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 Post subject: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 7:37 pm 
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I have been teaching CCD for 6th graders at my wife's parish for 4 years now and I love it! It gives me a chance to impact the lives of young people and to hopefully show them the beauty of their Catholic faith. Unfortunately, the textbook we are using is...........in need of a little help. I wrote a letter to the publishing house, Sandlier, out of NYC and sent copies to Bishop Burbidge and the Office of Youth Catechism in Arlington. I also gave a copy of the letter to the head of RE at St. Mary's.

Today I ran into her in the office at St. Mary's.

"So did you read the letter?" I asks.

Her response was to roll her eyes and sigh. Then we both had a good laugh. Yeah, it was blunt and to the point (Ed....you? Blunt and to the point??? Naaaaaa!!!)

Then she laughed again and told me that the other 6th grade teacher says the textbook is "worthless." To which I laughed. I don't think it's worthless, but I do believe it needs a bit of tweaking.

Here's the letter, for those who may be curious.

William H. Sadlier, Inc. May 15, 2017
9 Pine Street
New York, NY 10005-4700

Dear sirs, priests, and religious who have worked on this textbook:

I have had the privilege of teaching 6th grade for a couple of years and find it most rewarding. Children at this age have the ability to ask some really good and probing questions. I have mostly enjoyed using your teaching manual, WE ARE God’S PEOPLE, particularly because the 6th grade book covers one of my favorite topics - the Covenant of God. You see, much like Scott Hahn (whose briefcase I am not worthy to carry) the Covenant of God was the roadmap for me out of Protestantism and into the Catholic faith. I appreciate how your textbook covers the establishment of the covenant and the history of God’s first covenant people - national Israel. However, I do have some concerns regarding the book. There are a number of very problematic errors in the book which I strongly believe need to be corrected in the next possible edition of your otherwise good book.

On page 23, the book says: “It is only in eternal life that we will completely know God.” This is a bad choice of wording, for we can never, ever completely know God. Most theological treatises I have read on this issue agree with this statement. God is transcendent to all creation and unknowable in His fullness, even to His intelligent creatures. We will spend eternity coming to know Him better and better and yet never exhaust the newness, the fullness, the wonder of who God is. To know Him completely, we would have to be essentially one with God in His essence, which idea would be, of course, a blasphemous statement.

On page 25, you should make a clearer distinction between tradition and Holy Tradition. We have many parishes in the world full of the traditions of men, some of which are, quite frankly, silly! But Holy Tradition is that which has been handed down from the beginning of the New Covenant Church and which guides us in knowing dogma and interpretation of Sacred Scripture. It was Holy Tradition which defended the deity of Christ Jesus from the heresy of Arias, who defended his idea from a position of “sola scriptura.” Holy Tradition helped win the day for orthodox Christian dogma.
On page 32, you again should make a clearer distinction in regards to the nature of a covenant. Covenant is a very important theme in the Bible, appearing over 300 times between the OT and the NT. Proper understanding of God’s covenant is what brought me into the Church out of Protestant heresy. You should mention that a covenant is a relationship, and in our particular case as the Church, we understand it is a relationship of love, of which the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is an analogy in Scripture. “Agreement” sounds too much like contract, which sounds way too much like heretical Calvinism, out of which I came. We are not in a legal contract, we are in a love relationship with God, who is love, through Christ.

On page 33, why would you say “These stories are very old and are not necessarily about factual events.” Such a statement can create doubt in young minds and creates problems for me as a teacher. Honestly, are you trying to destroy these kids’ faith?? I am sorry if this sounds strongly worded, but at this stage in their intellectual and spiritual growth, it is reprehensible to make any statements which might foster doubt in the veracity of the Sacred Scriptures. They need to be taught to trust the Scriptures and not to question at this age. Later in life they will no doubt be faced with philosophical challenges regarding Genesis and symbolism in the Bible, but let’s not do it at this age. Now is the time to set a firm foundation in the Sacred Scriptures, not to create doubts.

Very bad mistake on page 44, where it says “The soul is immortal; it will never die.” Not what Scripture says: “Who alone hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto...” (1 Tim. 1:16). The idea of an immortal soul is from Greek Platonism and is contrary to Scripture. We are immortal only when we “put on immortality” (St Paul: 1 Corinthians 15:53).

