Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Keller on the natural consequences view of heaven and hell

“The idea of hell is implausible to people because they see it as unfair that infinite punishment would be meted out for comparably minor, finite false steps (like not embracing Christianity.) Also, almost no one knows anyone (including themselves) that seem to be bad enough to merit hell. But the Biblical teaching on hell answers both of these objections. First, it tells us that people only get in the afterlife what they have most wanted-either to have God as Savior and Master or to be their own Saviors and Masters. Secondly, it tells us that hell is a natural consequence. Even in this world it is clear that self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness makes you miserable and blind. The more self-centered, self-absorbed, self-pitying, and self-justifying people are, the more breakdowns occur, relationally, psychologically, and even physically. They also go deeper into denial about the source of their problems.”

-Tim Keller

74 comments:

Alex Dalton said...

Folks here might be interested in a long thread over on Steven N's blog where I defend the traditional (eternal) notion of hell against an advocate of Annihilationism. I don't necessarily endorse traditional hell, but I do find that it isn't that difficult to defend against the more common objections.

http://snemes.blogspot.com/2010/10/eternal-punishment-for-finite-sins.html

Alex Dalton said...

I don't think there is a problem of an incongruity between finite sins and infinite punishment. If hell is temporal in some sense, from its first moment to any given point, it is still a finite amount of punishment. Since we cannot build to an actual infinite through successive addition, there is no time at which a person receives an infinite amount of punishment. The problem would be more accurately stated as an eternal amount of punishment or never-ending punishment for finite sins. Here though, I'm not sure it is that hard to think of a state of affairs where it might be just and right to ultimately isolate certain individuals from others, even eternally.

unkleE said...

Vic, I enjoyed Tim Keller's book "Reason for God", but I think his argument here is very weak. The idea of hell being a "natural consequence" is very unconvincing (to me at any rate). Is God supposed to be a victim of his own choice to create??

Alex, you may be able to defend the philosophical arguments, but less easy (IMO) is to get away from the fact that Jesus warned us to fear him who could destroy body and soul, and the word destroy means exactly that. Also remember that eternal in the Greek language and in Jewish thought does not equal everlasting.

Steven Carr said...

' Even in this world it is clear that self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness makes you miserable and blind.'

So that is why you go to Hell for stealing a pencil from work.

I always wondered why.

And there are people who put their families before God.

Burn them in Hell!

Mind you Timothy Keller is on record as condemning people as selfish for asking for water when they have been set on fire.

Provided , of course, that his beloved Bible condemned them as well.

As a human being, Keller would never dream of condemning people for asking for water when they are being burned alive.

As a Bible student, Keller is forced to agree that such people deserve their torments.

If you could keep the conversation away from Christianity, Keller would be quite a pleasant person to chat to.

Steven Carr said...

And why does Keller think Muslims are Muslims because they want 'to be their own Saviours and Masters' and that Hell is a natural consequence of being a Muslim?

Walter said...

First, it tells us that people only get in the afterlife what they have most wanted-either to have God as Savior and Master or to be their own Saviors and Masters.

So every non-Christian out there really wants an afterlife of eternal hell? What a load of road apples!

Does Keller believe that all theists will be saved? I seriously doubt that a devout Muslim or Jew could be accused of wanting to be their "own Savior or Master."

Walter said...

Oops!

I did not read Steven's comment above mine before posting.

Jason Pratt said...

TK {{First, it [i.e. "the biblical teaching on hell"] tells us that people only get in the afterlife what they have most wanted-either to have God as Savior and Master or to be their own Saviors and Masters.}}

Actually, having read the Bible occasionally {wry g}, I'm pretty sure that it teaches that all people, including those under post-mortem punishment from God, will in fact come to at least acknowledge (see below) that YHWH is their Lord. Whatever happens to those being punished by God, they do NOT get to be "their own Masters".

The OT does have several interesting things to say about rebels being put in a bind because they looked to themselves, or to anything less than God, to be their savior. But typically, such prophecies also involve those people thereby learning to accept God as their Savior--and then being indeed saved and restored by God.

(Which is why they're portrayed as not merely acknowledging YHWH as Lord, but "confessing" Him as such: a technical term involving loyal praise to God for His great saving victories.)

The archetypal example, although it is only one of many, is the finale to the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. Verses 40-43 are certainly heavy on the coming butt-kicking, but verses 34-39 just previously explained what the butt-kicking will be for. (Which is why the pagan nations are, oddly, exhorted to rejoice with God's people in v.43, that God will render vengeance on His adversaries, whether among the nations or among His own rebel people. It's because even God's vengeance leads to salvation, as in the previous verses.)

JRP

Steven Carr said...

I think that what Keller is trying to say is that suffering is caused by self-centred people, like suicide bombers for example.

Jason Pratt said...

Incidentally, I certainly don't deny that the "natural consequence" of selfishness is spiritual destruction. I would even say the natural consequence is spiritual annihilation. It is only by God's grace that sinners keep on personally existing, even as sinners. (Just as it is only by God's grace that anything keeps existing. Being a sinner doesn't change that--despite what Satan might want to think. {lopped g})

Which leads to a lot of unexpected and messy (even horrible) complications. But that's real life. We aren't mere computer programs God gives the three-fingered shut-down to whenever we misbehave. We're real boys and girls, children of God, not puppets, even when we're misbehaving.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

(I don't mean "unexpected" to God, only to us. Omniscience can easily account for messiness; just as messy complexity could only exist at all in dependence on omnipotence.)

JRP

Steven Carr said...

JASON PRATT
Just as it is only by God's grace that anything keeps existing.

CARR
I wondered why hatred kept on existing.

We managed to wipe out smallpox. What a puny god you worship who could not even keep smallpox existing against the efforts of earthlings to destroy a bit of God's creation.

JASON
We aren't mere computer programs God gives the three-fingered shut-down to whenever we misbehave.

CARR
I wondered why God didn't smite Annanias and Saphira in Acts 5.

It was because God just doesn't do that sort of smiting. They were children of God, just like the Amalekites that God ordered to be wiped out, man, woman and child.

Walter said...

Alex says...Here though, I'm not sure it is that hard to think of a state of affairs where it might be just and right to ultimately isolate certain individuals from others, even eternally.

Would not a merciful God simply "snuff out" all those souls who don't wish to spend an eternity with Him? I know this is all just speculation, since no one truly knows what happens after death--if anything. Still though, what point is there in a deity keeping a soul eternally conscious for the sake of exacting never-ending revenge because that soul, while still living, did a few things that the deity didn't like?

Even if hell cannot be accurately described as 'infinite' punishment, the traditional view of hell is still extremely disproportionate to ANY crime that can be committed in one human lifetime.

Anonymous said...

There is a false dichotomy: self centerness or christianity

Obviously, a person can not be self-centered and also not be a christian or be "God centered"

On the author's view, does Hell just consist in the natural consequence of being selfish? so many of us, alas, are already in hell?

Steven said...

Where are the Biblical citations that support Keller's view of hell? It seems to me Hell is a matter of punishment, for Paul says in Romans 2, "because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed," and "He will render to each one according to his works." These texts seem to me to suggest God does play an active role in Hell, not just "giving people what they want" but also distributing some amount of punishment on them.

BenYachov said...

