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 Post subject: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:48 am 
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Unam Sanctam Catholicam, in a series of posts written against Balthasar's "Dare We Hope?", notes this about the psychology of Dante's Inferno

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Thus, far from being tormented in their conscience about how God could let anybody go to Hell, or about how the presence of sinners in Hell would mean that God and Christ "lost", Dante, and with him the whole medieval tradition, see a profound justice in the fact - not the hypothesis - but the fact of human damnation.


I asked a Dante scholar I know, and though he didn't exactly clear up why Dante feels this way, he did affirm that Dante is without scruple in this regard.

Bishop Baron can only really cite late 20th century authors for his hope for an empty hell, and oddly enough practically admits that a populated hell was uncontested until very modern times.

So here are my questions

1. What did the medieval believe differently than moderns [viz. modern Catholics] that made them more at peace to the peopled hell of their art and literature?

2. Since the medievals believed that the greater part (the many) of humanity would be lost, in what sense did they understand the final conquest and victory of Christ over the world, Satan, sin, and death?

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:39 am 
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1.
"The parable of the prodigal son expresses in a simple but profound way the reality of conversion. Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man. Understood in this way, mercy constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of His mission. His disciples and followers understood and practiced mercy in the same way. Mercy never ceased to reveal itself, in their hearts and in their actions, as an especially creative proof of the love which does not allow itself to be "conquered by evil," but overcomes "evil with good." The genuine face of mercy has to be ever revealed anew." (DiM 6)

"In fact, genuine understanding and compassion must mean love for the person, for his true good, for his authentic freedom. And this does not result, certainly, from concealing or weakening moral truth, but rather from proposing it in its most profound meaning as an outpouring of God's eternal Wisdom, which we have received in Christ, and as a service to man, to the growth of his freedom and to the attainment of his happiness." (VS 95)

2.
" Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ's redemptive act, but to man's will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God's command is of course proportioned to man's capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit" (VS 103)

- St John Paul II

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:29 am 
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Medievals had a different view, culturally and philosophically, of punishment generally than we do. I'm about as far from a postmodern as you can get, but there is a very famous postermodern (he preferred "post-structural," and for good reasons) philosopher named Foucalt who is helpful here. He wrote a book titled Discipline and Punishment that's informative. The important thing about him is that, as wrong as he was in many aspects of his philosophy, he was a competent historian, and he was particularly interested (at one point in his career) in the history of ideas--or as he thought of it, the genealogy of ideas--regarding punishment and government. Anyway, he points out that the pre-modern mind, punishment is very much about retribution, and that it wasn't until the late 1800s that punishment starts to become about rehabilitation. Even more, punishment as retribution was not merely individualistic but communal, because crimes against people were actually crimes against the society, and not merely because of some notion of individual liberty and the value of all people, but because the pre-modern idea was very much wedded to a social/class based system. So if a lower person insults or harms a higher person, you're risking upsetting the entire social order. Now add to that, when you insult the sovereign, public (often very harsh) punishment was expected. So when you come to Dante, are we at all surprised when he describes in such vivid detail the punishment of sinners who have so greatly insulted God and His Church?

There have been lots of very subtle cultural changes that have shifted, usually imperceptibly, attitudes towards all sorts of things relevant to your question. As noted, punishment as retributive vs rehabilitative (so the goal of punishment); punishment as public vs private (so the context of punishment); punishment relative to class (so our view of justice in punishment re equality of all, and our rejection of "cruel and unusual" punishments); and on and on. Even the Church has recognized some of these philosophical changes. JPII talks about the increasing clarity with which we've come to appreciate the dignity of all humans, and its in that context he remarks that not even murderers lose the dignity of being human (which Francis, unfortunately, builds his anti-DP case on!).

None of that is to say that we're wrong or that Dante is right. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between and that we would do well to look at our emotional reactions to the punishment of hell and figure out what beliefs we hold that drive those reactions and moderate those beliefs accordingly. Where we find ourselves so repulsed by the idea that we feel God is somehow unjust in condemning to Hell, we need to look at those ideas and moderate them; where we find ourselves looking at hell and entertaining a bit of Schadenfreude, that again should tell us to look at the underlying ideas and moderate them.

