Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Onesiphorus (2 Tim 1:16-18; 4:19): Explicit New Testament Example of the Apostle Paul Praying for the Dead (Explanations of Protestant Commentaries)


Philip Schaff (see #9)

2 Timothy 1:16-18 (RSV) May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiph'orus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, [17] but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me -- [18] may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day -- and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

2 Timothy 4:19 Greet Prisca and Aq'uila, and the household of Onesiph'orus.

I have written about this issue in the past; notably in my book, The Catholic Verses, pp. 169-174, and in A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, pp. 141-143.


1) Alfred Plummer (1841-1926) (Anglican): The Expositor's Bible (edited by W. Robertson Nicoll), The Pastoral Epistles, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1891, pp. 324-326:
Certainly the balance of probability is decidedly in favour of the view that Onesiphorus was already dead when St. Paul wrote these words. . . . he here speaks of "the house of Onesiphorus" in connexion with the present, and of Onesiphorus himself only in connexion with the past. . . . it is not easy to explain this reference in two places to the household of Onesiphorus, if he himself was still alive. In all the other cases the individual and not the household is mentioned. . . . There is also the character of the Apostle's prayer. Why does he confine his desires respecting the requital of Onesiphorus' kindness to the day of judgment? . . . This again is thoroughly intelligible, if Onesiphorus is already dead.

. . . there seems to be equal absence of serious reason for doubting that the words in question constitute a prayer. . . .

Having thus concluded that, according to the more probable and reasonable view, the passage before us contains a prayer offered up by the Apostle on behalf of one who is dead, we seem to have obtained his sanction, and therefore the sanction of Scripture, for using similar prayers ourselves. . . .

This passage may be quoted as reasonable evidence that the death of a person does not extinguish our right or our duty to pray for him: but it ought not be quoted as authority for such prayers on behalf of the dead as are very different in kind from the one of which we have an example here. Many other kinds of intercession for the dead may be reasonable and allowable; but this passage proves no more than that some kinds of intercession for the dead are allowable; viz., those in which we pray that God will have mercy at the day of judgment on those who have done good to us and others, during their life upon earth.
2) James Maurice Wilson (1836-1931) (Anglican): Truths New and Old, Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co., 1900, p. 141:
We have, therefore, the sanction of St. Paul for remembering inn our prayers, and interceding for, those who have now passed into the other world . . .
3) Sydney Charles Gayford (Anglican): The Future State, New York: Edwin S. Gorham, second edition, 1905, pp. 56-57:
. . . the most satisfactory explanation is that Onesiphorus was dead. . . .

And so we may hold with some confidence that we have in this passage the authority of an Apostle in praying for the welfare of the departed.
4) John Henry Bernard (1860-1927) (Anglican), The Pastoral Epistles, Cambridge University Press, 1899, p. 114:
On the whole then it seems probable that Onesiphorus was dead when St. Paul prayed on his behalf . . .
5) Donald Guthrie (1915-1992) (Anglican): The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, The Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2nd edition, 1990, p. 148:
Since it is assumed by many scholars that Onesiphorus was by now dead, the question has been raised whether this sanctions prayer for the dead. Roman catholic theologians claim that it does. Spicq, for instance, sees here an example of prayer for the dead unique in the New Testament. Some Protestants agree with this judgment and cite the Jewish precedent of 2 Macc 12:43-45 . . .
6) William Barclay (1907-1978) (Presbyterian / Church of Scotland), The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 3rd edition, 2003, p. 175:
. . . there are many who feel that the implication is that Onesiphorus is dead. It is for his family that Paul first prays. Now, if he was dead, this passage shows us Paul praying for the dead, for it shows him praying that Onesiphorus may find mercy on the last day.
7) J. N. D. Kelly (1909-1997) (Anglican): A Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, London: A&C Black, 1963, p. 171:
On the assumption, which must be correct, that Onesiphorus was dead when the words were written, we have here an example, unique in the N.T., of Christian prayer for the departed. . . . the commendation of the dead man to the divine mercy. There is nothing surprising in Paul's use of such a prayer, for intercession for the dead had been sanctioned in Pharisaic circles at any rate since the date of 2 Macc 12:43-45 (middle of first century B.C.?). Inscriptions in the Roman catacombs and elsewhere prove that the practice established itself among Christians from very early times.
8) John E. Sanders (evangelical / open theist): No Other Name, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1992, pp. 182-183:
Some scholars contend that 2 Timothy 1:16-18 contains a reference to praying for the dead; they contend that the person for whom Paul prays, Onesiphorus was dead.

