Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Unlikely quarter?

My attention has been drawn to praise for the Pope's now controversial Amoris Laetitia document on marriage and the sacrament of the Mass. I imagine it is timely for Francis as he is under cardinal attack from four cardinals pressing him to clarify what he seemingly prefers not to clarify.

I am on the Pope's side, incidentally. Marriage and its many breakdowns, in my experience of meeting with many couples pastorally, are not neatly covered by "refusal of the sacrament" unless "annulment" has taken place. (Neither of which things, incidentally, are taught by Jesus as responses to divorce!) So a messy, lacking clarity document such as Amoria Laetitia is pleasingly adaptable to the vagaries of human circumstances, and fittingly coherent with the unceasing mercy of God.

So I am going to read with interest, and you may too, the following links to the Ecumenical Patriarch's remarks ...

Here

There.

The actual column the EP wrote is here, and, well, why not cite it in full ... (my bold)

"When speaking of God, the descriptive language that we adopt is love. And when speaking of love, the fundamental dimension that we attribute is divine. This is why the Apostle of Love defines God as love. (1 John 4.8) 
When our dear brother and Bishop of Rome, His Holiness Francis, issued his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia earlier this year, it was around the time that we jointly travelled to the island of Lesbos in Greece, in order to express our solidarity with persecuted refugees from the Middle East. Although the Papal Encyclical “on the joy of love” is concerned with issues pertaining to family life and love, we believe that it is not unrelated to that historical visit to the refugee camps. For what became immediately clear to both of us, as we gazed into the sorrowful faces of the wounded victims of war, was that all of these people were individual members of families -- of families broken and torn apart by hostility and violence. But, as our Lord explicitly told us about the relationship between power and service, it should not be so among us! (Matt. 20.26) Immigration is nothing but the other side of the same coin of integration, which is surely the responsibility of every sincere believer. 
Of course, Amoris Laetitia touches the very heart of love and family, just as it touches the heart of every living person born into this world. This is because the most sensitive issues of family life reflect the most vital questions of belonging and communion. Whether they concern the challenges of marriage and divorce, or even of sexuality and childrearing, they are all delicate and precious pieces of the sacred mystery that we call life. 
Over the last months, there have been many commentaries and evaluations on this significant document. People have wondered how specific doctrine has been developed or defended, whether pastoral questions have been reformed or resolved, and if particular rules have been either reinforced or mitigated. However, in light of the imminent feast of the Lord’s Incarnation -- a time when we commemorate and celebrate that the “divine word assumed human flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1.14) -- it is important to observe that Amoris Laetitia recalls first and foremost the mercy and compassion of God, rather than solely the moral rules and canonical regulations of men. 
What has undoubtedly smothered and hampered people in the past is the fear that a “heavenly father” somehow dictates human conduct and prescribes human custom. The truth is quite the opposite, and religious leaders are called themselves to remember and in turn to remind that God is life and love and light. Indeed, these are the terms repeatedly emphasized by Pope Francis in his encyclical, which discerns the experience and challenges of contemporary society in order to discern a spirituality of marriage and family for today’s world. 
The church fathers are not afraid to speak openly and honestly about the Christian life. Nonetheless, their starting point is always the loving and saving grace of God, which shines on all people without discrimination or disdain. The same fire of God, says Abba Isaac the Syrian in the seventh century, brings warmth and consolation to those who are accustomed to its energy, while searing and consuming those who have turned away from its fervor in their lives. The same light of God, says St. Symeon the New Theologian in the tenth century, serves as salvation for those who have desired it and enables them to see the divine glory, while bringing condemnation to those who have rejected it and preferred their own blindness. 
In the early months of this Jubilee Year of Mercy, it was most fitting that Pope Francis both encountered the families of the despondent refugees in Greece and embraced the families under his pastoral care throughout the world. In so doing, not only did he invoke the infinite charity and unconditional compassion of the living God upon the most vulnerable souls, but he also evoked a personal response from the recipients-readers of his words as well as all people of good will. For he invited people to assume personal responsibility for their salvation by searching for ways in which they can follow the divine commandments and mature in spiritual love. 
The culmination of the papal exhortation is, therefore, also our own conclusion and meditation: “What we have been promised is greater than we can imagine. May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us.”by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

51 comments:

Andrei said...

Why the title "An unlikely quarter"?

The Ecumenical Patriarch is addressing a Catholic audience with this missive and is touching on a point that Orthodox Christianity sees Latin Christianity as overly legalistic.

This might go back to the pre Christian Roman Empire where Roman Law was married to Hellenic thought to create the Graeco Roman world in which Christianity was born and eventually came to predominate

But it is in Roman Legalism that the seeds of the great schism lay

When it comes to taking communion that is something (to me) that you do not do lightly - in my tradition you prepare for it ideally by confessing before hand and fasting.

Receiving communion every Sunday as a matter of ritual is perhaps not the best practice because it becomes something taken for granted - that's just me perhaps

We are all sinners one way or another the key to salvation is repentance
and if the divorced then remarried truly repent the failure of their first marriage where is the issue?

The idea that a marriage can be annulled effectively deeming it to have not taken place seems to me to be legalistic sophistry


If we truly repent our sins we are given a clean slate - isn't this so?