On page 60 you start the page with the heading “God made a covenant with Noah.” This is again erroneous wording.. It makes it sound like God is creating another different and separate covenant. Genesis 9:9, 9: 11, and 9:15 very clearly state that God is establishing “my covenant” with Noah and all creation. This is the same relationship which God established with Adam in the Garden. Now the terms may be different - each time God speaks to men about His covenant, He expands the terms and knowledge of that one covenant relationship - but there is only ONE covenant. By this time in the school year, I am getting a little embarrassed for you as I have had to constantly correct your book to my students.

(MORE ON NEXT PAGE. I AIN'T DONE YET!)


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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 7:38 pm 
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The symbol of the rainbow was not the sign of a new covenant. It was an extension and further clarification of the covenant of God with mankind - that He would never again flood the earth. It would be good, therefore, to reword this to say “God extends His covenant to Noah” since that is what He is doing here, and clarify that the rainbow is a symbol of a change in the terms of the covenant between man and God.

You say the same thing again on page 70 and again I had to correct this error. God did not make a new and somehow different covenant with Abraham. God invited Abraham into the covenant of God to become the “father of many nations.” The covenant is already in place. It is the covenant relationship between the members of the Blessed Trinity. Mankind is invited to participate in this relationship of love. This idea of different and multiple covenants is a Protestant error that I used to teach as a Calvinist. Look at the wording in your book at the top of page 70 where in Genesis 17: 1-2, God says “Between you and me I will establish my covenant.” Not “a covenant,” but “my covenant,” meaning that covenant relationship which is already in existence - the eternal covenant of the Trinity. Words are important. Words mean things.

Pretty much the rest of the book until page 238 has nothing terribly out of whack with the covenant message we as teachers are trying to teach our children. Unfortunately, on page 238, you show a picture of the Holy Thursday washing of feet in which a young woman is having her feet washed. Do you understand what symbols are and why we use them in the Catholic faith? If you do, you should pull that picture and replace it with a proper picture of men having their feet washed. Jesus did not have any female Apostles, and the indication of the first foot washing in the Upper Room was that He washed His Apostles’ feet and no one else’s, not even those of His Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. If any woman deserved to be an Apostle, and to have her feet washed, it would be her, and to have done so would have indeed opened the door for female apostleship and priesthood – but IT NEVER HAPPENED!!

I’m not particularly happy with the picture on page 259. Since the sad scandal in the Church at the turn of this century, I am extremely hesitant to discuss sexuality or sexual issues with children this age. Such things are better discussed in high school. The sign “Fight AIDS” needs to go. I don’t want to discuss what AIDS is or how it is spread to some curious child just into puberty. And even if I did, the sign is way too vague. “Fight AIDS” can mean just about anything, including the Liberal/Socialist idea of the distribution of condoms (which is against our Catholic faith). The other two signs are good. This one needs to go!

Okay, now I’m going to be a bit nit-picky here. Page 272 talks about the start of the Church. Guys, the Church started with Moses in the desert. The word “church” means “the congregation” or “gathering of God’s people,” and that began in the desert with Moses. Later on we see that God took the Church (aka the “vineyard” in Matthew 21) and turned the rulership over to new leadership, taking it from the Jews. Just to put a fine point on it (and what I taught my kids) is that the New Covenant Church began with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As we see in Matthew 21: 33-46, there was already in existence a congregation of God’s people, an “eklessia” (church) called “the Kingdom” (vineyard) which existed in the form of national Israel. It continued, but the rulership over this Kingdom was taken from the Jews and given to the New Covenant Church - the Catholic Church. The whole theme of the lessons has been the covenant, and I wanted to be sure they understood that the covenant family is the Church, God’s people, and that He began that people, that covenant family, with Moses, and it continues to this day. Just a small point, but important to me.

I appreciate how many times in this book you have shown the connection between the Old Covenant and the New. This makes it easier for me to show the children that the Catholic faith is simply the continuation of Judaism in a state of fulfillment. The Eucharist is the fulfillment of Passover. Circumcision, the sign and seal of the Old Covenant, becomes baptism, the sign and seal of the New Covenant. As I taught my children, Judaism “pulls through” to become Christianity in the New Covenant. It is fulfillment, not a new religion. Very important.

