I write this post with my newspaper in front of me, and the terrible story of the tourists mercilessly murdered on a Tunisian beach. How could anyone, with a sound mind, justify such actions? I notice, however, that the perpetrator died – and must have known that death would be his fate. I am reminded that Blaise Pascal said that he would only believe witnesses who were prepared to have their throats cut. Could he have accepted that these people were acting in good conscience? But it’s an old question: Benedict XVI, while he was still a cardinal, asked himself a similar question about the Nazis active in the persecution of the Jews.
You may be surprised that he accepted that, at the time they acted, they may have genuinely believed that they were doing the right thing in ridding the state of its internal enemies. Their error had started in their failure to come to terms with the deeper levels of their consciences which would revealed to them, as it can reveal to all of us, the good which we must do and the evil which we must avoid. Nevertheless, as Aquinas emphasised, even the faulty conscience binds. (I dealt with this issue at length some time ago. Put Holding out for a Hero into the search box above.)
We might imagine a jihadist’s train of thought. We may suppose that he is a young, but perhaps well educated, person. He believes that the world, particularly Western society, is continually trying to persecute Muslims. And he has good historical evidence that this is so. He is quite certain that the message of God to Mohammed expressed an imperative that Islam should spread and develop this new revelation to the world. Part of that message clearly states that Muslims are entitled to defend themselves, even in extreme ways, against the non-believers who seek to destroy Islam. Thus he concludes that God’s will trumps other, human, values – so that, if killing representatives of Western society promotes Islam, it is not only justified but perhaps a divine imperative. And indeed, in losing his temporary human life, he gains eternity as his reward. ‘Greater love hath no man…’
You might want to argue every item of the jihadist’ss analysis. But you may agree that, even in matters of much lesser moment, we too may come to faulty conclusions and so do wrong when we sincerely believe that we are doing good. All of us are old enough to remember a traditional form of Catholic moral education which required us to be guided in moral matters by the Church – whether or not our reason supported the ruling. And many of us would still argue that, once we reject the rule of law, ultimately anything goes. There’s good evidence of this, too. Perhaps the trend really started with questions on contraception. But it has moved on to sex outside marriage, active homosexuality, abortion in hard cases, in vitro conception, assisted dying, and the rest. The Church’s rules remain but there appears to be an increasing proportion of Catholics who either question some of these issues, or actively disagree with so-called orthodoxy.
So there are a number of issues here. While we believe in the evil of the jihadist’s actions, do we have to condemn the individual jihadist as evil? Has the Church’s historical moral teaching, expressed either in word or in policy, ever led to evil? Is morality a matter of obedience or a matter of personal decision in which the Church rules should be considered a guide rather than the last word? Do we think that the highlighting of the responsibility of conscience in Vatican II has brought more good than evil, or more evil than good?
If you’re going to solve all those, you’ll have a busy week!
I believe the reason God sent His only Son to die on the Cross was to save our souls.
The violence in the Old Testament as I see it is not half as horrific as to what we have seen in the last 2000yrs.
Jesus Christ and His Christian Message is the answer!
Christians are in no position to throw stones at Islam as an institution on the issue of violence. Moreover the Koran clearly states that fighting is the duty of every Muslim, even if he hates it (which seems to rule out an interpretation of “fighting” as figurative). It also states (at least twice) that “Jews, Christians and Sabaeans” are to be respected, and to follow enthusiastically the one precept while ignoring the other is presumably as heretical in Islam as such selectivity is in Christianity. Nevertheless, in the absence of contrary evidence, I think we must suppose the Tunisian murderer to have believed genuinely in the righteousness of his actions, despite their monstrous evil; only God knows his conscience.
“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God”
“You shall not kill”.
There’s really no excuse. Blasphemy, murder, wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong —
If Christians have done the same in the past, it’s the same.
Peter D Wilson.
Jesus’s message does not teach Christian’s to throw stones!
I presumed that Peter’s stones were figurative as in “People in glass houses etc–“.
Personally though, I don’t feel that I live in a “glass house”. The really bad stuff that has been done by “christians” is in the past and may not have been done by actual believers. I maintain my right to express my outrage and to underscore it with my beliefs.
However Jesus-if one is to believe the way Jesus taught, He demonstrated the difference in Teaching/Preaching when He challenged the stoning of the women caught in adultry.
They threw the stone on the ground and walked away.
We must not walk away, but love the sinner and hate the sin.
I will not hide my hide under a bushle like you for anyone!
Should read ‘hide my light under a bushle’
What St J says is so totally true that it trumps any other possible contribution!
To take a more prosaic view though – any nation or society which fails to engage young men, and give them purpose and something useful to do, is heading for disaster. It is the job of men, such as many of us, to raise boys and young men.
Positive male role models are worth their weight in gold – dads, granddads, teachers, sports coaches, scout leaders, outdoor instructors, church youth leaders, army sergeants, trainers of apprentices and so on. They have taken on a massive task and responsability. “But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me–it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea!”
I read that the Tunisian killer was ‘ high on cocaine ‘ which makes his motives and actions even more incomprehensible at least to the ‘ believer. ‘
Through true believers eyes the secular world is and will remain incomprehensible until the Second Coming – to that end while wholly empathising and joined in prayer with my fellow man , I have stopped listening to anymore reports on this ‘ secular event ‘ , for the time being , outside of Gods Kingdom ( His Event ) – lest my own mind be unconsciously diverted from ‘ Christ-at-my- centre ‘. So I act with utter confidence to that end with my will , through informed consciousness.
My Christian ( Catholic ) Faith – lock stock and barrel – is the basis now , for those positive mature decisions in life. Obedient to , and trust in Gods promise through Holy Mother Church is the bedrock of that Faith . We cannot see Gods plan for ourselves ; even though the ‘ Church ‘ at times seems to us to be mistaken , by this ‘ world ‘. For that reason one may never know or understand fully the consequences of ones actions – our illusory world ( what we imagine it to be ) is not Gods world but a distortion Our work is to show a better world through The Beatitudes ( the fruits of Gods New Covenant through His Son ). We are destined for better.
Anthony Kenny in a review of “A Man for All Seasons” by Robert Bolt pointed out the supremacy of conscience but also that if you were wrong then you were damned. Following conscience did not give absolution. Conscience is dangerous!
Doesn’t it depend on why you are wrong, and what opportunities you may have had to evaluate your action, which only God can truly know. There was a phrase in the old catechism, “culpable ignorance of the doctrines of the Church.”
My piece above , on its own stands; rather than the thoughts of an excommunicate . How absurd existentially , – ” conscience is dangerous ! ” . Thomas More surely knew the truth of it . Again more secular , philosophical mumbo-jumbo. ” We see now through a glass darkly …” – 21st century Cartesian secular/ humanist tombstone.
There is a good deal about conscience in Man for all Seasons, and in More’s biography. I don’t, offhand, recall More saying anywhere that one may be damned for following a sincere conscience, even if erroneous. Can you give me the quote?
The Catholic Church sanctioned the burning of heretics and the vast majority of Catholics went along with this. They did not believe in the freedom of conscience.
We were taught that we have freedom of conscience provided it is an informed conscience; that is informed by the Church’s teachings. We were not allowed to pray with protestants in protestant churches. Now we can because the Catholic Church has changed its mind. This is just one example of a volte face by the Church; there are many more.
I agree with the comments above which say that we should fix our minds on Christ and his teaching. Many of the claims made by the Church in the past have been for worldly reasons. I think it was St Aloysius who said that our actions should be governed by “yes” or “no” to the question: “Is my action going to bring greater glory to God?” That seems a pretty good guide to me.
There’s no point agonising about the past. The only Catholic Church worth speaking about is the Catholic Church as it is now. If the Catholic Church is part of the body of Christ then it speaks the Truth at any important level. If that’s not the case, then what’s the point? Even as a non-catholic I now trust what the RCC does and says more than I trust the government, “experts”, the media, and most “received wisdom” such as British values, whatever they are.
Alistair, if you’ll pardon a minor rant, Jesus Christ died 2000 years ago and founded the church, the past is as important to us as the present as the church claims a continuum from Christ and the Apostles. This is not to negate your other points but we do have some duty to acknowledge that those who adhere to our faith have behaved, in the past, in a way that would challenge current thinking and attitudes.
Back in the autumn (northern hemisphere) of 1999 I visited the USA. On my first night jet-lag set in and I watched TV through the night. We were approaching the millennium (and everybody expected the world to end when the Y2K bug would cause all our nuclear power stations to melt down!). I saw a program by a noted US professor on millennialism (the tendency for humans to be apocalyptic) and he described Christianity as “an irenic post-millennial movement” that is the early Christian church expected the second coming to be imminent (in their lifetime) and when Jesus didn’t return our religion had to recalibrate its expectation. Similarly Jews, with the destruction of the Temple in 70AD had to adjust their religious beliefs about what it meant to be God’s chosen people. Thus both Christianity and Judaism reset their understanding of the relationship with God and the expectation of worldly vindication. Islam does not appear to have experienced this recalibration and many Muslims still see violence as the way to further their faith.
