Posts Tagged ‘ Michael Voris ’

Jesus Christ. What’s the point.

A few years ago, I heard the question, “There is a reasonable hope that all are saved.”  Michael Voris was repeating what Bishop Robert Barron said Urs von Balthasar said Karl Barth said.  Voris was shaking his head as he said it; the bishop was not, and I suppose Balthasar and Barth also believed it.  That question prompted me to do my daily Bible reading with a particular focus: “Where in the Bible would anyone get that impression?”  Where does it say, or imply, that all are saved?

Over the past few years I have compiled quite a list of Bible references that seem to dispute this notion.  I have not been able to find the one quote that is so significant that no other passage could possibly stand.  Or, conversely, the one passage that supports the empty Hell theory.  Since I am no Biblical scholar or theologian, I approached trying to argue against a giant like Balthasar, or a brilliant priest like Barron with a great deal of fear: clearly I was missing something.  Clearly, any justification I might find that they could use, I was missing.  Clearly any justification that I might use, I was missing.

I met Fr Jack when I was in high school.  Some 40 years later, we still keep in touch; and altho he is now a semi-retired parish priest, he still reads the Bible in Greek and Hebrew.  He is absolutely convinced that Jesus left no wriggle room.  Nothing Jesus said leaves any doubt.  I have known Fr Jack for more than half my life; I could not possibly hold him in higher esteem.

But, a couple of weeks ago, finding yet another passage that just screamed “few are saved” I had a Damascus Road experience, an epiphany that was appropriate for me.  (So, no voices, no thunderstorm, etc.)

The most significant statement is not the Bible itself, or any words in the Bible.  There is nothing that Jesus said or did that speaks louder to the question than simply, Him.  He is The Word (gee, where have I seen that?)

While all things are possible with GOD, it was His original thought that we humans should have free will.  This is absolutely fundamental to who (what) we are.  This, I believe, is what is meant by we are created in His Image.  Free will is our sine qua non.

And so, Jesus Christ was born of a woman, just like the rest of us.  He spent some time with us.  Not too long and not too short.  Just enough to make a point – for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

You see, if we are all saved, if we are all going to Heaven anyway, there would have been no point in anything remotely like Jesus Christ, a Messiah.  I suppose some would have needed a magical figure to tell us we were on the right path anyway.  Or, it didn’t really matter what we did during this life, we were destined – whether we wanted it or not – to an eternity of milk and honey and song and dance.

But, that’s not what happened.  We did get Jesus Christ.  Thousands of years and thousands of pages and gallons of ink spoke of His coming.  Of the need for His coming.  Afterwards, a few hundred years and a few hundred pages told us of His life here.  If we are all doing the right thing, then why?  Why all those years of discussion and countless parchments and pages and gallons?  Just an academic exercise?  I think not.

There is that one passage in Isaiah where the lion lays down with the sheep (Isaiah 11:6), which might imply that, regardless of whether we are a lion or a sheep, in the end it won’t matter.  I’d like a Biblical scholar or theologian to help with this passage because I can’t really find that much credence in it.  I don’t mean to cherry-pick the Bible, but it doesn’t seem to me that either the lion or the sheep are living within Natural Law.  So, I don’t see this one passage as justification for the idea that all are saved.

In any event, the mere existence of Jesus Christ proves that we are not a priori saved.  Maybe we are, after all anything is possible.  But, then we wouldn’t need Jesus Christ.  We could ignore Him, casually, completely.

Some would argue that we don’t have Free Will.  Ok, if we don’t, then again, there is no point in Jesus Christ.  It seems to me that our Free Will absolutely demands Jesus Christ.  And, Jesus Christ proves that we do have Free Will.  Dunno if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ if you can have Free Will or not; I’ll save that for later (much later).

My years of careful, pointed, focused reading have lead me to just one conclusion: my salvation, at the very least, is not guaranteed.  It is not written in stone, or in some book somewhere.  I can still screw up – I pray that I don’t.  I pray every day that I do stay on the Right Road (and I am thankful that, for the grace of GOD, I did find the Right Road).  Maybe I just need Jesus Christ, and some do not?  Well, I don’t think that is true, and I certainly would not encourage anyone to think that they can do without.  But, I do have a Faith that requires that I do believe in Jesus Christ; and that He is “the point.”

Is there a “reasonable hope that all are saved”?  Obviously, there is a growing number of people who do think that; Voris calls that the “Church of Feel Good.”  And, he’s right.  For those who want this life to be as comfortable as possible, they must hope they can still sneak under the wire when the get to the Pearly Gates.  But this does not answer the question of why Jesus went to the Cross.  Whatever His life was like, it did not end well.  He’s in Glory now, but that transition from this life to Eternal Life was, well, hell.