Unfortunately, to end this letter, I am going to have to speak out on an issue which is highly inflammatory in the Church - ecumenism. The picture on page 295 makes my hair stand on end every time I see it, especially that of the...well, what exactly is she – preacher, priestess, wiccan? Who knows? One thing we DO know is that she has no business with a stole over her shoulders, not only from the teaching of the Bible, but from the teaching of the Church as well. Despite the howls from the liberal wing of the Church, our Holy Father continues to make it known that the priesthood


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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 7:40 pm 
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is for males only. This is part of the reality of the covenant of God, for in studying the Sacred Scriptures, we see that covenant headship, which is what priesthood is, has been given to men throughout the ages.

Not only does this woman have no business pretending to be a priest, the Catholic priests at that service, according to the Baltimore Catechism, have no business being in the same room with this false worship. I spent one whole lesson teaching my children how covenant obedience brings blessing and covenant disobedience brings curse, and then you undo it all with one picture of disobedience!!! I showed my children - from your textbook - how the Israelites were taken into captivity because they worshiped false gods, and then you show a false worship service to end their year. I am beyond stunned at this!!!

Just using the name of Jesus does not somehow baptize false prayers to false gods into truth. In the recent past, some so-called “ecumenical worship” services attended by Catholics have included prayers by Hindus, Indian shamans, and other pagans to their demon gods. Why even open the doorway to such thinking in our children’s minds by presenting anything less than a picture of what true ecumenicism is - people repenting of paganism, heresies, apostasies, and false doctrines and coming back to the one Church which Jesus established upon St. Peter?

I realize that in the beginning of the textbook there is a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur regarding the contents of this book, however, as I look over what can only be called the current wreckage of the traditional and historic faith, and what that faith has become under the guidance of some bishops who in the last couple of decades have turned a blind eye to such goings on as clown Masses and hideously ugly parish buildings, I believe I have a right and a responsibility to express my deep misgivings regarding some of the teachings in this book. Saint Pope John Paul the Great spoke of the responsibilities of the laity, and while I do honor the offices of those ordained in the Church, and give all respect and honor to all of our Lady’s ordained servants, this is not to say that they themselves cannot fall into varying degrees of error.

Therefore, I pen this letter in order to fulfill the duty of my conscience in the teaching of truth to the next generation of children. Even though this letter, being worded in places with strong emotional response, may not sound like it, I do so with respect for all those ordained, and a sense of my own fallibility, frailty, and sinfulness. If nothing else, it is my hope that this letter will engender discussion of these important issues, not for my sake, but for the sake of the children who are trusting us to lead them into the fullness of the Christian faith which is found in the Catholic faith. Out of the errors of Protestantism I have found the Catholic faith . It was the covenant which led me Home. By God’s grace, I am committed to that apostolic faith once taught to the world. But our children are still in need of a good foundation, and only clear, unambiguous truth will help them develop in to strong Catholics able to face the world and its temptations.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Edward A. Hara
CC: His Grace, Bishop Michael Francis Burbidge
Office of Catechetics and Religious Education, Diocese of Arlington VA
Religious Education Director, St. Mary of Sorrows parish


We'll see if I get any response to this. Should be an interesting summer!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 7:46 pm 
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You might get a response but their texts won't change.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 7:51 pm 
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And they are right and you are wrong about the immortality of the soul. You handed them an excuse to think you're a nut and send you their polite letter from their files that says they will.certainly take your comments into account when they prepare their next revision.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 8:14 pm 
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As far as knowing fully goes, try 1 Cor 13:12.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 8:40 pm 
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Note that CCC 366 explicitly teaches the immortality of the soul. Why would you write that in your letter after we told you on this board that you were going down the wrong road in your understanding of that verse?

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 9:52 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Note that CCC 366 explicitly teaches the immortality of the soul. Why would you write that in your letter after we told you on this board that you were going down the wrong road in your understanding of that verse?



Quote:
Father Steven: I think as Christians we feel it has been perfectly revealed in Christ and his bodily resurrection from the dead. We can find Old Testament sources and roots, like the Book of Daniel, the deuterocanonical II Maccabees, and probably some inter-testamental Jewish literature. However that may be, and maybe that could be seen as speculative, our Lord’s resurrection clearly revealed that it is the very center of our belief, that the whole person is restored and transformed to life with God.