I don't find the Ecumenical Patriarchs missive surprising, rather it is a Christian Greeting timed for the Feast of the Nativity

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
We are in agreement that divorce can be repented from and that annulment is a legalistic sophistry.

I decided on "Unlikely quarter?" because it could be that at such a time as this a prelate of another church might resist the possibility of "interfering" in a matter which is not only a theological argument within another church but is also a brewing political crisis.

Otherwise I accept that the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Pope are bishops of the one catholic church of Christ!

Andrei said...

" it could be that at such a time as this a prelate of another church might resist the possibility of "interfering" in a matter which is not only a theological argument within another church but is also a brewing political crisis."

It isn't a theological argument Peter, it is a matter of church practice

"Amoris Laetitia" is about Christian marriage, most entirely non controversial - the controversy arises only in that relatively small part where the Pope addresses how to pastorally deal with families not formed in ideal circumstances ie from broken marriages and including them into the full life of the Church

Peter Carrell said...

But it is becoming a political crisis for Francis, is it not?

Andrei said...

"But it is becoming a political crisis for Francis, is it not?"

I don't think the Faithful in the pews are loosing much sleep over it to be fair Peter

In our fallen world people find themselves in difficult situations, self inflicted sometimes but not necessarily so

What the Pope says in the controversial chapter is that you cannot lay down hard and fast rules that cover all these situations and those who provide Spiritual and pastoral guidance must use their discernment in such cases bearing in mind God's mercy and the need to include all in the life of the Church - that's how I read it

Four Cardinals have asked for "clarification" but it seems clear enough to me and various commenters have commented, getting a little hot under the collar in some cases but so what.

It doesn't seem that radical to me but for some Catholics it might. I'll get worried when the Pope denies the divinity of Christ, the Trinity or the Virgin Birth

Anonymous said...

Peter, I will comment fully later. For now, my surprise relates to Bartholomew (not uncontraversial in Orthodoxy), commenting on situational ethics in a different church. Bartholomew is (I accept) qualified to comment from his experience in and of Rome but the timing has more to do with the dubia than Christmas. As a pew sitter, despite my loyalty to the Holy Father, his suck it and see approach (which I will kindly call pastoral) is not the best approach for any organisation.

Nick

Andrei said...

From your first (Catholic Culture Link)
"In Orthodox communions, the faithful can divorce and remarry with the approval of their priests."

This is not quite true - There can only be one sacramental marriage for an Orthodox person

Here are the rules

A second marriage is an extension of the Church’s mercy due to human failings and frailty and is
permitted only in certain circumstances.

• If one (or both) of the parties has been once married and then divorced (rather than widowed), permission
from the Metropolitan Archbishop must be petitioned and received in order for the marriage to take
place. This petition will be filed by the Priest in accordance with the policies and procedures specified in
the Archdiocesan Priest’s Guide.
• If both parties have been once previously married and then either widowed or divorced, the Rite of
Second Marriage
will be used. If the Orthodox party has been once previously married and then widowed
or divorced but the non-Orthodox party has not been previously married, the Rite of Second Marriage
will be used. If the Orthodox party has not been married but the non-Orthodox party has been once
previously married and then widowed or divorced, the usual Rite of Marriage may be used.
• The bishop does not serve at the Rite of Second Marriage. Traditionally the clergy do not attend the
wedding dinner or reception.
• Only one priest serves at the Rite of Second Marriage, and that without a deacon.
• If it is the second marriage of the bride, her gown may not be white or elaborate nor does her father give her away.
• If it is the second marriage of the bride, there is no bridal procession but the wedding party is simply led
by the priest from the narthex to the table on the solea.
Third Marriage
• A third marriage is the final extension of the Church’s mercy due to human failings and frailty and is
permitted only in very exceptional circumstances.
• If one (or both) of the parties has been twice married and then widowed or divorced or a combination
thereof, permission from the Metropolitan Archbishop must be petitioned and received in order for a
third marriage to take place. This petition will be filed by the Priest in accordance with the policies and
procedures specified in the Archdiocesan Priest’s Guide.
• In all instances the Rite of Second Marriage will be used even if one of the parties has never before been
married.
• The bishop does not serve at a third marriage nor do any of the clergy attend the wedding dinner or
reception.
• Only one priest serves at a third marriage, and that without a deacon.
• No bridal gown may be worn, but rather a dignified dress. If it is not the bride’s first marriage, the dress
may not be white.
• The number of guests at a third marriage is to be kept to a minimum.
• The wedding party at a third marriage is limited to the bridal couple and two witnesses.
• There is no formal processional or recessional for a third marriage. The four persons of the wedding party
simply assemble at the table on the solea before the start of the service and then depart afterwards
without fanfare.
Fourth Marriage
• A fourth marriage is never permitted by the Sacred Canons to anyone for any reason.

Brian Kelly said...

Wow! And you call Latin Christianity "overly legalistic"! :)

Father Ron said...

"in light of the imminent feast of the Lord’s Incarnation -- a time when we commemorate and celebrate that the “divine word assumed human flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1.14) -- it is important to observe that Amoris Laetitia recalls first and foremost the mercy and compassion of God, rather than solely the moral rules and canonical regulations of men."

AMEN, Amen and Amen! Alleluia!

