The Creation of Evil

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Justin Swanton, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Member

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    What do you make of Hebrews 9:27?

    Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.​
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Are you from Barcelona?
     
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  3. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Justin —

    Eschatology is one of those questions that's really beyond answering, but I think how we conceive of the question is important...

    I've no sure thoughts at the moment, but there are many ideas in this article by the Trappist monk David Standl-Rast that are worthy of consideration.

    I'm thinking of the question regarding the woman with seven husbands (cf Matthew 22:23), and is enough to throw our Sunday School concepts into question. So the resurrected dead do not take wives nor husbands, nor carry relationships into the next world, but we are defined, for good or ill, by our relationship to God and to our neighbour ... so what form do 'relationships' take in the eschaton, and what/who is it that relates?

    These and other questions, etc., etc.
     
  4. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Member

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    Howdy Thomas :)

    So David Standl-Rast doesn't hold with an immortal soul but does hold with reincarnation. In which case it would much more honest if he stopped calling himself Catholic/Christian and just admitted he is a straight Bhuddist.

    The woman with 7 husbands... we get our bodies back in the last day - "I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting'- but the biology is different. There is no longer procreation therefore no longer marriage. The marriage bond is dissolved at death so the matrimonial relationship is gone. But the supernatural bond of charity that should be a part of a marriage remains intact. We continue to love those we know but it's all on a higher plane.
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Justin —
    I don't read it as clear-cut as that. I doubt he does either. I think there is a subtlety to his argument.

    I'm not so sure that simply elevating this plane to a higher plane is sufficient to answer the questions.

    I believe that a disembodied soul is not a complete 'human', nor am I sure what 'a disembodied soul' is. Rather I believe the soul will manifest a body according to the environment it finds itself, but I don't assume arms and legs, eyes and ears, bums and what-have-you. Angels appear in human form for our sakes, not because they are humanoid creatures of pure spirit, or I could say that we clothe the ineffable experience of the angelic in a recognisable form, in the same way that some speak of 'aromas' and 'sounds' that accompany spiritual engagements ... it's rendering the unknowable and knowable.

    The West holds the 'person' as inviolate, but the person is a projection of the ego, and the ego is so often the root and cause of all our troubles, so as much as I marvel at the development of 'the person' as a psychodynamic entity in the west (where it is dismissed as ephemeral in the east), I think perhaps we need to review, rethink and recast our long-held assumptions ... I do not, for example, think we'll all be sitting round on clouds playing harps, but that there is something in that analogy worth considering ... I believe that love endures, but then what of the lovers?
     
  6. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Member

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    Well...

    It is an all too harmless picture of death if we think that the body dies but the soul lives. Is there really an independent soul over against a body with its own independent existence? [....] This is why eminent Christian theologians today can dispense with the notion of an immortal soul without jeopardizing the Good News of resurrection and eternal life. In fact, as soon as we no longer feel obliged to hold on to such intellectual abstractions as the notion of an immortal soul we are able to enter more freely and more fully into the existential approach on which Biblical statements about the resurrection are based.​

    And

    Actually the myth of purgatory comes very close to the myth of reincarnation; it tries in general to answer the same questions and it comes up with largely the same answers-that there is justice and that you have to work out your karma. But just as I would not press the image of purgatory as if there were actually a fire burning somewhere with so many degrees of heat, so I personally would not press the imagery of reincarnation. But I can say that I do believe in both. [...]
    He qualifies his belief in reincarnation, but notice he doesn't reject it, merely doesn't make too much of it:

    One reason why Christian tradition has always steered me away from preoccupation with reincarnation has not so much to do with doctrine as with spiritual practice. The finality of death is meant to challenge us to decision, the decision to be fully present here now, and so begin eternal life. For eternity rightly understood is not the perpetuation of time, on and on, but rather the overcoming of time by the now that does not pass away. But we are always looking for opportunities to postpone the decision. So if you say: “Oh, after this I will have another life and another life,” you might never live, but keep dragging along half dead because you never face death.​

    In his long post he makes clear that true death occurs only when one loses one's individual existence and is absorbed into Christ, very much (as he says) like the Buddhist's absorption into Brahma.

    Again, this is straight Buddhism. I cannot find a single Christian doctrine that he actually believes to be true.