If you're curious about Foucalt's argument, you might find this lecture helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua4wrcS9u3A&t

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:06 pm 
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To spare us both the block of text I'll reply without quotes :P

(1) Dr. Feser and Dr. Bessette provide a sufficiently cogent case for retribution as a part of punishment that I would honestly say that I see it's absence from our current legal philosophies to be a major ill here in Canada.

(2) I do not agree with St JP II's view on a growing awareness of human dignity. Though I guess I'd have to see what the qualifications were when he made that statement, because it is difficult to imagine a Pope so vocal about the sins of euthanasia and abortion, who himself hailed from a Communist country would say that today we have more respect for the dignity of the person than previous generations. I think, and I suppose I get this from the Canadian philosopher George Grant, that we actually think much less of the human person today than before.

We're less willing to punish people because we don't want to fully hold them accountable for their actions, or we don't fully understand the seriousness of murder. Gen 9:6 uses human dignity as justification for capital punishment for example.

We're also more willing to treat people as variables. Whether it's the naive belief that if we just adjust the perimeters of prison enough we'll be able to reform anyone, or the tendency towards centralization or even authoritarian regimes, the individual people seem a little lost in the whole mess.


(3) That any living soul should go to hell, perish the thought. It is not for us to delight in the death of sinners. Yet, St. Thomas does say that seeing the damned will be pleasing to the elect because it will show to them God's justice. It would seem there is a virtuous schadenfraude there, in the same way knowing a notorious murderer has been hung gives us pleasure.

(4) I guess I'm still not clear on how the majority of people being lost (even if no one who is lost can complain of injustice) is God's victory. That's the real hang up. But the Gospel really does say the few, not the many . . .

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:56 pm 
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RE

1. You've switched from discussing "moderns [viz. modern Catholics]" to discussing yourself. Whether or not you find through Feser a sufficient emphasis placed on retributive justice, moderns don't, and that for the reasons I already stated.

2. I've no interest in debating whether or not JP2 was correct in his historical assessment. I simply raised him as an example of the changing cultural values. That said, I'm far more inclined to trust him as a historian than you; you, of course, are free to dismiss his expertise if you feel you are more qualified than he to speak on such matters. [edit: that being said, it's worth pointing you to the source I have in mind--JP2 writes:

    On the one hand, the various declarations of human rights and the many initiatives inspired by these declarations show that at the global level there is a growing moral sensitivity, more alert to acknowledging the value and dignity of every individual as a human being, without any distinction of race, nationality, religion, political opinion or social class. [see paragraph 18]

It's also worth reading the next paragraph, as he seems to address your objection.]

3. There is no such thing as a virtuous schadenfraude. Cf Ez 33:11. It will, of course, delight us to see God as just, for to see God Himself is a delight. Moreover, we will have a deeper understanding of how their loss is deserved, and all the more we will be able to say, "There but by the grace of God go I." In none of this is there any sort of pleasure in damnation. But, again, the point I was making is that moderns, like all others in history, need to sanctify their hearts and order their loves so that they desire what God desires and hate what God hates. Just as it seems that medievals seemed to delight too much (for our taste at least) in the damnation of the wicked, we seem repulsed by it too much (and certainly for their taste).

4. I don't have any comments on that at all, other than to say I think you're risking getting into a "best possible world" argument that, at least on Thomistic grounds, is actually incoherent.

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:13 pm 
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ForeverFaithful wrote:
Unam Sanctam Catholicam, in a series of posts written against Balthasar's "Dare We Hope?", notes this about the psychology of Dante's Inferno

Quote:
Thus, far from being tormented in their conscience about how God could let anybody go to Hell, or about how the presence of sinners in Hell would mean that God and Christ "lost", Dante, and with him the whole medieval tradition, see a profound justice in the fact - not the hypothesis - but the fact of human damnation.


I asked a Dante scholar I know, and though he didn't exactly clear up why Dante feels this way, he did affirm that Dante is without scruple in this regard.

Bishop Baron can only really cite late 20th century authors for his hope for an empty hell, and oddly enough practically admits that a populated hell was uncontested until very modern times.

So here are my questions

1. What did the medieval believe differently than moderns [viz. modern Catholics] that made them more at peace to the peopled hell of their art and literature?

2. Since the medievals believed that the greater part (the many) of humanity would be lost, in what sense did they understand the final conquest and victory of Christ over the world, Satan, sin, and death?