The loss of the Beatific Vision is the true pain of Hell. If anything perhaps the other minor sufferings are a merciful distraction from the true horror of a soul that by nature yearns for a God they unjustly & maliciously rejected. If I believe St Alphonus (& I do) then an afterlife where you had the Beatific Vision and also suffered every other suffering of Hell would be preferable to one where you had every other joy of Heaven except the Beatific Vision.

I am not surprised that joyless Fundamentalists (be they religious or Atheist) seem to have this legalistic view of salvation. Catholics know God gives all men sufficient Grace to be saved & God doesn't condemn non-believers by Negation for their failure to believe. Only unbelievers by opposition would be so condemned & only God knows which is which.

Alex Dalton said...

Steve wrote:

"because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed," and "He will render to each one according to his works."

Alex: The "day of wrath" would seem to me to be God's judgement itself, not necessarily an ongoing wrath, or punishment. And we have to remember that God's wrath/judgement is often executed in turning a people over to their own sins, so He often has more of a passive role. This is actually a consistent principle throughout scripture (he who digs a pit will fall into it, etc.). Likewise, rendering to each one according to their works, doesn't entail that a certain number of demons will be assigned to torment individuals in hell, or that God will specify the precise temperature of the flame roasting each individual according to their actual number of sins.

This may be just a general statement regarding the justness of God's judgement. Or it may even lend credance to the notion that there will be different "levels" of hell, in that a merely selfish and unmerciful man will have a lighter sentence than an unrepentent serial killer. I don't see any problem with that.

It seems that we really can't unpack too much from the scriptural statements on judgement and hell, though many seem hell-bent on doing so. IMO, if one thing characterizes Semitic literature (even the history), it is hyperbole, and eschatology is one of the most symbolic and mysterious aspects of such literature.

Perhaps, the figurative/highly symbolic biblical language concerning hell is so extreme, simply because God wants us to take both spreading and acceptance of the Gospel seriously - so that as many people as possible come to the knowledge of Christ and enter into the process of sanctification through the Spirit, while here on earth.

Functionally, I am a traditionalist concerning hell. I really take no stance on the actual nature of it though. And perhaps that is the way God wanted it. The allure of sin in this world is so great, that I can foresee many simply avoiding the issue and urgency of the Gospel altogether, were hell explicitly portrayed as non-eternal, ultimately redemptive, etc. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter..." and all that.

Alex Dalton said...

Walter: Would not a merciful God simply "snuff out" all those souls who don't wish to spend an eternity with Him?

Alex: How we have gotten to the point of seeing it as more merciful to snuff someone out when they refuse to join them, rather then just let them continue on in some form of diminished existence, I am not sure. I think it has something to do with viewing hell in a Dante-esque fashion, as an eternal torture chamber. I don't see any reason to believe in such a hell though. I see it more as a quarantine of the wicked, in an existence without God. He lets people live, apart from Him, as they wished to live on earth.

Walter:Still though, what point is there in a deity keeping a soul eternally conscious for the sake of exacting never-ending revenge because that soul, while still living, did a few things that the deity didn't like?

Alex: I have no idea what you are talking about here - honestly. I don't know any Christians who conceive of hell in this manner. If you follow the link I provided in my first comment, I argue against annihilationism and for a view of hell as a type of quarantine, rather than a torture chamber. The torments of hell are self-inflicted and/or the result of community without God.

Walter:

Even if hell cannot be accurately described as 'infinite' punishment, the traditional view of hell is still extremely disproportionate to ANY crime that can be committed in one human lifetime.

Alex: Again, see the linked thread for my views there. The fit of any punishment to any crime is utterly arbitrary IMO, and I argue this.

Alex Dalton said...

Here is a link to a discussion of the nature of hell by one of the most conservative apologists on the web. He describes hell in terms of isolation from God, rather than eternal torture. He references much evangelical scholarship along the way:

http://christianthinktank.com/gr5part2.html

Most Christians I know view hell in these terms.

Steven Carr said...

'If anything perhaps the other minor sufferings are a merciful distraction from the true horror of a soul that by nature yearns for a God they unjustly & maliciously rejected'

That sums up how Christians view Muslims and Jews - they unjustly and maliciously reject God.

Of course they are secretly yearning for God, just as Christians are yearning for an actual sign from Jesus that he is not dead.

Walter said...

Alex: How we have gotten to the point of seeing it as more merciful to snuff someone out when they refuse to join them, rather then just let them continue on in some form of diminished existence, I am not sure. I think it has something to do with viewing hell in a Dante-esque fashion, as an eternal torture chamber. I don't see any reason to believe in such a hell though. I see it more as a quarantine of the wicked, in an existence without God. He lets people live, apart from Him, as they wished to live on earth.

If separation from God is supposed to produce anguish in human souls, then even your more 'humane' version of hell is still pretty monstrous. The simple fact of there being absolutely no chance for a reprieve or parole makes God out to be pretty vindictive, even petty. It's like God is saying "You had your chance, now screw you!"

OTOH, if the 'gates' of hell are locked from the inside, as some believe, then apparently hell ain't so bad after all! Maybe it is the better choice for those of us who do not wish to spend trillions of years walking around singing gospel songs :-)

BenYachov said...

>That sums up how Christians view Muslims and Jews - they unjustly and maliciously reject God.

I reply: Which Christians(Catholics? Baptists? Methodists? etc)?

BTW what part of Catholics know God gives all men sufficient Grace to be saved & God doesn't condemn non-believers by Negation for their failure to believe. Only unbelievers by opposition would be so condemned & only God knows which is which. do you not understand?

Why do I bother? You can't reason with a fundamentalist especially if he is an Atheist.

BTW even Protestant Christians who are Inclusivists (like CS Lewis) agree with us on this matter.

BenYachov said...

Actually Catholic Evangelist Frank Sheed once said it was unlikely a soul in Hell given the opportunity to be annihilated would choose that fate considering the Souls in Hell choice love of Self above Love of God. Thus what is in it for them to loose the last thing they have "Themselves"?

So I don't really see annihilation as more merciful than eternal punishment. I believe the opposite is the case.

Steven Carr said...

So Ben Yachov thinks Muslims and Jews are not going to Hell?

How does that work?

How do people who reject Jesus as their Lord and Saviour get to queue with Timothy Keller in the line to the gates of Heaven?

Walter said...

So I don't really see annihilation as more merciful than eternal punishment. I believe the opposite is the case.

I am not sure that I agree. Let us say that God gives me a "light" punishment for being a nice unbeliever who didn't commit any egregious sins. And we will speculate that God will sentence me with the afterlife equivalent of a tummy ache instead of being burned "alive" forever with the likes of Hitler and Richard Dawkins. After umpteen gazillion years of having a mild tummy ache, I would probably be begging for annihilation to end my never-ending "mild" suffering.

Any punishment with no hope of reprieve EVER makes God out to be a monster. That may not be a problem for the Christian types that latch on to the wrathful, petty, jealous God portrayed in the OT. For them, it seems to be a matter of servile obedience to a tyrant deity. And they redefine 'good' to be whatever the deity does or wills.

Steven Carr said...

I forgot.

