Skip to comments.The Doctrine of Purgatory
Posted on 01/29/2007 6:45:51 AM PST by stfassisi
The Doctrine of Purgatory by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
God created man that he might possess his Creator forever in the beatific vision. Those who die in the state of enmity toward God are deprived of this happiness. Between these extremes are people who are neither estranged from God nor wholly dedicated to Him when they die. What will be their lot after death?
The response of faith is that nothing defiled can enter heaven (Rev 21:27), and therefore anyone less than perfect must first be cleansed before he can be admitted to the vision of God.
If this doctrine of Catholicism is less strenuously opposed than the one on hell, over the centuries it has nevertheless become something of a symbol of Rome. Historically, the Reformation was occasioned by a dispute over indulgences, with stress on indulgences for the souls in purgatory. Since that time, the existence of an intermediate state between earth and heaven has remained a stumbling block to reunion and its final acceptance by the Protestant churches would mean a reversal of four hundred years of divergence.
Too often the eschatology of the Catholic Church is considered her own private domain, when actually the whole of Eastern Orthodoxy subscribes (substantially) to Catholic teaching on the Last Things, including the doctrine on purgatory.
Those in Purgatory When we speak of the souls of the just in purgatory we are referring to those that leave the body in the state of sanctifying grace and are therefore destined by right to enter heaven. Their particular judgment was favorable, although conditional: provided they are first cleansed to appear before God. The condition is always fulfilled.
The poor souls in purgatory still have the stains of sin within them. This means two things. First, it means that the souls have not yet paid the temporal penalty due, either for venial sins, or for mortal sins whose guilt was forgiven before death. It may also mean the venial sins themselves, which were not forgiven either as to guilt or punishment before death. It is not certain whether the guilt of venial sins is strictly speaking remitted after death, and if so, how the remission takes place.
We should also distinguish between the expiatory punishments that the poor souls in purgatory pay and the penalties of satisfaction which souls in a state of grace pay before death. Whereas before death a soul can cleanse itself by freely choosing to suffer for its sins, and can gain merit for this suffering, a soul in purgatory can not so choose and gains no merit for the suffering and no increase in glory. Rather, it is cleansed according to the demands of Divine Justice.
We are not certain whether purgatory is a place or a space in which souls are cleansed. The Church has never given a definite answer to this question. The important thing to understand is that it is a state or condition in which souls undergo purification.
The Catholic practice of offering prayers and sacrifices for the dead is known as offering suffrages. These suffrages are offered both by the individuals and by the Church. They are intended to obtain for the poor soul, either partial or total remission of punishment still to be endured.
Who are the faithful that can pray effectively for the poor souls? They are primarily all baptized Christians but may be anyone in a state of grace. At least the state of grace is probably necessary to gain indulgences for the dead.
The angels and saints in heaven can also help these souls in purgatory and obtain a mitigation of their pains. When they do so, the process is not by way of merit or of satisfaction, but only through petition. A study of the Churchs official prayers reveals that saints and the angelic spirits are invoked for the Church Suffering (i.e., those in purgatory), but always to intercede and never otherwise.
Contrary Views Since patristic times there have been many who have denied the existence of purgatory and have claimed it is useless to pray for the dead. Arius, a fourth-century priest of Alexandria who claimed that Christ is not God, was a prime example. In the Middle Ages, the Albigenses, Waldenses, and Hussites all denied the existence of purgatory. Generally, the denial by these different groups of heretics was tied in with some theoretical position on grace, or merit, or the Churchs authority. But until the Reformation, there was no major reaction to Catholic doctrine on the existence of purgatory.
With the advent of the Reformers, every major Protestant traditionthe Reformed (Calvinist), Evangelical (Lutheran), Anglican (Episcopal), and Free Church (Congregational)took issue with Roman Catholicism to disclaim a state of purification between death and celestial glory.
John Calvin set the theological groundwork for the disclaimer, which he correctly recognized to be a part of the Protestant idea that salvation comes from grace alone in such a way that it involves no human cooperation:
We should exclaim with all our might, that purgatory is a pernicious fiction of Satan, that it makes void the cross of Christ, that it intolerably insults the Divine Mercy, and weakens and overturns our faith. For what is their purgatory, but a satisfaction for sins paid after death by the souls of the deceased? Thus the notion of satisfaction being overthrown, purgatory itself is immediately subverted from its very foundation. It has been fully proved that the blood of Christ is the only satisfaction, expiation, and purgation for the sins of the faithful. What, then, is the necessary conclusion but that purgation is nothing but a horrible blasphemy against Christ? I pass by the sacrilegious pretences with which it is daily defended, the offences which it produces in religion, and the other innumerable evils which we see to have come from such a source of impiety. Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, 5. Calvins strictures have been crystallized in the numerous Reformed Confessions of Faith, like the Westminster Confession of the Presbyterian Church. Prayer is to be made, says the Confession, for things lawful, and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter; but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death (Chapter XXI, Section 4).
In the Augsburg Confession of the Lutheran churches, it is stated that the Mass is not a sacrifice to remove the sins of others, whether living or dead, but should be a Communion in which the priest and others receive the sacrament for themselves (Chapter XXIV, The Mall).
The Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Communion, which in the United States is the Protestant Episcopal Church, are equally clear. They place the existence of purgatory in the same category with image worship and invocation of the saints:
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well as images of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God. (Article XXII). Standard formularies of the Free Church tradition simply omit mention of purgatory from their Confessions of Faith, with a tendency in the United Church of Christ towards universalism. Thus life everlasting is univocally equated with blessedness, the never-ending life of the soul with God, which means the triumph of righteousness (in) the final victory of good over evil, which must come because God wills it (Christian Faith and Purpose: A Catechism, Boston, p. 21).
A fine testimony to the ancient faith in purgatory occurs in the authoritative Confession of Dositheus, previously referred to. This creed of the Orthodox Church was produced by a synod convened in Jerusalem in 1672 by Patriarch Dositheus. The occasion for the creed was Cyril Lucaris, who had been elected Patriarch of Alexandria in 1602 and of Constantinople in 1621, Lucaris was strongly influenced by Protestantism and especially by Reformed theology. His Protestant predilections aroused the opposition of his own people. He was finally strangled by the Turks, who thought he was guilty of treason.