Perhaps I missed it, but I would be interested in a very precise and cogent answer to the second question. (I have my own thoughts on this) If the original goal for mankind, and each individual born was theosis (divinization) then for millions (billions?) to not reach that goal, to not participate in the love of the Trinity, seems like a "no-win" to me. And if the Medieval idea that the vast majority of those who will ever be born will not be redeemed, but suffer eternal torment.....certainly seems like a loss to me rather than a victory.


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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:36 pm 
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theJack wrote:
RE

1. You've switched from discussing "moderns [viz. modern Catholics]" to discussing yourself. Whether or not you find through Feser a sufficient emphasis placed on retributive justice, moderns don't, and that for the reasons I already stated.

Ay, but it's not adversarial in nature.

I suppose it was more foil to what you were saying than a contradiction.



Quote:

2. I've no interest in debating whether or not JP2 was correct in his historical assessment. I simply raised him as an example of the changing cultural values. That said, I'm far more inclined to trust him as a historian than you; you, of course, are free to dismiss his expertise if you feel you are more qualified than he to speak on such matters. [edit: that being said, it's worth pointing you to the source I have in mind--JP2 writes:


    On the one hand, the various declarations of human rights and the many initiatives inspired by these declarations show that at the global level there is a growing moral sensitivity, more alert to acknowledging the value and dignity of every individual as a human being, without any distinction of race, nationality, religion, political opinion or social class. [see paragraph 18]

It's also worth reading the next paragraph, as he seems to address your objection.]


Actually the prior paragraph states what I was saying

The process which once led to discovering the idea of "human rights"-rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation-is today marked by a surprising contradiction. Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.

"The process which once ..." suggests that prior to today there were many movements which recognized "human rights" which are still proclaimed today (the next paragraph) but are today (in new ways) trampled upon (the paragraph after what you cited). I definitely agree with this.

Quote:

3. There is no such thing as a virtuous schadenfraude. Cf Ez 33:11. It will, of course, delight us to see God as just, for to see God Himself is a delight. Moreover, we will have a deeper understanding of how their loss is deserved, and all the more we will be able to say, "There but by the grace of God go I." In none of this is there any sort of pleasure in damnation. But, again, the point I was making is that moderns, like all others in history, need to sanctify their hearts and order their loves so that they desire what God desires and hate what God hates. Just as it seems that medievals seemed to delight too much (for our taste at least) in the damnation of the wicked, we seem repulsed by it too much (and certainly for their taste).


Dr. Feser disagrees. Wanting to see people punished for crimes of which they are guilty is not itself sinful or even disordered. If we will delight in vengeance in the next life, there is no reason why we should not delight to see justice in this life, since the state is administering justice in place of God (Rom 13) and "The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge" (Psalm 57:11) This is virtuous shadenfreude.



Quote:
4. I don't have any comments on that at all, other than to say I think you're risking getting into a "best possible world" argument that, at least on Thomistic grounds, is actually incoherent.


No. One doesn't need the maximum number of people saved, or the best possible proportion of damned to saved. One just need to articulate in some way the fundamental project which is brought to a victorious completion if the majority of humanity is lost.

If there is no answer than it's a mystery, okay. But it would be helpful (spiritually) to have some attempt at an explanation if possible.

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:33 pm 
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I think we agree on the first two points, so nothing further to say there. As for Feser, I'll simply say this is one of the few areas I disagree with him on when it comes to philosophy properly speaking. You, of course, are more than within your rights to prefer his expertise to mine. But regardless of our disagreement, I still highlight that the reason I brought it up isn't to argue that schadenfreude is intrinsically evil but rather that our emotional reactions to suffering can be revealing as to what we believe about truth. Grant that Feser is correct for the sake of argument: it does not follow that all joy at people suffering eternal punishment is therefore good and just. Again, the point is that you look at your emotional reactions for clues as to your real beliefs, and ask if those beliefs align with truth. Today, the problem is not at all pleasure at the thought of sinners in hell, but in fact repulsion at the idea; in the middle ages, the opposite would have been true. I'm saying we should not embrace either approach wholeheartedly but rather look at our reactions as an indicator of our beliefs, of what we think to be true, and then compare that to authoritatively held truth.

