Sunday, November 29, 2009

Discuss, #4: The People of Praise

These guys are an interesting group. An ecumenical charismatic group. My big theological compliment: They're not afraid to talk about supporting one another as Christians, especially in terms of backing up that support with one's wallet. My big concern: They're sacrificing a search for Truth to a search for some kind of unity, even if it be not really ideal unity. You can find their official website here.


Liberation Theology: An Old Paper

Opening Comment: I decided to post one of my old papers here. I still agree with most of what is said. If I were to re-write this paper I would probably acknowledge more fully that I take the side of atonement theology, as a matter of orthodoxy (stripping Christian soteriology of the notion of atonement cannot, to my mind, be done), and that I believe liberation theology to be fundamentally more flawed than traditional atonement theology, particularly as regards the meaning of the Cross. While it is true that traditional atonement theory sometimes promotes the life of the world to come in such a way that denies the possibility of bringing any of that life into the world we have now, it is also true that liberation theology--in a much more dangerous fashion--continually runs the risk of turning the Crucifixion/Resurrection from something with a tangible and real ontological effect on the world, to something that serves more as a symbol of Jesus' solidarity with the oppressed. In other words, I believe that liberation theology runs the risk of marginalizing the Resurrection and treating it as more a symbol. The danger in my mind runs from there, to the fear that the Resurrection will go from being believed as having been a symbol from God, to being not believed as having been anything historical at all; at that point whatever the Resurrection actually did for us as people (which I believe to be quite a lot) must be tossed away as well. But I should note that in saying all of this, I do not at all discount what I think to be the central Truth of liberation theology: The Kingdom is coming, not only in the future but also in the present, and this means change, especially for the petty small-k kingdoms we've got set up now. It is a Truth that traditional atonement theology runs the risk of forgetting, and while it is not as essential as Resurrection, it is vital for our witness to the world as Christians. My many thanks to the theology professor for whom I wrote this back in 2007; she really got me thinking about the issues and has been a major influence on my theological mind.


In Christianity the life, death and resurrection of Christ are treated as central to the faith, but even within the bounds of orthodoxy as laid down by the councils there is much room for interpretation as to what, exactly, the Christ-event means for us today. In Christologies that are more traditional, often the same ones called “descending” Christologies, the emphasis in the Christ-event is placed on the notion of atonement, that our sins are in some mysterious way placated by God in Christ. In this sort of Christology atonement for personal sin is usually the predominant understanding of the Crucifixion. In many “ascending” Christologies the emphasis is still on atonement; however in a more recent strain of ascending Christologies, that of liberation theology, the emphasis is more on Christ’s solidarity with the poor and the understanding of the Crucifixion changes at least inasmuch as it includes an understanding that Jesus dies in his solidarity with the poor.

This essay will first examine the archetypal interpretation of the life, death and resurrection of Christ from the perspective of liberation theology and then discuss what these understandings can contribute to more atonement-based Christologies. I do not believe every aspect of liberation theology and atonement theology to be compatible. I maintain that the understanding of the life of Jesus, of the Cross, and of Resurrection in liberation theology has something to contribute to more traditional or Anselmian understandings of the Christ-event. The essay will conclude with remarks on how these contributions shape our understanding of what it means to live as a Christian in the world.

One major notion in liberation theology is that the mission and identity of Jesus is very much tied respectively with the critique of social structures and with the poor. Jesus’ identification with the poor. Edward Schillebeeckx makes note of the fact that in the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life we find the theme that Jesus is in fact a prophet; not merely a prophet, but still a prophet in the tradition of Moses (Schillebeeckx Reader 166). The prophets of the Jewish tradition are known for speaking out against all the sins of the people, most notably their infidelity towards God and their poor treatment of the weakest among them (see Juan Luis Segundo 78-79. Jesus is connected to a prophetic tradition that is critical (in the sense of critique, not the sense of negativity) of the social structures that surround it. In his synopsis of the life of Jesus, James Cone discusses how from the beginning—even from his birth—his messiahship is tied in with his identification with the poor and oppressed (Cone 114-15). Jesus’ refusal of Satan’s temptation in the desert signifies “his refusal to identify himself with any of the available modes of oppressive or self-glorifying power” (Cone 115). According to him, the Markan saying “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1.14-15, qtd. in Cone) speaks to the powers that be in the world, telling them that the kingdom of God is coming and that their reign is over, and Cone maintains that this has implications for all those in power, even implications for what it means if they even are rich (Cone, 116-17).