In the Nicene Creed, we openly affirm and claim to believe in the resurrection of the dead. If you look at the Creed carefully, there is no explicit mention of the immortality of the soul. However, I think it is important that we do not make too sharp of a dichotomy there. We do not reject the teaching of the immortality of the soul, we simply reject some of its, let’s say, Hellenistic sources.We do not believe the soul is, by nature, immortal, or inherently immortal. We believe the soul is immortal by the grace of God. We are not rejecting the immortality of the soul, we are placing it in the wider context of the biblical understanding of the person in his or her wholeness, based upon the resurrection of Christ.


My point is and remains that the soul is not BY NATURE immortal. That is from Greek paganism. As Fr. Steven says, it is by GRACE that it is or becomes immortal. It is through the work of Christ alone that we are gifted with immortality. Even Adam and Eve were not immortal, for God expelled them from the Garden lest they eat the Tree of Life and live forever in the lamentable condition of sin they found themselves in.

The textbook needs to make this more clear. I stand by what I have written.


Last edited by Light of the East on Tue May 30, 2017 9:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 9:55 pm 
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Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?


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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 10:20 pm 
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Father Steven is wrong. More tomorrow.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 11:26 pm 
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LotE,

Fr Steven shows a startling ignorance on the Catholic notion of immortality of the soul.
It does NOT mean pre-existence of the soul. It does NOT reject hylomorphism. It does NOT mean that all matter is evil.

Immortality simply means that a soul, once created, cannot be annihilated. And this is a doctrine of the Church.

The transcript keeps making a dichotomy between immortality of the soul, and resurrection of the body. And keeps tossing the words "Gnostic" and "pagan".
The problem is, he does not start by defining what he means by immortality. That opens the door to dangerous waffle.

I hope the following Catholic Encyclopedia articles will be of help to you :

Immortality http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07687a.htm

Soul http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14153a.htm

Quote:
As Fr. Steven says, it is by GRACE that it is or becomes immortal. It is through the work of Christ alone that we are gifted with immortality.

Light of the East wrote:
My point is and remains that the soul is not BY NATURE immortal.


Everything in the world, down to the meticulous details, are so because they are permitted thus by the omnipotent and omniscient God.
Therefore, I can say that coconut water is delicious by the grace of God. Knives sharp by grace. Fire gives great by grace. In that sense, the immortality of souls is also a work of grace.

But you say that the soul originally was not immortal, but was elevated to that state.
In other words, human souls would have been annihilated, but Christ prevented this.

This could be done in two ways:

a) Annihilation had not taken place yet. He averted an upcoming event which would have been an annihilation of souls.

b) Annihilation of some souls took place, annihilation of others were to follow. Or, all souls were annihilated. He re-created annihilated souls, and averted all future annihilation.

I dismiss this line of thinking as I don't find anything in Scripture which says either of these.


Quote:
Even Adam and Eve were not immortal, for God expelled them from the Garden..

But the issue here is not whether Adam and Eve were immortal, but whether their SOULS were immortal. Expelling them from Paradise did not annihilate their souls.

Methinks you are confusing immortality of souls with Beatific Vision here.

PS These are my humble 2 cents. Open to correction.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 5:51 am 
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You're doing very well. But "grace" is not really the word you want here:

    Therefore, I can say that coconut water is delicious by the grace of God. Knives sharp by grace. Fire gives great by grace.

"By the will of God" or "by the power of God" would be better. The word "grace" implies a recipient.

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Last edited by Obi-Wan Kenobi on Wed May 31, 2017 6:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 6:12 am 
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God is the only one who has immortality a se, from Himself. God cannot not exist. Souls are not immortal in this sense; God holds them in existence and could let them pass out of existence if He so chose. What the doctrine of the immortality of the soul says is that the soul will never cease to exist due to any natural cause.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 6:20 am 
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With respect to the foot-washing, I will note that the washing of women's feet is explicitly permitted in liturgical law.

Also, the Baltimore Catechism no longer reflects the discipline of the Church regarding activities between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians. That discipline is now given here. See especially paragraphs 102-121, and then 129-136 for a discussion of what must not be done in common with non-Catholics.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 8:42 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
You're doing very well.

