Friday, August 09, 2013

7. TRUE or FALSE: God is madly, crazily, unconditionally in love with you

[Uncensored, from our correspondent in a city somewhere on the Atlantic seaboard which knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir, Private Eye]:

Priests, nuns, and youth group leaders will fall over backwards making sure you believe this.

And yet, in its unqualified form ("But who can qualify the Love of God?!..."), it is the elephant in the room. Weigel talks of friendship with Jesus, von Balthasar of an empty Hell, the Pope of God's never tiring of forgiveness. It all sounds orthodox, and yet... Without some other notes, this message is hard to substantiate by responsible exegesis.

If you change emphases, if you change phrases, are you changing meaning? I think everyone deep down must know that the answer is yes. And the old meanings were based on thorough-going exegesis of Scripture. Catholics do not base all their beliefs on the Bible, but without a solid Biblical basis Catholic beliefs quickly morph into something else.

Evangelicals are falling prey to the same error, when the refer to people as "Beautiful messes," bypassing any significant seriousness about sin. After the black plague ravished Europe, Puritan Ralph Venning wrote a book on sin entitled The Plague of Plagues. I think this phrases would fall on deaf ears today.

Under the comments about the Campion Missal at Roratae Caeli, here is this brief, but destroying item. You read it and you understand why there is little if any discussion in Catholic catechesics about holiness, sin, judgement. These things belong to a what for too many is in essence an obsolete world, and are are dismissible as Adam & Eve, biblical historicity, and any meaningful Christian exclusivity:
Athelstane said...

The comments by the Universa Laus president deprecating the presumed obsolescence of ancient prayers of the Roman Rite are dismaying, but an instance of rare candor by progressive theolgians. Most seem reluctant to admit outright that it is often the original prayers themselves, not just the translations, they don't care for.

But occasionally, the mask does slip. Bryan Cones of US Catholic, shocked to actually read the Latin originals of many of the propers in the new MR3 translation, said the same thing when it first came out:
"To me it seems not only that we shouldn’t be using these translations, we shouldn’t be using most of these prayers at all anymore. They simply reflect an approach to God--a distant, imperial God to whom we must beg for mercy--and an understanding of the church--sinful, unworthy, unredeemed--that I think we have left behind." {I think he is far too correct. -- G.N.}

Would that there were more such honesty by some of our leading lights. We might actually be able to have a real debate about the theology of our liturgy, and much, much else besides. Deep down, their argument isn't with Vox Clara or the CDW or famous priest bloggers; it's with the theology of the Church expressed in its liturgy for nearly all of its history.
[Hat tip to JM}


Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Modernism officiated at the marriage of Homosexualism and Feminism and their many demented offspring have been baptised by the Indifferent and sent forth as Apostles of Be-Nice who fear that Truth is too divisive.

Writing just for my own self; Go to Hell, Miss Grundy.

I'll stick with real Catholicism - that which preceded V2, the rocket that destroyed Tradition.

And I would advise readers to consider a serious reading of modern biblical exegesis about as seriously than those in the 1980s thought about going on Holiday in Bophal or Chernobyl.

Stick with the Early Church Fathers as collected by Saint Thomas Aquinas - Catena Aurea - and the work of Cornelius a Lapide which is fantastic !!

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

If the prodigal son had not returned, what would have become of him, despite his father's love? Love can never be truly unconditional, because unconditional love requires unconditional acceptance, and unconditional acceptance is ultimately self-hatred -- the masochist's "love" for the sadist. Much love is unrequited. Much love is in vain. Such love eventually becomes sorrow or regret. Hell is full of prodigal sons who have spurned the conditional love freely offered to them by their Creator. Those who say otherwise are idiots, crap merchant theologians, and/or internet dating service moguls.

Charles said...

I think there is a homily topic for a good priest somewhere in what you've written, Ralph. Some real food for thought here. Thanks.

Sam Schmitt said...