    A soul, in the Catholic understanding of the word, is the immaterial component of human nature, comprising intellect and will. Soul is bound to body and acts through body, and soul and body together make up a human individual, but just as we remain human even if we are missing two arms and legs and are blind and deaf, so we remain human if we miss the rest of our body. By 'human' I mean our individual existence is not compromised in any way. "I am Thomas" remains just as true if you are soul alone or soul with body. We are not fully human without our bodies however, since the soul is meant to work with a body, unlike angels who are pure immaterial spirits designed to function without a body. Angels can take a material form, manipulating matter to present the appearance of a man - or a serpent, but they don't have to. Ditto for human souls.

    No. There is nothing egoist about individuality. The Christian tradition holds that a human being is an entity separate from God although created and maintained in existence by him, and remains a separate entity in the next life. There's nothing wrong with that. Egoism comes into the picture when a human being rejects God, preferring his own will, passions, ambitions, whatever, to what he knows is God's will for him.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Believing in reincarnation does not imply that one should not live in the present. I'd even say it evidently does the opposite... My observation is those following eastern religions are much more focused on living in the present than my christian friends...
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Justin —
    It is an all too harmless picture of death if we think that the body dies but the soul lives. Is there really an independent soul over against a body with its own independent existence? [....]
    No. The Catechism states so. Christianity, like Judaism, is an holistic vision. The body/soul duality is Greek.

    This is why eminent Christian theologians today can dispense with the notion of an immortal soul without jeopardizing the Good News of resurrection and eternal life. In fact, as soon as we no longer feel obliged to hold on to such intellectual abstractions as the notion of an immortal soul we are able to enter more freely and more fully into the existential approach on which Biblical statements about the resurrection are based.

    It's a shame he does not give a theological context. What theologians? And if we are dismissing 'intellectual abstractions', then what is the existential approach to resurrection?

    Actually the myth of purgatory comes very close to the myth of reincarnation; it tries in general to answer the same questions and it comes up with largely the same answers-that there is justice and that you have to work out your karma.
    I see no problem with that. I think the idea of purgatory and reincarnation both take a form of 'judgement' as their starting point. I find purgatory a for more logical concept that karma, which no-one has ever been able to explain to my satisfaction.

    When we're talking of culpability, of responsibility, we're in the moral dimension. The mechanism of cause and effect simply cannot be applied. One man cuts off another man's leg. Is that good, or bad? Depends on why he did it. Karma seems to have no 'moral consciousness', it's always presented to me as good accrues good, bad accrues bad, but there is no determination of good or bad, other than human moral values? Anyway ...

    Set against that, the idea of an everlasting punishment, when the punished cannot learn, cannot repent, is horrendously unjust. Say you have a child who does something naughty. Are you sorry? you say. No! declares the little tyke. So you begin to hit the child, and you continue to hit that child, for evermore ...


    Neither view, of a mechanistic karma, or eternal damnation, is satisfactory, but both have pastoral value ...

    Well he says 'steered me away from it' ... not a rejection, but not a buying-into either. Karl Rahner discussed reincarnation. But then, it is my assertion that most everybody's notion of reincarnation is a misinterpretation of the teaching, 're-phrased' to suit westerners. There may well be a populist view in the East, but this is the same kind of superstition/sentimentalism that many here see as 'blind faith' or the unquestioning acceptance of dogma when it occurs within the western context.

    Yes, the two doctrines are remarkably similar.

    I rather think he's saying there are doctrines that find their own expressions.

    A la Aquinas. OK.

    I would rather say the body is the means by which the soul manifests itself in the world. It does not occupy a body, it projects / actualises / realises itself in the world as a body.

    Furthermore wherever soul is, there body is, in much the same way that angels have no bodies, but they are an idea, or an ideation.

    Do we? All of it? Then we are no longer 'here', nor, perhaps, are we 'anywhere' ... and this to me is a 'death', in the sense that the disembodied soul no longer plays any part in creation. Creation is absent to it, it is absent to creation ...

    I think it is.

    No, the entity that is Thomas is the product of body and soul in unison. That's how it experiences.

    Ah, now I'm with you. I would simply say that the angels' 'body' is different to our 'body'. I do not for a moment believe that angels have heads and limbs and eyes and ears ... but they have a 'body'.

    Hmmm, not sure. Angels can walk through walls, but they can't open a door! They can witness this world, but they cannot participate. (have you seen Wings os Desire? Awesome!) I think the 'material form' is a manifestation in our perceptual faculty, rather than a vision of an angelic actuality.