So, I don’t belong to the Church of Feel Good.  I do “fear” GOD.  I know that Christ stands at the door of my heart and knocks (Revelation 3:20); and the things of this world make so much noise that it is damned hard to hear Him.

Oh, and don’t get me started on whether we are all going to see each other in Heaven.  Or, if our pets will join us.

Jesus Christ.  What’s the point?  My salvation.  For eternity is a long time.

Blind Guides

Not a day goes by that I don’t find yet another reason to be disgusted at both presidential candidates. Even if I ignore the past 40 years or so of experience voting for presidential candidates, I find that I would not shake the hand of either of this year’s candidates. In fact, if it was a dark and stormy night, like Puget Sound is currently experiencing, with the horizontal rain and the gale-force winds (and tree branches, etc. falling down around our ears), and I saw either candidate by the side of the road with a flat tire, or a gas can, I would try to find a puddle to drive thru. No, I won’t be moving to Canada, regardless of the outcome next month; but I will be steeling myself for the international ridicule that will descend on my beloved country.

Be that as it may, I can’t help but draw a very straight and very short line between the Pharisees of the Bible and the bishops of the USCCB.

In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 12:1-7), Jesus says to His disciples, Beware the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Boom! Like a lightning strike (yes, another weather reference), my first thought was the vast majority of the bishops of the USA that have kept their mouths shut this entire election cycle – and against a deluge of despicable behavior on both sides of the political aisle, have continued their silence. In Matthew 23:27 Jesus compares the Pharisees to whitened sepulchers that appear beautiful on the outside but are full of rotten, corrupt bones on the inside.

What I do hear from bishops are feeble attempts to propose the lesser of two evils; and those voices are diminishing. If anything, the Pharisees were too enthusiastic about protecting their faith; whereas the bishops are somehow becoming more lukewarm. And silent.

True enough, the laity of the Roman Catholic Church ought to follow the bishops. But, after the priest sex scandal that cost millions to cover-up, and incorporation of the Kumbaya Church of Nice (in the “Spirit of Vatican II”), I look around and find a vacuum of leadership – or the wrong kind (e.g., “Cardinal Dolan”). “Follow the bishops”? What, off a cliff? No thank you.

That America has gotten to this point, where both the political system and the Church have been hijacked does not bode well for the future. Altho some would debate how beneficial the Church has been for the development of western society, few would debate that it has been a factor, if not major player. Now, the Church leadership is falling all over itself trying to find new and creative ways to become lemmings to the latest secular fashion. At the same time, the quality of those in public office (pick anything – any office, any candidate, any incumbent) has steadily gone down the tubes. Cause and effect? Your choice. But, an “interesting” coincidence, nonetheless.

Honestly, I can’t think of a single politician that I think is doing a good job. No, really. However, I can think of some Church leaders that I do listen to: Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Robert Sarah and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone leap to mind. Michael Voris over at ChurchMilitant.com has got my ear.

No doubt there are some politicians who are doing a good job, but they get drowned in the hype of those who aren’t. No doubt there are others in the Church that have not lost the Faith. Sadly, I do not believe they will prevail.

The land of my birth will look very different as my children grow up – and not for the better. The Catholic Church will, in the words of Joseph Ratzinger, become smaller. The size of the Church will be a combination of what the Church is doing to itself, and what the government is doing to it. Hopefully, the quality of the Catholic Church will increase.

Jesus must increase, while we must decrease. Where have I heard that before? (hint: John 3:30)

 

 

A reasonable hope?

Being human, I would like to have a reasonable hope that I will not burn in hell for all eternity: it is my skin, after all. As is heard almost everywhere you turn these days, “it’s all about me.” So yeah, I’d rather put all my eggs in the Urs von Balthasar basket. I’d like to go confidently to the Pearly Gates, stand in front of Saint Peter and say, “But, Bishop Barron says….” It’d make my current life a lot – a hell of a lot – easier; the thought that, no matter what I do in this life, I will be saved in the next.

 

But, while both men are vastly more intelligent than I am, I can’t accept that theory.

 

First, and foremost, if we are all saved, then what was the point of Jesus Christ? If Hell is empty, then Adam and Eve are also now in Heaven. And Adolf and Uncle Joe and what’s-his-name and his little red book. There is evidently, no need for a messiah. And the Bible is just a collection of fiction.

 

I don’t buy that, either.

 

Then, if GOD really is omnipotent, then no sin is beyond Him, is it? Well yeah, GOD really is omnipotent; but maybe HE will pull everybody, including Lucifer and his ilk out of the eternal damnation on the Last Day? So, Hell does have somebody in it NOW; but eventually it will be empty? We just got back to my first paragraph.