The Confession of Dositheus defines Orthodoxy over against Protestantism. It is the most important Orthodox confession of modern times:
We believe that the souls of those that have fallen asleep are either at rest or in torment, according to each hath wrought. For when they are separated from their bodies, they depart immediately either to joy or to sorrow and lamentation; though confessedly neither their enjoyment nor condemnation are complete. For, after the common resurrection, when the soul shall be united with the body, with which it had behaved itself well or ill, each shall receive the completion of either enjoyment or of condemnation. Such as though involved in mortal sins have not departed in despair but have, while still living in the body, repented, though without bringing any fruits of repentance---by pouring forth tears, by kneeling while watching in prayers, by afflicting themselves, by relieving the poor, and in find by showing forth by their works their love towards God and their neighbor, and which the Catholic Church hath from the beginning rightly called satisfactionof these and such like the souls depart into Hades, and there endure the punishment due to their sins which they have committed. But they are aware of their future release from thence, and are delivered by the Supreme Goodness through the prayers of the priests and the good works which the relative of each perform for their departedespecially the unbloody Sacrifice availing the highest degreewhich each offers particularly for his relatives that have fallen asleep, and which the Catholic and Apostolic Church offers daily for all alike. It is not known, of course, when they will be released. We know and believe that there is deliverance for them from their dire condition, before the common resurrection and judgment, but we do not know when. (Decree XVII). An unexpected development in contemporary Episcopalianism is the verbal admission of Article XXII of the Thirty-nine Articles alongside a belief in prayers for the dead sanctioned by the American Book of Common Prayer. Among others, one oration reads: O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered, accept our prayers on behalf of the soul of thy servant, and grant him (her) an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints (p. 34). Masses for the faithful departed are also offered in the High Church Episcopalianism.
Biblical Elements of Purgatory The Definition of the Catholic Church on the existence of purgatory is derived from Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition, which Christ promised would enable the Church to interpret Scripture without error. In particular, the Church relied on the writings of the early Fathers in defining this article of faith.
The classic text in the Old Testament bearing witness to the belief of the Jewish people in the existence of a state of purgation where souls are cleansed before entering heaven is found in the Book of Maccabees. Judas Maccabeus (died 161 BC) was a leader of the Jews in opposition to Syrian dominance, and Hellenizing tendencies among his people. He resisted a Syrian army and renewed religious life by rededicating the temple; the feast of Hanukkah celebrates this event.
In context, Judas had just completed a successful battle against the Edomites and was directing the work of gathering up the bodies of the Jews who had fallen in battle. As the bodies were picked up, it was found that every one of the deceased had, under his shirt, amulets of the idols of Jamnia, which the Law forbade the Jews to wear. Judas and his men concluded that this was a divine judgment against the fallen, who died because they had committed this sin of disobedience. The sacred writer describes what happened next:
So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that are hidden and fell to supplication, begging that the sin that had been committed should be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, after having seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took a collection, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, each man contributing, and sent it to Jerusalem, to provide a sin offering, acting very finely and properly in taking account of the resurrection. For if he had not expected that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead; or if it was through reward destined for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be set free from their sin (2 Mac 12:42-46). The Maccabean text shows that Judas, and the Jewish priests and people believed that those who died in peace could be helped by prayers and sacrifices offered by the living. Luther denied the canonicity of seven books of the Old Testament (the Deuterocanonical books), including the two books of Maccabees. But even if the text were not inspired, as an authentic witness to Jewish history in pre-Christian times it testifies to the common belief in a state of purgation after death and in the ability to help the faithful departed by prayers of intercession on their behalf. Jewish tradition since the time of Christ supports this view.
There are also certain passages in the New Testament that the Church commonly cites as containing evidence of the existence of purgatory. In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ warns the Pharisees that anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either in this world or in the next (Mt. 12:32). Here Christ recognizes that there exists a state beyond this world in which the penalty due for sins, which were pardoned as to guilt in the world, is forgiven. St. Paul also affirms the reality of purgatory. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he says that the fire will assay the quality of everyones work, and if his work burns he will lose his reward, but himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor 3:13, 15). These words clearly imply some penal suffering. Since he connects it so closely with the divine judgment, it can hardly be limited to suffering in this world, but seems to include the idea of purification through suffering after death, namely in Purgatory.
The Fathers on Purgatory During the first four centuries of the Christian era, the existence of purgatory was commonly taught in the Church, as seen in its universal practice of offering prayers and sacrifices for the dead.
The most ancient liturgies illustrate the custom in such prayers as the following: Let us pray for our brothers who have fallen asleep in Christ, that the God of the highest charity towards men, who has summoned the soul of the deceased, may forgive him all his sin and, rendered well-disposed and friendly towards him, may call him to the assembly of the living (Apostolic Constitutions, 8:41).
Equally ancient are the inscriptions found in the catacombs, which provide numerous examples of how the faithful offered prayers for their departed relatives and friends. Thus we read from engravings going back to the second century such invocations as Would that God might refresh your spirit .Ursula, may you be received by Christ .Victoria, may your spirit be at rest in good .Kalemir, may God grant peace to your spirit and that of your sister, Hildare Timothy, may the eternal life be yours in Christ.
Writers before Augustine explicitly teach that souls stained with temporal punishment due to sins are purified after death. St. Cyprian (died 258) taught that penitents who die before the Sacrament of Penance must perform the remainder of any atonement required in the other world, while martyrdom counts as full satisfaction (Epistola 55,20). St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) described the sacred rites of the Liturgy with the comment, Then we pray also for the dead, our holy fathers, believing that this will be a great help for the souls of those for whom the prayer is offered (Catechesis, 32).
St. Augustine not only presumed the existence of purgatory as a matter of divine faith, but also testified to this belief from the Scriptures. Among other statements, he said, Some believers will pass through a kind of purgatorial fire. In proportion as they loved the goods that perish with more or less devotion, they shall be more or less quickly delivered from the flames. He further declared that the deceased are benefited by the piety of their living friends, who offer the Sacrifice of the Mediator, or give alms to the Church on their behalf. But these services are of help only to those lives had earned such merit that suffrages of this could assist them. For there is a way of life that is neither so good as to dispense with these services after death, nor so bad that after death they are of not benefit (Enchiridion 69, 110).
Augustines most beautiful tribute to purgatory occurs in the book of his Confessions, where he describes the death of his mother Monica and recalls her final request, Lay this body anywhere at all. The care of it must not trouble you. This only I ask of you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you are. Augustine complied with his mothers desire and admits that he did not weep even in those prayers that were poured forth to Thee while the sacrifice of our redemption was offered for her (Confessions, IX, 11).