God's love is extravagant and eternal, covering a multitude of sins. This is why we can bless God for the Redemption and Salvation God has given in Christ. This is God's work - not ours! Knowing this and accepting it is all part and parcel of the promulgation of The Gospel. "God so loved the world!"

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

The Pope has written a low level non-binding exhortation which in two footnotes contravenes the clear teaching of Saint JP2 and the infallible (ordinary magisterium) of the Church. Francis canonised JP2 and can be assumed to admire his teaching; though the teaching is binding regardless. Bartholomew, though thoroughly versed in New Roman matters, has gone out on a limb, despite his questionable authority as patriarch of an increasingly irrelevant see. So, I was surprised that Bartholomew contributed to this. Moscow, the real Orthodox heavy weight has said little.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
It may be overly legalistic of the EO but is it not helpful towards consideration of a "second chance" marriage?
Also, it is not sophistry in my view. Is it in yours?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I appreciate that Francis has involved himself in a low level document but a potentially high level skirmish in which he looks guilty as charged of contravening rules/rulings he is supposed to uphold rather than water down. (That is not intended to be depreciative of the situation but to attempt to describe a complex matter fairly as well as simply).

I wonder if you appreciate, conversely, that many of us otherwise highly appreciative and respectful of many things Roman Catholic, have a great deal of trouble recognising the current rules re marriage/divorce/annulment/refusal of the sacrament as in keeping with the spirit of the gospel of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation. Thus we admire the Pope's chutzpah in opening up a form of wriggle room for those of his shepherds so inclined to use it to forge a way forward which we from the outside wish to applaud.

A wriggle room, I speculate, is much appreciated by RC bishops of these islands!

Father Ron said...

" Thus we admire the Pope's chutzpah in opening up a form of wriggle room for those of his shepherds so inclined to use it to forge a way forward which we from the outside wish to applaud." - Dr.Peter Carrell -

Thank, Peter for this expression of respect for Pope Francis that renders many of us who might normally bypass the 'Papal Infallibility' doctrine as non-biblical. It seems that, for some conservative Roman Catholics - even here in Aotearoa - who cannot stomach this Pontiff's promulgation of Gospel Charity (perhaps because of the fact that they have had to live with the strictures of the 'Magisterium' so why should modern Catholics get away with things they have had to put up with).

This desire for human strictness - in the face of 'The Great Love of God as Revealed in The Son' - for those who have learned obedience to human rules and regulations - no matter how life-denying - seems very much like the behaviour of the Obedient Son of the Prodigal Father.

For many Anglicans, Pope Francis has become their favourite proclaimer of God's Love to ALL the world.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; the Catechism is either right or wrong. The problem for the Pope is that God in our tradition has given our tradition the truth. It cannot be changed because (surprise, surprise) God doesn't make mistakes. Catholicism has painted the Pope and progressive Cardinals into a corner. They cannot escape without getting sticky feet and saying that the Church is wrong. So, the Pope has opted for a low level confusing two footnotes (not to say that clarity is his gift in any case) which allow Conservatives the Catechism, but undermine it regardless. Like many Catholics who believe the Catechism, I am tired of the double speak from the Vatican. I realise that you have sympathy for communion for the divorced. I think I have said before that the reasoning for second marriage is convenient and favours heterosexual failures over others. On the other hand, I find annulment highly problematic in that Americans seem to have far more problems validly consenting to marriage than anyone else. And into this mess, the EC walks. Increasingly dwarfed by Moscow, the EC is now Francis's sidekick.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, although I am not a canon lawyer, I think Fr Ron might be mixing up papal infallibility with the magisterium as a whole. I cite the ordinary magisterium; not papal infallibility which is extraordinary. The ordinary magisterium including the apostle's creed and the doctrine of the trinity is infallible teaching of the Church. I assume Fr Ron agrees that the wording of the Apostles' creed is set and correct. The Catechism would add (relevant here) the inability of those in a second marriage to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. It's the way it's always been. When the Pope states this tradition, he confirms what is already infallible teaching of the Church, quite apart from him. Papal infallibility is something different. The two instances where most Catholics agree a Pope spoke infallibly are the dogmas of the immaculate conception (feast day today) and the assumption. These are extraordinary and, I agree, not in the bible. This is not what I was talking about though.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I have now checked some canon lawyers. At least one would put doctrines from historic councils under extraordinary magisterium. Most say Amoris Laetitia is not magisterial. Perhaps Andrei is right re legalism!

Nick

Father Ron said...

"Receiving communion every Sunday as a matter of ritual is perhaps not the best practice because it becomes something taken for granted - that's just me perhaps" - Andrei -

That may be the Orthodox position, Andrei, but certainly not the Catholic one.
As a parish priest, I rejoiced in celebrating the Eucharist on a daily basis - remembering that Christ is 'The Bread of Life'. I felt is a good idea that, if I was to serve and represent Christ among His people on a daily basis, then I could at least keep company with Him in the Sacrament of His enabling love.

Andrei said...