Maybe they need their ‘ Vatican ‘.
Muslims do not have a prophet who was crucifed, died and three days rose from the dead, with many witnesses (or do they).?
Perhaps the’Second Coming of Christ’ is every hour. every minute, every second. all over the world in the Real Presence of the Eucharist! Father Son and Holy Spirit,three in one God, The Blessed Trinity.
Is there another religion who can claim that! He is the promised Messiah that theJews are still waiting for!
From what bits I have read first or second hand, the Koran recognises Jesus (Isa) as:
The Word of God
Son of the Virgin Myriam
Appearing to have been crucifed (in other words, appearing to have been put to death by the Jews), but in fact alive.
I have the impression that the early commentaries (Hadith) on the words of Mohammed and about the Koran are what most teach misunderstanding and mess things up (including elevating Mohammed above Jesus). And perhaps it is these commentaries more than the Koran itself which dictate violence?
The Koran says something along the lines that Jesus at His disciples request called for a heavenly banquet to be brought down to earth (this speaks to me of the Eucharist), but warned that if man disregarded/misused this there would be no further excuse for him!
Do you think that if they really believed what you say.they would become christians!
They are obviously confused.
What do you make of this, Quran 5:46-48? (I don’t know how accurate is the translation)
 And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous.
 And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.
 And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.
Regarding my previous comment, where it says “And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth”, I don’t think this refers to the Koran (which was yet to exist); surely this is talking again about the NT Gospel (did the NT exist yet at the time of Mohammad?).
Can anyone clarify this?
milliganp, I am not convinced (at least from what it says in the Bible about the faith of the Apostles and thus the very early Church) that there was such a clear belief that they “expected the second coming to be imminent (in their lifetime)”. I can only think of one passage (from 1 Corinthians?) that gives this impression, and various others that suggest otherwise.
Here’s my contribution – based on my memory of the authortative tome “Islam For Dummies”! The NT did exist at the time of Mohammad but it is doubtful that he was familiar with its content. Islam did not come into contact with Christianity until after the Koran was written down. As a result, those parts of the NT which conflicted with the Koran, were later declared heretical and the result of editing by the apostles. They do accept parts of the NT however eg the references to the future coming of the Holy Spirit is taken by Muslims to be a prophesy of the coming of Mohammad.
St Joseph, it is generally agreed that the NT was written between 60-90 AD, the oldest surviving complete text of the NT is the Codex Sinaiticus which is 4th Century. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to Muhammad between 609 and 632, a time at which Christianity was well established and the Quran contains stories that could only have been absorbed from Christianity (unless we accept independent Divine inspiration).
Marywip, I’d have to spend some time reading to produce a sensible contribution on early Christian eschatology but Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians advises that it is better not to marry as it would distract from waiting to Jesus’ return; however he also writes that those who die before the return of Christ would not miss out so it was obviously a matter of concern.
Regarding any (supposed) direct implication in Scripture that the early Church specifically/literally believed that Christ’s return was imminent; actually I was not thinking of 1 Corinthians on marriage, but rather a passage which I thought was from 1 Corinthians but is actually from Romans 13:11—
“understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
Thank you fot that info.
I dont know anything about the Muslim. religion.
I can not see it as a follow up for Jesus.
Marywip (sorry I spelt your name wrong)
We do not ‘teach’ about Hell’ only know there is one’As Jesus often reffered to it as ‘Ghenna’
Fear of the Lord is one of the the gifts of the Holy Spirirt. We learnt this as children.
One can not love God ‘truly’ and hate his neighbour.
The CCC speaks about Freedom and Responsibility 1731.It is an interesting read! .
There are contexts or situations where one can commit heinous acts of barbarism and be expunged from any moral responsibilities for them. However, it must never be forgotten that the law against mass murder, crimes against humanity, genocide, even a lowly assault or a threat of violence against another person, will not expunge one’s legal responsibility for these objectionable and reprehensible acts.
The problem for any judge in a court of law will be to determine a fair sentence after assessing the accused’s level of culpability. This will be a complex undertaking given the law, their legal defense and their personal contexts such as their state of mind while they were breaking the law, their background, personal history, maturity, intellectual disabilities and the level of their sanity.
Given that the definition of barbarism is “extreme cruelty or brutality”, I’m not sure it could ever be possible to commit an act of barbarism without moral responsibility.
My memory of your first name is Paul; am I right? Admittedly these contexts and judgements are quite rare Paul. I believe that it is a possibility but it might be something that humans are not able to assess adequately. Human judges can have a stab at it in a court of law, but it is such a difficult matter that people need to leave it to Heaven’s better judgement. We could probably outline its possibility to get a better handle of the matter in our own minds. We would have to ultimately leave final judgements about culpability in these extreme cases to God’s perfect abilities and insights. I hope that I am making some sense?
This is why Jesus’s messages are so important,He came to teach us this and died on the Cross for it.
As I said in my first comment.
I can not see that Jesus would give the message to Muhammad 600 yrs later.
It does not make sense.
I don’t think Jesus gave any prophetic message to Mohammed directly. I think it is supposed to be Gabriel, perhaps along with other angels / spirits (good and bad? Discernment needed?), who spoke to Mohammed.
In the OT we read about Isaac and Ishmael. God took Ishmael away from Abraham and Isaac because his presence in the family was causing problems. God promised Ishmael that he would become a great nation. What nation did he become? I am not aware that the Bible says anything further on this matter.?
Why does the ‘Catholic’ ‘Universal’ Church—if she is to live upto her name—not have dominion in this world with respect of the God of Abraham’s (our father in faith’s) name? Why is there also an Orthodox Church, an Anglican Church, numerous Protestant / Evangelical Churches, the Jewish Church/nation still remaining, and also the Islamic Church/nation? Is this merely schism, heresy and chaos? I don’t believe so.
Christ is in control of all things; for what He allows and what He wills, there is Reason/reason.
I was talking to an elderly woman (from my parish, lifelong RC) today during a local C of E church service we went to together. She was telling me how she believes it was wrong the way the Church intimidated her generation with the fear of Hell, and did not answer questions, but expected blind obedience. We also discussed the arrogant way the RCC can see herself as superior to the other Christian churches (and everyone else). She thought that in her earlier days she would have been excommunicated for attending a C of E service.
Are we supposed to believe there is a no hell anymore.
Our Lady showed the vision of Hell to the children at Fatima.
It may have stopped some from going there in the past..
Perhaps it ought to be taught a little more today and put the fear of God into some It may stop the killings. Instead of them thinking they are going straight to Heaven…
St Joseph, yes teaching about Hell is important, but not fear of Hell, rather teaching the fear & love of God from/with the fear & love of God.
I understood that Ishmael was the father of the Arab nations – an early reason for the tension between Arabs and Israelis. I have entirely forgotton my source for this. can any fellow-bloggers shed any light?
John L – descendants of Ishmael – Jerusalem Bible, genesis 25: 12, note b. “Ishmael’s descendants … are the North Arabian tribes.”
Thank you, Peter.
” The highlighting of responsibility of conscience in Vatican ii “.
Simply put for me as Catholic ; conscience is the voice of God which tells me to think and act towards the moral good. The Church with the Pope ( in co-operation with his fellow Bishops ) as its authoritative head – as commissioned by Christ – is the final determinant of ‘ Faith ‘ and ‘ morals ‘ and through the Petrine Office acts as purveyor of this ‘ mind of God ‘ to His Church . If conscience exists from God …..” we are made in his own image and likeness ” – then it cannot be evil …or dangerous . Using this ‘image ‘ ( our intellect ) I develop an informed conscience from Church Teaching ( The Magisterium ) given by God – my understanding of which is therefore, infallible . Again this cannot be evil through first cause and effect. If I dissent from this Teaching then it is ‘ I ‘ who fall into error not anyone else or The Church.
We have the promise that The Lord will be with His Church until the end of time …… sadly , not so all of us. I construe then : that Evil is the result of fallen nature .. not Christs Church.
Thank you Brendan. That is a very simplistic assertion that lacks any sophistication. Such statements seem to be a rallying cry towards a simplistic and primitive orthodoxy. It is good as far as it goes but it does not go far enough. It is simply a very basic step that needs much more work in terms of fully appreciating the human dimension in all of its complexity together with the potential of an attenuated moral culpability.
I agree John . This is the basis of our Faith . That which we live and die and argue with our intellect to further our informed conscience. Although I reject the notion of ‘primitive ‘ ….. ” I thank you Lord for revealing these things to the children , and keeping them from the wise and powerful ” ( sic ).
You are right in what you say.
I do not understand how anyone especially christians can not know right from wrong..
The fact that we are all human beings, and are told to love our enemies, even with out Jesus’s message. We have an inner conscience that tells us this.
However we love our children, we are their teachers so therefore it is our duty to teach them discipline and self control,and not to spoil them with every fad in this ‘must have throw away society’when the next better object comes on the market just to keep them living up with the ‘Jones’! Living within our means in other words. Not trusting on material pleasures.I see that as material gang war, and seperates it from the spiritual life.