Lastly, as to the best of all possible worlds, I do think you are heading in that direction. What does it even mean for God to be "victorious" in the sense that having millions damned might somehow suggest loss? I don't see how the necessarily presumed premise is not that more lost (at whatever percentage you put the number) isn't "worse" than more saved. As far as I'm concerned, 100% damnation would just as well demonstrate God's victory. The idea of a best possible world just is incoherent. Those whom God chooses to save, He chooses to save, entirely by grace, with absolutely no merit on our parts. Those whom God chooses to condemn, He condemns, at that condemnation is entirely merited on our part. That either of these could be demonstrated is a "victory"; that both are demonstrated moreso. That one victory could be "better" than another is incoherent, for that would presume that God could gain or win by such; and that, in turn, would suggest that God has something to gain or something to lose. Of course, that can't be held, so I just don't think the question is meaningful.

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:31 pm 
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theJack wrote:
Lastly, as to the best of all possible worlds, I do think you are heading in that direction. What does it even mean for God to be "victorious" in the sense that having millions damned might somehow suggest loss? I don't see how the necessarily presumed premise is not that more lost (at whatever percentage you put the number) isn't "worse" than more saved. As far as I'm concerned, 100% damnation would just as well demonstrate God's victory. The idea of a best possible world just is incoherent. Those whom God chooses to save, He chooses to save, entirely by grace, with absolutely no merit on our parts. Those whom God chooses to condemn, He condemns, at that condemnation is entirely merited on our part. That either of these could be demonstrated is a "victory"; that both are demonstrated moreso. That one victory could be "better" than another is incoherent, for that would presume that God could gain or win by such; and that, in turn, would suggest that God has something to gain or something to lose. Of course, that can't be held, so I just don't think the question is meaningful.


If the goal to for mankind is the redemption of all mankind and Creation, then that makes absolutely no sense at all. That is not victory. That is howling and scandalous defeat. In order to sustain your point, you would have to be a soteriological Calvinist, with the idea that before the Creation, God had only a certain number of mankind who would ever be created who would ever be saved. The rest....well, to hell with them. And that would indeed be "victory" (except for the poor schmucks who get to be tormented forever) because God made a plan and then carried it out to completion without any failure.

I find such a picture of God loathsome and reprehensible. The idea of God creating sentient creatures with the foreknowledge of them being in pain and torment forever, and without any plan or intention of saving them from such a fate, makes Him exactly the opposite of what the Bible says He is. The Bible says He is love. Calvinist soteriology makes Him to be monster.


This is absolutely Western thinking and is foreign to the Eastern Orthodox mind. When Augustine's writings, which are the foundation stone of the Calvinist idea of "election," reached Constantinople, the Fathers who studied what he wrote were shocked and appalled at it, but by that time (news being very slow without the Internet) the ideas had spread like wildfire in the West and taken a root that would never be pulled up.

God can neither gain nor lose anything, as you correctly point out. However, God must act within character, and His character is that He IS love. Not that He loves, which is a verb indicating choice (one can then choose to love or not to love) but that He is love and therefore can only act within that ontological reality. 1 Corinthians 13 paints the picture of how love acts. The theological understanding of Calvinism is precisely the opposite of that.

Or, as one Orthodox pastor said in response to the Calvinist ideas of God getting his "pound of flesh" in the revenge of hell: "That is not Jesus you are describing. That is Zeus"

I agree.


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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:42 pm 
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Contradicting yourself by citing truth doesn't get you anywhere. Yes, God is love. But if God can't lose anything, then you can't appeal to His love to say that if so and so happens, He'd have lost something. It's just an incoherent statement, words that you think mean something but actually don't. You may as well say, "God can flibedebop de uphg yeltzerhower." I don't care how certain you are those words mean something. They don't. As C. S. Lewis said, putting the words "God can" in front of non-sense doesn't mean it's no longer non-sense.

Also, please don't write in multiple colors. It's distracting and doesn't help your argument. Besides, green and red are for moderators only.

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:46 pm 
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theJack wrote:
Contradicting yourself by citing truth doesn't get you anywhere. Yes, God is love. But if God can't lose anything, then you can't appeal to His love to say that if so and so happens, He'd have lost something. It's just an incoherent statement, words that you think mean something but actually don't. You may as well say, "God can flibedebop de uphg yeltzerhower." I don't care how certain you are those words mean something. They don't. As C. S. Lewis said, putting the words "God can" in front of non-sense doesn't mean it's no longer non-sense.

Also, please don't write in multiple colors. It's distracting and doesn't help your argument. Besides, green and red are for moderators only.


I thought it was blue for moderators. Oh well.

