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Showing posts with label Orthodoxy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Orthodoxy. Show all posts

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Miscellaneous notes on Catholic doctrines . . .

The Catholic position on the Rapture

The Catholic position on the Rapture has not been dogmatically defined. Yet, you maintain that “In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism "cannot safely be taught." Which, of course is true—the Holy Office did also say that; however, to say that the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue is, nevertheless, a far cry from outright denying it.

Baptism vis-à-vis Circumcision


Colossians 2:11-12 refers to this type of spiritual circumcision: “In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” This is the Scripture on which much of what those who practice infant baptism base their doctrine.

Those believe that only believing adults should be baptized say  that this circumcision (i.e., water baptism) does not involve the cutting of the body; it is a cutting away of our old nature. It is a spiritual act and refers to nothing less than salvation, effected by the Holy Spirit. Baptism, mentioned in verse 12, does not replace circumcision; it follows circumcision—and it is clearly a spiritual circumcision that is meant. Baptism, therefore, is a sign of inward, spiritual “circumcision.”
This passage also specifies that the new life, represented by baptism, comes “through your faith.” This implies that the one being baptized has the ability to exercise faith. Since infants are not capable of exercising faith, they should not be candidates for baptism.
Someone born (physically) under the Old Covenant received the sign of that covenant (circumcision); likewise, someone born (spiritually) under the New Covenant (“born again,” John 3:3) receives the sign of that covenant (baptism).
Alan Howe
There is in Protestant evangelical circles a commonly held misconception concerning the Roman Catholic Church today: namely, that we are dealing with broadly the same institution and theology with which our forebears dealt. So, for example, one recently published and generally helpful pamphlet speaks of the current pope, Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), as an ‘arch-conservative’ and mentions his ‘pre-Vatican II doctrinal rigidity’, thus giving the unmistakable impression that little, if anything has changed in the official stance of the church over the past fifty years or more. In order, therefore, to come to a more accurate representation of Rome’s official stance theologically today, we need first to understand what has happened in the past century or so, i.e. not only in the period leading up to the convening of the Second Vatican Council (‘Vatican II’: October 1962-December 1965), but also in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Roman Catholic Theology before Vatican II
Prior to Vatican II the official theology of the Roman Catholic Church was ‘Neo-Thomism’, or more broadly ‘Neo-Scholasticism’, which began to be established from about 1840 in order to rescue the church from an increasing pluralism of ideas and theologies in the early nineteenth century. Neo-Thomism in particular was the movement designed to recover the theology of Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) as central to the church; it was given official sanction in Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Aeterni Patris of 1879. Thus when Protestants think of Roman Catholicism, they may have in mind the overall picture given by an author such as Loraine Boettner in his classic volume Roman Catholicism (P & R, 1962), published during the Second Vatican Council, but describing the theology which had prevailed up to that point. This was a theology which was officially Neo-Thomist and Tridentine (i.e. also upholding the declarations of the Council of Trent [1545-63] which condemned the Protestant Reformation).
Not that liberal ideas in various forms did not circulate within the church between 1879 and 1962. Pope Pius X, in his decree Lamentabili and encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis (both issued in 1907), condemned modernism, describing it (in Pascendi) as the ‘synthesis of all heresies’. Modernist Roman Catholic thinkers such as Baron Friedrich von Hügel (1852-1925), Alfred Loisy (1857-1940), George Tyrrell (1861-1909) and Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) thus became the object of official scorn and rejection.
However, modernist seeds had been sown; and in the background stood the figure of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), an Anglican convert to Rome (1845) who wrote what was to become for many later, liberalising theologians at the time of Vatican II a key text: An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. This work was written by Newman as a vehicle to justify the theological developments found in the traditional Roman Catholicism of his day but rejected by Protestantism (e.g. Mariology).
However, as Nick Needham has argued, ‘it is to be feared that the ultimate thrust of Newman’s philosophy of development may have been to bolster the Hegelian evolutionary idea of God and the world which increasingly seems to underlie much modern Roman Catholic thinking’ (essay: The Tragic Enigma of John Henry Newman - CRN Journal, Spring 2001). In other words, Newman’s ideas were eventually to give succor to those who sought to reject the rigidity of Neo-Thomism and instead promote modernist thinking.
Even the papal condemnations of 1907 and the entrenchment of Neo-Thomism as central to official theological training by the 1920s did not, however, entirely halt the spread of modernist ideas. Theologians such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), Karl Rahner (1904-1984), Yves Congar (1904-95) and Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-88) began to grapple with the same sorts of ideas which had been condemned in the early twentieth century. This gave rise, for example, to the broad school of thought known as ‘Nouvelle Théologie’ (‘New Theology’) which rejected the official theology of the church.