Putting God first! That is the benefit of having a conscience written in our hearts .
The other side of the coin of course are the ‘extremists’ whose conscience tells them to rid society of all the evil that exist from materialism ,or what ever way they believe we ought to be living) and they throw out the baby with the bath water.
It could be Heaven on earth if we all lived in the Spiritual Light, that Jesus spoke about.
Jesus did say ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand’!
The Spirit is within us in the Blessed Trinity, our Catholic faith.
We are ‘all’ His children here on earth If we practice that as our ‘dut’y we will not go astray.
This is the RCC version of brain-washing and radicalization. Many an RC holds to this line of propaganda.
Who elected them? You the Church – certainly not. What about the Cardinals, who elected them, you – certainly not. What about the Bishops, who elected them, you – cerainly not. what about the Priests, did you elect them to be your father – I did not think so.
So you have a whole administration of the RCC totally unelected by the elect of God, to represent and rule over the elect of God, because if one is truly a Christian that is what you are, one of the elect.
By whose leave, God’s? Think again. By Apostolic succession – another lie and red-herring. By whose leave do those who rule, then rule?
By whose right do you think those who rule dictate what your conscience should be? Certainly not yours or mine.
By what authority do they think they have the right to not only rule over the elect of God, dictate what their conscience says to one, who were not elected by the elect – the Church?
It is right to see the administration for what it is, what is real history is, and one will find it is a far cry from the early Christian Church and the way it was set up by the Apostles.
Can you a point out to me what it is the Catholic Church teaches me that sends me astray
I really dont understand what you are saying.!
Nektarios, other than your bland assertion, what evidence do you offer against the principal of apostolic succession which has been documented throughout history? Similarly, there is no biblical or other historic evidence of Bishops ever being elected by the faithful. For your thesis to have any credibility it would have to conform to some mainstream theory as to the nature of church or interpretation of church history.
‘If I dissent from this Teaching then it is ‘I’ who fall into error not anyone else or The Church.’ (Brendan)
The trouble with this Brendan is that one can legitimately dissent from the teaching of the Catholic Church and not commit a sin or be in error. Nor can one be thought of as committing an act of treason or disloyalty against the faith or the church.
‘He who acts against his conscience loses his soul.’ (Fourth Lateran council, 1215).
‘It is better to perish in excommunication than to violate one’s conscience.’ (St. Thomas Aquinas).
‘If Newman (John Henry Newman) places conscience above authority, he is not proclaiming anything new with respect to the constant teaching of the Church.’ (Pope John Paul II).
As a young peritus (scholar) of the Second Vatican Council Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, who later was elected Pope Benedict XVI, skillfully summarises the relationship between ecclesiastical authority and an adherent. Writing in 1967,
‘Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirements of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which is the last resort, is beyond the claims of external social groups, even the official church, and also establishes a principle in opposition to totalitarianism.’
(‘Gaudium et Spes’, Volume 5, Part 1, chapter 1, p. 134, in ‘Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II’, Edited by Herbert Vorgrimler, 1968, New York, Published by Herder & Herder).
John, thank you for a clear summary of a number of statements on the supremacy of conscience. However I was always taught that one needed to have an ‘informed conscience’; this is not the same as uninformed personal whim. As the most obvious example of where uninformed consciences dissent from the teaching of the church is the area of artificial birth control. I doubt if more than 5% of Catholics have ever heard or read the authentic teaching of the church and it is thus difficult to categorise this dissent as acts of informed conscience. I suspect Aquinas had a sin of ‘failing to inform one’s conscience”.
I think that all catholics know about contraception, but could be’ excused’ for not understanding its consequences properly.,that is the’ abortifacient effects’. which is the reason why I was concerned,not so much for their souls.But for the ‘Soul of Mother Church’ and Her responsibility.
My wife and I are going away for a few days. I’ll pick up the blog when I return .
We shall miss you. Enjoy yourselves.
Whilst we are departing from topic…I was ordained last Sunday, this meant a change of garb and position.. from normal shirt sitting in with the inmates, to Dalmatic and at the front in the prison chapel. When the priest prayed for me as a new Deacon during bidding prayers I got a round of applause which was very nice…Afterwards several of the prisoners came up to me and sheepishly confessed that they’d always thought I was another inmate..just on a different wing from them. I’m still not sure if this was a compliment or not…!
Congratulations both on ordination and for identifying so closely with your congregation! If I might ask, are you being incardinated into prison chaplaincy as your principal ministry? It is wonderful work and a great ministry, you will need all our prayers.
Congratulations Ignatius, I am sure you will be a real godsend in your parish and in the prison ministry. It sounds as if you have a real rapport with many of the prisoners you serve.
Please pray for me.Thankyou/
I was addressing Brendan’s comment, but see he is away on holiday.
I have addressed some of the errors within my comment to Brendan’s comment.
Trust you are feeling a bit better these days?
Yes thank you I am feeling a bit better, but needed a scan on Friday!!!
About the set up of the RC Church, I dont see how it can be better.
It is Gods church not a ‘free church’ that can be living ‘up’ all flights and fancies from all the different voices at their whim, It has to have some sort of order with the Truth.
We would be living. like the world, but we dont. We have rules. which we understand with reason to keep.Inside and outside of season!
Quran 9:29 says:
“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that fobidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”
What does “Jizyah” mean? If my information is correct, the meaning of this word to Muslims today seems to have been imposed by the Hadith commentaries rather than the ‘prophetic’ message given to Muhammed.
What does ‘fight’ mean in this context? To me personally it says fight spiritual warfare against unbelievers who claim to be Christians until they either come to believe, or they submit (are forced to submit) to the authority of the True Church.
As far as I can make out (but I am no Koranic scholar), “fight” in the Koran means the same as in normal conversation. Nevertheless, if Muslim teachers can persuade the faithful to take it as a struggle aginst evil in their own lives, good luck and the grace of Allah to them!
Peter, as far as I know Muslim means “one who submits to God”. However, to a Christian the term ‘believer’ is perhaps more fully appropriate. As for the grace of ‘Allah’, or even the grace of ‘God’, it would be more appropriate to say the grace of Jesus.
And furthermore, we might hope to avoid condoning the ‘God’ of those who believe in ‘God’ but do not profess Jesus Christ, crucified & risen.
Marywip – there’s only one God, be he addressed as such or as Allah, Jahweh, Krishna or what have you. We may deplore some of His attributes as supposed by other groups of devotees, but then there’s probably more incorrect (or at least inadequate) than accurate in our own ideas. How could it be otherwise?
What non christians do not understand and that is that ‘Jesus is God’ became man. or the concept of the’ Blessed Trinity’
If they understood that we would probably become more ‘united’.
Muslims or others can not disregard the New Testament and make one up of their own! Or they can, but it will not be Christian Truth as we believe.
You mentioned on July 5th at 9.43. about attending Cof E services.
We must understand that nowadays we have a different understanding of other christian demonations. thank God. But it has been a long haul back from the Reformation when our catholic faith and our clergy, churches and Cathedrals, schools.. statues(images) were taken over by protestants, and we thank God we survived, so the danger was through our great, and grand, and parents that we would lose it again.Thankfully now we are more ecumenical. I married a Methodist,but had to go outside when prayers were said, not because I was a catholic,but because I was not a Cof E.
St.J: “Muslims or others can not disregard the New Testament and make one up of their own! Or they can, but it will not be Christian Truth as we believe.”
From what little I have read of the Koran it seems to point to the NT rather in any fundamental sense claiming to be an alternative — perhaps rather (if considering the given Muslim Law(s)) offering itself as a reconstructed alternative to Mosaic Law, which is an ‘Old Creation’ concern and thus not in competition with the NT.
St.J: “What non christians do not understand and that is that ‘Jesus is God’ became man. or the concept of the’ Blessed Trinity’
If they understood that we would probably become more ‘united’.”
What do you make of this?
2 John 1:7-11
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
I do not understand what you are saying. Or trying to imply,can you translate please?
1) Seems to me that Islam does not fundamentally claim to replace NT Christianity but rather to compete with Mosaic Judaism, Israeli Judaism, and Roman Catholic Judaism, whist at the same time subliminally pointing out that the Truth is really substantiated in the NT and in Jesus who has already come.
2) How do we identify (when not obvious or easily isolated), and how do we understand, those who are intentionally or by default (perhaps even in ignorance) playing games in respect of denying the Truth, and what do our consciences say about how we interact and communicate with such people?
At the time of Mohammad there was a Christian sect active in what we would call Arabia, they believed that Jesus was the Messiah but not God and followed Jewish practice with their own Gospel. It would be easy to adapt this belief to form Islam without abandoning core elements of Catholicism which were not present in that sect.
Where does the Eucharist come into their thinking.?
Apart from what I mentioned earlier in this discussion ( July 3, 2015 at 8:16 pm ), I don’t know. However, since the Koran indicates the NT, it is then up to the Muslim to look to the NT for a view to Baptism and the Eucharist. (Should anyone have a view to the Eucharist without first a view to Baptism?)
Only that Jesus was Baptised by John the Baptist before He began His Ministery.