    Oh, good grief, there is everything egoistic! That's what Adam and Eve is all about!

    Exactly! And who does not do that? Who is without sin?

    On the soul:
    The Hebrews have Nephesh, Ruach, Neshamah ... and that's just the start! They qualify the soul, and the Christian Tradition actually follows their lead on that point. I think the idea of an immortal soul becomes real when man has attained a certain quality of soul. The New Testament talks endlessly about attaining immortality, it's not a given.

    For my rather lengthy discussion on the soul, follow this link
     
  9. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Thomas or Justin or wil are not the "I am".

    The "I am" is Thomas or wil and Justin.

    Our connection to all that is is all there is.
     
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  10. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    I'm trying to parse that and cannot figure out if it is deep. Or, uh, not! :confused:
     
  11. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Shallow pond here bud...but the interpretations could drowned yah!!
     
  12. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Well that explains everything.
     
  13. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Justin said...
    "I am Thomas" remains just as true if you are soul alone or soul with body.

    Thomas said
    No, the entity that is Thomas is the product of body and soul in unison. That's how it experiences.

    was the thought I had in the moment.

    I don't know if I can add to it for any benefit.
     
  14. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Actually that explains quite satisfactory. Thanks!
     
  15. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Member

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    OK, time to wheel out the official stuff. Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p96:

    Man consists of two essential parts - a material body and a spiritual soul. (de fide.)

    The 4th Lateran Council and the [first] Vatican Council teach this doctrine : deinde (condidit creaturam) humanam quasi communem ex spiritu et corpore constitutam. Denzinger 428, 1793

    Agreed.

    For Purgatory here is Ott, p482:

    The souls of the just which, in the moment of death, are burdened with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins, enter Purgatory. (De fide.)

    Ott cites the Councils of Lyons and of Florence: "The souls of those who depart from this life with true repentence and in the love of God, before they have rendered satisfaction for their trespasses and negligences by the worthy fruits of penance, are purified after death with the punishments of purification." Denzinger 464, 693.

    Also the Council of Trent: "purgatorium esse animasque ibi detentas fidelium suffragiis .... iuvare." Denzinger 983
    Purgatory is and remains a part of Catholicism's body of teaching. One can call it a myth, sure, but then why keep calling oneself Catholic? Just say "I'm a Buddhist" and be done with it.

    That isn't what happens in hell. A human's final rejection of God is not a child's naughtiness. In the afterlife a soul is basically confronted with the reality that a circle can't be squared. The final rejection of God here on Earth becomes permanent then because the soul does not want and will never want to change his choice. You make up your mind definitively at the point of death. Hence the permanence of hell. And the point about hell is that the soul gets what he wants. God is rejected, so everything that pertains to God is withdrawn. The soul is left with a vast, horrendous lacking, an absence of happiness and well-being - all gifts from God - that translates into positive pain. And he sticks with that because he will never, ever, change his mind.


    I can't see any similarity between them. In the Buddhist context, the individual completely loses his ontological existence as something separate from Brahma. He is absorbed into Brahma, ceasing to exist, becoming an aspect, a part of Brahma. In the Christian context a human being remains ontologically distinct in the next life. He keeps his soul and gets his body back. He is joined with God in the Beatific Vision, but Beatific Vision does not mean Beatific ingestion. Nowhere in the Christian tradition is God represented as something like a giant pacman, munching on humans and turning them into himself, on the lines of Childhood's End. Buddhist eschatology personally gives me the chills.

    Let me skip (for now) the body/soul issue and run on to

    Adam and Eve are not about being egoistic simply because they had an existence separate from God. How could they be? God created them distinct! Things went sideways for them only when they declared moral independence from God, refusing submission to a single, very easy commandment because they thought that breaking it would give them power. So their pride was in their rejection of God's will, not in the fact they happened to be separate entities.

    Christ in his human nature, Mary, the good angels, and every human being in heaven. All ontologically distinct from God.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
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  16. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    This is the second time I've seen you use this catchphrase and I question your logic. If one doesn't accept every Catholic teaching than they are not Catholic, but if one believes in one Buddhist teaching one is a Buddhist? Why not just stop at, please don't call yourself a Catholic if you don't agree with me?
     