 

Second, while I can easily find bits and pieces thru-out the Bible that do convince me that Hell is real, and people do go there, I’ll be damned (like that?) if I can find anything in the Bible that even hints that Hell isn’t real. Very true that I am no scholar; but I do read the Bible and I do read various commentaries on it.

Some of the stuff in the Bible is undoubtedly symbolic, or metaphorical, or allegorical; but some of it seems intuitively obvious to the most casual observer. Jesus does tell some great stories; but it’s hard to equate “It would have been better had he [Judas] not been born,” with “See ya later.” In other words, why would I ever believe just two dudes after nearly 2,000 years and countless other thinkers have validated the Bible? Put another way: who’s this von Balthasar to contradict the Bible? No friend of mine.

 

Finally (for the moment), I think it would be nice to be well thought of, this side of the grave; regardless of what my eternal future looks like. If it turns out that I’ll be listening to the heavenly choir for all eternity, then it is win-win. If there is no life after this one, then I at least I played this game the best way I could; which leaves me 1-0. Yeah, pretty thin. But the alternative, putting all my eggs in the von Balthasar/Barron basket, is just plain stupid.

Mea culpa

I can see from the beautiful statistics that WordPress creates for every blogger that my readership has fallen off slightly (since it was never very high, falling “slightly” means fallen to zero).  No huge surprise, really: My “day job,” in conjunction with a household move, on top of trying to be a good father (St Joseph, pray for me!) has managed to leave no room on my plate for writing.  That I spend at least an hour every day in my prayer life goes without saying.

Well, the move from Kent to Redmond means my commute time got slashed to something closer to half-an-hour, from 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  This was not only a savings of time, but also energy.  Overtime spent on my “day job” – which some of you know is really a 12-hour night shift – has dried up, so there’s more time and energy.  However, the Twins are much more active as they approach ten months old; but what they take in time, they give back ten-fold in joy and energy (ok, more joy than energy).

What this means is that I just might have more resources (time and energy) to write; which I would dearly love (in direct contrast to the job, which I detest).

I do want to take this opportunity to give a huge shout-out to Michael Voris, over at Church Militant (“ChurchMilitant.TV”).  In the past, he had made references to his checkered past which I never paid much attention to.  First, his past really had no bearing on what I was hearing now.  Second, I am certainly in no position to comment on anyone else’s checkered past (I can relate to the Cardinal Sin of Lust).  Well, he devoted an entire Vortex segment (“Limiting God”) to the details of his past.

His motivation on sharing at such a level is a threat from the Archdiocese of New York, which is apparently squirming under his criticism.  In this age of the internet, it takes next to nothing to find information, so why the Archdiocese thinks shutting him up is any protection only reveals its own stupidity.  With the embarrassing Timothy Cardinal Dolan as a spokesman, how could the Archdiocese ever hope to keep out of the limelight?  The only question in my mind is why Rome doesn’t reassign Dolan – they did it to Raymond Cardinal Burke (at least now, I know where Malta is).

New Subject:

When I was living overseas (for 17 years), I discovered one of the benefits was being able to easily ignore the craziness of the American presidential race.  That luck ran out, and now I find myself completely flummoxed.

As a youngster, I was a card-carrying Democrat (yes, literally).  I campaigned (knocking on doors, etc.) for the likes of Mo Udall and Jimmy Carter.  Dunno what I had, exactly, against the Republicans (can we say Barry Goldwater?); maybe it was the belief that the Demos actually wanted to improve things, not just hold on to the status quo.

Enter Hillary Clinton.  Gee, I thought we were finally rid of Slick Willy.  Biden wants a flat screen tv in every living room.

On the other side of the aisle, we’ve got a bunch that is cut from the same political cloth as the clowns in Congress who haven’t done squat in the past eight years.

Then there’s The Donald that is making everybody uneasy – and with good reason.  While the big money of traditional politics makes the office-holder accountable to all the wrong people, Trump would be accountable to nothing but his own aggrandizement.

Politics has sunk to new lows.

Finally:

I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but I love the Twins more and more every day.  ‘Course the pressure is on to try to figure out how to cope with those that can’t figure out which bathroom to use.  I mean other than keeping them out of public schools, and Target.

How Many Hours in a Biblical Day?

In my internet surfing, I recently came upon a webpage that contains three lists: (1) What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Origins; (2) What Does Molecules-to-Man Evolutionism Teach about Origins; and (3) What Does Cutting-Edge Science Teach About Origins?