After the Patristic period, the Church did not significantly develop the doctrine of purgatory for many centuries. Then in the twelfth century, Pope Innocent IV (1243-54), building upon the writings of the Fathers, expounded in detail upon the doctrine. In context, Innocent was concerned with reuniting the Greek Church which had been in schism since the Photian scandal in the ninth century. He appealed to the Greeks belief in a state of purgation as a point of departure from which to bring them into communion with Rome. In a doctrinal letter to the apostolic delegate in Greece, he discussed the common belief:
It is said that the Greeks themselves unhesitatingly believe and maintain that the souls of those who do not perform a penance which they have received, or the souls of those who die free from mortal sins but with even the slightest venial sins, are purified after death and can be helped by the prayers of the Church. Since the Greeks say that their Doctors have not given them a definite and proper name for the place of such purification, We, following the tradition and authority of the holy Fathers, call that place purgatory; and it is our will that the Greeks use that name in the future. For sins are truly purified by that temporal fire---not grievous or capital sins which have not first been remitted by penance, but small and slight sins which remain a burden after death, if they have not been pardoned during life (DB, 456). The Second Council of Lyons, convened in 1274, used the teaching of Pope Innocent IV in its formal declaration on purgatory. This declaration stated:
If those who are truly repentant die in charity before they have done sufficient penance for their sins of omission and commission, their souls are cleansed after death in purgatorial or cleansing punishments The suffrages of the faithful on earth can be of great help in relieving these punishments, as, for instance, the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, almsgiving, and other religious deeds which, in the manner of the Church, the faithful are accustomed to offer for others of the faithful. The next major pronouncement by the Catholic Church regarding purgatory came shortly before the Council of Trent, from Pope Leo X who condemned a series of propositions of Martin Luther, including the following:
Purgatory cannot be proved from the Sacred Scripture which is the Canon. The souls in purgatory are not sure about their salvation, at least not all of them. Moreover, it has not been proved from reason or from the Scriptures that they are beyond the state of merit or of growing in charity (DB 777-778). The Council of Trent went further, including in the Decree on Justification an anathema of those who deny the debt of temporal punishment, remissible either in this life or in the next:
If anyone says that, after receiving the grace of justification the guilt of any repentant sinner is remitted and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such a way that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be paid, either in this life or in purgatory, before the gate to the kingdom of heaven can be opened: let him be anathema (DB 840). Fifteen years after the Decree on Justification, and shortly before its closing sessions, the Council of Trent issued a special Decree on Purgatory, as well as corresponding decrees on sacred images, invocation of the saints and indulgences. It was a summary statement that referred to the previous definition and that cautioned against some of the abuses that gave rise to the Protestant opposition:
The Catholic Church, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, in accordance with Sacred Scripture and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, has taught in the holy councils, and most recently in this ecumenical council, that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained there are helped by the prayers of the faithful, and especially by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar. Therefore, this holy council commands the bishops to be diligently on guard that the true doctrine about purgatory, the doctrine handed down from the holy Fathers and the sacred councils, be preached everywhere, and that Christians be instructed in it, believe it, and adhere to it. But let the more difficult and subtle controversies, which neither edify nor generally cause any increase of piety, be omitted from the ordinary sermons to the poorly instructed. Likewise, they should not permit anything that is uncertain or anything that appears to be false to be treated in popular or learned publications. And should forbid as scandalous and injurious to the faithful whatever is characterized by a kind of curiosity and superstition, or is prompted by motives of dishonorable gain (DB 983). Most recently, the Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Church renewed the teaching of previous councils on eschatology, including the doctrine of purgatory. This sacred Council, it declared, accepts with great devotion this venerable faith of our ancestors regarding this vital fellowship with our brethren who are in heavenly glory or who, having died, are still being purified .At the same time, in conformity with our own pastoral interests, we urge all concerned, if any abuses, excesses or defects have crept in here or there, to do what is in their power to remove or correct them, and to restore all things to a fuller praise of Christ and of God (Chapter VII, No. 51).
Meaning of the Doctrine Although not defined doctrine, it is certain that the essential pain in purgatory is the pain of loss, because the souls are temporarily deprived of the beatific vision.
Their suffering is intense on two counts: (1) the more something is desired, the more painful its absence, and the faithful departed intensely desire to possess God now that they are freed from temporal cares and no longer held down by the spiritual inertia of the body; (2) they clearly see that their deprivation was personally blameworthy and might have been avoided if only they had prayed and done enough penance during life.
However, there is no comparison between this suffering and the pains of hell. The suffering of purgatory is temporary and therefore includes the hope of one day seeing the face of God; it is borne with patience since the souls realize that purification is necessary and they do not wish to have it otherwise; and it is accepted generously, out of love for God and with perfect submission to His will.
Moreover, purgatory includes the pain of sense. Some theologians say that not every soul is punished with this further pain, on the premise that it may be Gods will to chastise certain people only with the pain of loss.
Theologically, there is less clarity about the nature of this pain of sense. Writers in the Latin tradition are quite unanimous that the fire of purgatory is real and not metaphorical. They argue from the common teaching of the Latin Fathers, of some Greek Fathers, and of certain papal statements like that of Pope Innocent IV, who spoke of a transitory fire (DB 456). Nevertheless, at the union council of Florence, the Greeks were not required to abandon the opposite opinion, that the fire of purgatory is not a physical reality.
We do not know for certain how intense are the pains in purgatory. St. Thomas Aquinas held that the least pain in purgatory was greater than the worst in this life. St. Bonaventure said the worst suffering after death was greater than the worst on earth, but the same could not be said regarding the least purgatorial suffering.
Theologians commonly hold, with St. Robert Bellarmine, that in some way the pains of purgatory are greater than those on earth. At least objectively the loss of the beatific vision after death, is worse than its non-possession now. But on the subjective side, it is an open question. Probably the pains in purgatory are gradually diminished, so that in the latter stages we could not compare sufferings on earth with the state of a soul approaching the vision of God.
Parallel with their sufferings, the souls also experience intense spiritual joy. Among the mystics, St. Catherine of Genoa wrote, It seems to me there is no joy comparable to that of the pure souls in purgatory, except the joy of heavenly beatitude. There are many reasons for this happiness. They are absolutely sure of their salvation. They have faith, hope and great charity. They know themselves to be in divine friendship, confirmed in grace and no longer able to offend God.
Although the souls in purgation perform supernatural acts, they cannot merit because they are no longer in the state of wayfarers, nor can they increase in supernatural charity. By the same token, they cannot make satisfaction, which is the free acceptance of suffering as compensation for injury, accepted by God on account of the dignity of the one satisfying. The sufferings in purgatory are imposed on the departed, without leaving them the option of free acceptance such as they had in mortal life. They can only make satis-passion for their sins, by patiently suffering the demand of Gods justice.
The souls in purgatory can pray, and, since impetration is the fruit of prayer, they can also impetrate. The reason is that impetration does not depend on strict justice as in merit, but on divine mercy. Moreover, the impetratory power of their prayers depends on their sanctity.