St John as it is said in the NT that ‘The child in Elizabeth’s womb jumped for joy when meeting Mary Her cousin when Mary was 3 months pregnant.(with child)
He is supposed to have been the forerunner to Jesus’
If Baptism was essential for Jesus it must have been important for us too as Christians
And God the Father spoke from the sky..
On the Eucharist, I imagine that Islam considers it a grotesque blasphemy; to believe Jesus to be any more than a messenger is condemned vigorously enough, and to suggest that he could be eaten under the form of bread must seem ridiculous.
St. Joseph, I don’t want to contradict but it is important not to misunderstand Jesus’ baptism (Jesus di not mean to be baptised). The baptism of John was for Jews who had been circumcised and indicated that that they had failed to honour the covenant; It was not the Trinitarian baptism of Christianity. The baptism of Jesus is a Theophany (appearance / .manifestation of God) for the benefit of Jesus’ followers and a transfer of ministry. It is generally proposed that John was baptized in the womb by Jesus’ presence in the womb of Mary.
Major typo / error “Jesus did not need to be baptised”
milliganp: “Jesus did not need to be baptised”
In the sense that He had no sin in Him then this is obviously true. But apparently He did need to be Baptised; to humanly receive the Holy Spirit with Power for the sake of His ministry and end, and for our sakes (that we might do likewise: receive the Spirit with power through water Baptism — although our Baptism is more than this, as the following lines of text suggest), and because (scripture tells us, as I have indicated in a previous discussion) He was baptised in water AND on the cross for our sakes — which two Baptisms are in agreement and cannot be separated. We are told in 1 John: the Spirit testifies that Jesus came forth for us (as God our Saviour) by water Baptism and Crucifixion.
That is Ok, I dont mind learning.
I thought as Jesus was a Jew and circumcised it would have been a form of ceremony for us to follow,obviously not to remove’ Original sin’ But to begin His ministery.
I always used to imagine when I was young that Jesus Baptised the waters of life for us.
I dot know why!
Should say don’t not ,not dot.
Marywip, it is one of the deeper questions of Christology to ask to what extent the human nature of Christ comprehended Jesus’ own divinity; it could be that the theophany at His baptism was for his sake as much as his disciples. However in Luke the Holy Spirit is already present with Christ before his baptism and in interpreting 1 John the church has interpreted the water as a reference to the water that flowed from his side at the crucifixion (which signifies the water of Christian baptism) rather than the water of the baptism of John. There is also, however, an interpetation that as Jesus was a priest he had to go through the more rigorous ritual cleansing required of the priestly caste and his baptism by John signified this.
Is not the Holy Spirit with everyone, in various ways, living over, within and through all, whether Baptised or not?
But whilst all living creatures by definition have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, this relationship is not by default one characterised by equality of personhood (nor was it even to Adam and Eve in the first state, I believe — even if it was ‘personal’), and according to the fallen nature is likely to be a predominantly impersonal/indirect/abstract, vague, weak and volatile/unstable relationship.
You mention Luke… so before Baptism when in the temple Jesus had such a personal relationship with the Spirit such as to be able to speak of God as His “Father”. I wonder if this Father-Son relationship was to the growing Jesus continuously lived and breathed, or just a revelatory moment; an insight into what was to come with power and stability at the ‘anointing’ of Baptism?
It seems to me from what is said in Luke that before Baptism Jesus’ human relationship with the Spirit was one of great integrity, but this does not generally suggest to me unity of persons as fully-fledged Father-Son relationship (or at least not at this stage true awakeness to this Father-Son relationship).
“the church has interpreted the water as a reference to the water that flowed from his side at the crucifixion (which signifies the water of Christian baptism) rather than the water of the baptism of John.”
Seems obvious to me that the water and blood from Jesus’ side signal the separation and yet unity of water Baptism and the Crucifixion; the water of the Baptism of John not negated, rather now made complete, alongside—and from—Jesus’ blood.
milliganp, there are many examples of bishops being elected.
St Augustine of Hippo was elected by acclamation. There was a diocese in Switzerland that elected its bishops for centuries until JPII chose a bishop for them. This caused much consternation among the laity but it made no difference. These are just two examples of election.
I am glad you answered Milliganp attacking my posting. You are quite right of course.
As far as Millganp’s view of RCC history, – well I don’t want to engage with him on that –
I would not want his faith to fail on account of it. The history of the RCC is truly apalling.
It led to a division between clergy and laity, something not apparent for the first three hundred years of the eary Christian Church.
Now, sad to say, we saw it start with the Jews, the separation between clergy and laity
It happened in the later stages of the early Christian Church, then with the Orthodox, followed by the RCC or Latin Church. Now the same thing happened historically within the Protestant Churches, the separation between clergy and laity continues.
What accounted for that was one main factor – which is true of all the different groups, that is hardening of their hearts.
It seems everything with a movement of the Holy Spirit starts of well, but then, men want power, prestige, money, postion and so began the division between clergy and laity.
It is truly saddneing to see the abuses that go on in the various denominations to keep that division alive.
What it means, the whole church is weakened, and it becomes worldy, carnal and sinful.
Externals of religion become all-important, rituals, ceremonies, fastings ascetic deprivations and so on, anything but the Church being spiritual in nature. It gets wrapped in worldly politics, propaganda – which is just another way of saying – trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. Sadly, those who engage in such cynical propaganda,
not only give themselves away – the worldy games they play, that they are wordly and not as spiritual as one would think, but worse, they think we are taken in by it – sadly the media, that lying tool of the devil, makes sure that the world for the most part be deceived by such propaganda.
“Sadly, those who engage in such cynical propaganda,
not only give themselves away – the worldy games they play, that they are wordly and not as spiritual as one would think, but worse, they think we are taken in by it – sadly the media, that lying tool of the devil, makes sure that the world for the most part be deceived by such propaganda.”
“because of them the way of truth will be maligned”.
Nektarios, you do seem to concentrate on the most negative aspects of Catholic Church history, which are all well documented. There are many positive good and spiritual benefits which are more profitable to consider and which have helped countless millions to sanctity through the centuries.
It is a pity that you view my postings as totally negative, very well, look at it this way:
If I were a doctor and only dealt with the patient’s symptoms and prescribed accordingly,
I would be a poor doctor and failing in my duty to the patient.
A symptom can suggest different possibilities that need treating. What a good doctor does, is not only see the symptoms, but goes further and looks for the underlying causes of the symptoms, then the doctor would then know what course of treatment would be necessary and treat accordingly.
It is the similar in treating problems in the spiritual life.
The issue, at heart, for Catholics is that the Church is indefectible; that is the institution, as a whole, remains the spiritual body of Christ. Once you abandon the Church you have to abandon the sacraments, liturgy and the lives and example of the saints as exemplars of the Christian way. I’d rather have the examples of St. Augustine, St. Francis, Teresa of Avila and even modern saints like Edith Stein and Pope St. John XXIII. The alternative is a religion of 1 based on selective interpretation of scripture, distortion of history and elevation of the personal ego as ultimate arbiter of matters relating to God. As my headmaster once quipped, “man makes God in his own image”.
Is this the same Augustine who said “Rome has spoken, the matter is finished” and who defended both Apostolic succession and the primacy of the Roman see in Letter 53?
St. Augustine had already been ordained a Vicar Bishop by his predecessor from whom he received apostolic succession.
St Joseph: “I married a Methodist,but had to go outside when prayers were said, not because I was a catholic,but because I was not a Cof E.”
I’m not sure what you mean here; he had to go out of your house when you were praying? And, someone correct me if I am wrong, the Methodist Church—despite it’s social activism in England—is independent of the C of E.
St Joseph: “Fear of the Lord is one of the the gifts of the Holy Spirirt. We learnt this as children.
One can not love God ‘truly’ and hate his neighbour.”
We cannot love God until, in receiving His love, we know that God first loves us.
“We learnt this as children” — do you mean we who were Baptised as children died with Christ and received the Holy Spirit as children?
I think perhaps I grew up with a subconscious fear of God (and/or perhaps subconscious fear of Hell, or of the devil), without a clear assurance that God loved me. But then I think I was the other end of the stick — a Baptised atheist with a jarred awakeness to Spirit & spirit, as opposed to a Baptised Catholic conditioned to believe the Holy Spirit does not live or belong in his/her human heart.
Sorry I did not make that clear.
I went to a Cof E( private school) from 5 to 9 in UK.
As I said I went out of the room because it was a C of E school, however not because I was a RC. I did not belong in other words! (I would not go into a males toilet because I am not a ‘male’!
I married a Methodist, who did not practice his faith-so therefore he married me and worshiped with me from the age of ’18, he 21′ until he died aged 67,and became an RC’. three years before that. I would not have considerd marrying someone who would not live the life I beleived I was made for!
We all receive Sanctifying Grace at our Baptism, and it will be nurtered with other Graces we receive from the Sacraments,(Feeding our soul in other words, food for our journey)
I said ‘we can not truly love God and hate our neighbour’
The two Commandments that Jesus speaks about’! The CCC will teach us this but we must have it in our hearts! This is something we must ‘feel’,,’ The Love of the Lord’
It is not all about knowledge although we must learn,but more important to understand!