Christians know perfectly well that Muslims and Jews are just as good people as Christians,and so Christians are forced to say all three of the following :-

1) The only way to Heaven is through accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

2) People who reject Jesus as their Lord and Saviour can still get to Heaven

3) You can't argue with fundamentalist atheists who wonder how both of the above are true.Such people are beyond reasoning with.

BenYachov said...

>So Ben Yachov thinks Muslims and Jews are not going to Hell?

I believe no such thing. Rather I said in plain English what I believe from the teachings of the Church & you like the typical fundie are going out of your way to not understand.

It seems there is practically little intellectual difference between readers of Dawkins, Loftus, Myers & Chick Comics.

>1) The only way to Heaven is through accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

Then no infant Child can go to Heaven(even a Baptized one) since they lack the cognitive ability to do the above.

Scratch a New Atheist find a fundamentalist.

I'm not a Fundamentalist Protestant I am Catholic. Deal with it.

BenYachov said...

Walter,

Well in short you might hold to the Phill Pulman view while I am channeling Sheed. I'll see if I can post my thoughts on the matter later.

Cheers! It's always a pleasure to talk to non-believers who respectfully disagree & at least try to make an effort to learn their opponents views.

Cheers again!

Steven Carr said...

'Then no infant Child can go to Heaven(even a Baptized one) since they lack the cognitive ability to do the above.'

OH, so you have evidence that infant children, especially Muslim and Jewish children, who are not baptised get to go to Heaven, do they?

All those aborted babies are now living a blissful life in Heaven,are they? No wonder the Pope wants to put a stop to that.

What is the age limit?

And what happened to original sin? Do Catholics not bother with that any more? Has it been repealed?

Do babies get given their original sin once they get to six months old?

No wonder it is impossible to talk to fundamentalist atheists. They keep reminding Christians of all the bits of the religion they believe that contradict all the other bits.

And what happened to that Pope who said 'There is no salvation outside the church'?

Did he mean Muslims and Jews go to Heaven?

'“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)'


Are you a real Catholic and you don't know what your own church teaches you to believe?


Or do you only read the bits of church doctrine which tell you to insult atheists who know what your religion teaches,and slag them off when they prove to know perfectly well which bits of your beliefs contradict all the other bits?

BenYachov said...

>Are you a real Catholic and you don't know what your own church teaches you to believe?

I’ve been studying Catholic doctrine for 20 years & your amateurish misreading and proof texting impresses me about as much as someone from Answers in Genesis impresses Prof Dawkins on their knowledge of biology.

I am not interested in educating you on Catholic Doctrine since your MO from my observations is one of “Argument by Ridicule”. I don’t for a second believe you argue in good faith. You are like a Tellerite from Star Trek. You simply argue. So smeg off!

But let me correct one thing.

>'“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)'

The above teachings apply to Non-Believers by Opposition as taught clearly by Pope’s Alexander VIII & Pope Pius IX. We Catholics qualify the term “unbeliever” you based on your fundamentalist heritage clearly don’t do that . A Muslim, who threw no fault of his own, fails to become a Catholic Christian & follows the extraordinary saving Grace & Divine Light God might give him can be saved and he is as St. Pius X said part of the “Soul of the Church” thus by definition is “Not outside it” like an unbeliever by opposition or malice. Pius IX said we can’t know who among the general non-believers falls into either category & it is vain to try to find out & it is immoral to do so as a pretence not to preach the Gospel. Pius XII added even if you could know you deny people blessings & graces by not inviting them to embrace the fullness of truth.

BenYachov said...

>Or do you only read the bits of church doctrine which tell you to insult atheists who know what your religion teaches,and slag them off when they prove to know perfectly well which bits of your beliefs contradict all the other bits?

I reply: Rather I slag off brain dead fundie Atheists who pretend their “once size fits all” simplistic view of anti-religious polemics is in anyway an intelligent approach even if God doesn't really exist.

Oh and BTW that link you provided is from a Feeneyite Website. Fr. Feeney was excommunicated for refusing to refrain from teaching his questionable views on extra ecclesiam nulla salus that where condemned by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith & confirmed by Pope Pius XII. I hold to EENS in the orthodox sense as defined by Pius IX, St Pius X, Pius XII, Vatican II etc…

Next you will be citing “Father” Luther and expecting me to be impressed by that. I’m not.

So Smeg off.

Alex Dalton said...

Walter: If separation from God is supposed to produce anguish in human souls, then even your more 'humane' version of hell is still pretty monstrous. The simple fact of there being absolutely no chance for a reprieve or parole makes God out to be pretty vindictive, even petty. It's like God is saying "You had your chance, now screw you!"

Alex: Well, when we put words in God's mouth, it is like he is saying them. On my view, it is not that God is saying screw you, it is that He respects the autonomy of the individuals in hell, and he has set a terminus for salvation. He has invited them into His community, but has not extended this offer eternally. He has decreed a day of judgement, upon which we will be held accountable for our response to His calling, and I don't see that as a "screw you" as much as it is a separating of those who choose to follow Him and draw close to Him, from those who choose the opposite.

Walter: OTOH, if the 'gates' of hell are locked from the inside, as some believe, then apparently hell ain't so bad after all! Maybe it is the better choice for those of us who do not wish to spend trillions of years walking around singing gospel songs :-)

Alex: I realize you're joking here but I think there may be some truth in this. It may be the case that residents of hell would prefer it to heaven. If heaven is resounding with "Christian" music in the sense that we're familiar with, I would agree that hell will have some benefits.

Jason Pratt said...

SCarr: {I wondered why hatred keeps on existing}

Hatred wouldn’t exist without persons; persons keep on existing thanks to God, even when they’re acting merely hateful.

All things considered, you ought to be quite thankful about that. {g}

i.e. God doesn’t just wipe you out of existence when you keep on merely hating things by trying to make cute quips against whatever a Christian might be saying regardless of whether those quips make sense.

So, for example:


{{What a puny god you worship who could not even keep smallpox existing against the efforts of earthlings to destroy a bit of God's creation.}}

That didn’t happen without making use of God-given capabilities. Even if wiping out smallpox (mostly--it does still exist, you know) was an abuse of that power, which most people would agree it’s not, it still wouldn’t have happened unless God loved the abusers, too. The example is still entirely consistent with what I said. If you hadn’t been only trying to be hateful, you might have noticed that yourself.


{{I wondered why God didn't smite Annanias and Saphira in Acts 5.}}

Not the same thing as what I was talking about. Annanias and Saphira still exist (even annihilationists would tend to agree they’ll still exist until the final judgment), and God didn’t just rewire them to behave like nice puppets. Moreover, I don’t consider their punishment (even by death) to be hopeless in the least. The example is still entirely consistent with what I said. If you hadn’t been only trying to be hateful, you might have noticed that yourself.


{{They were children of God, just like the Amalekites}}

I’m not committed to the notion that God ordered that wipeout. But even assuming He did, they still exist and (I believe and would argue) their situation isn’t hopeless; nor did God just rewire them to behave like nice little puppets. Moreover, whether or not God in fact ordered it, He voluntarily suffered along with them (if Christianity is true), both with the guilty and with the innocent. The example is still entirely consistent with what I said, particularly in regard to messy (and even horrible) complexity. If you hadn’t been only trying to be hateful, you might have noticed that yourself.