It is therefore highly probable that the poor souls can impetrate a relaxation of their own (certainly of other souls) sufferings. But they do not do this directly; only indirectly in obtaining from God the favor that the Church might pray for them and that prayers offered by the faithful might be applied to them.
However, it is not probable but certain that they can pray and impetrate on behalf of those living on earth. They are united with the Church Militant by charity in the Communion of Saints. At least two councils approved the custom of invoking the faithful departed. According to the Council of Vienne, they assist us by their suffrages. And in the words of the Council of Utrecht, We believe that they pray for us to God. St. Bellarmine wrote at length on the efficacy of invoking the souls in purgatory. The Church has formally approved the practice, as in the decree of Pope Leo XIII granting an indulgence for any prayer in which the intercession of the faithful departed is petitioned (Acta Sanctae Sedis, 1889-90, p. 743).
A Problem A major problem arises regarding the forgiveness of venial sins in a person who is dying in the state of grace. When and how are they remitted? Is the forgiveness before death? If so, by what right? What has the person done to deserve forgiveness, since it is not likely God would remove the guilt of sins that were not repented of. Or is it after death? But then how can this take place, since ex hypotesi the person can no longer merit or truly satisfy, but can only suffer to remove the reatus poenae.
According to one theory (Alexander of Hales), venial sins are always removed in this life through the grace of final perseverance, even without an act of contrition. Remission takes place in the very dissolution of body and soul, when concupiscence is also extinguished. Few theologians look on this opinion favorably, both because there is nothing in the sources to suggest that final perseverance remits guilt, and because everything indicates the need for some human counterpart in the remission of sin.
Others claim (e.g., St. Bonaventure) that forgiveness occurs in purgatory itself by a kind of accidental merit which allows for the removal of guilt and not only satispassion in virtue of Divine Justice. If anything, this theory is less probable than the foregoing because it presumes there is a possibility of merit after death.
Blessed Dun Scotus and the Franciscan school say the deletion takes place either in purgatory or at the time of death. If in purgatory, it is on the assumption that the expiating venial sins is nothing more than remitting the penalty they deserve; if at the time of death, it could be right at the moment the soul leaves the body or an instant after. In any case, Scotists postulate that remission occurs because of merits previously gained during life on earth. This position is not much favored because it seems to identify habitual sin with its penalty and claim that venial sins are remissible without subjective penance.
The most common explanation is that venial sins are remitted at the moment of death, through the fervor of a persons love of God and sorrow for his sins. For although a soul on leaving the body can no longer merit or make real satisfaction, it can retract its sinful past. Thus, it leaves its affection for sin and, without increasing in sanctifying grace or removing any penalty (as happens in true merit), it can have deleted the reatus culpai. The latter is incompatible with the exalted love of God possessed by a spirit that leaves the body in divine friendship but stained with venial faults.
I agree with you that the woman referred to is likely Eve, and I'm sure you realize that I (and likely others) don't agree with the road you traveled to arrive at the same destination.
"Obviously, if you adhere to Church dogma on the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary would never have needed to be born again."
But it does raise a thorny issue with which the early Church wrestled and was of divided mind about.
If Mary was conceived and born completely free of original sin, and never sinned thereafter, then she was also born free of the curse of Adam for that sin.
So, did she die?
Why would a woman born in the state of Eve, with NO stain of original sin, and no personal sin, die? Death was the curse, the corruption which entered the flesh BECAUSE OF original sin. Mary didn't have it. Logically, she should have been as immortal as Adam and Eve were before the fall, because she was unfallen.
The Church struggled with this for a long time.
Some said she died and was assumed bodily into heaven.
Others said she didn't die, but slept and was assumed.
Death is a punishment, a curse by God, for the corruption of original sin. A sinless Mary cannot logically have been doomed to die. She did not bear the contamination that would cause the curse to operate.
Unless of course God went ahead and killed her anyways, to be consistent, because the curse is on the whole world that all flesh must die.
If that's so, had Jesus not been crucified, he would have had to grow old and die.
In spite of being sinless.
It's a strange curse that God laid upon the earth.
And it raises another question: why did the dinosaurs die?
They were before men. And yet they killed and were killed, and they all died. Physical death cannot have entered the world with Adam and Eve. It had to already have been there.
Whatever "the death" is, in Genesis, it must be spiritual.
And yet that's not what God said. God said "die".
It's a conundrum that really cannot be answered logically. Which is why we mustn't take Genesis literally or it damages faith.
Jesus said that the whole Old Testament meant love your neighbor as yourself, and love God above all. That's what GOD meant by it. Maybe we should condense all of that morass of history and writing into those two sentences and focus on them, because we end up in terrible bash traps if we go literal with Genesis.
In which case, you just destroyed all of Scripture. There are a lot ex Christians who decided that believing in God being born of a woman is not logical.
And it isn't. It doesn't conform to our everyday reality. So if "logic" is the reason to ignore Genesis, why not ignore the Gospels as well? Since they are not very logical.
I agree. Part of faith is the acceptance of things that are on the surface quite illogical. Here are a couple to ponder:
- Why did God simply decide to punish Satan in the Garden of Eden, why not just destroy him right then and there?
- Why did Jesus have to come and be crucified for our sins? Couldn't God have simply forgiven them?
- Why did God seem to give us things "piecemeal"? Why did He make a Covenant with Noah, then a new one with Moses? Then the Lord came and gave us His New Covenant, yet He will still have to return again.
Obviously, there are a great many things that do not make sense, but we accept them on faith.
Please visit that site--it is meant as parody--and not a Catholic site.
They also sell various Jesus Bobbleheads, including a Football Jesus Bobblehead-- Do you think that's amusing as well? Or do you draw the line at Our Lord?
"In which case, you just destroyed all of Scripture."
No, I didn't.
Jesus said that parts of the Old Testament are Jewish tradition and not from God.
Jesus didn't "destroy Scripture" by pointing to pieces of it that aren't from God.
He explained it. He explained God's PURPOSE in inspiring it.
In fact, he said so directly, in the Gospels.
He said 'Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. That is the Law and the Prophets.'
"The Law and The Prophets" is Jewish speak (Torah and Nevi'im) which means the most sacred parts of the TaNaKh, what Christians call the "Old Testament".
Jesus told us, right there, what GOD meant with all of that inspired text. He summarized it into moral and spiritual rules. He corrected the Torah in a few places, striking down nettlesome traditions or pointing out where it was wrong. And then he gave a set of principles and actions to live a godly life.
Jesus told us what Scripture - Old Testament Scripture - meant to God. And he told us what it DIDN'T mean in some parts.