This move to free the church from what was seen as the straitjacket of Neo-Thomist orthodoxy was also met with official criticism in the encyclical Humani generis of Pope Pius XII, issued in 1950. However, as Reformed theologian David F. Wells narrates, this encyclical ‘was so mild in its wording it can hardly even be seen as a rebuke. The work of the new theologians was not imperiled and still less consigned to the graveyard of heresy. After a further decade of study, their conclusions seemed sufficiently safe and fruitful to be given papal approval’ (essay: Recent Roman Catholic Theology in Tensions in Contemporary Theology - Moody Press, 1976).
So how could this be? What was the event that precipitated the sea-change in Roman Catholicism which would finally admit the New Theology (i.e. modernism)?
Vatican II and aggiornamento
On October 28th 1958 one Angelo Giuseppe Rocalli was elected pope, taking the name John XXIII. Unlike his predecessor Pius XII, the new pope - although already an old man - was open to the modernizing agenda of the New Theology. Thus John XXIII summoned the Second Vatican Council with the specific intention not of merely repeating what had been taught in the past, but rather of achieving a doctrinal breakthrough. As he made clear in his address which inaugurated the Council, his justification was that the 'substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of the faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another'. For a church in second half of the twentieth century it wasn't sufficient to stand still: it was necessary to embark upon a radical process of aggiornamento (bringing things up to date).
The result at Vatican II was a clash of theologies and their representatives, with the Neo-Thomist traditionalists being battled by the newly emboldened modernizers of the New Theology. As David Wells narrates, when the two parties came into conflict with each other, three outcomes were possible: on rare occasions one side prevailed; sometimes, when neither side backed down, a reconciling statement was drawn up which was ambiguous enough to mean different things to the two parties; and sometimes no such reconciling statement could be devised, in which case the two opposing positions were simply recorded alongside each other.
The problem, then, that was bequeathed to the Roman Catholic Church was a set of Council documents which could often be interpreted in varying ways. Rather than resulting in clarity, what Vatican II often did was to produce uncertainty. So what is the situation today, nearly half a century later?
Rome today: three camps, not two!
Today Roman Catholics themselves are clear that in the wake of Vatican II three broad doctrinal camps have evolved. Philip Trower, in Turmoil and Truth (Family Publications/Ignatius Press, 2003), writes:
'Among those calling themselves Catholics today there are in fact not two but three recognizable bodies of belief or opinion. First, there are Catholics in the hitherto universally recognized sense; they accept all the Church's teachings. Then come the modernists or semi-modernists dedicated to altering some aspect of faith or morals. We can also call them innovators or dissenters. It seems the politest name consistent with accuracy. Finally, there are the followers of the French Archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre.' (p.37)
Re-stating and re-ordering Trower's analysis for the sake of clarity, we can characterize the three camps as follows:
1. The Traditionalists: As Trower says, the Neo-Thomist followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-91) make up this camp. They are basically those who have rejected Vatican II as heretical and wish to maintain the doctrines and practices of Rome prior to the Council. Lefebvre founded the Society of St Pius XII in 1970 and in 1988, after himself consecrating four bishops in defiance of Pope John Paul II, was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. This group is small, although vocal.
There are also a number of (mainly) American Roman Catholic apologists who, although working within the church, are concerned to promote traditional Tridentine teaching. Typical examples here would be ex-Presbyterian (PCA) Scott Hahn, or Karl Keating.
2. The Radical Liberals (i.e. Trower's modernists or semi-modernists): These are the thinkers and theologians who wish to carry forward the most radical interpretation of Vatican II. They too often act in defiance of the reigning orthodoxy. A representative figure would be theologian Hans Küng (b.1928) who was appointed a peritus, or official theological advisor at Vatican II. Although still a priest in good standing today, he was deprived of his mandate to teach Roman Catholic theology in 1979, mainly as a result of his explicit rejection of papal infallibility. The representative journal of this camp is Concilium which puts forward a more radical version of the New Theology.
3. The Conservative Liberals (i.e. those in Trower's analysis who accept Rome's teachings): These are the representatives today of a more conservative interpretation of the New Theology, e.g. Joseph Ratzinger (b.1927), the current pope. The theology of the more conservative liberals is now the prevailing orthodoxy within Roman Catholicism. Their textbook is the officially-sanctioned Catechism of the Catholic Church (first published in English in 1994) and their representative journal is Communio.
The outworking of Vatican II in the doctrine of soteriology
Roman Catholicism is therefore no more monolithic in its doctrine and practice than wider Protestantism. Of course, there is an official line as represented by the Catechism and various papal pronouncements; however, there is usually also visible dissent at both ends of the theological spectrum, i.e. from the traditionalists and from the radical liberals. One thing is clear, though: if there is an official line, it is not going to be that of the church pre-Vatican II. The official line must therefore characterized as liberal in some measure. We can see this in the doctrine of soteriology:
The traditionalists, like orthodox evangelicals, are exclusivists, i.e. they teach that there is no salvation outside the Christian faith, in particular as represented by the Roman Catholic Church. This is summarized in the Latin phrase extra ecclesiam nulla salus (there is no salvation outside the church). Pope Pius X in his encyclical Jucunda sane of 1904 explained this teaching as follows:
'It is our duty to recall to everyone great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours, to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation.'
Evangelicals have also traditionally been exclusivists, arguing, however, that Rome is a false church. Biblical texts such as John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 provide the main arguments for Christian exclusivism.
The radical liberals, like many liberal Protestants, are often pluralists, i.e. they teach that all religions can lead to God and salvation. This is the position of Roman Catholic theologian Paul Knitter, editor (with Protestant theologian of soteriological pluralism, John Hick) of The Myth of Christian Uniqueness: Toward a Pluralistic Theology of Religions (Orbis, 1987). In this teaching Jesus Christ is no longer held to be the only savior, thus contradicting the biblical texts mentioned above.
The conservative liberals, like many other liberal Protestants and some liberal-leaning evangelicals such as Clark Pinnock, are inclusivists, i.e. they teach that people of other religions can be saved by Jesus Christ even if they do not explicitly believe in him. Karl Rahner coined the term ‘anonymous Christians’ to describe people who are saved in this way.
Inclusivism is in fact the official position of Rome today. This shift away from the traditionally-held exclusivism began with the declarations of Vatican II (e.g. Lumen Gentium) and is now enshrined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
  • ‘Those who have not yet received the gospel are related to the People of God in various ways’ (para.839)
  • ‘The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant.’ (para.839)
  • ‘The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.’ (para.841)
  • ‘The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race...all share a common destiny, namely God...’ (para.842)
  • ‘The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things, and wants all men to be saved.’ (para.843)
  • '...all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his body.' (para.846)
  • ‘Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by his grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.' (para.847)
It is evident, therefore, the Roman Catholic Church has dramatically shifted her position on the doctrine of salvation. In reality she teaches today that people of any faith (or, perhaps, none) can be saved by means of religious sincerity, because this is in effect anonymous Christianity. Inclusivism has therefore replaced exclusivism. Ian Ker, Roman Catholic priest and biographer of John Henry Newman, explains the current orthodoxy as follows:
'...the Council (i.e. Vatican II) reasserted the Catholic Church's rejection of both the narrowness and exclusivity of the Evangelical Protestantism which restricts salvation to Christian believers, as well as any kind of Liberal protestant approach which undermines the uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator.' (Catholic Herald, 15th September 2000)
Of course, while describing Rome's official position today perfectly accurately, Ker is actually re-writing the history of his own church whose position prior to Vatican II was patently exclusivist (with the exception of the doctrine of Baptism of Desire, which taught that the unbaptized could be saved if they desired baptism but died before receiving it).
Knowing our opponents
This writer is convinced that one of the reasons why evangelicals often continue to engage purely with the doctrinal controversies of the past (giving the impression that Rome has not changed) may well be that this is within their theological comfort-zone. However, while such engagement is still necessary in those theological loci which divide orthodox evangelicals from Roman Catholic traditionalists just as they did in the sixteenth century, it is important to understand that the debate has actually been relocated and now takes place in a quite different overall theological context. As Reformed theologian Robert Strimple says with regard to the traditionalist Roman Catholic apologists in the USA:
'Evangelical Protestants must recognize, however, what such conservative Roman Catholics themselves recognize: that they form the ''orthodox minority'' (Keating) in the Catholic Church. And when orthodox Protestants enter into debate with those who now form the majority of professional Catholic theologians, the issues addressed must be the even more radically fundamental ones relating to the meaning of every affirmation of the historic faith of the Christian church...' (essay: Roman Catholic Theology Today in Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze what Divides and Unites us - ed. John H. Armstrong, Moody Press, 1994)
Let us, therefore, know our opponents, so to speak. The Roman Catholic Church has changed fundamentally in the past half-century, from a Tridentine exclusivist body (“no salvation outside the church”) to one that embraces religious inclusivism (“all can be saved by their own sincere religious quest”). In our engagement with Rome’s teachings, let us therefore not merely re-fight the battles of the past, but so understand what Rome in fact teaches that we may be equipped to fight the battles of today.
© Alan Howe. Permission is given to duplicate and distribute this article in any format provided that the wording is not altered and no fee is charged. Please include the following statement on copies: © Alan Howe. Used by permission.