Which is taught to us from (mine) my mother and my grandmother!
I hope that answers your thoughts!.
St. Joseph, than you for that useful bit of wisdom about school prayers, it is very useful analogy.
John L and PDW, thanks. It seems to me the Catholic Church overtly considers Ishmael the father of Islam, which is reinforced in that the Koran apparently agrees with this (and employes an altered narrative about Abraham and Ishmael, in which Ishmael not Isaac is the son to be sacrificed).
I do not believe the Catholic church takes any position on Ishmael. The Muslim tradition is that Ishmael was the ancestor of all Arabs and Mohammed builds on this as the Arabs being another chosen people. However Arabs only make up a small percentage of all Muslims worldwide and many Arabs are Christian as well as other more exotic faiths.
Other than a tradition of marrying close kin, Arabs have no specific tradition of maintaining ethnic purity similar to Jewish orthodox practice and until the arrival of Mohammed there seems to be no previous identification with descent from Ishmael even among the Arab races.
milliganp, I was trying to say before that in Genesis God declares that Ishmael will be the father of a great nation. If we do not understand him as the father of Islam, then what nation is he the father of? Seems straight forward common sense, considering the nature of and reality of Islam, that he is the father of Islam. If so this makes Islam the mysteriously belated fulfilment of God’s promise to Ishmael which is declared in Genesis.
As for your quip about the ethnicity of Islam; presumably at the time of Mohammed it was a growing (tribal) nation of Arabs. Likewise Jews were once all Israelis, but now we have Israeli Jews and Roman Jews; the Israeli Jews today have a degree of mixed ethnicity and the Roman Jews have always comprised all ethnicities.
From Abraham to Jesus – and now on through the centuries – Jews have had a common and consistent understanding of being God’s chosen people; there is simply no parallel amongst the Arabs of worship of a single, known, God before Mohammed. At the time of Christ there was no overarching concept of being an Ishmaelite with a link to the God of Abraham. Wikipedia states “Before the coming of Islam, most Arabs followed a pagan religion with a number of deities, including Hubal, Wadd, Allāt, Manat, and Uzza.”
Your understanding of what makes a person Jewish seems defective, it is not based on where you live but from whom you descend. Israeli Jews are primarily the returned diaspora but could be Russian, Polish, Italian or from many other countries. Some Jews have intermarried but to say large numbers of Jews have compromised ethnicities would seem insulting to Jewish self-identity.
Given that approx 2,400 years passed from the birth of Ishmael to the foundation of Islam without any intervening concept of continuity and given that 90%+ if Muslims are not descendants of Ishmael the idea of Ishmael being the father of Islam seem tenuous at least.
Finally, if Islam is a true religion, all Christians are in error and we have a duty to abandon our false religion and convert to Islam.
Courtesy of C.T.S. ( Catholic Truth Society ) and Father Robin Gibbons . Following Apostle Succession in these regions – not wholly documented but testified by the traditions of the peoples of these areas – apart from the the breaking of unity of Christs Church by the Ethiopians, Armenia and Nestorian ( Assyrian Church of The East ) Churches – The Oriental Orthodox Churches : by the 6th century , the ‘ Pentarchy ‘ of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch , Alexandria and Jerusalem were recognised by their respective Patriarchs. As I understand it, the so- called Monophysite Oriental Orthodox Churches arose because of a misunderstanding of language and that in essence they are regarded today by Rome as professing the Catholic Faith.
Earlier – as Father Gibbons relates , – at The Council of Nicaea ( First Ecumenical, 325 A.D. ) where Constantine declared Christianity a ” licit religion “; Rome … ” was given precedence ( of honour, but not jurisdiction ) over Alexandria and Antioch . ” … ” part of their tasks was to settle disputes and appeals against the local bishops . ”
Later Councils of Constantinople, 381 A.D. and Chalcedon, 451 A.D. … ” gave formal recognition to Constantinople as second in honour to Rome. It does well to remember what near Christian unity looked like. Then politics , language and culture took a hand in matters to separate the ” two lungs ” of The Church ( East and West ) in 1054 A.D.
I remember at Pope Saint John Paul ii ‘s funeral ,one religious Sister commented …..” the last time there was a gathering of the leaders of the Church of this kind was in the 8th Century. ” ( sic ).
Christianity: It is the message that you need to be saved and that God has provided the means whereby you can be saved. It is all His action. It is a supernatural action, a miraculous action. I am not telling you to be good, for I know you cannot be. I am not telling you to read books of philosophy in order to arrive at a knowledge of God and learn how to live— I know it is all useless. We are mastered by lust and passions and evil desires. We are victims;we need to be delivered. And thank God, He does deliver us.
Enmity and war and strife are due to the fact that men and women are in a wrong relationship with God, and they will only find out how to enter into a true relationship by knowing, believing, accepting, and submitting themselves to the message of the Christian church, the message of the Gospel.
What is Christianity? What is the church? First of all, we must remind ourselves of what it is not, and oh, how urgently this reminder is needed today!
First, then, Christianity is not dead religion. The greatest enemy of true Christianity has always been religion, and this is as true today as it has ever been. It is religion that confuses the minds of men and women. They would be right to reject Christianity if it were a religion. But it is not. Christianity is not a state religion; it is not an official religion in any sense at all. But that is the idea that many people have of it.
I must stop here for now.
No dont stop here. you were getting interesting.
Neverthless who do we tell, who will listen?
A saying of my mothers was ‘ I could go blue in the face talking to you, (my brothers and Me) before you will take any notice of me!
That’s fine Nektarios, please carry on when you can. I’d like to hear you expand on … ” The greatest enemy of true Christianity has always been religion, …”
Sorry I had to cut short my posting above, had a hospital appointment to keep.
Christianity, I almost feel like summarizing it like this: Christianity is not what the media seem to think it is. I am second to none in my admiration of human greatness, but a man is not necessarily a Christian just because he is a great man or woman. And the Christian church does not revolve around any person, however great and distinguished.
We must get rid of this notion that the church is a national institution or any other form of human institution. She is not a club or a society where people meet together and do certain things. I never like to hear people referring to a building as a church. “I’m going down to the church,” they say. But thechurch does not consist of a building; it consists of people, living souls with the Lord in their midst.
We must get rid of this external notion, this idea of just paying a kind of formal visit upon God and then forgetting all about Him. That is religion, the very antithesis of the Christian faith.
Any notion that Christianity is mainly the result of something that we do is always completely, fatally wrong. We must cast off any idea that the Christian church is the result of our action and that we are perpetuating some tradition. If that is our view of Christianity, it is false. That was the curse of the Jews who finally crucified the Lord Jesus Christ. They were traditional religionists, and such have always been— and are today— the greatest enemies of the true church and of the true Christian faith and message. But how much of so-called Christianity is just this!
Why do you attend a place of worship? Have you thought enough about it even to ask that question? Are you going simply because it is a tradition? People, you say, have always gone to church on Sundays. But church attendance is something you do. You are simply perpetuating a tradition. Large numbers of people have gone to church out of a sense of duty, hoping each week that the service will not be too long. Each week they have felt nothing at all; the service has been absolutely lifeless, the singing miserable, the intoning of the Scriptures boring. There has been no power, no vigor. And because they have thought that is Christianity, they have turned their backs upon it. And they are perfectly right to do so. That is the logical step.
That is traditional, formal religion, whatever form it may happen to take and in whatever denomination it may appear.
I will pause to give you time to respond.
Wer’re all rightly horrified by the events in Tunisia. It’s difficult for me to know how much of the news I receive is Scotland-centred and how much is wider-UK. One couple who died in Tunisia were Church of Scotland elders from Perth.
This is also the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London which is well publicised.
Much less-well-publicised is that it is also the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica – the systematic execution of 8000 Muslims in the name of a Christian nation, within Europe.
I realise that this may stir up a hornet’s nest. I will be out of blogspace for a while. I have not taken umbridge.
We could look back on lots of history especially the penal laws in Ireland and England, catholics and protestants etc etc etc.
That is no excuse for the terrible things happening in this century, we would have thought things nowadays could have improved, be more civilized, be more prayerful,be more neighbourly.
Where some have much and some have little or none.
Is it because we are becoming one Globe country where we find we can attack each other regardless of morals culture and faith more easily.
The Christian churches are even at loggerheads with same sex marriage, abortion,euthansia.
IVF, sex change. and every other thing that enter their conscience to be for the good and our free-will.
I was brought up to always look for the good in people regardless of race religion.
Where have we gone wrong?
The Catholic Church offers up every day for peace in the world.to the one true God Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother and all the Saints. Are they listening.’ Yes!,It is man who isnt listening.
I hope all other denominations do the same.
Prayer is the answer. Especially to our Blessed Mother-it has stopped wars in the past
Have we forgotten about Satan?