Really, Steven: when I myself bring up the example of divinely sanctioned national destruction, then I’m certainly not just ignoring such things in the OT (or RevJohn for that matter). You could have just as easily stuck with my own example. But either you didn’t pay enough attention to even use my own example against me (if that’s possible); or else you realized that it must not be possible to use my own example against me but thought that providing equivalent examples would somehow count against me instead. Neither way is competent opposition to what I was saying.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Alex (answering Steve-not-SCarr’s crit of Keller, which crit was similar to mine, namely that God’s punishment is usually active and seems always active when it comes to eschatological punishment... {inhale}{g}): {{ We have to remember that God's wrath/judgement is often executed in turning a people over to their own sins, so He often has more of a passive role.}}

I don’t think this happens all that “often” when the scriptures testify about it. But even if it was often testified to, we also have to remember that God’s wrath/judgment is also often executed by direct punishment, or by indirect punishment for which God nevertheless insists upon direct responsibility. I feel pretty confident that there are more examples of testimony for this than for merely ‘turning people over to their sins’, period. (In fact, I feel almost as confident that where examples of turning people over to their sins are given, God warns that sooner or later He’ll be adding direct or indirect punishment to this in His own active responsibility.)

More to the point--and this is what Steve-not-Carr was also talking about--eschatological judgment is practically never referenced in terms of merely turning a people over to their sins. God may (and admittedly sometimes does) do that sort of thing now, but the judgment of the Day of the Lord is (nearly???) always presented in terms of active prosecution and punishment by God. I can’t think of a single counterexample, even on reflection; and you certainly haven’t given one either.

{{This is actually a consistent principle throughout scripture (he who digs a pit will fall into it, etc.).}}

I can think of at least one OT example where God is the one who, analogically, digs the pit. {wry g} So even that analogy involves direct downthrowing by God.

{{Or it may even lend credance to the notion that there will be different "levels" of hell, in that a merely selfish and unmerciful man will have a lighter sentence than an unrepentent serial killer. I don't see any problem with that.}}

There’s some testimony (from no less than Jesus Himself) to the effect that there will be degrees of punishment; but the criteria is the degree to which the wrongdoers knew they were doing wrong. Jesus (and Paul of Tarsus after Him, in the second half of Rom 1 for example) both warned otherwise that apparently ‘light’ sins would be punished as thoroughly as the apparently ‘worst’ sins. The unrepentant merely selfish and unmerciful man has no advantage over the unrepentant serial killer. (I seem to recall some very famous sayings from Jesus about just that topic of murder!--rather more famous than the qualification about lighter punishments.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Alex: {{IMO, if one thing characterizes Semitic literature (even the history), it is hyperbole}}

That, on the other hand, is a salient point. (Even those Amelekites were not in fact wiped completely out; claiming that they were is typical for Ancient Near Middle-Eastern political chronicle. Not that this changes the moral issues involved in an order to strike them.) Consequently, when the scriptures talk about utter destruction, they might or might not be talking hyperbolically. The Messiah certainly wasn’t “utterly destroyed”, per Dan 9:26, in the sense of annihilation (or any other similarly hopeless result), which Daniel certainly didn’t expect either, and which is why translators render that “cut off” or something of that sort instead of “utterly destroy”. Nevertheless, it’s the same verb.

(For that matter, the Greek verb for destruction used in the Gospels, including by Jesus via translation, is exactly the same verb used in regard to the 100th sheep or the Prodigal Son. But they were only lost, not hopelessly lost, much less annihilated out of existence. Curiously, the previously mentioned verb in Daniel is also a term for covenanting!--I strongly suspect circumcision has at least an analogical connection there.)

Appeal to cultural hyperbole can only go so far. Cultural analysts like Kenneth Bailey point out (and I don’t doubt correctly), that the king in the parable of the unforgiving servant wasn’t probably seriously threatening to sell his embezzling accountant into slavery along with his family: he was staking out a bargaining position, that this was how angry he was, expecting the accountant to haggle with him. The text itself evidences this because when the king punishes the servant, he doesn’t go with the initially stated punishment.

Nevertheless, he does eventually punish that servant. The threat was a serious one, and the punishment was also a serious one. Not hopeless, but still a very harsh one to be avoided. Notably, what gets the unforgiving servant in trouble is being unmerciful despite having received mercy himself!--which I take to be a warning to Christians about how we should regard the wrath of God. (This sure appears to be the contextual point in the Gospel when that parable is given.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

BenYachov,

It's true that this more inclusive notion of the invisible Church Catholic has been increasingly promoted since Vatican II, especially by Popes John Paul 2 and Benedict. However, the ecclesial exclusiveness you're decrying the fundamentalists for, wasn't something they just picked up from nowhere. They got it from Catholic Church teaching and practical application prior to Protestantism (and competitively concurrent with Protestantism, up until relatively recently.)

Perhaps the RCC has reformed on this point, but it has done so over against prior teaching on the topic sanctioned by Popes. Pius IX reigned in the late 1800s, and everyone else in the list affirming and developing him afterward obviously came afterward.

As for Innocent VIII (reigned 1689-1691), I wasn't able to find anything from him affirming the modern RCC concept of an "unbeliever" in my copy of Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma 30th edition). But I did find where he "declared and condemned as scandalous, rash, an offense to pious ears, and erroneous" the notion that "a philosophic sin, however grave, in a man who either is ignorant of God or does not think about God during the act, is a grave sin, but is not an offense against God, neither a mortal sin dissolving the friendship of God, nor one worthy of eternal punishment."

The Pope wasn't specific (in his decree, Aug 24, 1690) about how much of that statement he objected to, but it doesn't look good for setting aside inadvertent philosophical error (i.e., "not in conformity with rational nature and right reason" compared to theological and mortal sin being "a free transgression of the divine law".)

At any rate, this particular "fundamentalist heritage" was inherited, legitimately or not, from the team who came before the Protestant fundamentalists; although I'm certainly glad to see that that older team has made some progress on that topic since the Reformation. {g} (As the younger team also has done since then!--here and there. {g!})

JRP

BenYachov said...

Jason Pratt,

Actually it was an open question that wasn't really settled except over the last three hundred years.

>As for Innocent VIII (reigned 1689-1691), I wasn't able to find anything from him affirming the modern RCC concept of an "unbeliever"

and you won't either since he didn't address the issue. We have to wait till the time of Alexander VIII who condemned the Jansenist heresy for that.

Catholic believe in the development of doctrine. The idea of fully developed doctrine from the begining is a novel Protestant concept.

BenYachov said...

Jason Pratt,

BTW I don't for a second believe all Evangelical Protestants are fundamentalists or all Atheists for that matter.

>a philosophic sin, however grave, in a man who either is ignorant of God or does not think about God during the act, is a grave sin, but is not an offense against God, neither a mortal sin dissolving the friendship of God, nor one worthy of eternal punishment.

I reply: Well just because you might be invincibly ignorant of God doesn't mean you can't sin. God still wrote His law on the Heart. We still have a sense of right & wrong & if the Non-believer b. negation person follows extraordinary grace given him that will include some type of repentence for one's evil. Even an Atheist can be sorry he did wrong.

BenYachov said...