I think Nick you are getting confused between Church custom and Church doctrine

Goodness only knows the Catholic Church custom has changed radically in the past fifty years

Women no longer cover their heads in Catholic churches in the English speaking world at least - and abstaining from meat on Fridays is another obvious example

And the idea that after a period of repentance and in conjunction with spiritual advice from a confessor that the divorced and remarried maybe readmitted into full communion in the Church allies has more in common with the above examples than anything to do with the deeper doctrine of the Church

I showed above how this is handled in the Eastern Church - there is a separate marriage rite for second marriages - a more penitential and subdued ceremony - famously Jackie Kennedy was married to Aristotle Onassis using this rite though the rules were not followed to the strict letter of the law as they often are not in the Eastern Church

Shawn Herles said...

"Receiving communion every Sunday as a matter of ritual is perhaps not the best practice because it becomes something taken for granted"

I'm inclined to agree with you. It was not the norm in the Anglican church until relatively recently, and is still not the norm in many Anglican evangelical churches, and it does become taken for granted.

"I think Nick you are getting confused between Church custom and Church doctrine"

All tradition is mere custom. Tradition has value, but in and of itself it is not a source of revelation. God's revelation is through Scripture alone.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; in answer to Andrei, sin (as defined by the Catechism) isn't custom.

Nick

Shawn Herles said...

How long will the Liberal love for Francis last?

"Pope Francis Confirms Ban on Homosexual Priests. With Pope Francis’ approval, the Vatican has restated its ruling that men with “homosexual tendencies” cannot be admitted to Catholic seminaries."

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/12/08/pope-francis-confirms-ban-homosexual-priests/

Father Ron said...

"Hi Peter; the Catechism is either right or wrong. The problem for the Pope is that God in our tradition has given our tradition the truth. It cannot be changed because (surprise, surprise) God doesn't make mistakes." - Nick -

There are none so blind as WILL NOT see!

Like many old-guard Catholics, it seems, unfortunately, that you have not caught the Spirit of Freedom' that God has given the Church through the papacy of God's Servant Pope Francis. In this, you are of the same mind as the Old Guard at the Vatican which, although it upholds the Papal Supremacy - at least in theory; it really means the Supremacy of the (Roman) Catholic Tradition - which may just be somethinjg different.

Although we Anglicans do not thin there is such a creature as an 'Infallible' Pope, some of us do believe that Pope Francis could be Primus inter pares of the Western Church(es). This is very different from Nick's understanding of the Holy, Roman Catholic Church being the ONLY Catholic and Apostolic Church. There are, at least, the Eastern Churches to be considered - as well as our own brand of the Church Catholic.

I've just been reading a fairly authoritative Biography of the R.C. Popes.
That really has opened my eyes to the utter infallibily of any continuing papacy from the Apostles onwards. In considering that line of Popes, one cannot discount the number of 'Anti-Popes' who were probably also - in their day - considered to be 'infallible'. How far does one have to go to [prove human infallibility - to Adam, perhaps.

NO. As I keep saying on this web-site; The Church is a Hospital for sinners, not a Mausoleum for Saints. This, I am sure, is just one reason why Pope Francis has de-escalated the pomp and ceremony of his Office and the power of the Vatican Gate-Keepers.

I note that, locally, Cardinal John Dew has convened an Archdiocesan Synod for Wellington, with the express intention of bringing more light into the area of pastoral care and outreach to the marginalised and forgotten. This seems like a very good Gospel initiative - more like Blessed Pope John XXIII

Andrei said...

"Hi Peter; in answer to Andrei, sin (as defined by the Catechism) isn't custom. "

We all agree that the situations we are discussing are sin, Nick

But as Christians we know that we can be forgiven our sins if we repent them, that must be in your catechism too?

Repentance is key

This business of annulment worries me - the use of lawyers to pretend something that did exist (a valid sacramental marriage) didn't really exist by making it invalid in some way does not seem like repentance to me

Everybody sins, everybody makes mistakes, everybody falls short and the first step to repentance is acknowledging that we have gone astray and from that place moving forward - but to me the way of the Latin church when it comes to relationship breakdowns precludes that unless you take the smoke and mirrors path of an annulment

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; I'll answer Andrei first. I agree that forgiveness from sin after genuine repentance cleanses the eternal slate. My issue is that we have to go and sin no more. Repentance doesn't make the wrong right in futuro. I am no LGBT advocate, but like them I am totally confused why divorced heterosexuals receive a "get out of hell free card" after saying they are sorry, but others who continue their relationships do not. Divorced heterosexuals seem to think that future sin (ie their on going future relationship) is sinless. I don't get it. It's nonsense IMHO.

Nick

Brian Kelly said...

"Hi Brian
It may be overly legalistic of the EO but is it not helpful towards consideration of a "second chance" marriage?
Also, it is not sophistry in my view. Is it in yours?"

OK, on second reading I guess it is not so much 'legalistic' as the liturgical expression of repentance.

But very Byzantine in its complexity and hierarchicalism! An Orthodox friend once explained the Orthodox liturgy to me as reflecting the intricacies of the Emperor's court in Constantinople, likening approaching God with the elaborate ceremony of entering the throne room. Very architectonic and beautiful, I'm sure, but most people don't have the time or concentration of monks when it comes to worship. How many Orthodox are in church each Sunday?
We're at the other end: we want to commend and communicate the Christian faith in a post-Christian world, at the same time retaining the depth of prayer and communion with God that I see in Orthodoxy at its best, with the words and thoughts of Scripture as the heart of our prayer life.

Anonymous said...