Okay. Then answer my question, please. The Church describes a conflict between God and the evil one. If the evil one manages to get millions to believe in lies, deceives them into torment, and keeps these souls from achieving the end for which they were created, how is that not a victory for the evil one and a defeat for God?


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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:13 pm 
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Any "victories" Satan has, in whatever sense you want to use that word, don't come at God's expense. Do you truly imagine that God is at war with a finite creature, that somehow the will of this being is such that it overpowers the will of the Almighty? Satan may be the devil and the most evil creature in existence, but He remains God's devil and only acts in any manner He does at God's good pleasure. He could not tempt Job without God's permission, and He could not sift Peter if God said no. Thus if Satan has any "victories" whatsoever, it is merely and only because God permits it and has decided to make some use of it. Or what, do you think God stands by frustrated that He cannot achieve His will because Satan was just too great for Him in this particular battle, perhaps comforting Himself that He wrote the Revelation guaranteeing that at least He wins the war? We are not dualists. God is not at war with the devil, whether or not Satan has set himself at war with God. God is the absolute supreme and cannot even in principle be challenged. Until you grasp that fundamental truth, you'll never be able to even start answering the question of evil and punishment (be it temporal or eternal).

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:00 pm 
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theJack wrote:
Any "victories" Satan has, in whatever sense you want to use that word, don't come at God's expense. Do you truly imagine that God is at war with a finite creature, that somehow the will of this being is such that it overpowers the will of the Almighty? Satan may be the devil and the most evil creature in existence, but He remains God's devil and only acts in any manner He does at God's good pleasure. He could not tempt Job without God's permission, and He could not sift Peter if God said no. Thus if Satan has any "victories" whatsoever, it is merely and only because God permits it and has decided to make some use of it. Or what, do you think God stands by frustrated that He cannot achieve His will because Satan was just too great for Him in this particular battle, perhaps comforting Himself that He wrote the Revelation guaranteeing that at least He wins the war? We are not dualists. God is not at war with the devil, whether or not Satan has set himself at war with God. God is the absolute supreme and cannot even in principle be challenged. Until you grasp that fundamental truth, you'll never be able to even start answering the question of evil and punishment (be it temporal or eternal).


Then the Calvinists are correct.


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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:40 pm 
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I believe every word I wrote, and yet I am not a Calvinist. I'm not even an Augustinian. Yet how can you say that God is so weak so finite, so limited, that the idea of challenging Him, or better Him being challenged, is even meaningful? What would it even mean for Satan to so much as have the capacity to act without God as First Mover? My brother, I worry that your position is atheism and that you don't see that!

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:58 am 
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Ed, I will leave aside the ahistorical claims about the East, or even whether your comments are truly representative of even post Jerusalem synod Orthodox theology (I would contend they aren't), but your comments are heretical, offensive to the Catholic and Orthodox faith, and your obstinancy and contempt for doctrines held in Catholic tradition, both those that are common opinion, but also those that are de fide credenda is tiresome.

Jack came close to simply quoting St Paul, God has mercy on those whom He has mercy, and hardens those whom He hardens.

There is no doubt that some truths are hard to understand, or that, in their explication there is dispute among good Catholic (what hubris you have to treat them so contemptously) but your arguments are not even good regurgitations of 20th century "Paul twisted the gospel" nonsense.

i think you would do well to stop reading anything written after 1900, and, as said in Holy Writ, ponder "the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways!" And if you are troubled by the fact ( it is a fact) that there are persons in hell, and that even this manifests the victory of Christ, upon the vessels of wrath, then best to abnegate your own thoughts on the matter and surrender them to God

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:49 am 
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Ed, you talk about "the Calvinist idea of 'election' " complete with "scare quotes", as if "election" weren't explicitly in Scripture.

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:58 am 
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Selections from Against Heresies, St Iraneus:

This world is ruled by the providence of one God, who is both endowed with infinite justice to punish the wicked, and with infinite goodness to bless the pious, and impart to them salvation.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103325.htm

Answer to another objection, showing that the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the city of the great King, diminished nothing from the supreme majesty and power of God, for that this destruction was put in execution by the most wise counsel of the same God.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103404.htm

One and the same God the Father inflicts punishment on the reprobate, and bestows rewards on the elect.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103440.htm

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:37 pm 
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To All --

In respect for your concerns, I shall speak with my spiritual director about the issues which you have brought up.