Jason Pratt,

I think you are making a mistake a lot of Feeneyites make when they misinterpret Denzinger. You are assuming Invincible Ignorance/Non-Belief By Negation equals automatic salvation & inability to sin. It's does not mean that. It simply means God won't hold your non-belief against you as sin under those circumstances nothing more. Notice Pope Innocent doesn't say all ignorance of God is itself a philosophical sin. But IINBBN can mortally sin but they would have to follow Extra-ordinary Grace to r4epent & be saved. How that works we don't know but we are not meant too. What is that to us We follow Him?

Jason Pratt said...

BenYachov,

I mistyped "Innocent VIII" by accident; probably because In.XII is the next Pope listed in the Sources after Alexander VIII (and I was checking how far the Sources went in citing Alx.VIII). The quote I gave was certainly from Alexander VIII, Aug 24, 1690.

{{Actually it was an open question that wasn't really settled except over the last three hundred years.}}

More like the last 150 years.

If it was an open question, it was open against Papal declarations such as given at the 17th Ecumenical Council, Florence (which by any criteria ought to count as infallible teaching), by Pope Eugenius IV. This council was convened specifically for the purpose of reconciliation with various Eastern congregations (Byzantine/EOx, Arminian and Jacobite), and the Pope made the following decree (among others) binding on the Jacobites for their acceptance, to wit:

"[The Catholic Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart 'into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels', unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgivings, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."

This bull was declared in 1441 and '42 (Florintine and modern style), so it was after many centuries of RCC thought on the topic; and makes no distinction about merely erroneous schismatics. The point of the declaration (which has been repeated several times in ecumenical councils over the centuries, regarding conciliation with Eastern branches) is not trivial: Jacobites were expected to renounce hope of salvation for other schismatics, including for other Jacobites, regardless of why they were schismatic, as part of entering into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. (Jews and "heretics" would generally cover monotheistic non-Christians, such as Muslims, or Christian non-trinitarians such as the recent Arian resurgences, distinct from "pagans".)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

BenYachov,

{{We have to wait till the time of Alexander VIII who condemned the Jansenist heresy for that.}}

To be clear, he condemned the Jansenists for recognizing a distinction between philosophical sins against reason and/or natural morality, and theological sins against God, wherein the former, however grave they might be, were not supposed to be mortal nor severing a person from salvation (apparently due to having been done in ignorance of God, including in ignorance of the truth of God's characteristics, or without realizing God was involved in the topic.)

This looks extremely much like condemning non-Catholics under conditions which recent Popes would not consider such people mortally condemned, being honestly in error and not intentionally falling away from truth.

In short, the Jansenists on this point recognized a distinction between mere fact of heresy and a sin of heresy, the latter being spiritually damnable but the former not. Alexander condemned this distinction (in a teaching apparently ex cathedra), whereas modern Popes seem to affirm the distinction.

JRP

BenYachov said...

Jason,

I'm sorry but Florence here only applies to those whose ignorance is vincible and non-believers by opposition and sinful malice per the teachings of later Popes. The text of Florence simply doesn't address or mention the issue of invincible ignorance and such that was discussed by later Popes and Councils. It merely tells us that objective membership in the Church is absolutely necessary for salvation and the ordinary means to obtain it. It's doesn't address extra-ordinary means nor does it condemn them. You have to show me where Florence explicitly excludes the Invincibly Ignorant which is no mean feat considering it is never brought up.

Try harder. I could deny God tomorrow & for the reasons I gave I still don't find your example convincing.

BenYachov said...

>Jacobites were expected to renounce hope of salvation for other schismatics, including for other Jacobites,

Rather they where told if you where objectively outside the Church you had no hope of salvation & as Pius IX would later confirm the existence of Non-beleivers by negation is no excuse to not preach the Gospel. Objectively all heretics have to join the Church or be part of it to be saved. Only God can judge the hearts of those who refuse & know if their refusal is invincible ignorance or vincible ignorance coupled with malice.

It's not hard.

BenYachov said...

As a Catholic I can only tell you Jason you must join the Church Jesus founded to be saved. Only God knows your heart & may judge if you refuse my offer.

I don't know & I have no power to judge.

BenYachov said...

>To be clear, he condemned the Jansenists for recognizing a distinction between philosophical sins against reason and/or natural morality,

Where does he say that? Your quote condemns the notion that "a philosophic sin, however grave, in a man who either is ignorant of God or does not think about God during the act, is a grave sin, but is not an offense against God, neither a mortal sin dissolving the friendship of God, nor one worthy of eternal punishment."

Where does it say ignorance of God invincible or otherwise are philosophical sins? He still seems to be to be saying those ignorant of God can mortally sin.

You reading the meaning you want into our texts. That is no more convincing than the Atheist who claims Jesus literally wants us to pluck out out eyes.

Steven Carr said...

JASON
God doesn’t just wipe you out of existence...

CARR
Yes, your imaginary god doesn't seem to do much of anything.

Strange that, isn't it?

It still remains the fact that Christians teach
1) Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour is the only way to Heaven
2) Muslims and Jews can reject Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and still get to Heaven.
3) Christianity is rational.

Of course, there is no evidence for Heaven, except vague reports of Jesus flying into the sky on his way there.

Hence Christians can argue about who goes to Heaven knowing they cannot be contradicted by facts.

BenYachov said...

BTW Jason,

Why do you assume the modern Popes are not aware of these early texts?

Even if I deny God tomorrow & by extension reject the Holy Church I find it hard to believe the modern Popes are unaware of these early texts. In fact I know for a fact they are completely aware of them since they discuss them with their Cardinals before issuing their doctrinal decrees. So on pure natural terms I have no reason to believe you self-serving interpretation of these texts should obtain over ours.;-)

But I salute your effort & I acknowledge your goodwill in asking me these questions.

natamllc said...

On the common question, it is from the beginning that the basis of hell is established.

The word "darkness", Genesis 1:2 is


חשׁך
chôshek
kho-shek'
From H2821; the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness: - dark (-ness), night, obscurity.

One only has to go to the bottom of this word to understand that this word is the "fruit" of some prior act, not the very act itself.

Consequently, we can settle it then. There are consequences for the prior act and those consequences have one of two reformed resolutions in this life: an eternal inheritance or eternal damnation

I know that is so confining and much has been taken from the inkwells of history without any resolution to it except one accept the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

Glad to know you!

Or "not"?

It is not a matter of choice but of enlightenment!

Let me put it to you bluntly, then:

Mar 16:14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.
Mar 16:15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Mar 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

BenYachov said...

From the Catholic Encylopedia.

Philosophical sin

Those who would construct a moral system independent of God and His law distinguish between theological and philosophical sin. Philosophical sin is a morally bad act which violates the natural order of reason, not the Divine law.......This proposition is condemned because it does not distinguish between vincible and invincible ignorance, and further supposes invincible ignorance of God to be sufficiently common, instead of only metaphysically possible, and because in the present dispensation of God's providence we are clearly taught in Scripture that God will punish all evil coming from the free will of man (Romans 2:5-11). There is no morally bad act that does not include a transgression of Divine law.END QUOTE
see here
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14004b.htm

BenYachov said...

Jason

Also from the same article.