Chung Hyun Kyung, also, speaks of Jesus’ ministry to the oppressed, particularly Asian women. She sees the image of Jesus as the “suffering servant” as a double-edged sword; while on the one hand Jesus’ suffering can be misinterpreted with the message of blind obedience to authority, on the other hand Jesus is there and can be thought of as in identity with Asian women in his suffering (Kyung 56-57). Jon Sobrino looks at the mission of Jesus as “the proclamation and inauguration of the Reign of God in behalf of the poor and outcast” (Sobrino 453) and talks about how Jesus’ attitude towards sin includes a command to those with power and money to reconcile themselves to the Reign of God and avoid oppression of others (Sobrino 454). For Sobrino, then, the mission of Jesus on earth has significant implications for all social structures that it touches. It is clear that liberation theology ties Jesus’ life and mission to his identification with the poor and oppressed, the notion that his mission includes at the very least a component of speaking truth to power. Indeed, it is often the case that in liberation theology Jesus’ primary or more direct mission is considered to be liberation of humanity from oppressive social structures.

The meaning of Jesus’ death on the Cross and his resurrection from death, in liberation theology, is similarly tied with his identification with and mission to the poor. Segundo writes that Jesus’ fate is, in the New Testament Gospel tradition, connected to the treatment of prophets like Elijah and Jeremiah, and that those prophets’ teachings and revelations from God were in their own context intertwined with political matters (Segundo 79). Segundo speaks of the fact that the official cause of Jesus’ death on the cross was his status as a political agitator and notes that the conspiracies against him by the Pharisees and other political powers in the Gospels are motivated primarily by his ‘agitation’ of their social structure (Segundo 74,76-77). Choi Man Ja, responding to concerns echoed by Kyung about the potential for misuse of suffering, syas that “Jesus endures the yoke of the cross against the evil powers of this patriarchal world. This obedience is different from simple submission” (Man Ja, qtd. in Kyung 57). For Cone the death of Jesus on the Cross is, along with his resurrection, “the consummation of his earthly ministry with the poor” (Cone 117). In dying on the Cross, Jesus puts himself in solidarity with the poor and “[takes] upon himself the totality of human oppression” (Cone 119). The resurrection indicates that oppression and social sin cannot defeat God but rather that God conquers it and transforms it (Cone 118). The resurrection means that death no longer “has the last word,” and so the oppressed are able to live free from the threats of the earthly powers that be (Cone 118). The resurrection in liberation theology says that oppressive systems cannot keep Jesus down—they can try, but Jesus, and by association those oppressed by the system, will rise up again to press for liberation. The emphasis is not on the atoning aspect of the death and resurrection of Christ but rather on the identification of Jesus with the poor, even on pain of death, and the hope contained in the resurrection for liberation from bad earthly systems.

What does this mean for a more “traditional” or atonement-based theology? The atonement theory of theology places high emphasis on personal sin and salvation and a lesser emphasis (sometimes none at all) on the implications of Christ’s coming for the social structures of the world. And liberation theology places a higher emphasis on liberation from social sins than on those sins often considered more personal. In each camp of theology there is often a tendency toward reduction of Jesus’ mission and message to the personal-atonement or social-liberation route, and it is true that there is some tension between the two. However, as Lisa Sowle Cahill notes, “[p]erhaps the reason Christianity has an authoritative scripture…rather than…systematic theology, is that scripture…better conveys the mystery of God…[challenging believers] to live and think within its creative tensions” (Cahill 208). Since Jesus is a mystery it ought to be said that neither liberation nor atonement theology should ignore its counterpart but rather that each should look for ways in which the understandings of the other could enhance its own understanding of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As Sobrino says, “part of the responsibility of current Christology will be to show how all of the plural salvations converge in the Reign of God” (453).

The question for more traditional atonement theologies, then, must be where liberation theology reveals faults in its dealings with suffering and oppression and how liberation theology can help to shape a new theology of atonement that takes seriously the social-liberation meaning of Jesus’ mission.