He didn't destroy Scripture by doing that. He perfected and explained it.
But WE can destroy Scripture by setting it up for a fall.
Genesis contradicts itself in key places, as do other parts of Scripture. If we read Scripture not like Jesus taught - for the moral - but as literal history, we end up having it blow itself up in the first few paragraphs, but presenting a hopeless conflict right off. For starters, we have no death until Adam and Eve, but we have the green plants being eaten, so we have death, of plants anyway.
Were there WHALES on the ark? Or were they in the rising seas? Whales and dolphins have "the breath of life in them".
Things fall apart in a hurry when one takes Genesis word-for-word literally. Want to DESTROY faith, and the Scripture that was inspired by faith and which inspires it? Then read Genesis literally word for word, and insist that it's all literally true. How can all the birds have been created on the fifth day, man on the sixth, but the birds then all have been created after man? They can't. But that's what the text SAYS. What that ought to tell us is that, whatever God DID mean by the Scriptures, he certainly did NOT mean: take this as literal anthropology. He inspired the text in ways that so obviously contradict that He's telling us, not very subtly, not to take it literally in Genesis. Otherwise he wouldn't have made the text irreconcilably opposed.
And then we have secular science which tells us about dinosaurs. We have the problem of there being no death before Adam and Eve, but eons of dinosaurs eating each other and dying, and fish for that matter. We have the death of plants before there was death.
Genesis taken word-for-word literally doesn't work internally. And it doesn't work with the observed external world either.
Jesus tells us what Genesis and the rest of the OT was meant to mean by God. THAT'S the part that was inspired.
Cling to that. Going literal with Genesis destroys faith, not aids it.
While I don't actually own a religious bobblehead (I see them as idols of a sort), I can appreciate the humor in those profiting from "Jesus Junk" for less than righteous reasons when compared with those profiting from the same (albeit more serious) material with apparently pious hearts.
I'll order one for your car, if you'd like:
"Hey everybody - it's Football Jesus! Don't you think that if Jesus walked the earth now instead of 2,000 years ago He'd be a big football fan? You can't work in the carpenter shop all the time. Our exclusive Football Jesus BobbleHead is made of quality polyresin - just like our original Bobble Head Jesus. He stands about 8 inches tall with red # 1 jersey, and of course the team logo on Football Jesus' helmet is the Jesus Fish! Jesus also sports some black under each eye to cut down on the glare. He likes playing QB, but can fill in at any position on offense, defense and special teams. Sorry, Jesus won't help you with point spreads or your Fantasy League. Watch all the big games with Football Jesus!
Football Jesus Bobble Head
Contact me immediately--Super Bowl is this Sunday! Just tell me where to send it.
What else are you willing to buy for people? I can send you a list of things I would like if you're interested in buying them for me.
But where do you draw the distinction? Jesus said things like "God didn't not desire divorce, but because your hearts were hard he allowed it", and "what goes into a man doesn't make him unclean, but what goes out". He didn't jettison the Old Test, or say that it was not inspired. To say so puts you into the same boat as Marcion. Thinking like that leads to some awful dark places.
I'll respectfully disagree on this issue. God asks us to "reason" with Him (Isaiah 1:18). While we certainly do not match His intellect (Isaiah 55:9), He certainly does not ask us to accept irrational or illogical positions.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life," (John 14:6). If He is Truth, then he cannot lie, logic is truth, and therefore God cannot be illogical.
Let me take a stab at your conundrums:
Why did God simply decide to punish Satan in the Garden of Eden, why not just destroy him right then and there?
Man was originally created with the ability to not sin. The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a choice. The serpent is temptation toward a wrong choice. Once man freely chose disobedience, choosing sin over God, his eyes were opened to all manner of evil. Consider the shame of nakedness that was not shame just prior to his wrong choice.
The only thing that changed when man chose sin is that his eyes were open to see evil, and be unable to refrain from it. Hence another way of saying that "sin entered the world" is to say that "innoncence left man".
God desires that man choose freely to love Him. That's why He gave us free will. Had he destroyed man or the serpent after the fall the free will creature that He created for fellowship would no longer exist. The Good News is that He was fully aware of this, and instituted a plan to save man from his own bad choice, even before He created him.
Why did Jesus have to come and be crucified for our sins? Couldn't God have simply forgiven them?
No. God has said that sin = death. If you sin, you will die (Genesis 2:17). The entire OT sacrificial system was instituted to offer substitutonal deaths on account of man's sin. However, it took a Perfect Sacrifice of The Infinite Being to pay for the sin of all men.
Think about God as the perfect Accountant. His books must be in order. Every man who sins owes a death. The man, Jesus, did not sin therefore he does not owe a death. Yet He died. If Jesus is merely man, then one man who sinned would be able to escape death - God is perfect, so He must keep the books balanced.
However, Jesus was not merely man. He is is also God. Therefore, as man he kept God's ordinance perfectly. As God, and serving as the Perfect sacrifice on the cross, an infinite being suffered the punishment which was undeserved. Hence, the fact that Jesus is God, therefore infinite, His sacrifice is perfect and complete for all men. The payment of the Infinite One can be fully applied to anyone who believes and obeys Him!
Why did God seem to give us things "piecemeal"?
This is the easy one. It is answered very clearly by Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
The bottom line is that if anyone or any church asks us to accept a tenet blindly, or accept anything irrational, illogical, contradictory, their teaching must be in error. God is Truth, and cannot lie- Even He cannot make 1 + 1 equal 3.
Is there something wrong with wearing a cross? have a fish bumper sticker on a car?
Why do you ridicule those who honor Mary?
There's a sign post up ahead... cue Twilight Zone music. Key to what? Proof?
There are already four published peer-reviewed, controlled, long-term medical hospital studies of near-death experiences.
As long as we're dealing with the physical universe, we're limited to zeros & ones, ons & offs, negative or neutral. Hard to know whether or not all of the plinko balls have run their full course, unless you have a detector of some sort on each of them. We're still looking at it with the eyes of children. Life, death, at best it's an educated guess.
All four produced statistically similar results. The experiences described by the control group in all four studies were very similar as to order and content.
I've heard there are similarities in them with people who've been subjected to a high-g environment. There are other individual cases which are quite striking.
All said & done, in my mind, the examinations seem to be a form of chasing rejection, offering evidence which might be convincing to non-believers, those who can not or will not take a simple leap of "faith". I think Satan loves that sort of thing, where people of faith discount & lose sight of the nature & the true power of faith itself. Vicomte13, are you fighting too hard to be "of" this world"? I'm not saying it is wrong to examine everything with the rational mind, only that one shouldn't get oneself too caught up in it.