St Joseph, you don’t have to look very far to find people at loggerheads with each other. In our parish there are several factions. They are for the most part, harmless but some aren’t. It is hypocritical say prayers and sing hymns about loving one another and then snubbing the parishioners we don’t like. Hypocrisy was the sin that Our Lord condemned the most.
A fellow parishioner and I have discussed some of the malicious comments which have been circulating and have concluded that Satan is working hard, even in the lowest levels of the Church.
You are right in saying that prayer is the answer. We need penance as well. The greatest prayer is of course Holy Mass.
Geordie – This is the kind of thing that Nektarios hints at – perhaps a little to strident for me – ” The greatest enemy of true Christianity has always been religion .. ”
For me it is a question of balance which I believe Vatican ii was called to address.
Too much attention over the years to the legitimate cerebral nature of Christian heritage and less to spritual reality of that heritage.Did we take our eye off the ball ? Albeit , the Faithful have always been acutely ( as exhibited by St. Joseph ‘s example – our blogger ) attentive to saintly examples today and throughout the ages. We can learn a lot I feel from Eastern Christianity.
I came across a comment from an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christian, Father Zakaria Boutros , who is now ‘ persona non grata ‘ in his own country . Apparently, Al Quaeda has put a $60 million dollar bounty on his head.
Speaking about his own beliefs in the region where Islam first arose ; he is convinced that it is theology more than application that faces the Islamic world today , and puts it this way.
” We can ask Islam to adapt to modernity, we can demand that it respects human rights and modern values , we can seduce it with the temptations of the West and of liberalism , but these will only work in the short term. Turkey moderated for a while, even my own Egypt changed under a nationalist leader like Nasser and when we were told that the common enemy was Israel, but all of this was mere window dressing. Islam always re-emerges through the cracks that will always emerge . We’re speaking here of a religion . a legal system, and an ideology that through military power began as a small cavalry army in the desert and managed to conquer half the world….”
Concerning the fatal decisions that particularly young Muslims are taking at present; I pray that moderate Muslims particularly in Britain will continue to be vocal in their religious beliefs.
Nektarios – Living in an ideal world you be right. But of course ..”The kingdom of God is at hand “.. but because of this and with the means by which we are saved by .. we are not there yet.
As Catholic the three pillars of Faith are :- Sacred Scripture , Tradition ( History etc. ) and Church Teaching. It is because we are not yet perfected and The Kingdom tnot fully realised in us , that out fragile human nature needs the surety Christ gave us by ‘ living ‘ history ( His Promised History ) We simply cannot ignore it however many mistakes and bad judgements we make along the way. God given us the final victory , He see and knows all our future history ( our past and future Tradition )
P.s. I agree that our own personal superficial , shallow traditions hang like a chain around our necks.
For the moment we are negatively showing what Christianity is not – don’t worry, we will come to the positives eventually.
There are some people who seem to have seen through the formality and who compensate for it by
producing an exciting kind of worship and have stunts and entertainment to make services lively and bright. But that does not make the slightest difference because it is still men and women who are organizing it. True Christianity is always the activity of God. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind”— God. So, bright services and an entertaining and varied program is not Christianity either. It is livelier, but the life is not the life of the Spirit. Anything controlled by us, whether lifeless or lively, is not Christianity. Christianity is that which controls us, which masters us, which happens to us.
My second negative is that in Christianity the God who is worshiped is not an unknown God. But the God of religion is always an unknown God. The god of religion is always unknown.
It is possible for us to say our prayers mechanically without even thinking about God and who God is. And to many people he is entirely unknown, some kind of superstition. But there is another group of people who are very popular, even notorious, and it is most interesting to observe them. They are great critics of the first group who, they agree, are worshiping religion and tradition. What, then, do they say people should worship? Here we come to what one may call the god of the philosophers. “God,” they say, “is the ground of all being.” Or they describe him as the “Absolute” or the “Ultimate.” He is the vague power that is somewhere behind the universe; he is “force.” God, they say, is love, and by that many of them really mean that love is God, and wherever you find love you find God. So they tell you not to go to a church to find God, but to go out into the world, into the pubs, and there you will find kindness shown by one person to another, and that is God.
So God becomes something abstract, some general benevolence, some vague activity or power, and this, we are told, is what we must substitute for that old superstitious notion of God. This is up-to-date religion. This is down-to-earth; this is honest-to-God; this is the truly intellectual view.
God is the ground of all being; so do not talk about a person. But you cannot pray to such a god; you cannot pray to goodness or to love or to power. But that, we are told by so many today, is the living truth and real Christianity, and the result is that we are left not only very much in the same position as those people in the first group but perhaps even worse because it is almost impossible to follow their intellectual arguments and almost impossible to know what you believe; and certainly everything is left up to you. Yet we are told that this is the religion for twentieth-century men and women who in this postwar, atomic, scientific age think in terms of “the ground of being” and talk about “the absolute.” They dismiss traditional Christianity by saying, “Of course, it’s all right when people are ignorant and unintelligent. Primitive peoples have always been superstitious, and therefore they’ve always been religious.” So they dismiss Christianity by saying that it is for ignorant people and therefore has nothing to do with them. Real Christianity is for the philosophers, for the specialists, for the thinkers, those who can read scientific journals and have understanding.
I think I have reached my limit for one posting so will stop here for now.
In an attempt to get back on the topic of the blog there are plenty of examples in history of people believing evil was good. The Third Reich and Stalin’s communism both needed Gauleiters and subsidiary orders to carry out their programmes and many of these needed to be ‘ordinary people’ behaving in an extraordinarily evil way. The recent aniversary of Srebrenica reminds us that in recent history Christians have carried out evil deeds and the history of South American dictatorships is typified by active collaboration by Catholic Bishops in extra-judicial murder campaigns.
It would appear that most humans, in extreme circumstances, favour personal survival over heroic martyrdom. As my mother used to say “there, but for the grace of God, go you or I”. We need to accept that this flaw exists and rethink how we respond to what we call terrorism; it has often been the case that ones man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. My wife has a second cousin on a statue in county Cork who died a hero of the IRA; my grandfather was in the RIC (the British police during the Irish struggle for independance), he hated the IRA and said they were cowards who only ever shot men in the back.The IRA won and there ar no monuments to murdered policemen.
As a final example, the modern catastrophe of “abortion as birth control” is often about people being afraid of the challenges of raising a child – how did we ever get to the point where a child is something to be avoided?
Let me come up to date first continuing on the view many have of Christianity.
The basic notion is that the Christian faith is something one arrives at as the result of one’s own reasoning processes. You do not accept any tradition or teaching, but, starting with your own reason, you examine everything. That is the method followed in the realm of science, so why not here? So you apply your mind and only believe what you can understand. As the result of your own reason and effort, you arrive at a knowledge of the truth.You inquire, you do your research, helped by others who are on the same quest, and at last you arrive at some satisfaction. You say, “I’ve got it! God is the ground of all being!” With your great mind you have arrived at this saving formula.
But this is only for certain types of people. I am almost tempted to say that if I had the power of dictatorship in these matters, I would compel everybody to read some of the latest books on this whole subject because, I tell you, they will not understand them. So the masses of people are not interested; they are not concerned. They see these clever men bringing out their books and arguing and debating with one another, and their verdict on it all is, “I couldn’t care less. No doubt they make money out of it. No doubt it helps to keep their jobs going.”
Our Christianity has become a middle-class movement; the so-called working classes are not touched by it. But this is wrong. A message that only appeals to a certain type, a certain class, is not the Christian Gospel. There is something wrong somewhere. Christianity, by definition and by the example of history, is not confined to a certain type, a certain class of person.
So much for the negatives. Now let us turn to the positives. What is Christianity? What is the Christian church? What is her message? How did she come into being? How has she acted? How has she persisted?
I will stop there for the moment.
All over the world, which includes the UK, there are some churches (in the context I mean buildings and groupings within which the Gospel is preached) which are packed to the gunwalls with non-middleclass congregations. I know of an RC one close to where I am writing this. I also know of another one, and have attended it, within which a large minority of the congregation are from the underclasses – ex-cons, recovering druggies, and economic migrants some of whom did not come from christian backgrounds. Some of these people claim that their lives were saved by the church. It may also be worth mentioning though, that my city has a particularly low overall church attendance.
Maybe we should all worship occasionally in places where we feel outside our comfort zones.
Nektarios. You ask what is christianity,I will tell you what it is!
I have said this before,but I wil never stop thanking my non-church going Christian neighbours, all baptised,I dont know what denominations. only go to church for weddings, funerals,etc. all 34 bungalows, never a bad word against each other.All believe in Jesus
2 Beech trees fell on my house while I was in hospital last August,they rallied around, called, those who were necessary to take them off my roof(through the ceiling) All the time through my illness they are here, changing bedclothes, shopping nothing is too much trouble for them.
Helping my family see through it all.Even today I had to go as an emergency into hospital, they were there (never intrusive) All love their families. It is like Heaven on earth where I live.
They have seen me and my family through ‘thick and thin’. Also where I worship
That seem to me to be Christianity’. Gods Love.