"grace" is not really the word you want here:

    Therefore, I can say that coconut water is delicious by the grace of God. Knives sharp by grace. Fire gives great by grace.

"By the will of God" or "by the power of God" would be better. The word "grace" implies a recipient.


Thank you very much :) :heart: :rose:

May I ask one question, father. You said,

God holds [souls] in existence and could let them pass out of existence if He so chose. 

Can God let a rational soul pass out of existence; is it logically possible for a rational soul to pass out of existence?

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 9:21 am 
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All things exist because God holds them in existence. If He didn't, they would cease to be. IOW, even our being is contingent upon God's will.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 9:27 am 
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I take it back. Father Stephen is not wrong, or at least not terribly wrong. Most of that article/interview is refuting the idea that our souls go to Heaven and our bodies waste away, which is indeed Platonism and is indeed wrong. In fact, I mention that nearly every year on the Feast of the Ascension and on the Feast of the Assumption.

He is wrong, or at least unclear, in saying that our souls are not immortal by nature. God created souls so that they cannot be destroyed by any created thing nor made to pass out of existence by any created thing, including internal weaknesses.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 11:34 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I take it back. Father Stephen is not wrong, or at least not terribly wrong. Most of that article/interview is refuting the idea that our souls go to Heaven and our bodies waste away, which is indeed Platonism and is indeed wrong. In fact, I mention that nearly every year on the Feast of the Ascension and on the Feast of the Assumption.

He is wrong, or at least unclear, in saying that our souls are not immortal by nature. God created souls so that they cannot be destroyed by any created thing nor made to pass out of existence by any created thing, including internal weaknesses.


I would vote for unclear.

I thought about this last night while trying to fall asleep. It seems that the wording involved in discussing the soul is very tenuous and subject to nuances of wording.

Let me ask you this: if God creates souls that cannot be destroyed by any created thing nor made to pass out of existence, does that make them like Him in some form of essence? This would be problematic, especially in light of that scripture I quoted in the letter.

On the other hand, I also see the problem you mentioned before regarding annihilation of the soul if we say that the soul is not immortal. So then, doesn't it really come down to the soul being created, not being of itself immortal, but immortal because God keeps it alive every second. In other words, as I heard one priest say once, "If God stopped thinking about you for even one second _ *poof* - you would cease to exist.

Am I on the right track here? I'm trying to synthesize all this from various angles.


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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 12:14 pm 
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I'm not sure what you mean by "form of essence."

Look at it this way: You and I exist, right? (I hope I'm not just talking to myself!) But only God exists in and of Himself. Everything other than God depends on God to exist. Does that make us excessively like God? If not, then the analogous situation of the immortality of the soul doesn't either.

Quote:
So then, doesn't it really come down to the soul being created, not being of itself immortal, but immortal because God keeps it alive every second.
Not quite. Your priest friend is correct that anything would pass out of existence if God stopped thinking about it, but God sustains corruptible things in existence too, like trees. Rather, souls do not have within themselves a principle of decay, nor can anything other than God cause them to decay from the outside. That's part of the way God created souls to be. But (see paragraph above) this sort of immortality is a very different sort of thing than that which properly belongs to God alone.

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 Post subject: Re: Problems with the CCD textbook
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 12:51 pm 
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Sons of Thunder
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Location: As I understand it.....in God's will. This is the best place to be.
Religion: Orthodox (In Communion With Rome)
Church Affiliations: Past Grand Knight KoC 15107
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I'm not sure what you mean by "form of essence."

Look at it this way: You and I exist, right? (I hope I'm not just talking to myself!) But only God exists in and of Himself. Everything other than God depends on God to exist. Does that make us excessively like God? If not, then the analogous situation of the immortality of the soul doesn't either.

Quote:
So then, doesn't it really come down to the soul being created, not being of itself immortal, but immortal because God keeps it alive every second.
Not quite. Your priest friend is correct that anything would pass out of existence if God stopped thinking about it, but God sustains corruptible things in existence too, like trees. Rather, souls do not have within themselves a principle of decay, nor can anything other than God cause them to decay from the outside. That's part of the way God created souls to be. But (see paragraph above) this sort of immortality is a very different sort of thing than that which properly belongs to God alone.


And you just said what I believe. :D

Words are hard, aren't they?


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