Essentially, the science, read in totality, strongly indicates the existence of a detachable consciousness which continues for at least some time after clinical and even brain death in about 20% of people (the rest report no memories, which might mean they had no such experiences, or it might mean that they did and don't remember them or don't want to talk about them).
Science has limitations. It is only a tool. Generally, it's a good tool, but it cannot provide all of the answers. My ex talks about doing remote viewing & told me he lied about it (said he doesn't believe in it) when he was given a psych eval. He knew he'd be tagged for extra "help" if he had been truthful with the examiner. We learn it is important to be "of this world" when we're children. Are imaginary friends always imaginary or is it possible we're dealing with a child that has not been fully grounded yet?
And then there are those people who were not clinically dead but who have had direct encounters with divine beings, angels, spirits, etc.
I think it's more common than is reported. Course, I have no proof of it. ;o)
The world is a strange place, both physical and spiritual. We understand some aspects of the physical world, but the spiritual world we can't even figure out how to test. So, all we have there is anecdotal evidence and (competing) revelations.
And, of course, even with the same tradition (e.g.: Christianity) there are passionate, even violent, differences of opinion over the MEANING of revelation, let alone the authenticity of it (voir this thread, for instance).
You got that right!
After all we can't trust angels of light. A person who goes to heaven or hell doesn't come back, we know that from the bible. Still the Lord of the air and his fallen angels have a realm and more than likely, these deceivers are only too happy to pretend to be divine.
Network went down, then my wife called and I had to run home and get a dead bird out of the furnace exhaust.
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmityBetween you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.
Her Seed is Jesus which is why it says "His" heel.
You left out that the woman is Israel.
"But where do you draw the distinction?"
Honestly, you don't HAVE to draw the distinction.
Jesus did all the work for us on Scripture, just as he did all the work for us when it comes to our salvation.
In both cases we just have think about what he said and follow him.
Let me make a substitution. It is a valid substitution, for these purposes, because it conforms to the use that Jesus made. "The Law and The Prophets" to Jews, like Jesus and his audience, MEANS both the Pentateuch and the Prophetic books of the Old Testament. Jews never valued the Ketuvim, "the writings", the third part of the Jewish canon, with the same authority as the Prophets, and all Jews to this day consider the Torah - the Pentateuch - to be The Law, and the most authoritative and holy part of the Bible of all.
I know that CHRISTIANS do not make this distinction, but JEWS DO, and JESUS was a JEW, talking to JEWS. When Jesus says "The Law and the Prophets", what he is saying - again to a JEW - is "The Authoritative Part of Scripture, the Part that contains The Law". Jews do not think that the writings, which is to say the wisdom books, contain any commandments. None. All 613 Commandments are in the Torah. The Torah is The Law. Nothing else in the Jewish Bible is The Law.
Again, I KNOW that Christians, especially Protestants, don't think Leviticus has greater authority than Job, but every Jew who ever existed always has. The Torah is the Law. Job is philosophical writing concerned with The Law, but contains NO law itself. All the Law in the Bible is in the Pentateuch. And where God wants to directly hammer home a point of law and make a warning, he speaks through a Prophet. Thus the authority of the Prophets, which also do not contain one single Jewish Law. ALL LAW is in the Torah. The Prophets ENFORCE the Law, and they're speaking directly for God, as oracles, so have authority. The wisdom books are for reflection. That's what Jews thought, and think, and that's WHY the distinction "The Law and The Prophets" has a specific Jewish meaning. It means THE AUTHORITATIVE, Law Giving and Law Enforcing parts of Scripture, to a Jew.
Think like a Jew for a minute and read Jesus in the Gospels again.
'Love God above all, and love your neighbor as yourself - that is The Law and the Prophets'.
Remember that the Law and the Prophets are where THE LAW is, and its enforcement. Remember that there was no "Bible" as such in Jesus' day - it was compiled afterwards.
Now let's read what Jesus said again, with Jewish understanding:
'Love God above all, and love your neighbor as yourself - that is the Authoritative Part of Scripture'
Jesus just told us what the whole Old Testament means, from HIS perspective, and he's God.
Note that Jesus himself actually repeats certain specific commandments. And gives examples of godly moral behavior.
There's no "line" to be drawn in the Old Testament. It's huge. It's a morass. It means precisely two sentences of Jesus. No less, and no more. You can read the whole Old Testament for background, but if you want to know what it means, ALL that means, and the LIMIT on what it means, Jesus said precisely what it meant in the Gospels a couple of times. He renewed the parts of The Law that are binding still, and that cannot simply be absorbed into the lines: don't murder, don't steal, etc. The rest - all of those other rules, meant 'Love your neighbor as yourself and love God above all'. That's all God ever meant by them.
You don't have to read all the words. You can read two sentences of Jesus and have the final, authoritative and complete explanation of the ENTIRE Old Testament.
Jesus didn't draw the line. He explained it all. Completed it all. Told us what it all means. If anyone should read it and think it means something MORE (for example, that we must REJECT modern biological science and believe that the dinosaurs are a Devil's trick) has run out on Jesus and run back into Jewish traditions.
What do dinosaurs have to do with 'Love your neighbor as yourself and love God above all?'
Dinosaurs aren't Scriptural. Opposing them isn't Scriptural.
Genesis' account of creation is Jewish TRADITION, it's quaint, and it's factually wrong. We needn't dwell on it, and we can make a mess of faith if we fiddle around with old traditions that have no place in the sacred plan.
Genesis means 'Love your neighbor as yourself, and Love God above all.' Jesus said so. Directly. Authoritatively. He was God. He defined the meaning and stated it straight.
We do not have to read the Old Testament at all.
And indeed, if we cannot read it without falling prey to the temptation to sieze onto the old Traditions, which are UTTERLY superfluous, by straining them through our new traditions, we shouldn't read the Old Testament. Or rather, we should, but we should read God's Old Testament, which is a few sentences of Jesus explaining the Scriptures' meaning from God's perspective.
Any reading of the Old Testament that challenges Jesus' two sentence explanation of the entirety of it is wrong, and is falling into the trap of tradition.
So, where do we draw the distinction?
We don't draw any distinction.
We take Jesus at his word, verbatim.
We can read his two sentences.
If we want to, we can then read the 1500 pages of the OT, but we have to remember that the only part of it that is divinely inspired, what it means and ALL it means, from a God's Word standpoint, is Jesus' two sentences. Anything that pulls away from Jesus' two sentences is not God's Word, because God only meant what Jesus said by the whole vast Scripture of the OT.
Jesus said so.
The religion Jesus left us is very simple.