We speak of the Church as the tabernacle as Jesus abiding in us, however Nektarios yes.but the Church building is the place of worship where Jesus abides in the Tabernacle for our adoration and worship.
We can have Holy Mass anywhere, but we are not living in penal times when we had to hide our worship for fear of death.
Some Saint said I cant remember now and it went something like this, ‘If we only knew Who presides inside the Tabernacle we would die for for it.(Him)
St.J: “We speak of the Church as the tabernacle as Jesus abiding in us”
1) The human heart is the Tabernacle.
2) So, me in Christ, therein, my true heart is the Tabernacle.
3) Mary’s heart is the Tabernacle. She is the perpetual virgin: the Tabernacle cannot be defiled.
4) We are “living stones” which together make up the ‘temple’ which is the Body of Christ.
5) Belonging to Christ, each of our individual integral human ‘bodies’ (constituting heart, soul, mind & physical body), are a ‘temple’ for Christ.
6) Although our ‘bodies’ are integral, yet, in Christ, within my ‘body’ is found your ‘body’, and vice-versa.
7) Within the ‘temple’:
— a) The temple courtyard has been given to the gentiles to “trample over”.
— b) The temple building itself is a grey area which only God can separate into black and white.
— c) The Tabernacle within the temple is the Lord’s, and only His.
St.J, I agree there is a great importance to the formal (worldly) church building, including the ‘tabernacle’ therein. At the core of this is the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, and how we celebrate—glorify God and/or profane His name with—these Sacraments. Considering the integrity of this must be done in relation to the other valid Christian churches (and in extension considering the non-Christian world), not in isolation, as if the RCC is an island.
I am not too sure what you are saying with regards to the RC being an Island.
The One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is Universal meaning I believe everywhere..hidden in the OT brought forward in the New.
It is not the Church that Jesus came from the old to the new that is the Island but those who isolate themselves from it and stay Islands of their own.
Maybe I read you wrongly. Can you explain please!
It’s a long time since I heard anyone talk about God as “the ground of all being”. Nowadays, if people are not believers they seem to be secularists who are not the least bit interested in defining God as anything. Nektarios, what books did you have in mind (July 7th, 6.29 p.m. “I would compel everybody to read some of the latest books on this whole subject”)?
Practically all pseudo- Christian/reglious books that are full of psychobabble. Liberal theological works and so on where it is easy to see that man is the centre and not Christ. Pethlora of sentimental poetry religious works passing themselves off as deep and profound. Having said the above, I would not waste your time on any of them.
But sad to say, many are caught in all this quasi/religious nonsense. I will if I may give you in the next posting the positive side of real true Christianity.
May I remind everyone that contributions should not exceed 600 words, I have had to disallow recent contributions on these grounds. This Blog is for debate, and best served by reasonably short comments.
Sorry Q. Didn’t see this untill after I posted !
Nektarios, Without nit picking some of your specific points (God exposes and punishes?) I like the general message you are preaching. But your emphasis seems to be on the reparation God is doing through history. Whereas i see the ‘original blessing’ of God being a permanent fixture – creation has always been as God made it, good. That’s not to deny God’s continual involvement with man in Christ of course.
Our turning away – be that collectively or as individuals – is the only thing that caused disharmony or ‘ original sin’ if you prefer. And, in as much as we still do, (greatly!) continues to ‘blind’ ‘separate’ us from that continually present ‘original blessing’.
The revealed history within the Bible is man’s realisation of the reality of God’s permanent and continual (eternal) beneficence. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.
………… from Richard Rohr (Daily meditations https://cac.org) . …..
‘Pelagius (354-418), opposed the doctrine of original sin …. saw that beginning with the negative–original sin–would damage rather than aid spiritual development. Beginning with the positive instead of a problem is the healthiest and most hopeful way to find wholeness. ….
For goodness is not simply a feature of life; it is the very essence of life. …. According to Newell, Pelagius “stressed not only the essential goodness of creation …but, very specifically, the essential goodness of humanity. …
Those who live in close proximity to the natural world seem to come to know the universe as benevolent much more easily, despite its inherent violence and changeability. This belief leads to very different values than when your whole world view begins with a theological or moral problem to be solved.’
(and linking to your previous thoughts of ‘religion’) ……… ‘Huston Smith describes “primal peoples” as “oriented to a single cosmos, which sustains them like a living womb. Because they assume that it exists to nurture them, they have no disposition to challenge it, defy it, refashion it, or escape from it. It is not a place of exile ……..(they are) not primarily concerned with salvation as a way to escape from a sinful world and go to heaven or the next world. …………
Genesis began with six clear statements of original blessing or inherent goodness (Genesis 1:10-31), and the words “original sin” are not in the New Testament. Yet the Church became so preoccupied with the fly in the ointment, the flaw in the beauty that we forgot and even missed out on any original blessing. We saw Jesus primarily as a problem-solver rather than as a revealer of the very heart and image of God (Colossians 1:15f). We must now rebuild on a foundation of original goodness, and not on a foundation of original curse or sin. We dug a pit so deep that most people and most theologies could not get back out of it. You must begin with yes. You cannot begin with no, or it is not a beginning at all.’
Nothing more i can add!
G.D: “[primal peoples are] oriented to a single cosmos, which sustains them like a living womb.”
Are Christians a “primal people”? I suggest that the Church is a “single cosmos”.
G.D: “You must begin with yes. You cannot begin with no, or it is not a beginning at all.”
Can I begin to begin with neither a yes nor a no?
My stream of thought about ‘yes’, I do hope this is not off key…
1) The ‘beginning’ is the ‘yes’ of the Resurrection, the New Creation, the ‘original blessing’, given before time (before the ‘original blessing’ of Genesis); Christ Lord over all things, living HERE-and-NOW, who seeks us and calls us to say ‘yes’ to Him;
2) which is substantiated and enabled through the Cross: past/origin (Jesus’ Crucifixion), present (here-and-now), and future (The End);
3) which is contextualised (fully understood) arising from the Old Creation;
— a) in which man tried to say a ‘yes’ through Able, said a big ‘yes’ in Enoch, sustained a ‘yes’ through Noah, and perfected ‘yes’ by unveiling Melchizedek & Salem;
— b) Abraham was invited/required to partake in the fruits of the perfect ‘yes’ of M&S (tithe required & gifts given), making space for Immaculate Conception, and himself to say ‘yes’ with the seed of perfection (sacrifice of Isaac);
— c) which was made perfect through Jesus’ ‘yes’ to the Cross, and thus resurrected & glorified to High Priest “in the order of Melchizedek”: opening up—now without bounds—Salem (the life & fruits of which, before, the Church of Israel could—in practice—hardly share in);
— d) which was first given birth to by Mary’s (passive) ‘yes’ at the Annunciation, and John’s (active) ‘yes’ to make way for and Baptise Jesus.
Marywip, my thought on R. Rohr’s ‘You cannot begin with no, or it is not a beginning at all.’ Is that simply a ‘no’ is a negative reaction to the Blessing of God.
A simple openness – an UNCONSCIOUS unsaid yes – to Original Blessing is best as far as I can see. So, your ‘neither yes nor no’ is perfectly acceptable to me.
Everything starts from silence!
And yes, your ‘yes’s’ made sense as i read through them.
Would add – God’s Original Blessing (my image for it) is Creation-Being-as-God-Created. That’s the ‘Yes’ we need and, hopefully, will finally utter.
In silent acceptance of Spirit.
By ‘Primal People’s’ I think he is pointing to the ‘attitude’ of ‘primal’ acceptance of the ‘Original Blessing’ rather than a particular ‘tribe’ or ‘group’ of peoples.
An attitude (of soul?) that has been, and will forever be, available for all peoples throughout .
Acceptance would seem optional; God created it so but …… all manner of thing will be well.
See CCC 2676 and CCC 721.
It is always God acting and sending His word. But the climax is this: “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4: 4). “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3: 16). Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, sent into the world, appearing among men— God sending, God acting.
in Acts 2 God is starting the Christian church: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” God was continuing, acting in them and through them. It is quite certain that we would not be considering this now were it not for the fact that God has continued to act. Men and women in their blindness and sin have done their very best to ruin the Christian church. If she were our creation, she would have disappeared long ago, like many another institution. People have misunderstood, they have gone wrong, they have preached error, and the church would have died. So why is there still a church? There is only one answer: God comes in revival. God sends His Spirit again.
This is Christianity: It is the message that you need to be saved and that God has provided the means whereby you can be saved. It is all His action. It is a supernatural action, a miraculous action. I am not telling you to be good, for I know you cannot be. I am not telling you to read books of philosophy in order to arrive at a knowledge of God and learn how to live— I know it is all useless. My message is that God “hath visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1: 68). It is no use anyone telling us to pull ourselves together— that is the one thing we cannot do. We are mastered by lust and passions and evil desires. We are victims; we need to be delivered. And thank God, He does deliver us.
Christianity is entirely beyond understanding. If you can understand your religion, that is proof it is not Christianity. If you are in control of your religion, it is not Christianity. Christianity is a miracle. It is a marvel. It astonishes people. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty… and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (verses 27-28). There is a hope for all who realize their need and cry out to Him. Is that your idea of Christianity? Do you know this living God, this true God, this active God, this God who intervenes and comes? Have you ever met Him in any shape or form?