Cahill points us to what is perhaps the chief negative effect of the Anselmian strain of atonement theology when she speaks of its potential to “[find] the cause of human suffering in the sin of those who suffer” (Cahill 204). This is a valid concern and it must be dealt with when we form our notion of what atonement means. In Cone’s thought, when Jesus dies on the cross he takes on “the totality of human oppression” (Cone 118). The cross, in liberation theology, symbolizes that God is suffering with the people. As a necessary corollary to delivering the people from personal sin Jesus must also deliver people from social sin and as such from the suffering that results from social sin. This does mean that on the cross Jesus’ identifies himself, to a slight degree, with the oppressor, insofar as his action ultimately proves redemptive for them, but Christ on the cross is identified even more so with the oppressed (a set of people that is not mutually exclusive with the oppressors!) The cause of human suffering, then, must be in some small part in the sin of those who suffer—oppressors suffer also, and cause suffering, but the oppressed also at times take a part in perpetuating the system (Cahill 204). But the image of Christ on the cross symbolizes that suffering under an unjust system is no more in line with the will of God than the often smaller sins committed by those in the poor and outcast class.

Another difficulty that arises when looking at how liberation theology can be integrated into atonement theology is the notion of mission. I maintain that the Christ event on earth was an effort to transform. That is, the sense in which Jesus was sent for our sins, in which Jesus was a sacrifice, was in the sense of his being a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,” and showing the people (corporately and individually!) the way to “be transformed” (Romans 12.1-2, NRSV).1 Thus an atonement theory that takes seriously Jesus’ solidarity with the poor will say that Jesus comes to free people from both their individual sin and the surrounding social structures, which are not at all without overlap. Jesus as living sacrifice demands change and transformation from persons and from social structures. The poor are in many cases more than willing to accept Jesus’ assessment of their own lives, but those more well off more often than not are not so willing to change. As the political aspects of his message become a greater irritant, and the theological-moral aspects of his message become more annoying, the upper classes of Judaism2 and the Roman Empire see him as more of a threat; eventually everything comes to a head and Christ becomes a literal sacrifice for human sin. At this point it might be said that the sinful structures of the Empire and of Israel under the Empire believe they have put down Jesus; we do not know, theologically speaking, whether the dark spiritual forces that exist knew about the resurrection, so we do not know if they thought they had won. But Jesus’ resurrection meant that not only he, but also the poor with whom he was in solidarity, could not be kept down. On a theological level it could be said that the Crucifixion itself was the darkest manifestation of human sin—a rejection of the Son of God based on his political agitation and his demand that humanity, including human structures, live in a fashion fully oriented towards God. The resurrection, then, gives hope. It means that sinful structures have not defeated the Love of God; it means that sinful actions cannot put down the Son of God. Sin has been conquered. An atonement theology tempered with understandings of the Christ-event from a liberation theology perspective sees Jesus mission as multifaceted, unified by His desire to reconcile God to humanity; mission is to challenge sin in persons and in society, to love the unloved and embrace the outcasts, while challenging all of humanity (especially the “ruling class”) to do the same.

For the Christian today this means that to take up the cross and follow Christ cannot mean merely attending to one’s own spiritual affairs. It is of course imperative that we as Christians attend to our own personal salvation, including a good personal code of conduct, but this inextricably will include looking after the salvation of our the social structures around us from societal sin. If Jesus’ solidarity with the poor and his desire for a reorientation of humanity towards God were the cause of his death—and he freely accepted this death—we must accept that to be a disciple of Christ implies that we also put ourselves in solidarity with the poor and oppressed and challenge those structures which are deemed unjust. We are called to follow Jesus’ example here as elsewhere. In the frightening words of M. Shawn Copeland, “[Jesus’] mission…required [that he] do something bold: that he stake his whole life and very personhood on being absolutely directed toward God” (Copeland, 186). A liberation-tempered understanding of atonement calls us to “care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep [ourselves] unstained by the world” (James 1.27).

1 I realize I am appropriating a Pauline phrase that may not be appropriate. I am doing so in an attempt to talk about a sense in which Jesus might be a “sacrifice” without necessarily having been intended to be sacrificed as literally as happened.
2 Anti-Judaism is not here intended. I am thinking of the oppressive institutions extant within the culture of Judaism of Jesus’ day as identified in the Gospels.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Omniscience, Identity and Christian Rock

Sometimes there's an awesome expression of a theological truth to be found in my sometimes cheesy and somewhat angsty library of Christian rock. Take Falling Up's "Flights," for example. This song's chorus makes for an amazing expression of the truths of action and identity found in God as well as the inescapable nature and omniscience of God. Much more eloquent than I think I ever expected to hear when I got this album way back in 2007 or whenever. I got the lyrics from here, with one by-ear correction, but I honestly can't endorse whatever ads they put on the left. Especially if whatever you see is like what I saw. Lyrics for "Flights" run:

They search, They light
This place a face of the fearless
To wait the night
It's calm but you're starting to hear this
It moves so fast, stopped hearts but holding on faster
Come back, like that, and you know that

You will find
That I'm everywhere you go
And I'm all the places you will not be
You will find
That I'm everywhere you go
And I'm all the things that you want to be

It leaves this light
This sparkles broken inside you
I swear it hides
This siren's moving it's way through
The race we hear
The fall of the wind and the whispers
The take, so clear, and you know that


Constantly moving your heart is just wasting away
Endlessly waiting this life is just slipping away


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Small Layout Difference

I made a picture for our top and widened the blog a little. In the picture, Austin's on left, and I'm on the right. Enjoy.


I'd be lying if I said I really saw a case for it in the Scriptures.

Okay, that's a lie. I do see two explicit exceptions given. One is by Jesus, who defines adultery as divorce except for reason of unfaithfulness. If not for Paul's explicit exception for a marriage in which a believer has an unbelieving spouse (plus a bit more), I would be tempted to just think that all divorce/remarriage except for reasons of prior adultery would itself be adultery. But as it stands I really only see two possible, and Scriptural, exceptions to the mandate against divorce/remarriage:

1. Prior adultery on the part of a spouse.
2. One of the partners in the marriage is a believer, the other is not, and the unbeliever does not wish to live with the believer.

As perhaps-harsh as it sounds I don't even really think I'm seeing an 'addiction' or 'abuse' clause in what I've read. I'm well aware that many Christians throughout the ages, including one or two early Church Fathers, have found more exceptions than I. The simple 'plain interpretation' of the text doesn't seem to me to line up with almost anything I've ever seen any Christian or Christian church express (yes, including the RCC.) Is there a Scripture, or some other piece of the church historical or our hermeneutic as Christians, that I'm missing, here?

Please do discuss.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Games With God

Hello friends, it's been a long time since I've written much of anything on this blog. Lots of good and bad things have happened. As it may have been clear earlier, I decided almost 10 months ago to begin a year of vows, most of which just involved typical abstinence (no alcohol, no girls, no smoking) and a fast every Tuesday. I recently decided to end the vows, however, for fear that they were doing more harm than good.

At the outset of the vows, I was trying to keep myself on a straight path by avoiding things that I had seen which cause problems in my life. Thus, I decided to make decisions that would destroy my party life altogether. This was not a bad decision, but I failed to see the root of the problem. The problem will never be that I drink alcohol, or that I have something to smoke, or that I am attracted to women. The problem is that I don't see God as being real enough in my life.

Over years of heavy involvement in churches, I am starting to see vows, rules, and expectations as being very limiting and very dangerous. This weekend I suddenly realized that while I was trying to fend off the "dangers of this world" with my vows, I had failed to conquer the sin in my heart. I realized that the human heart wants to know God, but we want to know God on our own terms. We want to play games. We want to follow rules. We would rather assume these games, these pointless little games, that we think will earn points with Him.

I found myself tallying up points when I did something unselfish, fed a homeless person, restrained my tongue, witnessed to someone, went to church, encouraged a friend, etc.

My actions were plenty good, but my heart somehow was not. I was earning points for myself instead of living this way simply to be obedient. I somehow gained the notion that I could earn something good by living good.

I decided to shed it all off recently. I need to discover what faith really means at this point. God is real. God isn't just this game we're playing. He's not tallying up scores. He's a friend, a savior, a lover, a defender, a father, a brother, and a holy, righteous God who has made it clear time and time again that His desire is to dwell among us. His existence is infinitely more solid than everything that we've ever considered to be reality. How does He feel when instead of actually communicating with Him, we just try and tally points up? How do you think He feels about these silly rules that we try to follow to fit in to Christian culture, when what He really desires is closeness with us and true obedience to His will?

Give it some thought; this is open for discussion.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Love: An Example

If you're reading this, then you probably know already that I'm a decent-sized fan of the American version of The Office. Now when I read Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility awhile back, I was almost obsessed with the philosophy I was absorbing, and certainly annoyingly intrigued, and it definitely created a shift in the way I saw our culture's portrayal of love. I'm definitely a tad surprised it's taken me this long to make a post about it. But anyway, now I get to post about and about L&R and about The Office. Now let it be known that reading that work has definitely affected my view of this show negatively, but it's affected my view of just about every bit of culture that even goes near what Love (the virtue) or love (romantic) means. I'm not saying I think writers endorse everything their characters do, or that I expect characters to be perfect on TV shows; they patently don't and patently aren't. But it's worth seeing where we can find examples in pop culture of stuff like Love. So here's an example of dialogue from the second season of that I think helps to illustrate amor benevolentia, or "love as goodwill."