It is not found in voluminous texts.
It is found in prayer, in faith, and in doing what he said to our fellow man. That's it.
Jesus reduced all Scripture to two sentences, and didn't leave a written word himself. We can read what he said in the Gospels, and that is sufficient to answer EVERYTHING.
The rest is execution. And that's hard.
It is in many ways easier to read the OT and develop a new theology, more complicated than Jesus', than it is to go out and give money, time and passion to helping the sick and poor, for instance. But the latter is godly, according to Jesus. The former is trying to reinvent the wheel, and is certain to be a botched hack job. Jesus told us all that the OT means. Why bother wasting time reading it, then? Just read him, accept it, and move on.
My starting point for Satan's abilities has to do with his role before the fall. He was cherubim, which means he has a great deal of knowledge about the underpinnings of the world in a way we are not yet able to see.
Consider what he was able to bring down upon Job.
Thankfully, God is absolutely on top of everything.
By their fruits we will know them. Are they doing what we've been taught is the will of God or are they working their own angle?
I'll leave that up to each individual's conscience.
Why do you ridicule those who honor Mary?
I don't. I myself honor Mary, and call her blessed. I ridicule those who have turned her into a goddess, and have made her the central act of a three-ring circus.
>>>I myself honor Mary, and call her blessed.<<<
Umm, no, actually you called her "Our Lady of Perpetual Thin Mints" at post 550, above.
Which, again, after you through out the rest of the Old Testement, which is just quaint old myths, why would any Jew or Gentile have any reason to look for a Messiah? If Genesis means little more than a nice old tradition, why expect Isaiah or Jeremiah's prophecies about the coming of the Son of Man to be any different? For that matter, what use is the Gospels? Can they not be just quaint old myths that don't really apply except for moral living? For that matter, what is moral?
Friend, be very careful on the path you are treading. For if you dismiss Genesis, you might as well dismiss the Incarnation. If there was no real fall from grace, no real reason for Jesus to die, then there is no reason to listen to any teaching of Jesus. Dismissing the Old Testament (except for certain passages of the Law) means that Christianity is a lie.
The better one was Mary, Queen of Kernels...
These barbs are aimed directly at the false Mary that has been hoisted to the highest spire of the catholic church. They have nothing at all to do with the Mary of Scripture; I fully respect her.
You are 100% correct. If we start "picking and choosing" which parts of scripture are true and which are "myths" we will get totally lost. We actually would wind up on just about the same level as the moral relativists and just dismiss the parts of the Bible that interfere with what we want to do (i.e. someone who wants to commit adultery simply determines that the Decalogue was offered more as a "guideline" than a Law).
And as you said, without the Fall of Man, there is no need for our Salvation. If a sinful nature was "just the way God made us" then it would be improper of Him to put conditions on Salvation; however, He didn't create us as sinful, mankind CHOSE to be sinful, hence the absolute need for the Crucifixion and our acceptance of our Savior.
Absolutely! That's why it is so important to have the immovable, moral foundation of Scripture, and not the shifting sand of tradition, or philosophies of men.
Within the world created for us, there are certain truths outside of the Bible. The best example is mathematics. That's why I used the example that, "Even God can't make 1 + 1 equal 3". The fact that 1 + 1 = 2 is irrefutable truth, and hence God cannot change it.
It's all true. If we don't understand it fully, that makes it no less true.
Except that God is 1+1+1=1. God is God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (OK that is a bit of a cheap shot, but a great example on the limits of logic).
We agree on something scriptural! :-)
Either the Bible is entirely true or it isn't. If it isn't it's just another "self help" book. Of course, this is what the secular humanists/moral relativists (and there are plenty of them to be found among Catholics and Protestants) want us to believe and they use this to justify their leftist agenda (homosexuality, abortion, non-marital sex, etc.).
Mary of Scripture is Mary of the Church.
Why in heaven's name would you ridicule and 'barb' someone, who's heart you do not know, and belittle them in their honor of God's Mother?
(ps. Do you want the Football Jesus Bobblehead or not? time's awastin')
The Tri-une nature of God is not mathematics, and it doesn't refute mathematics as unchangeable truth.
Many folks have the false idea that God is limitless and can do anything. This is far from reality. For example, He cannot lie. He must be perfect in every way. His perfect justice is why hell must exist. If people choose not to accept His perfect plan of salvation, He MUST commit them to hell. Any other action would be unjust.
I love this one:
Q. "Can God make a rock so big that even He can't pick it up?"
A. No! God cannot make anything outside of His control.
So what about the tri-une nature of God? It goes back to the basic idea of God as supreme being. If God is the supreme being, then there can exist no other being greater than God. Hence, God must be One. However, if there were multiple supreme beings, then their purpose, intent, and actions would have to be perfectly identical; In other words they would be One. Nothing, however, would prevent them from having different personalities... that is, being different persons.
Ergo, the three-persons-one-God understanding given in Scripture is acceptable. All three persons are unique, and all three are perfectly identical in purpose, intent, and action.
"No. God has said that sin = death. If you sin, you will die"
So, if you never sin, you will never die?
Amen, brother! And again I say, Amen!!!
If Scripture isn't true, then our time would be better spent in any hedonistic activity that pleases us, as this life would be all there is.
I tried that in my youth and it made me miserable, sure I had a lot of fun times but in the end I was still empty.
"Her Seed is Jesus which is why it says "His" heel."
There are no capital letters in Hebrew. That's a translator's gloss, an interpretation.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned
Just a "his" heel is enough to show it is Jesus.
Good point. Actually there are many interpretations to Revelation. This is not one book I would want to develop theology from, especially about Mary. Perhaps they would like to hear how some people interpret "the beast" in relationship to the Pope. ;O)
"For if you dismiss Genesis, you might as well dismiss the Incarnation."
Dismiss Genesis? No. I do not dismiss it.
It means, somehow, 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself, and love God above all'. I don't see that in there, much, so I'll just take Jesus' word for it.
But dismiss the CREATION account in Genesis?
Yes absolutely I dismiss that. It is ridiculous.
The world was not made by making a bubble in an abyss of water, which is still above the stars and below the ground.
The birds were not made on the fifth day, before man, and then all made (same birds) after man. The world was not made in six literal days. The animals were not all vegetarians before man came along and ate a piece of fruit. Dinosaurs lived and died millions of years before men, who very probably descended from primates. The aspects of Genesis that say otherwise are not true.
Nor is it true that the whole entire world was covered by a seven-mile-high flood and every living thing, from penguins to polar bears, to woolly mammoths to toucans to orangutans to panda bears to koala bears to black widow spiders to mosquitos were all carried on a wooden ark made by a man.