"Cardinal de Lugo (De incarnat., disp. 5, lect. 3) admits the possibility of philosophical sin in those who are inculpably ignorant of God, but he holds that it does not actually occur, because in the present order of God's providence there cannot be invincible ignorance of God and His law. This teaching does not necessarily fall under the condemnation of Alexander VIII, but it is commonly rejected by theologians for the reason that a dictate of conscience necessarily involves a knowledge of the Divine law as a principle of morality. End Quote

Walter said...

@natamllc

Your quote from the gospel of Mark is an interpolation not found in the oldest texts of Mark. Our oldest copies end at verse 8. Everything after that is just a pastiche of resurrection accounts from the other gospels, added by scribes at a later date.

natamllc said...

Walter,

and?

So what?

Would these verses fit your muster then?

Deu 33:26 "There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.
Deu 33:27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, Destroy.
Deu 33:28 So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew.
Deu 33:29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs."

or


Psa 2:1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
Psa 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
Psa 2:3 "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us."
Psa 2:4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Psa 2:5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
Psa 2:6 "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill."

or


Psa 72:7 In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
Psa 72:8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
Psa 72:9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!
Psa 72:10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!
Psa 72:11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!

or

Psa 149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
Psa 149:7 to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
Psa 149:8 to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
Psa 149:9 to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!

And, as if that is not enough, how about:


Isa 5:13 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst.
Isa 5:14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her.
Isa 5:15 Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought low.
Isa 5:16 But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.

and


Jer 33:15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
Jer 33:16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'

I suppose the question I would ask you, Walter, "is Jesus your righteousness"?

Steven said...

Maybe this guy could shed some light: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKsWLwNc-C0

Jason Pratt said...

Sorry for the delay: I had to hold off with continuing the follow-ups on Friday; and this weekend I’ve been busy doing birthday things.

Picking up from where I left off last time:

BenYachov: {{Catholic believe in the development of doctrine. The idea of fully developed doctrine from the begining is a novel Protestant concept.}}

Once again, it’s a concept they picked up from Catholic promotions, if not directly from official RC teaching.

The position of Catholic dogma concerning Christian doctrine (and this is as late as Pius IX in the 19th century, though also affirmed earlier), is that while individual persons may learn and progress in knowledge and understanding of the doctrines of truth, those doctrines have already been given to the Mother Church in the scriptures, entirely and without omission, even though (properly inspired and authoritative) interpretation is often required to put the pieces together systematically. Certainly in no case should a ‘development’ of doctrine contravene that which has already been authoritatively settled by the Church (meaning the Roman Catholic church authorities, first and last being the Pope), nor called back into question once decisively pronounced upon.

This is why the various Christological councils each kept seeking “what has always and everywhere been believed”; even the non-‘orthodox’ proponents (usually) didn’t try to present their beliefs as progressions of understanding but as what Christians had always believed (and if possible practiced) from the beginning. The systemization was improved where applicable, but the cry at Chalcedon was “this is the faith of the apostles!”

Protestants, of course, believe the RCCs (and other ancient Christian branches) have indeed done just this despite RC insistence to the contrary and ‘added’ to doctrine as ‘developments’, to some significant extent. Otherwise we wouldn’t be Protesting in our various ways. {g}

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

BenYachov: {{You are assuming Invincible Ignorance/Non-Belief By Negation equals automatic salvation & inability to sin.}}

I don’t know about the Feeneyites, but I certainly do not believe that; much less am I assuming that. Neither did Alexander’s opponents (whoever they were); otherwise they wouldn’t have contra-distinguished relatively innocent philosophical errors (even about ethical topics) from their affirmation of mortal sins. They would have tried to claim instead that there was a state of invincibility from mortal sin wherein someone could also thereby avoid sinning in philosophical error. But that wasn’t what they were claiming, even by Alexander’s report.


{{Why do you assume the modern Popes are not aware of these early texts?}}

Why do you assume, or even infer, that I am assuming they aren’t aware of them? I am reasonably sure I never claimed they weren’t aware of them. I do think they are reading their beliefs back into those texts (in a fashion that illegitimately avoids admitting those Popes were wrong), instead of following out the exegetical implications of those texts, thus leading to a significantly different teaching than what those earlier Popes were teaching. The only problem I have with this in principle is that it contravenes papal infallibility as taught by the RCC up until very recently; and I don’t really have a problem with that either, since one of the things I ‘protest’ about as a Protestant is how Popes have insisted that Christians must accept their supremely self-referential papal infallibility. If they explicitly propose a different meaning of infallible than Popes have done in the past, I might even agree with that, and even agree that past popes could be legitimately considered as infallible. But if they’re going to teach that earlier popes made mistakes in matters of faith and/or morals, I would prefer they did so explicitly. Starting with dogmatic example #1, that no legitimately appointed Pope has ever made a mistake ex cathedra in matters of faith and/or morals.

(I apologize by the way if my capitalization of “Pope” is not consistent; I mean no offense, but I am not used to writing a capital for that term except as an honorific of their title-name. So for example I would normally write something like “Pope Benedict the pope”. But I have been trying to capitalize the term as a title in all cases for these comments.)

{{So on pure natural terms I have no reason to believe you self-serving interpretation of these texts should obtain over ours.}}

Actually, I am much happier, more comfortable, and even in religious agreement with modern Popes on the topic of whether there are such things as non-mortal disagreements with Popes on matters of faith and morals, and whether solidly established loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church (and thus to Popes per se) is required for salvation by Christ. As far as any “self-serving interpretation” goes, I am clearly on the side of the modern Popes there!--and against those older Popes.

But it is because I don’t want to be self-serving, that I reject attempts at reading leniencies in my favor (by modern Popes) back into the dogmatic Sources; not without clear and obvious warrant and leeway for doing so. I would think I was cheating if I tried to argue that older Popes had left (much less had meant to leave) room for me to disagree with them about the authoritative correctness of their theological teachings. Sure, I could say ‘just have faith that the modern Popes are reading the older ones correctly, over against how older Popes read and applied those older Popes’; but I don’t believe Popes have an intrinsically granted ability to always be correct in their interpretations.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

BenYachov: {{I'm sorry but Florence here only applies to those whose ignorance is vincible and non-believers by opposition and sinful malice per the teachings of later Popes.}}

Who pointed out that this was said in the declarations of Florence? Nope: {{The text of Florence simply doesn't address or mention the issue of invincible [or vincible] ignorance.}} The statement at the end of the address to the Jacobite churches applies in principle just as well to the other branches in ecumenical dialogue with Rome, and the statement is plain enough as it stands: the Catholic Church firmly teaches and believes that no one can be saved unless they are firmly loyal to the RCC (and especially to the Pope) before death, and anyone wanting to join must accept that this is true for those still outside as well. The Jacobites, perhaps, believed that not everyone had to be in good loyal standing with the Jacobite church to be saved by Christ, but whether they did or not the Pope wanted them to understand that joining with the RCC did not mean others who did not join had any hope. Converters had to choose between the Church and hope for any people dying outside specific loyalty to the Roman Church. Loyalty to Christ, even to martyrdom, did not count as evidence or even hope that Christ would save such people. It does not distinguish this loyalty to the Church (not simply membership with the Church) as being the “ordinary” means of obtaining salvation (i.e. through membership in the Church); on the contrary, the declaration goes out of its way to deny various options of extraordinary membership with Christ (and so with the Church invisible).