One matter I forgot; annulment. Clearly it is not possible to annul a marriage that God judges valid. The Roman process, though imperfect, is better than anything anybody else produces. The Greek process of successive marriage stretches reason.

Nick

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, in the spirit of Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia may I quote this paragraph from the latest 'TUI MOTU' the local Roman Catholic publication? It is contained in the article "The Child Who Became The Cosmic Christ", By Peter Mullinane, an Australian Dominican Friar:

"The love-power of the Cosmic Christ makes nonsense of any theory that the world might remain divided into those whom God accepts and those rejected forever in 'hell'. The theories that demanded this dreadful separation as necessary to fulfil God's justice were as doomed as was ancient astronomy, once Copernicus showed that the planets revolve around the sun. Such dualistic division is incompatible with the justice of the cosmic Christ which will heal and restore us all"

Strong stuff to ponder as we await the coming of the Righteous One in this Season of Advent.

Anonymous said...

Peter; I now answer Fr Ron. I am gen X and far younger than Fr Ron's fellow old guard. I remain in full submission to my Pope and my local bishop, who knows me by name. My issue, which Francis would fully accept, is that words favoured by Fr Ron like "move of the Spirit" are just words. Without actions consistent with historical Church teaching , they are meaningless. Catholics put boots on their prayers; slogans generally do not find favour.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter;

A link for Fr Ron's spirit of freedom.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/12/08/a-gravely-critical-moment-catholic-scholars-call-on-bishops-to-support-the-four-cardinals/

Nick

Shawn Herles said...

""The love-power of the Cosmic Christ makes nonsense of any theory that the world might remain divided into those whom God accepts and those rejected forever in 'hell'."

That is contrary to Scripture and the clear teaching of the actual Christ, who warns us repeatedly of the danger of hell. Which means that this "cosmic Christ" is a false idol, not the real Jesus.

Jesus, the real one, says in Matthew ch 25 vs 46, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

So the real Jesus totally contradicts the idea of universal salvation, and the real Jesus contradicts this sentence; "Such dualistic division is incompatible with the justice of the cosmic Christ which will heal and restore us all"

According to that statement, the real teaching of Jesus is incompatible with this individuals notion of "justice".

No wonder so much of what Liberal Christians claim about God's love and justice cannot be found anywhere in Scripture and in the teaching of the real Jesus.

Do liberals follow the real Jesus, or just a false one they have made up to suit themselves?

Andrei said...

I am no LGBT advocate, but like them I am totally confused why divorced heterosexuals receive a "get out of hell free card" after saying they are sorry, but others who continue their relationships do not.

There is no "get out of hell free card" and the Church does not and cannot issue them!

Everyone will face the day of Judgement and the job of the Church is to help us prepare ourselves for that that we may be ready and "have a good defence before the dread judgment seat of Christ"

We all struggle with sin all the days of our lives and we stumble along

"The Roman process, though imperfect, is better than anything anybody else produces. The Greek process of successive marriage stretches reason."

In both cases a second marriage takes place, in the "Latin" case it happens by creating the fiction the first marriage never occurred, in the "Greek" case the first marriage is acknowledged to have occurred and the ceremony adapted accordingly.

Here's a tale for you to think about Nick

Jane Wyman who was Ronald Reagan's first wife and he her second husband actually had four marriages and divorces with three different men, she divorced her third husband then remarried him and then he divorced her.

But when she died, she died a Faithful Catholic and she was also a lay tertiary of the Dominican order. She was buried in a nuns habit - metanoia!

Father Ron said...

"Jesus, the real one, says in Matthew ch 25 vs 46, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” - Shawn Herles -

This statement just proves that well-meaning people often misquote - and thus misunderstand - the context of a 'proof text', often used to bolster specious arguments.

A little research on the proper context of this saying of Jesus will see that he is addressing the so-call righteous', who protest their righteousness, but without caring for the hungry, the thirsty the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned. These are the works of charity and mercy that are required of Christ's disciples. They are not an optional extra for the holy and righteous! In this context, righteousness consists in doing those things that the Scribes and Pharisees may have neglected! This is why they were/are acounted by Jesus to be 'unrighteous'.

Father Ron said...

Dear Nick, I think even you must agree that are degrees of understanding among Roman Catholics - whether clergy or lay - about the direction of the R.C. Church and its requirement of obedience to (a) the scriptures, (b) the Magisterium and (c) the Pope. You obviously are one who questions the wisdom and authority of the Pope's latest statements - comparing them to the 'Magisterium', which you say trumps anything a reigning Pope may pronounce.

On the other hand, there are serving Dominican clergy; like Peter Mullinane, whose excellent article on the Cosmic Christ, as Redeemer of ALL, is here dismissed by an Anglican/Pentecostal/RC/Vineyard Churchman as 'heretical' - and yet he (Fr.Peter Mullinane) is a priest in good standing in your Church.
This, surely, goes to prove that there are many different understandings of the Gospel in Christian communities - all of which share some element of the Truth.

To go along with your Roman Catholic argument that Rome is the absolute and sole arbiter on the Deposit of The Faith would be to deny the veracity of most people in this world who call themselves Christians. I wouldn't expect Andrei to agree with you. Certainly I do not.

Shawn Herles said...