None of that ever happened.
It is a myth. A legend. A story.
If faith must be based on literally believing THAT, and on ignoring the flat contradictions and obvious storytelling of the Creation account, then faith must perish immediately, because such faith would be RIDICULOUS.
Even St. Augustine saw that. So did Rashi and Maimonedes writing long ago. Genesis is not literal fact. The world didn't come to be that way, death didn't come into the world because of something man did, etc.
The Old Testament means 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself, and love God above all.' That's what it means, according to Jesus. He ought to know.
The Gospels could be quaint myths, of course.
But there are ongoing signs and proofs that they are not.
The problem with the Bible is precisely the problem that the Church saw in it, and therefore discouraged its reading except under instruction: if you take what is written in the Bible absolutely literally, you will either take leave of reason or take leave of faith.
What is important in the Adam and Eve story? Not that snakes became slimy and slithering because of an apple. That's a folk legend and it is completely false. Snakes are reptiles who evolved from amphibians, and there were slithering snakes long before there were any men to be bitten by them, much less tempted by them.
What's important is that man, even in his natural state, heads straight into sin and is aware of it. Man and the world were made by God. What is the lesson? To get out of the consequences of sin, love God and love each other. You don't get that lesson from reading the OT. In the OT you think you've got to avoid pork and circumcise yourself and tie tefillin on your head and sit around doing nothing on Saturday and make yourself little booths, etc. Those are all nice traditions. They might help you think about God more, and therefore fulfill the two commandments. But then again, they might not.
Funny. I thought it was Eve who at the apple first.
Guess that wasn't a sin.
You're posts continue to lead me to believe that you do not accept the authority of the Bible, unless it suits your already established philosophy.
I accept the authority of the Bible.
I accept the authority of the Church.
I accept the authority of the Holy Spirit, in private revelations.
I accept the authority of science.
I accept the authority of reason.
I accept the authority of the law.
And it's up to me to regulate, between these authorities which often conflict, what seems truest. That is an authority granted to me by the fact of existence and having a mind. God didn't give me a mind for me to not use it.
The Bible conflicts with itself.
Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, I can avoid this problem a few different ways, which lead to different results.
I CHOOSE to allow Jesus to be the prism of Scriptural interpretation, because internally to the Bible it makes the most sense: the BIBLE says he is God, so giving him the highest authority makes the most sense on the text. Externally, I have the Shroud of Turin and the ongoing parade of miracles to tell me he really is what the Bible says he is, which merely reinforces my view that the proper prism of interpretation of the Bible is through Jesus.
I read Jesus' words about the Old Testament and apply them literally: it means love your neighbor as yourself, and love God over all. That then avoids all the problems of having to square natural science with the Genesis account.
That Catholic Church tells me I can accept natural science's explanations of the origins of the universe and the world without being in conflict with Christian theology, so now I have Church authority to back up my own sense that Bible authority means putting Jesus first when using Scripture to interpret Scripture.
And that moves the Old Testament out of contention.
It also anchors the New Testament, and gives the foundation and the light in which Paul must be read - in light of Jesus (the reverse does not make sense to me).
Then, of course, the world moves on and there are miracles of saints and apparitions of Mary and healings, in the ongoing process of God's salvific powers poured out upon the earth. Obviously this isn't in the Bible. That ends about 90 AD or so, if not earlier.
So, the Bible must also be interpreted in terms of these continuing manifestations of the will of God as well.
I do not accept that the Bible is the rulebook for Christianity. I believe it contains inspired and useful writing, but is by no means the final word.
In short, I am not a Protestant, and you're not going to find my view of the Bible at all satisfactory.
But it is not at all true that I do not accept the authority of the Bible. I accept the proper authority of the Bible, but I do not assign it greater authority than I think it has. I do not believe, as you do, that the Bible rules the Church. I believe that the Bible is a book collected and published by the Church, written by Churchmen of the Old and New Covenant. I don't think it is the only record of God's inspiration and revelation on earth.
I simply look at it differently.
It is unacceptable to conclude God did not understand enough science, or provide sufficient inspiration to the authors of Scripture. If such were the case, then God is not God, and unworthy of worship.
God is the God of extremes. He does not accept compromise. Remember what Christ told the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:
5 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
In 1950, The Magisterium issued this ...
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII
CONCERNING SOME FALSE OPINIONS THREATENING TO UNDERMINE THE FOUNDATIONS OF CATHOLIC DOCTRINE...
..38. Just as in the biological and anthropological sciences, so also in the historical sciences there are those who boldly transgress the limits and safeguards established by the Church. In a particular way must be deplored a certain too free interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament. Those who favor this system, in order to defend their cause, wrongly refer to the Letter which was sent not long ago to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Studies. This letter, in fact, clearly points out that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people.If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.
39. Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things, which are more the product of an extravagant imagination than of that striving for truth and simplicity which in the Sacred Books, also of the Old Testament, is so apparent that our ancient sacred writers must be admitted to be clearly superior to the ancient profane writers.
*Brother, you spotted that heresy with alacrity. Kudos.
And, you are spot on with your analysis.
So, when ya swimming the Tiber?
289Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation - its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the "beginning": creation, fall, and promise of salvation.
* Well, so much for myths.
BTW, How come YOU don't know the Old Testament is,essentially, useless :)
LONG LIVE MARCION!!!!!!
I swear, Marcion could have written your words...For the benefit of Christian lurkers, I will post what the Catholic Church Teaches...
105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."69
"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."70
106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."71
107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."72
108 Still, the Christian faith is not a "religion of the book." Christianity is the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living".73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures."74
III. THE HOLY SPIRIT, INTERPRETER OF SCRIPTURE
109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.75
110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."76
111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."77
The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.78
112 1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.79
The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.80
113 2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church"81).
114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith.82 By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.
The senses of Scripture
115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."83
117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism.84
2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction".85
3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86
118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:
The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith; The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87
119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."88
But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.89
IV. THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE
120 It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books.90 This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New.91
The Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi.
The New Testament: the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of St. Paul to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, the Letter to the Hebrews, the Letters of James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, and Revelation (the Apocalypse).
The Old Testament
121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value,92 for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.
122 Indeed, "the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men."93 "Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional,"94 the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God's saving love: these writings "are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way."95 123 Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God. The Church has always vigorously opposed the idea of rejecting the Old Testament under the pretext that the New has rendered it void (Marcionism).
Redgolum was responding to rank heresy. I wish Catholics had beaten him to the punch. I was at work, so I didn't have the chance
"The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory........
Looks like Article 22 of the 39 Articles of the Episcopal Church!