe in the ten commandments. So what else is new?
What is sin, anyway? It is the trangression of the law.
*That's right, with a little g.
opportunuity=opportunity. Adjacent keys.
I would amend that from "the Apostles" to Y'shua b'shem 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.
"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. 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.
I love Ambrose Bierce; he's one of the most underappreciated American writers of the last 150 years.
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 mans wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than mans strength.
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 mans wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than mans strength.
Nope, tessalu is correct.... 1 John 3:4
As the song went, "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."
Dionysius say, "Buy and hold Australian varietal reds."
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..."
That's cute, too! It's true one must expect Bible content on FR religion threads :=).
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 :-).
I'd recommend older Armenian brandies: pretty good and as smooth as the French [horribile dicti] cognacs at 2-3x the price.
I'm not a fan of brandy. My mother is in Romania right now; wonder what she's drinking!