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  17. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Member

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    True enough. One could incorporate aspects of Catholicism, Buddhism and other belief systems in one's own syncretic religion. My point then is that Catholicism is not a supermarket Faith. 'Nuff said!
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Evidently you haven't been to south America, the Caribbean or Africa.... Where the catholic religion and churches....all under their diocese's, Bishop's and the Pope... Have mixed and married their traditional beliefs in with Catholicism...
     
  19. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Member

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    Yeah, I know (I live in Africa BTW). The Church's official, definitive teaching, known as the Magisterium (no connection with The Golden Compass) remains crystal clear and internally consistent, however it has been about 50 years since it was enforced at ground level. The church has become like a huge tent, where Catholic doctrine is officially respected but in many places effectively ignored. Catholics who believe wholeheartedly in the Church's teaching can rub shoulders with Catholics who discard large swathes of that teaching. The teaching itself however remains unchanged.
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hey Justin ... someone who just rolled out Ott in IO, you just made my day.

    Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p96:
    Man consists of two essential parts - a material body and a spiritual soul. (de fide.)

    That's my point. Man does, and always will, consist of this union. What form the 'material body' takes is a matter of eschatalogical speculation. St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55
    Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
    Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
    O death, where is thy sting?
    O grave, where is thy victory?

    John 8:44
    Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning ...

    which when paired with 1 John 3:15:
    Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

    Is quite chilling ...

    So what am I arguing:
    That the soul is not immortal by its own nature. The soul is a created nature, the idea of an immortal and uncreated soul comes from outside the Tradition (eg Egypt, Greece).

    My idea of purgatory and hell is based on the Scriptural reference to Gehenna, in the same way my idea of the devil is founded on the idea of a corrupted intellect, rather than a horned and tailed 'critter' as Wil would have it. In the Medieval era we got really carried away, a la Danté, who imagined hell with its circles, etc. Curiously, the Buddhist hells far outnumber the Christian ...

    But the latter is an accessible analogy, founded on Scripture, but going on quite far from there. The former is far more difficult to get hold of, and lacks the power to motivate man for good or ill, his own or anyone else's.

    Gehenna was like a fly-tipper's paradise. Just piles of unwanted rubbish. That rubbish included the 'alien' dead, that is the dead whom no-one claimed. It was on the site of a pagan death-cult, so the ground was always considered polluted.

    But the dead there weren't punished, they were just abandoned ... they might as well have been popped into another dimension, or they might as well have never existed in the first place.

    And when we take pastoral considerations into account, I do believe in what the Buddhist calls 'upaya', a teaching that may not be entirely true, but it is expedient to attain the desired end in the face of a truth that is actually more difficult to grasp in a way to move the person to act towards his or her own salvation.

    For purgatory, judgement and hell, I rather settle on Pope-emeritus Benedict's encyclical Spe Salvi, section III, paragraphs 41-48, and I commend it to you.

    Agreed. But I doi believe the person is given one last chance ...

    Agreed. The emphasis is mine, in that I see the last thing to be withdrawn is the soul's very existence. I agree with you: such a soul can and will never undergo metanoia, but nor will God keep such a soul in existence, because existence is part of the gift of God that the soul rejects ...

    Ah, there're the telling distinction, for me and for you. Yes, in that tradition, as you say "He is absorbed into Brahma, ceasing to exist, becoming an aspect, a part of Brahma".


    Agreed, agreed! Sorry, my similarities were superficial. As for the chills, doubly-agreed. And nothing fills me with dread more than the popular nihilistic notion of reincarnation, of endless rounds of snakes and ladders, where after a million lives, poised on the edge of perfection, you get busted back to zero and start all over again. So cold, so callous, so mechanical.

    Ah, I was unclear there. I agree with everything you've said. My thinking was their rejection of God was an egoic action towards their own perceived good. The fruit was pleasing to the eye, we are told, but God had said, 'the eye deceives' and still they fell for it ...

    This is so often forgotten. Creation is not some staging post to perfection, it's as valid a state as any other, and God ensures that he can be known here as much as anywhere ...

    We (as i understand it) believe in Mary's purity because she was baptised at conception. I can remember our course director asking 'who baptised Mary?' and indeed 'who baptised the disciples?' because no-one ever mentions their baptism. But then I would say a face-to-face with Christ, if one accepts Him, is a baptism, then ... now ... eternally ...

    Pax vobiscum.
     
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