Saturday, April 04, 2015

Read 55 Amazing Facts on Jesus Death

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Below are facts on How Jesus Died For You. I do not think that we really understand how much Jesus did for us. Please share this post to spread the Good News of Jesus.
Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300 BC, and perfected by the Romans in 100 BC.

1. It is the most painful death ever invented by man and is where we get our term "excruciating."

2. It was reserved primarily for the most vicious of male criminals.

3. Jesus was stripped naked and His clothing divided by the Roman guards. This was in fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, "They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots."

4. The Crucifixion of Jesus guaranteed a horrific, slow, painful death.

5. Jesus' knees were flexed at about 45 degrees, and He was forced to bear His
weight with the muscles of His thigh, which is not an anatomical position which is possible to maintain for more than a few minutes without severe cramp in the muscles of the thigh and calf.

6. Jesus' weight was borne on His feet, with nails driven through them. As the strength of the muscles of Jesus' lower limbs tired, the weight of His body had to be transferred to His wrists, His arms, and His shoulders.

7. Within a few minutes of being placed on the Cross, Jesus' shoulders were dislocated. Minutes later Jesus' elbows and wrists became dislocated.

8. The result of these upper limb dislocations is that His arms were 9 inches longer than normal, as clearly shown on the Shroud.

9. In addition prophecy was fulfilled in Psalm 22:14, "I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint."

10. After Jesus' wrists, elbows, and shoulders were dislocated, the weight of His body on his upper limbs caused traction forces on the Pectoralis Major muscles of His chest wall.

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11. These traction forces caused His rib cage to be pulled upwards and outwards, in a most unnatural state. His chest wall was permanently in a position of maximal respiratory inspiration. In order to exhale, Jesus was physiologically required to force His body.

12. In order to breathe out, Jesus had to push down on the nails in His feet to raise His body, and allow His rib cage to move downwards and inwards to expire air from His lungs.

13. His lungs were in a resting position of constant maximum inspiration. Crucifixion is a medical catastrophe.

14. The problem was that Jesus could not easily push down on the nails in His feet because the muscles of His legs, bent at 45 degrees, were extremely fatigued, in severe cramp, and in an anatomically compromised position.

15. Unlike all Hollywood movies about the Crucifixion, the victim was extremely active. The crucified victim was physiologically forced to move up and down the cross, a distance of about 12 inches, in order to breathe.

16. The process of respiration caused excruciating pain, mixed with the absolute terror of asphyxiation.

17. As the six hours of the Crucifixion wore on, Jesus was less and less able to bear His weight on His legs, as His thigh and calf muscles became increasingly exhausted. There was increasing dislocation of His wrists, elbows and shoulders, and further elevation of His chest wall, making His breathing more and more difficult. Within minutes of crucifixion Jesus became severely dyspnoeic (short of breath).

18. His movements up and down the Cross to breathe caused excruciating pain in His wrist, His feet, and His dislocated elbows and shoulders.

19. The movements became less frequent as Jesus became increasingly exhausted, but the terror of imminent death by asphyxiation forced Him to continue in His efforts to breathe.