"This statement just proves that well-meaning people often misquote - and thus misunderstand - "

There is nothing to misunderstand. Jesus says that on judgement day, some will be consigned to eternal hell, and some to eternal life.

The "context" you refer to does not change that.

Jesus also says in Mark 9:43 "If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out."

In fact Jesus warns about hell more than any other person in the Bible.

So the argument you posted is dangerous false teaching. It is totally contradictory to what God Himself says, both in the words of Jesus as God incarnate, and through the rest of Scripture.

"In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." - Jude 1:7

"They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might" - 2 Thessalonians 1:9

There is no context with which to explain away these passages, or the teaching of Jesus, about Heaven and Hell. The Dominican Friar is teaching outright heresy, and placing himself above Jesus and the Bible.

Shawn Herles said...

"is here dismissed by an Anglican/Pentecostal/RC/Vineyard Churchman as 'heretical'"

'I'm just a Christian Ron, a follower of the real Jesus, not the New Age-Satanic "cosmic christ."

Shawn Herles said...

The concept of this so-called "cosmic christ" comes from former Dominican Matthew Fox. Fox taught that Christianity was compatible with New Age and Pagan spirituality, and invited a practicing pagan witch to teach with him. He denied original sin, hell, heaven, the Trinity, and the uniqueness of Christ, claiming Buddha, Krishna and Mohammed were also legitimate "vehicles" to God.

He was formally expelled from the Dominican Order by the Vatican, and left the RC. He found a welcoming home in TEC.

Differences over Biblical interpretation are one thing, but Fox and his disciples have thrown out the Bible and any notion of basic orthodoxy, and are preaching a false gospel that is by any reasonable measure outright heresy.

Brian Kelly said...

Matthew wrote a book (with tie-in video game) about his dreadful persecution by his former order, the heresy-burning Dominicans and by the Vatican.

It's called 'Fox's Book of Martyrs'. :)

Father Ron said...

Dear Nick, the Catholic Herald article you have linked in your comment shows the more conservative understanding of what is of vital concern to Christians as part of the basic belief of the Catholic Church. Here is an example:

"The scholars’ statement warns that the Church may be entering “a gravely critical moment” comparable with the Arian crisis. It points out that when Arianism advanced, “the great majority of bishops, including even the Successor of Peter, vacillated over the very divinity of Christ."

Surely these 'learned academics' who support the 4 cardinals' case against Pope Francis on his plea for a more charitable view of divorcees who re-marry cannot be comparing this purely pastoral measure with a dispute about the divinity of Christ? If so, this may one reason why many Christians choose not to be part of the Roman Benefice.

Marriage is a part of the natural order. The Church came into it at a much later stage of its evolution. However, it cannot rule on such matters for the vast majority of the world's population, to whom the Church is called to minister.

Shawn Herles said...

Whether it's the RC understanding of authority, the Pope and the Magisterium, or the Protestant understanding of the supreme authority of Scripture, Liberal "Christians" reject any and all authority, including God's. The only authority Liberals accept is themselves. They make themselves their own authority. They make themselves gods. This is because any understanding of authority that attempts to recognise the authority of God, the living and true God revealed in Scripture, will inevitably get in the way of Liberalism's agenda to dethrone God and enthrone humanity. The human individual, so long as they are Liberals, is the only and supreme authority for Liberals.

If the Liberal individual decides that killing defenceless babies in the womb is a right then Liberal "Christians" will weave some theological trickery to support it, and even send their "priests" to bless the places where this sick crime takes place. If the Liberal individual decides that sexual perversions forbidden by God are a right then Liberal "christians" will weave some theological trickery to support it. Part of this theological trickery is inventing a supposed context which in reality is no context at all, just baseless assertion with no Scriptural evidence.

In this they are like the Pharisees, inventing extra-Biblical ideas to enslave people to the legalism of Liberal political correctness, and proudly signalling their own virtue for upholding the demands of PC, judging and condemning others as unloving and hateful for disobeying PC demands.

Scripture teaches that the original sin that brought the Fall and evil into the world was Adam and Eve eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in other words, deciding for themselves, apart from God, what is right and what is wrong. That is the essence of Liberalism. Liberalism is original sin in political form.

"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." - 2 Timothy 4:3

Father Ron said...

Shawn, Jesus had plenty to say to the Scribes and Pharisees who questioned his liberality with known sinners. They were constantly questioning Jesus on his interpretation of the Hebrew Law

Jesus was very careful to counsel his followers to be compassionate and forgiving: Luke 6:36-38:

"Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge and you WILL NOT BE JUDGED YOURSELVES.Do not condemn and YOU WILL NOT BE CONDEMNED YOURSELVES! Grant pardon and YOU WILL BE PARDONED (nothing here about repentance, by the way). Give and there will be gifts for you; a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because THE AMOUNT YOU MEASURE OUT (IN JUDGEMENT AS WELL AS MERCY) IS THE AMOUNT YOU WILL BE GIVEN BACK"

This ought to be reflected in our treatment of others!

Shawn Herles said...

Liberals can't have it both ways Ron. To quote Jesus about love and judgement, then deny what He teaches about Hell and God's wrath, or His teaching that marriage is between a man and a women, is called being selective. A disciple follows ALL of his Master's teaching.