{{It's doesn't address extra-ordinary means nor does it condemn them.}}

It does in fact explicitly condemn (at least) those extra-ordinary means, as I quoted; by tautology it addresses the topic of extraordinary means along the way. The gist is that there are no extraordinary means of membership, compared to what it explicitly states and defines, and “firmly believes, professes and proclaims” while doing so.

The statement as given isn’t about vincible or invincible ignorance, but about formal membership requirement and what can be expected without that formal membership: when the text says “WHATEVER charity he has practiced” and provides extreme examples of “whatever”, then we’re past the point of talking about invincible ignorance.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

From the Council of Sens (in Gaul), 1140 or 41, overseen by Innocent II, being one of the errors of Peter Abelard condemned by Innocent.II by his specific decree at that Council: “That they have not sinned who being ignorant have crucified Christ, and that whatever is done through ignorance must not be considered sin.” By condemning this statement, Inn.II looks a lot like condemning the idea of invincible ignorance being even possibly applicable to innocent error against authoritative RCC teaching.

Innocent.IV later (1679) made a similar condemnation, although in that case I suppose one might find wriggle room from “however much he labors under an ignorance of the mysteries of the faith” since the statement being condemned extended that “however much” to “culpable negligence”.

Alexander VIII, later in the year than his condemnation against the unknown philosophers (Dec 1690 after August), condemned against the Jansenists the statement, “Although there is such a thing as invincible ignorance of the law of nature, this, in the state of fallen nature, does not excuse from formal sin anyone acting out of ignorance.” However, he doesn’t clarify what he was objecting to in that statement. I think there’s a good argument he was denying that there was such a thing as invincible ignorance of the law of nature, keeping in mind that in medieval thought “the law of nature” meant the ethical laws of God which humans, specially as humans created with such properties by God, can by their God-given human nature perceive. The ‘law of (human) nature’ distinguished human ethical capabilities from that of non-rational animals. Alexander would be consistent to deny that there was such a thing as invincible ignorance of the law (assuming what passes for ‘normal’ in a normal fallen human’s psychology, leaving aside special cases like retardation, coma, etc.)

Whether this would also mean there is no such thing as an invincible ignorance of papal teaching, and/or whether such an invincible ignorance, if it existed, might possibly excuse opposition from being mortal sin, I suppose I can grant that this particular dogmatic source might not be addressing. But I find his other two statements in the Sources do address those issues, directly and indirectly, as previously noted.

JRP

Edward T. Babinski said...

SELF-CENTERED?

WHAT ABOUT BEING "RELIGION-CENTERED?"

That's a special kind of hell, joining or confusing one's ego with God, and believing that one knows what the Bible is "really" saying while all the varieties of scholarly examinations of the Bible are rejected in favor of what the person believes he has attained, "simple faith." He knows what "God" and the "Bible" really are saying and really demand.

BenYachov said...

@Jason Pratt
>Protestants, of course, believe the RCCs (and other ancient Christian branches) have indeed done just this despite RC insistence to the contrary and ‘added’ to doctrine as ‘developments’, to some significant extent. Otherwise we wouldn’t be Protesting in our various ways. {g}

Naturally we Catholics believe we have in fact legitimately developed doctrine & we accuse Protestants(& other non-Catholic Christians) of "adding" man made doctrine at a later date which they falsely claim are developments. But as interesting as that tangent is I will restrict myself to defending against your specific claims early Popes(& Councils) contradict the later Popes on doctrine.

I'm not really interested in continuing this discussion at any length since it goes over territory I've already dealt with in the past when I was involved in polemics against Protestantism.

These days I prefer to concentrate on Natural Theology & the errors of Atheism.

BenYachov said...

The following is the trust of the matter.

>I do think [the Modern Popes] are reading their beliefs back into those texts (in a fashion that illegitimately avoids admitting those Popes were wrong), instead of following out the exegetical implications of those texts, thus leading to a significantly different teaching than what those earlier Popes were teaching.

I reply: Here is where you beg the question in that you assume what these early Popes where teaching & that they where in fact intending to claim there was no such thing as invincible ignorance persons who are saved following the extraordinary light God gives them. The burden of proof is solely on you & so far you haven't given any exegesis of the early texts to show there definitive meaning. You have so far given me only unsubstantiated assertions. Nothing more.

BenYachov said...

I reject the follow assumption of yours.

>But it is because I don’t want to be self-serving, that I reject attempts at reading leniencies in my favor (by modern Popes) back into the dogmatic Sources; not without clear and obvious warrant and leeway for doing so.

I reply: Rather that last sentence should really read "without clear and obvious warrant and leeway for NOT DOING SO.."

You need to show how I can't read favorable interpretations back into these textc. I don't have to justify doing so. For example you can't read Arian Christology back into the Nicene Definition(without doing violence to both doctrines) since Nicene explicitly contradicts Arian Christology & Nicene was explicitly intended to condemn Arianism. However you could in principle read either Monophysite, Nestorian or orthodox Dyphysite Christology into the Nicene Definition since Nicene doesn't address that issue. Which is why we needed Ephesus & Chalcedon to further develop doctrine and settle the matter.

The burden of proof is on you to show Florence, for example, absolutely and unambiguously excludes the later Popes "leniencies". I don't have to prove a "clear and obvious warrant and leeway" for said leniencies." You have to show how they contradict & as we exegesis the text we shall see where else you went wrong.

BenYachov said...

Of course I should point out according to the Catholic Encylopedia only Session Six was considered Infallible(since it was addressed to the whole Church) & the section of Florence you cite is not in session six & is not considered an exercise in the extra-Ordinary Magesterium. Never the less even if I meet you on your own ground & treat it as such you still haven't shown a contradiction.

BenYachov said...

Here is the text with the relevant parts made bold.

"[The Catholic Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart 'into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels', unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgivings, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."

I reply: Note, Florence does not here "specifically or unambiguously define" what constitutes "not living within the Catholic Church." Nor does it explicitly or unambiguously define that as being restricted to visible membership only. It simply doesn't address the issue. That same goes for defining what it means to be "added to the flock". It does warn Catholics that they can't seek salvation outside the visible Church(even if they die for Christ, have valid sacraments etc) but it still doesn't explicitly address the issues of later Popes.

Granted if you want too you can read a restrictive interpretation into it but there is not a clear and obvious warrant for doing so even by your own standards.

BenYachov said...

BenYachov: {{I'm sorry but Florence here only applies to those whose ignorance is vincible and non-believers by opposition and sinful malice per the teachings of later Popes.}}

Jason Pratt-Who pointed out that this was said in the declarations of Florence? Nope: {{The text of Florence simply doesn't address or mention the issue of invincible [or vincible] ignorance.}}

The ambiguity of Florence favors the later Popes interpretation. The burden of proof is on you to show Florence explicitly and unambiguously excudes the later interpretation of the Popes.

>The statement at the end of the address to the Jacobite churches applies in principle just as well to the other branches in ecumenical dialogue with Rome,

No it merely tells us that those not living within the Catholic Church who before the end of life...have been added to the flock can't be saved even if they die for Christ. It doesn't explicitly, unambiguously or exhaustively define the limits of those two conditions thus I have no reason to believe Florence in it's plain language is at odds with the teachings of later Popes.