20. Jesus' lower limb muscles developed excruciating cramp from the effort of pushing down on His legs, to raise His body, so that He could breathe out, in their anatomically compromised position.

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21. The pain from His two shattered median nerves in His wrists exploded with every movement.

22. Jesus was covered in blood and sweat.

23. The blood was a result of the Scourging that nearly killed Him, and the sweat as a result of His violent involuntary attempts to effort to expire air from His lungs. Throughout all this He was completely naked, and the leaders of the Jews, the crowds, and the thieves on both sides of Him were jeering, swearing and laughing at Him. In addition, Jesus' own mother was watching.

24. Physiologically, Jesus' body was undergoing a series of catastrophic and terminal events.

25. Because Jesus could not maintain adequate ventilation of His lungs, He was now in a state of hypo-ventilation (inadequate ventilation).

26. His blood oxygen level began to fall, and He developed Hypoxia (low blood oxygen). In addition, because of His restricted respiratory movements, His blood carbon dioxide (CO2) level began to rise, a condition known as Hypercritical.

27. This rising CO2 level stimulated His heart to beat faster in order to increase the delivery of oxygen, and the removal of CO2.

28. The Respiratory Center in Jesus' brain sent urgent messages to his lungs to breathe faster, and Jesus began to pant.

29. Jesus' physiological reflexes demanded that He took deeper breaths, and He involuntarily moved up and down the Cross much faster, despite the excruciating pain. The agonizing movements spontaneously started several times a minute, to the delight of the crowd who jeered Him, the Roman soldiers, and the Sanhedrin.

30. However, due to the nailing of Jesus to the Cross and His increasing exhaustion, He was unable to provide more oxygen to His oxygen starved body.

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31. The twin forces of Hypoxia (too little oxygen) and Hypercapnia (too much CO2) caused His heart to beat faster and faster, and Jesus developed Tachycardia.

32. Jesus' heart beat faster and faster, and His pulse rate was probably about 220 beats/minute, the maximum normally sustainable.

33. Jesus had drunk nothing for 15 hours, since 6 pm the previous evening. Jesus had endured a scourging which nearly killed Him.

34. He was bleeding from all over His body following the Scourging, the crown of thorns, the nails in His wrists and feet, and the lacerations following His beatings and falls.

35. Jesus was already very dehydrated, and His blood pressure fell alarmingly.

36. His blood pressure was probably about 80/50.

37. He was in First Degree Shock, with Hypovolaemia (low blood volume), Tachycardia (excessively fast Heart Rate), Tachypnoea (excessively fast Respiratory Rate), and Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).

38. By about noon Jesus' heart probably began to fail.

39. Jesus' lungs probably began to fill up with Pulmonary Oedema.

40. This only served to exacerbate His breathing, which was already severely compromised.

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41. Jesus was in Heart Failure and Respiratory Failure.

42. Jesus said, "I thirst" because His body was crying out for fluids.

43. Jesus was in desperate need of an intravenous infusion of blood and plasma to save His life

44. Jesus could not breathe properly and was slowly suffocating to death.

45. At this stage Jesus probably developed a Haemopericardium.

46. Plasma and blood gathered in the space around His heart, called the Pericardium.

47. This fluid around His heart caused Cardiac Tamponade (fluid around His heart, which prevented Jesus' heart from beating properly).

48. Because of the increasing physiological demands on Jesus' heart, and the advanced state of Haemopericardium, Jesus probably eventually sustained Cardiac Rupture. His heart literally burst. This was probably the cause of His death.

49. To slow the process of death the soldiers put a small wooden seat on the Cross, which would allow Jesus the "privilege" of bearing His weight on his sacrum.

50. The effect of this was that it could take up to nine days to die on a Cross.

51. When the Romans wanted to expedite death they would simply break the legs of the victim, causing the victim to suffocate in a matter of minutes. This was called Crucifragrum.

52. At three o'clock in the afternoon Jesus said, "Tetelastai," meaning, "It is finished." At that moment, He gave up His Spirit, and He died.

53. When the soldiers came to Jesus to break His legs, He was already dead. Not a bone of His body was broken, in fulfillment of prophecy (above).

54. Jesus died after six hours of the most excruciating and terrifying torture ever invented.

55. Jesus died so that ordinary people like you and me could go to Heaven.

All He Asks You is to Love Him, Your Lord, Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind!! Can't you even do this for Him?

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