The "jesus" who only ever teaches love, and never hell and God's wrath, is not the real Jesus. The Jesus who blesses gay "marriage" is not the real Jesus. The Liberal "jesus" is a Liberal idol created to suit Liberal ideology.

Anonymous said...

Peter; on December 8 at 8.14pm, I said that RC tradition holds that the RC Church has received the truth. I used that to argue that it is then hard for us to change the truth. Fr Ron appears to interpret my argument (wrongly) as a claim that Catholicism has the truth and you RC-frees do not. I did not say anything like that.

In terms of Amoris Laetitia, it is inconsistent ( in two footnotes) with a higher document from JP2. Yet, the Holy Father is clearly a man of God, so some of us would like clarificaion. That's no major issue in itself, though I am concerned that Francis has apparently been advised to say nothing.

Nick

Father Ron said...

Nick, you can't have both doctrines that may at times contradict each other: awarding infallibility to both Pope and Magisterium. This defies logic. The real arbiter, of course if 'The Logos' The 'Word Made Flesh' in Jesus Christ, who is, despite Shawn's protest, Lord of the Cosmos, the 'Cosmic Christ'. "Either he is Lord of All or not Lord at all!".

Glen Young said...


re the "cosmic Christ"

But in following Jesus the man,we find what Dr Hort refers to as Jesus Worship:"A perverted and sentimental devotion to our Lord, not as the revelation of His Father and at one with Him,but as a tender and not too exacting saviour who will be a refuge from the Father's Holiness and Justice".
(Hort-Life and Letters, vol.2 page 49)

Father Ron said...

Glen, your remark shows that there are theologians one 'hort' not to follow.

In true Tinitarian doctrine, in worshipping any One of the Trinity, we actually worship all Three 'Persons'. Only if one were not Trinitarian would Jesuolatry become possible. One can only worship the Trinitarian God in Unity. This does not prevent the paradigm of the Cosmic Christ.

Glen Young said...


Why, then not the cosmic Father and the cosmic Spirit??? Do you accept that Fox was into worshiping "Mother Earth"??? Roman 1: 18????

"Then came the Jews round about him,and said unto him,How long dost thou make us to doubt?If thou be the Christ,tell us plainly.(24)Jesus answered
them,"I told you and ye believed me not:the works that I do in my Fathers name,they bear witness of me.(25)But ye believed me not,because ye are not of my sheep,as I have said unto you.(26)My sheep hear my voice,and I know them,and they follow me:(27)And I give unto them eternal life;and they shall never perish,neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.(28)My Father,which gave them me,is greater than all:and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.(29)I and my Father are one."(30) John ch. 10 :

Firstly,ETERNAL LIFE belongs to those who the Father has given to the Christ and secondly,the father and the Son are one.They are more than collaborators;they are one in essence (the word one is not masculine-one person-but neuter,oneness of being.)

Ron,be careful of hanging out with foxes,they are Chicken stealers and one would not want to be accused of that,would they????



Shawn Herles said...

" The real arbiter, of course if 'The Logos' The 'Word Made Flesh' in Jesus Christ, who is, despite Shawn's protest, Lord of the Cosmos, the 'Cosmic Christ'. "

No Ron, that is not what I am protesting. I am protesting that the "cosmic christ" described by your Dominican Friar and the real Cosmic Christ are not one and the same, because his version contradicts the teaching of the real one. Yes, the real and final arbiter is Jesus Christ, and His teaching is found in the Bible, the infallible Word of Christ which preserves for us the teaching of the real Christ, who clearly teaches that there will be a final judgment that involves the eternal damnation of the unrepentant and eternal life for the saved.

Liberals cannot have it both ways Ron. If Jesus is the final arbiter, then what Jesus teaches, all of it, must be accepted, including Jesus' teaching on Hell, and His teaching on God's wrath, and His teaching on marriage. And this extends to the whole of Scripture, because Scripture, all of it, is the Word of God, and thus the Word of Christ.

When Liberals selectively quote Jesus in one area, then ignore Him in another, they are not accepting Jesus as the final arbiter. They are making themselves the final arbiters.

Here is what the real Cosmic Christ teaches:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” -John 3:36

“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” - Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50

So as you can see from those quotes, and the previous ones I posted, your Dominican Friar's "cosmic christ" says there will be no separation of the saved and unsaved. The Real cosmic Christ says there will be. Your Dominican Friar's "cosmic christ" says there will be no Hell. The real Cosmic Christ says there will be.

So if you accept Jesus as the final arbiter, then it is clear that the Dominican Friar is wrong, and has made up a false christ. The Bible calls this idolatry, making up a false god to suit ourselves.

No amount of claiming "context" can change what the real Christ teaches. There is no universal salvation possible. Jesus, the real Cosmic Christ, and the only final arbiter, clearly and unarguably denies universal salvation.

According to the real Christ, the teaching of your Dominican Friar is heresy, and dangerous heresy at that. It misleads people who cannot be saved except by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. His false teaching outs people eternal souls at risk. I do not care one bit if he is a priest in "good standing" in the local RC. According to the real Jesus he is wrong.

Jean said...

To me the EC's comment about the Popes writing read well, but then again I am not schooled in the RC tradition.