I am not set in this thinking, but rather presenting my concerns over what appears to be out of sync with the biblical presentation that God is love.

Two things seem to mitigate in my favor regarding the issue we are discussing:

1. ) In Romans 5: 18-19, St. Paul states that the redemptive work of Christ is applied to all mankind.

2. ) The Eastern Orthodox view of the eschatological state coincides with this in that we do not accept that there is any such place as hell. Rather, the view, as expressed by St. Issac the Syrian and others, is that Christ's work has redeemed all mankind to God. Through the Cross, Jesus entered "the strong man's house" and plundered it of the souls that the evil one had unlawfully taken, leaving him with nothing. All are returned to God......

BUT

not all will find being in the presence of God to be enjoyable. The same love - given to all and experienced by all - will be an experience of torment for the wicked and joy for the redeemed. Those who have lived on this earth desiring and chasing sin will find to be in Christ/God's presence to be an agony. They do not want it, they would run from Him if they could, but there is nowhere to go, for as the Psalmist states, "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there." God is all in all. There is no place in the universe that He is not. And the righteous, those who have struggled with their passions and overcome them by the grace and help of God, shall find that the presence of God is everything they have ever desired.

What then to make of the "election" verses and Paul's' statement that God "will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy?"

As I understand it, Orthodoxy rejects the idea that God "elects" anyone to eternal damnation. Yet that verse is in the Bible, isn't it?

What if......

that verse is speaking of the election of the Jews, some to blessing and some to curse, regarding the close of the age and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70? I have begun to regard the Bible not as an all encompassing book which spans the ages (which gives rise to the bizarre idea of the "Rapture of the Church" in some distant future 2000 years later) but rather the story of God's establishment of the Kingdom. The end of the book seems to lead to this when it shows us the "New Jerusalem" (the Church) which comes down from heaven to be among men. In the highly symbolic language of Revelation, this could be in the Church, and the end of the book showing us that we now live in the Kingdom of God, partially realized now and yet to come in fullness.

Again, these are just attempts to reconcile very difficult passages which appear, on the face of them, to contradict each other. I am not making dogmatic statements.

I will speak with my spiritual director in this regard.


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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:13 pm 
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I do not think that all Orthodox would agree that there is no such place as Hell, that it's just Heaven experienced differently.

I do think, as I've pointed out before, that you're thinking of God as essentially like us, only bigger and better; rather, He is completely Other, and at best we can only know him by analogy and by what He is not (apophatic theology, which is popular in Eastern thought).

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 Post subject: Re: The Medieval Mind and Hell
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:21 pm 
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You're missing the point. This isn't about the proper theology of election. I'm sure people here would be more than willing to talk about that in some detail. The larger problem is that your position entails a basic denial of the essence of God. Your problem is philosophical, not merely theological. You are reducing God to a dependent, contingent being who has a will and attempts to establish it in a univocal (the same) way that created, finite beings do. You've failed to appreciate the idea that God is First Mover and absolutely sovereign. Unless and until you get those basic ideas right, you can't even start having a conversation of God's election, of the justice of Hell, of the role of the devil, of the role of evil more generally, and so on. A conversation with your spiritual director will be of highly limited value, because even if he encourages you to submit to orthodoxy--i.e., the doctrines you've been rejecting in this thread--you'll still have an exceptionally difficult time as you'll have no basis on which to do so other than shear will against your basic worldview. There is some value in that--faith seeking understanding. But you really need to walk before you run. Your problem is not that you don't like Augustine. At least, that's not your problem at this stage. Start with God's essence, with His aseity and simplicity. See what sovereignty means in that context. See what that says about His omniscience and omnipresence and omnipotence. Then you'll have a much clearer understanding about His omnibenevolence as you'll come to have a much clearer understanding of what a will is, and so what love is, in the first place. THEN, after that, if you want to have a proper conversation about where you think Augustine went wrong, you can do so. And if you still think he's wrong, then so be it. But at least you'll be able to understand where he is coming from and why you choose to reject basic, foundational orthodoxy. Start in the right place.

edit:

What Obi said. :)

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Making Divine Simplicity Simple: Rediscovering Who and What God Is - an evangelical's (my!) attempt to explain Divine Simplicity in non-technical language
The Galatian Heresy (Gal 3:1-6) - An Argument for Sanctification by Faith Alone


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