>It does not distinguish this loyalty to the Church (not simply membership with the Church) as being the “ordinary” means of obtaining salvation (i.e. through membership in the Church);

I reply: Who cares? It doesn't deny it which is what you need to show me in order to prove a real contradiction. All you have shown me is your contradictory interpretation which is clearly not based on an exegesis of the text.

BenYachov said...

>It does in fact explicitly condemn (at least) those extra-ordinary means,

I reply: No it in plain language says you can't be saved if you are not living within the Catholic Church it still doesn't explicitly define membership in the Church in terms of pure visible membership. It doesn't address the issue anymore than Nicene addressed the issue of Nestorian Christology and the like.


>The statement as given isn’t about vincible or invincible ignorance,

Then this concedes the lion's share of the argument to me. It would have to be addressing the issue in order to show a real contradiction between the teachings of the early Popes vs the later ones.

>but about formal membership requirement and what can be expected without that formal membership:

The text you cited doesn't say anything about "formal" membership it says "living within the Catholic Church". As Pius IX & St Pius X would point out the invincibly ignorant who follow the light given to them are part of "the soul of the church" & that by definition would be a form of "living within the Church".

I don't know how I can make it any clearer.

BenYachov said...

Now for some loose ends.

First a question. Are you aware Jansenists teach a retrictivist view of salvation that Pope Alexander VIII is condemning here? Because I am getting the impression you think the Janenists are the champions of invincible ignorance & Alexander is opposed to it. That's like saying Pope Damascus is promoting the teachings of the Arian Council of Rimni and Arius is on the side of Nicea.

That is just wrong. I get this impression because your understanding of Alexander's condemnation of "Philosophical Sins" is as shown by the Catholic Encyclopedia is not a condemnation of the traditional teachings regarding invincible ignorance but upholding them in the face of heretics who deny said teaching.

BenYachov said...

>From the Council of Sens (in Gaul), 1140 or 41, overseen by Innocent II, being one of the errors of Peter Abelard condemned by Innocent.II by his specific decree at that Council: “That they have not sinned who being ignorant have crucified Christ, and that whatever is done through ignorance must not be considered sin.” By condemning this statement, Inn.II looks a lot like condemning the idea of invincible ignorance being even possibly applicable to innocent error against authoritative RCC teaching.

I reply: If that is what it meant then it would clearly and unambiguously say so. Rather taken at face value it is clearly a condemnation of the idea unqualified ignorance excuses sin. Since it mentions ignorance here in an unqualified manner as opposed to qualifying it by distinguishing between invincible vs culpable ignorance etc..

>Innocent.IV later (1679) made a similar condemnation, although in that case I suppose one might find wriggle room from “however much he labors under an ignorance of the mysteries of the faith” since the statement being condemned extended that “however much” to “culpable negligence”.

I reply: Forgive me, I don't see how the above bit of information strengthens your claims about early Popes being at odds with later Popes on this issue. In fact it counts against your case IMHO.

BenYachov said...

Now to finish up since I don't want to keep taking up room in Dr. Reppert's comment box spouting off on Catholic doctrine. But I took the time because I believe you are sincere in your questions & challenges to my beliefs Brother Jason. In fact because you presented a descent challenge I felt I owed you a response. Indeed thought I have found your arguments of Papal contradiction wanting you have a greater knowledge of my Faith then some wannabe critics I've encountered thus far.

BenYachov said...

@Jason Pratt
>Alexander VIII, later in the year than his condemnation against the unknown philosophers (Dec 1690 after August), condemned against the Jansenists the statement, “Although there is such a thing as invincible ignorance of the law of nature, this, in the state of fallen nature, does not excuse from formal sin anyone acting out of ignorance.”

>However, he doesn’t clarify what he was objecting to in that statement.

I think your problem here stems from your implicit and objectively false belief Alexander VIII is at odds with the Church's views on invincible ignorance because he condemned (in your words) the "distinction between philosophical sins against reason and/or natural morality, and theological sins against God" because of that statement of his you quoted condemning the Janenist views on Philosophical sin. Yet I still showed from the Catholic Encyclopedia the Janenists where condemned for their understanding of philosophical sin "because it does not distinguish between vincible and invincible ignorance".
No because of your interpretation.

Taken at face value, Pope Alexander here simply condemns the proposition "Although there is such a thing as invincible ignorance etc..." and thus this is the final nail in the coffin of trying to claim his views are at odds with those of later Popes or the modern ones especially in the area of invincible ignorance.

>I think there’s a good argument he was denying that there was such a thing as invincible ignorance of the law of nature,

I reply: Maybe or Maybe not but since he is ambiguous here by your own admisssion one has to turn to the later Popes to define the loose ends here in Catholic doctrine. Your speculations are interesting but by definition they show that you have failed IMHO to make your case of early Papal teaching contradicting later teaching. Thus I remain unconvinced and find your case wanting.

BenYachov said...

BTW I am not interesting in discussing what you might think are other examples of contradictions between the teachings of the Popes. I have addressed you claims specifically about Alexander VIII & Florence & I find them wanting. I would believe this even if I denied the faith tomorrow.

Of course I am not saying Popes never contradict themselves in all circumstances or that they are infallible in all their statements and Divinely Inspired to boot. You most likely know enough to know that is not the Catholic claim. Never the less I simply don't see any contradiction between Florence & the later Popes on the salvation of non-Catholics. You case is wanting IMHO.

But I wish you God's Grace.

Cheers!

PS. I won't be responding to you further since I have a class to teach in a few days & I must devote my time to it.

If you want the last word you may have it.

BenYachov said...

edit for BenYachov November 16, 2010 6:13 PM

Should read.

No it merely tells us that those not living within the Catholic Church who before the end of life can't be saved unless they ... have been added to the flock even if they die for Christ. It doesn't explicitly, unambiguously or exhaustively define the limits of those two conditions thus I have no reason to believe Florence in it's plain language is at odds with the teachings of later Popes.

BenYachov said...

@Jason Pratt

I can't resist this one last post and of course Jason you will still have the last word.

I think you are of the impression the later Popes' views are a late development and have no president in early Christian teaching or Patristic teaching. Compare these two quotes from St Augustine.

"[J]ust as baptism is of no profit to the man who renounces the world in words and not in deeds, so it is of no profit to him who is baptized in heresy or schism; but each of them, when he amends his ways, begins to receive profit from that which before was not profitable, but was yet already in him" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:4[6] [A.D. 400]).

and

"The apostle Paul said, ‘As for a man that is a heretic, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him’ [Titus 3:10]. But those who maintain their own opinion, however false and perverted, without obstinate ill will, especially those who have not originated the error of bold presumption, but have received it from parents who had been led astray and had lapsed . . . those who seek the truth with careful industry and are ready to be corrected when they have found it, are not to be rated among heretics" (Letters 43:1 [A.D. 412]).

Of course you will search in vain to find a Papal condemnation of this particular assertion of Augustine. But clearly he was in line with the modern Popes in his ancient day.

Nothing more need be said.

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Collin said...

God is a self-referential concept. He can be held real only if His flock has the freedom to think outside of type-graded logic. Fear of hell makes this impossible, because it embeds every thought in a stamp of doctrinal approval. And you can't get out of that restraint by being saved, because if you could you'd be free to challenge the Essentials.

Therefore, if God exists, hell does not exist.