To give some context: Jan Levinson, a regional supervisor, has come to the office to seek women who are ambitious and who might play a role in corporate life. She has urged Pam to try and get some graphic design schooling...later on, her fiance, Roy, talks her out of it, which is followed roughly by a talking head in which she rationalizes her decision. So here's the quotation, shamelessly culled from The Office Quotes. Ladies and gentlemen, Season 2, "Boys and Girls."
Jim Halpert: So you're not doing it.
Pam Beesly: How did you know?
Jim Halpert: Why not?
Pam Beesly: Just, like, no big reason. Just a bunch of little reasons. Roy's right there's no guarantee it's going to lead to anything anyway.
Jim Halpert: Roy said that.
Pam Beesly: What. You have something you wanna say?
Jim Halpert: You gotta take a chance on something sometime Pam. I mean do you wanna be a receptionist here always?
Pam Beesly: Oh excuse me! I'm fine with my choices!
Jim Halpert: You are?
Pam Beesly: Yeah.
This is then followed by another talking head in which Pam again tries to rationalize the decision, and winds up crying on-camera. I couldn't find the clip just by itself anywhere, so the best I can do if you want to get an idea of the sound/look of it is to go here and listen to an audio clip.

Love as goodwill, as I can gather, seems to mean showing Love to the other person over and above whatever attraction you have to them, or whatever desire you have for them. In a romantic context it's one possible motivator for saying "If you really love someone, you want them to be happy, even if it's not with you." In an un-romantic context the best example I can think of is telling people what they need to hear, even if they might hate you for it. This example is definitely a little bit of both; certainly there are motivations to what Jim is saying that go beyond pure goodwill, and it's pretty clear by implication that he still wants her, if only subconsciously. But it's a very slight impurity in this case, if you will, and in the scene it's pretty clear that he wants to motivate her more than he actually wants to be with her. This set of scenes remains one of the most profound that The Office cast/crew ever pulled off, in my mind. It is also one of the purest examples of love as goodwill that I've ever seen portrayed in pop culture. There will be more examples to come in the future from shows that aren't The Office. Hopefully I can find one or two with a YouTube clip available.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Defying the World's Categories: The Culture of Life

Who are the least of these? I'm going to take the tack of the persons least able to defend themselves: first physically, then economically. The abortion issue is obviously a piece of what we're dealing with here. That must be taken care of with some priority. The most defenseless human beings among us are the ones who've only entered the womb, not the outside world, and it seems clear that they do need defending. I would love to pontificate about America's wonderful progress, how much of a pro-life nation we actually are. But I can't, because we're not. A quick check at the number of Downs Syndrome abortions should clear up that perception.

I don't think we pro-lifers are going far enough in our pursuit of justice. Many of our most common arguments rely on the notion of the human fetus is a human being. The focus on the abortion issue is then justified by saying that those in the womb are the least among is, in the sense of being the most defenseless, the most open to attack and marginalization. This is fine to my mind, but it needs to be taken a step further. A pro-life stance that truly respects Christianity and its instructions for how we treat each other must take the next step and defend all stages of life, from womb to tomb, or as a high school teacher of mine memorably put it, sperm to worm. In many Catholic circles this is known as the 'consistent ethic of life,' and in some of these circles it's been misused as an excuse for downplaying the ethical gravity of abortion. But that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Clearly, the right to life begins with the right to survive. But if we allow it to end there, we are not carrying the examples of our Lord and of the traditions of our great faith to their fulfillment. Certain things that happen in church history, even that which is seen in the New Testament, are clearly motivated by concerns for social justice. Why else does it seem that the main community discussed in Acts is one in which persons sell their possessions to give to the poor? Why else would it be that in the Gospels, Jesus instructs us that, essentially, a substantially higher burden is placed on the rich in entering the Kingdom of Heaven, than on the poor? The passage in which Jesus discusses 'the least of these' makes no reference to persons in the womb, but it does talk about visiting the sick and prisoners and addressing other concerns of social justice. It is clear that the Christian church has been opposed to abortion from the beginning, if only by the early church's interpretation of the Scriptures. But it is also clear that the church has been concerned with social justice from the start.