Frankly, as a cradle-Catholic, I grew up blissfully unaware of the first list. As I progressed thru the American educational system and then graduated to throwing away so much of what I was exposed to, I remained much more concerned about other things. You know, like, ISIS, Roe v Wade, CRS. But, in the area of Church doctrine, I don’t spend much time with the finite timetable in Genesis. I hope this doesn’t make me a heretic; but I am much more in awe of the concept that GOD created everything, my little brain ain’t ready to put a clock on it.

So, does this mean that the commonly espoused version of “evolution” (thinking of Darwin here) means that GOD did not create the world? Nope. For me, GOD is capable of doing anything He wants to (no doubt, He is relieved that I think so). Even (shudder) capable to creating a system that incorporates (gasp) evolution. Really not all that different than your car: you put gas in it more than once (renewing resources), you change the oil more than once (out with the old, in with the new), and if you live east of the Rocky Mountains, you patch the rust in it. Or, you trade it in for something newer (now that concept should make us all shudder; unless, of course, your name is Noah). For me, evolution IS consistent with an omnipotent Divine Being – there is nothing in my understanding of evolution or the Big Bang that keeps me from picking up my Bible (quick: who initially floated – sorry – that concept? If you said a “Belgian Jesuit” you get a gold star).

I did especially enjoy the eighth item which says that the “literal obvious sense must be believed unless reason dictates or necessity requires.” First, of course is the word “believed.” As in, “I believe in GOD, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit”? I don’t think so. Yeah, disagree with Pope Leo at your peril. Second, a person’s reason trumps the Bible? Well, St Peter had something to say about that. Oh, wait, Leo meant the Church’s interpretation, not mine? Ok, fine. But, does the Church really equate the Trinity with a boat big enough for two of everything (considering what science tells us about species we have identified as living or extinct, it’s hard to believe that Adam named every creature and Noah got ‘em all on something measured in “cubits”). (And the number of critters in Noah’s barque isn’t only two of each, if you’ll read a little bit further in Genesis.) You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? “Everything” is “literal and obvious”? I’ll stand with St Lawrence who presented the poorest of the poor when Valerian demanded the riches of the Church. And no, I have never figured out how many angels can sit on the head of a pin (how about how many Christians ISIS has butchered?).

“Original Sin”? Can you say “ISIS”? What part of the human condition don’t you get? Intuitively obvious to the most casual observer (which includes me, for a change).

No, I am not a cafeteria Catholic; but neither can I get everything w/n the definition of Catholic on my plate. I want to; but some days I just don’t think I’m really living the First Commandment.

I spend more time shaking my head at the church that decorated the sanctuary with streamers and other icons of a local football team, than I do with exactly how many hours were in the Biblical day. I just looked again. And I still can’t believe it. You can go to the webpage and see for yourself: http://voxcantor.blogspot.com/2015/02/behold-tabernacle-of-seattle-seahawks-12.html I will grant you that the church I belong to does not have the Tabernacle front-and-center, where it belongs. And there have been occasions when the decoration committee must have been exercising un-used budget and certainly un-used taste. But I have never seen an abomination like this (unless it was in the “non-denominational church” my sister attends: it has a drum set on stage – not even a cross). I am torn (so to speak) between the comment that anybody with backbone would have ripped down the decorations, and my own (feeble?) about-face, walk out, and never return.

Then there’s the story about so-called “gay jesuits.” Yeah, yeah, I know: “jesuits” really ought to be capitalized because it is a proper name. I fell in love with history at a very early age, so I ran into the stories of the Jesuit Missionaries who went to Canada; one Jean de Brebeuf stands out. The chasm that exists between him and “gay jesuits” is insurmountable to me. Altho not quite as old as Jean (he died in 1649), I am still old-fashioned enough to think of priests as being asexual. Yes, I grew up going to Mass every Sunday and every holy day. I became an altar boy when only boys served and only those who could master Latin served. I was very active in the Church all thru high school. Simply, “priest” and “sex” do not belong in the same sentence. I found out that there could be variations on the theme when it came to women religious and what they wore. But priests all wore the same outfit and all behaved above reproach. In the Marines, I learned what “conduct unbecoming” meant; that phrase applied to every priest I have ever known. Praise GOD that I don’t know any “gay jesuits.”

Yeah, Fr Longenecker, the rock still stands.

PS: I received an email yesterday from my good friend, Fr Patrick, in Cameroon. Cameroon, you know: next door to Nigeria, way too close to Boko Haram. And I am supposed to care about what again?

http://kolbecenter.org/creation-doctrine-2/
voxcantor.blogspot.com
ChurchMilitant.tv
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/