So if I'm understanding this right - God hates people in hell?

Pertinacious Papist said...

Sam, that answer may or may not be correct, depending on what you mean; and since that's not clear, I can only say it's in need of clarification.

The first is that God's hate is not a variation from His love, that He doesn't have emotions that change from one object to another, as ours do.

But that is a bit too philosophical and abstract, and so we are prone to accept at face value the Biblical language of a changeable God, as in "Then God's wrath was kindled against ...." or "and then God repented of having created man" (from Genesis) -- which leaves us with a changeable God, which is both theologically and philosophically problematic.

So, as long as we're talking of divine emotions, some say that God hates only the sin and not the sinner, but as comfortable as that view is, it's problematic, too. How can God hate the fruit of a tree and not the tree?

In our Lord's parable of the talents, he says in Luke:26-27: "But I say to you, that to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound: and from him that hath not, even that which he hath, shall be taken from him. But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them, bring them hither, and kill them before me.

C.S. Lewis has, perhaps, what is the best approach to the problem, by approaching from a vantage point that circumvents the problem of divine emotions. He states that finally there are two kinds of people in the world: (1) those who say to God, "Thy will be done"; and (2) those to whom God says, "Thy will be done."

If one were to re-configure that statement in emotional terms, one could say that God's love is so great that He permits His enemies to reject Him of their free will. Or one could say that a Heaven for those who love opera would be a hell for those who's musical diet runs in the direction of love heavy metal. Or that God's love, at least to those who hate Him, burns so hot that they find it terrifying.

Why did God "harden Pharaoh's heart"? (Ex. 9:12, Rm 9:17). If we're sticking to the language of human analogy (about emotions), we could say that God loved Pharaoh so much that He wished to cut short his earthly life to prevent him from committing even worse sins, thus lessening his punishments in Hell. How's that for creative speculation? =)

JM said...

Scripture is every bit as emphatic about judgement and Hell as it is about Love. What is "right" is to say that God is mysterious and hard to understand, and that while He is patient and loving, His patience is not neverending and His Love is not unconditional by everyone's definition of that phrase.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

...we could say that God loved Pharaoh so much that He wished to cut short his earthly life to prevent him from committing even worse sins thus lessening his punishments in Hell....

Dear Dr. Amen.

I still use a similar - but reverse- argument against those defending the modern Popes not preaching conversion to the Jews; that is, when the Popes do not preach Christ and conversion, it could be argued that that is THE most hateful and anti semitic action possible for it leaves the Jews Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus and, thus, inexorably on the road to Perdition.

Said otherwise, it is not trads who can be fairly accused of desiring that Jews go to Hell whereas judging just by their actions, it could be said that modern Popes desire Jews go to Hell and suffer there eternally.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Cornelius a Lapide on Luke 19:27

Ver. 27.—But those mine enemies (the Jews, His citizens, who would not have Him to reign over them) bring them hither—to my Tribunal, in the valley of Jehosaphat and Jerusalem—and kill them before Me.” In the Greek, “Kill them before my face.” Our Lord alludes to those victorious kings who slew and destroyed their conquered rebels. By this destruction Christ signifies the extreme judgment of the Jews and His other enemies, and their own condemnation to eternal death in Gehenna, and that a living and vital death, where they will be perpetually tormented by death-dealing flames, and yet will never die. Our Lord alludes to Titus, who slaughtered the conquered Jews. He describes precisely to the letter the condemnation of the Jews, and the Gehenna which He has appointed for them when He shall return from heaven to judge and condemn them and the reprobate.

Maybe someday I wil get to ask Dr. Hahn about this verse.

I already know what a scandal this verse is to the V2 revolutionaries (when did you ever hear this at Mass?) and to the conservative catholic collective (from the progressive patheos posse to the Girondists in the Brick By Brick Bund) but I'd like to hear an opinion about this verse from he who shepherds the flock of Hahn-verts.