Personally I hold the truth about Jesus teaching on matters of divorce or say lust (if you even look lustfully you are guilty of adultery) in tension with living under grace. Jesus holds nothing back as to what is clearly the purpose of marriage - a life-long committment. Yet as with the likes of lust (and there are other examples) I believe He holds out what is meant to be, what should be. He hates divorce because of what it does to the couple or children involved. Notwithstanding this ideal is to be aimed for and not taken lightly, his people still live under grace - a grace we all need whether it be we are found lustful, divorced or otherwise. Hence my stance on a second marriage is it is permissable under grace but abuse of this grace is not to be encouraged!!

I am unsure of RC reasoning re communion and having been on a second marriage.

And honestly, although I know our culture now takes relationships far too lightly, those who I have encountered within the church who have divorced have never done so easily and without much personal grief.

As for universal salvation or heaven and hell. Gosh such small topics! Well my take is Jesus died for the world - he offers salvation to all - however, free will means not all will receive it. I do not think God is responsible for death or hell - to me they are the devils schemes. And from the reading today featuring John the Baptist calling for repentance and Jesus featuring healing and deliverance - a wedding song and you would not dance; a funeral song and you would not mourn. Perhaps(?) they are an indication of the two ways the Holy Spirit convicts people of Christ's salvation, through love of the bridegroom and repentance from sin which leads to death .. Yet still it was told to Lazarus, 'Even if I raise a man from the dead they will still not believe."

Jesus will judge but as it is said his desire is for all to be saved. Can you imagine such an unrequited love as that!

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you all for comments recently: lively, interesting and sometimes robust!

A further comment from me about (re)marriage and divorce is that it is very difficult for the church(es) to get this right. In respect of comments above, my own experience of (re)marriages and divorces as come across in pastoral ministry means that I have come across instances which (IMHO):

- make a mockery of (RC) Annulment
- make a mockery of (Protestants) readily marrying people without thorough preparation
- illustrate that remarriage after divorce really is continuing adultery.

No doubt one could argue the toss on a range of possible/plausible exceptions to Jesus and Paul's teaching, but there is one specific instance of remarriage after divorce which I cannot equate to continuing adultery: a couple's marriage breaks down irretrievably (i.e. the marriage is dead and no one thinks it a good idea to try to resurrect it) and before any children are born.

If either or both parties to that marriage then remarry (after working through and repenting of any fault), particularly with a view to having a family (and thus fulfilling a divine mandate), I do not see that marriage as constituting a state of continuing adultery a la Jesus' own teaching.

Does anyone here demur?

Shawn Herles said...

"Does anyone here demur?"

No, I think you have it right. I particularly agree that we tend to fail at adequate marriage preparation, as well as failing to teach about the covenant nature of marriage in general.

Anonymous said...

An insightful comment about the two destinies from conservative Reformed evangelical Gerald McDermott in Themelios--

"For the biblical and especially NT authors, hell is not a problem but a solution. It helps answer the question, 'Why does God permit evil to continue unpunished?' Rather than create a problem for theodicy, as it does for moderns, hell for the ancients was a solution to difficult problems of theodicy. People of God in biblical books like Habakkuk, Job, and Revelation—not to mention Matthew—struggle with God’s patience in permitting sin and wickedness but seldom with his judgment on evildoers. For them, the ultimate horror of the universe is not the suffering of the wicked but the suffering of the innocent because of the oppression of the wicked."

http://tgc-documents.s3.amazonaws.com/themelios/Themelios38.2.pdf#page=38

McDermott is right. And this is the problem: some sins associated with hell seem not to be reliably associated with any discernible oppression of the wicked, and some contemporary forms of wicked oppression are not reliably associated with hell in scripture. Worse, some past and present use of hell by the powerful to intimidate the powerless now seems to be itself the wicked oppression for which hell was the biblical remedy.

So today, hell is not so obviously a loving God's response to the suffering of the righteous, and preaching hell in our world is not the hopeful gospel proclamation that it once was. And for Protestants, to say nothing of evangelicals-- (1) any warnings of law must dialectically also be proclamation of the gospel, and (2) that proclamation must be grounded in the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Because actual preaching of hell has been failing both tests in the actual Body of Christ, the Body began rejecting it a few centuries ago. The locus itself has faded from most contemporary systematics.

And alas, as hell fades, the very hopeful doctrine of predestination is fading along with it. In the canon itself, predestination is not used to explain to particular believers which of the two destinies will be their own. But this relatively recent use of predestination texts by the Reformed has firmly linked them in the *sensus fidelium* to all that is problematic about hell. Consequently, predestination is likewise nearly unpreachable in most of the global north. I have heard some fine preaching on predestination-- by a prominent universalist.

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/why-is-predestination-missing-in-action/

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/the-unpreachability-of-the-doctrine-of-predestination/

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/recovering-the-good-news-of-predestination/

http://theconnexion.net/wp/?p=3601#axzz4SeIOpXoT

In Texas, there are guys who prove their manhood by eating piles of the hottest peppers that they can find. In churches, there are likewise those who prove it by affirming hard-to-preach doctrines as often and pugnaciously as they can. But they offer no way to pass the two failed tests. And those with nothing to prove can see that there is a challenge for those of us with both a high doctrine of scripture and a Protestant theology of preaching, whether universalism is the right response to that challenge or not.

Bowman Walton