I will end here this bbilical definition of Christianity.
With much indebtedness to
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Collection (Preaching and Theology).
The Jews have been here longer than Christianity, and have survived.
I am not too sure what you are saying. do you mean that they are a Christians, even though they do not believe that He is the Messiah. Or do they?
The Jews will not be saved except by believing in Jesus. But, to quote from Christianity Today “God has not rejected his people; God revealed to Paul a great mystery: Israel’s hardening will last only until the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). Then what? All Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:26). The exact meaning of this phrase has been hotly debated throughout church history, and the disagreements continue today. But many interpreters now believe that Paul anticipated a day when mass numbers of Jews would believe in Jesus Christ.
Pre-millenium tribulationists (I think I got that the right way round), believe that the mass-conversion of the Jews has to occur just before Jesus’ return to set up his earthly kingdom for a thousand years which will end with the day of judgement. As this is not Catholic teaching, feel free to reject it (on my account at least!).
We catholics dont always know what the Church teaches.
The way the Jews suffered in the Holocaust, I think Our Blessd Mother would let them in through the back door!
Tunisia is seen by Islamists as an enemy. For years it espoused an aggressive secularism with little regard for human rights. Since the advent of democracy it has allowed religious freedom but at the same time has aligned itself closely with the EU, France and Italy in particular.
Tourism is an important part of the Tunisian economy, and those holidaymakers who were gunned down were not targeted because they were infidels but because they were tourists. During the war we tried to cripple the German economy by aerial bombardment, and killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the process.
What is the difference the between the ‘tourist’ killingings and the killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. apart from the numbers?
It is difficult for any christian to be comfortable with war but just war theology allows that innocent civilians may be killed in a legitimate attack on a military target (which as well as munitions factories includes infrastructure (rail, roads, power plants etc.)); This would include most deaths to which you allude but would probably exclude the Dresden bombing. Acts of terrorism are specifically excluded so your analogy between the events in Tunis and the conduct of the second world war are not appropriate (if not deeply offensive).
Millignanp I dont wish to jump to conclusions.
Maybe it would be offensive if I knew the difference
I was asking John Nolan with regards to his comment.
Perhaps your reply was to him!
St. Joseph, my reply was to John.
The difference in the two cases relates to just war theory. There are two aspects to just war:- 1 – what constitutes a just war 2 – what actions are acceptable during a just war. Few would argue that the war against Hitler was just, so we are then into ‘what are just acts’; the deaths of innocent civilians is allowed as the necessary collateral of, for instance, the bombing of a munitions factory. The nature of bombs available during WW II meant that blanket bombing of an industrial area was the only method available. Today, with laser guided weapons, it is possible to destroy a particular building (or part of a building) with little collateral damage.
Since the Tunis murders were not part of a just war they are automatically unjust but even if there were a just war in progress the deliberate killing of civilians would itself be unjust.
One of the aims of the bombing of German cities, according to Churchill’s close adviser Lord Cherwell, was the ‘dehousing’ of civilian workers. Talk of civilian deaths in terms of collateral damage is at least morally dubious. There were political reasons for bombing Dresden (showing Stalin we meant business) but the following month (March 1945) the historic city of Wurzburg was destroyed by fire-bombing because it was relatively undefended and would burn easily. It had little economic or military significance. Afterwards Churchill sent a memo to the Chiefs of Staff: ‘The moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed’.
In the 1970s PIRA’s bombing campaign in Northern Ireland had economic motives and civilian deaths were ‘regrettable’; however, that same organization deliberately targeted civilian construction workers engaged on government projects. Does either Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness call this terrorism or claim their ‘armed struggle’ was not just? Of course not.
My analogy is not meant to be an exact one, but cannot be dismissed out of hand using those standard items of the PC lexicon ‘not appropriate’ and ‘deeply offensive’.
John, I’ve read and re-read your comment and can see your point. However, in the current context, I still cannot see it as defensible to equate ISIS terrorism with the difficult decisions implicit in the latter stages of WW II. If your comments were published in any mainstream UK media “deeply offensive” would, I suspect, be the least criticism you would receive.
John, I’ve reread my comments and accept, in the context of this blog, you have made a comparison deserving some reasonable consideration. As an Irishman I never bought the concept of ‘armed struggle’ in the context of Northern Ireland despite aspiring to a united Ireland.
Nektarios – what a splendid sermon!
Thank you Peter – Praise be to God.
I wonder if some people were asking why I launched into a definition of Christianity when the topic was on and around the bloodshed in Tunis?
The issue is very simple. It was to give as clear as I could, simply, the infinite difference between religion, and true Christianity.
Religion is man – made. Religion is man with his gods he /she imagines. Religion is the mental/ emotional/intellectual view of God who they do not know at all.
Hence it is not unimaginable to see reglious people going to war on innocent unarmed people, children, and the elderly.
The terrorists have done this in the name of their god, who does not exist and the God who does exist, they do not know.
But before we get too self-righteous in our position in the Christian Churches. The people who would resort to violence and war on account of religion, using the Christian religion – God is on our side argument, are none better and history bears this out.
Hence it was this confusion that presently exists, I spent the time to put before you
what Christianity actually is. It is essentially God calling, God sending, God in action. God is eternally the same, He changes not. What was true in OT and NT times, is as true today.
Peter, with respect, this presents 2 problems.
1) This isn’t a comparative homiletics blog.
2) Nektarios entirely misrepresents what constitutes a religion.
Jesus and all if the Apostles considered themselves Jews, one of the most organised religions of their age. Jesus attended the synagogue and the major feasts in the Temple – he very much practiced the Jewish Religion. The early Christians attended synagogue and held their agape meals – which quickly developed formal structures. Christ called what he was establishing a church. The world is full of people who say you don’t need religion to worship God, Nektarios has incremented the count.
Muslims and Jews both worship the God of Abraham, they both worship a God who is loving, merciful and personal. We could say they don’t know God fully since they are unaware of the Trinity but the God of Abraham was not diminished because he had not yet fully revealed himself to mankind.
Firstly, to answer your unmerited criticism, I was not discussing religion in the pieces I wrote, but Christianity.
Since you make the charge I have misrepresented religion, please point to what I wrote that you disagree with and where I have misrepresented religion?
What little you say about the early Christian Church, you need to do much more reading on.
Secondly, what is the present state of Muslims and Jews before God? Muslims worship Allah, which is their moon god. They have this atop their mosques.
Lastly, I can well understand some mere religionists getting hot under the collar as Christianity from a biblical standpoint shows mere religion up for what it is and does.
What does religion actually mean, I have been wondering.
the origin is “from Old French, or from Latin religio(n-) ‘obligation, bond, reverence’, perhaps based on Latin religare ‘to bind’.”
Nektarios, Quentin had the good sense to delete some of your earlier posts which preceded your last post and you presented this “final” post as the culmination of a tirade against established religion, perhaps you cannot even remember what you wrote.
On the God of Muslims, the crescent moon was only added to Mosques under the Ottoman empire, it is used as a symbol because Islam follows a lunar calendar and all major feasts are celebrated at particular phases of the moon. Before you call that “moon religion”, Judaism was exactly the same except that Judaism also includes the spring equinox, which meant that the Jewish calendar did not move in the same way as Islam. The early Christian church followed the Jewish calendar and, when it adopted the Julian calendar continued to use the lunar cycle to determine the date of Easter. Today the western world follows the Gregorian calendar Introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to correct the accumulative error of the Julian calendar.
For those in the UK the tax year starts on April 5 which was a shift from the March 25 quarter day when Gregory moved the calendar by 12 days.
It is hardly worth replying to what you say.
I will correct you on a couple of points. Please do not pass on to others your opinions passing them off as facts – when they are clearly not.
Secondly, I did not launch a tirade of on organized religion. I am well aware of how deeply entrenched religion can be, but that of itself, even Christian external religion does not change a person from death to life, from walking in the dark to walking in the light.
But perhaps you take upon yourself to instruct me and others that organized religion saves, gives the forgiveness of God and eternal life? Think again.
I could go on and on about all sorts of problems that exist within the churches, the divisions that exist and so on and so forth, but I will refrain from doing so and spare your
Nektarios, to quote your post:-
Of religion: “The greatest enemy of true Christianity has always been religion, and this is as true today as it has ever been.”
Of the Jews:
“have always been— and are today— the greatest enemies of the true church and of the true Christian faith and message.”
So a bit of anti-semitism doesn’t go amiss either.
It is hardly worth replying to what you say.
I will correct you on a couple of points. Please do not pass on to others your opinions passing them off as facts – when they are clearly not…”
You need to be be careful with the arrogance that seems to seep through your words. These hobby horses do you no good.
I do not want to labour the point with you, but the main problem was not the Jews, but religion:
” traditional religionists, and such have always been— and are today— the greatest enemies of the true church and of the true Christian faith and message. But how much of so-called Christianity is just this!”