So where does this leave us? With the inescapable conclusion that as Christians striving to take our tradition seriously, we must care about justice inside and outside of the womb, about quality-of-life justice as well as survival. Abortion does seem pretty clearly to be the most wrong of the injustices perpetrated in America today. That's a pretty inescapable conclusion to my mind. But it is not the only injustice by far.

I give nothing but kudos to all the pro-lifers (and there are many) who are seriously striving to life out a consistent ethic of life. However, we need to take it further. It may be that there are a few people whose God-given mission is to focus on the issue of abortion and not to worry so much about economic justice issues. There might also be a few people whose mission is to the poor, and who aren't supposed to be doing so much directly on the abortion issue. To risk a smiting from God, however, it is nobody's God-given mission to ignore any facet of justice and avoid its implication for their lives. If we really want to give people a solid and inescapable picture of what a converted world could look like, it means we've got to go further. We've got to seek justice in everything we do, including the perhaps-uncomfortable economic justice of giving not only to the church but to charitable organizations. Abortion is bad, but we need to be pro-life, not merely anti-abortion; it's time we defied the world to define us. We need to show our current culture of injustice what the world could look like if we chose to care about each other, sperm to worm.

Pursuit of a Good God means nothing less.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ted Apple's Murder

Okay, here's the link to the PDF file of Ted Apple's Murder. It's a decent-length story (1.5 spacing, Times New Roman with some formatting, brought the story proper to about 23 pages.) I'm going to post the "Disclaimer and Invitation" section below, along with the link to the PDF file. If the ideas of the story create interesting enough discussion there will probably be further posts on them, and what the heck I was thinking when I did x,y,z in the story.

You can download the PDF of the story here. I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer and Invitation
“Sanctification means I kick you less as time goes on.” - Andy Boyes
“I picked up Animal Farm expecting a nice, light read about animals.” - Jason Weeks

I wrote this story to explore ideas, and as a sort of love-letter to G.K. Chesterton, is one of the biggest influence on my life and thought. I've been compiling a list of theological notions and themes explored in
Ted Apple's Murder and that you can find this list at the end of the story. But I should sincerely caution you against reading the list before you read the story, in no small part because I want feedback on what you as readers get out of it first. I don't want you to know the “right” interpretation of what I am saying because, at the risk of sounding cocky, God might have had a better idea in mind than mine.

That said, the way the story is told (you will discover) involved me in some sense putting words into God's mouth. I admit that as a theologian this takes an incredible amount of hubris, though perhaps not much more than it takes to even be a theologian to begin with. I think I'm doing less damage here than some of the popular speakers, mostly because I am unlikely to reach the same masses of people. I have no illusions—I am a man, and I need to make it clear to you all that not only do I not speak for God (a fact you know already), I
know that I do not speak for God. On my better days maybe I behave like Christ, but only by the grace of the Spirit. This is not an attempt at any sort of Scriptural or even Saintly addition to Christianity. It is primarily an exploration of theological ideas in story.

Please do not hesitate to tell me if a theological idea that you think I'm presenting or exploring jumps out at you. I really really do want to know what people are getting out of this. And if you happen to be one of my non-religious friends, I'm also quite interested in what you have to say. The bottom line: If you're reading this and you've got something to say about it, any interaction with its ideas or what you think its ideas are,
please tell me. I want to know!

Now that that's clear, I hope you enjoy the story. I suppose I'd also like to know if my writing just sucks, but please be gentle if you find that it does.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Council of Trent, Canons on Justification

"CANON XV.-If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema

CANON XVI.-If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema."


Say sayonara to Perseverance of the Saints. At least, if you like the Council of Trent.

Also, a fun fact we can derive from this council's decrees, especially from the reference to the predestinate as an actual and definite thing: It exists. And even one of the Christian churches which insists most fervently on man's free will--that is, the Roman Catholic Church--insists on some notion of predestination being preserved. Of course I would argue that this notion is pretty undeniably Biblical, just, well, not the notion as the Calvinists would have it be.

Lest anyone doubt that Trent also affirmed human freedom:

"CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man's free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

CANON V.-If any one saith, that, since Adam's sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema."

Clear anathemization by the council of Irresistible Grace and also of the denial of free will as a result of Original Sin. Human freedom: Affirmed!