Footnote 11: Among those commentators who understand Paul to be praying for the dead here are the following: W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek Testament, Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1951), p. 159; Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, Vol. 3 (Chicago: Moody Pres, 1958), p. 376 . . . J. E. Huther, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to Timothy and Titus (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1871), p. 263.
9) Philip Schaff (1819-1893) (Reformed Protestant), The International Illustrated Commentary on the New Testament, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1889, Vol. IV, The Catholic Epistles and Revelation, p. 587:
On the assumption already mentioned as probable, this would, of course, be a prayer for the dead. The reference ot the great day of judgment falls in with this hypothesis. . . . From the controversial point of view, this may appear to favour the doctrine and practice of the Church of Rome . . .
10) Charles John Ellicott (1816-1905) (Anglican): A New Testament Commentary for English Readers, London: Cassell & Co., Vol. III, 1884, p. 223:
There is but little doubt that when St. Paul wrote this Epistle Onesiphorus' death must have recently taken place . . .

The Apostle can never repay now . . . the kindness his dead friend showed him in his hour of need; so he prays that the Judge of quick and dead may remember it in the awful day of judgment. . . .

This passage is famous from its being generally quoted among the very rare statements of the New Testament which seem to bear upon the question of the Romish doctrine of praying for the dead. . . . we here in common with Roman Catholic interpreters and the majority of the later expositors of the Reformed Church, assume that Onesiphorus was dead when St. Paul wrote to Timothy, and that the words used had reference to St. Paul's dead friend . . .

79 comments:

Reginald de Piperno said...

Fabulous!

Silly ol' former Protestant me never saw this before. Thanks!

RdP

Nelson said...

Dave,

Speaking of prayers for the whole Christian body and the communion of saints, of which the dead in Christ are a part of. Can you tell us how your father is coming along. He remains in my prayers and I am interested in his progress. I am of course not insinuating that he is dying so please don't get me wrong on this.

Thank you for your excellent work. Keep it up.
Nelson U.

JWilson said...

Great job. This is DA at your best.

Boik said...

And even with all these Protestant scholarly comments, there's still a Catholic tradition that Onesiphorus died after Paul.

Boik said...

Oops: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4910

Mike Burgess said...

Boik,
Not sure why you misread that. The link doesn't say Onesiphorus outlived Paul; it says he followed in Paul's footsteps to Spain and then was martyred. The article on Paul says, inter alia, "We gather, however, from the Pastoral Epistles and from tradition that at the end of the two years St. Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment, and then traveled to Spain, later to the East again, and then back to Rome, where he was imprisoned a second time and in the year 67, was beheaded."

Totally consistent. Try again.

Mike Burgess said...

Are you saying that because the tradition mentioned at the link you provided says he died under Domitian that he must thus have died after Paul? Let's find the source(s) for that. I'll start looking.
In the meantime, when do you think 2 Timothy was written and why?

Boik said...

I don't think that "following in the footsteps of Paul" means that he traveled with him, but that he went to Spain as his predecessor did. I think that becomes clear when the article on Paul states he died in 67 and Onesiphorus in 81. And, in both instances, they are based on a tradition.

Boik said...

I think the dating of 2 Timothy is irrelevant, considering that it still has Paul allegedly praying for the dead (as opposed to a pious wish or Onesiphorus being alive, but somewhere else). I'm trying to get to the bottom of the tradition that states he died in 81, but have come up empty thus far.

Mike Burgess said...

As to "following in the footsteps," right, I agree, he appears to have traveled to Spain with Porphyrius after Paul had already traveled there (prior to Paul's second imprisonment in Rome). As to the dating (based on "tradition," as you point out) I would like to know the source(s) for that. I haven't found any. Have you?

Boik said...

No, as I said earlier, I'm still in the process of sifting out the source. I did write the online source to see if they can tell me, but it may take awhile before they respond. Still, if that's the claim, I'm sure it is based on some early Christian writings somewhere. We'll see how it goes.

Mike Burgess said...

My Roman Martyrology for 6 September says "... In the Hellespont, St. Onesiphorus, disciple of the apostles, of whom St. Paul speaks in his Letter to Timothy. He was severely scourged with St. Porphyry, by order of the proconsul Adrian, and being dragged by wild horses, gave up his soul to God..."

Nothing about Domitian or the year of his demise.

It might take a bit of doing to track down the proconsular records of the Dardanelles region of Asia Minor to determine when Adrian was proconsul. I'll see what I can do.

Boik said...

This website states the date at around 80 A.D.:

Onesiphorus and Porphyrius MM (RM)
Died c. 80.

Saint Onesiphorus, meaning "useful," is mentioned in Saint Paul's second letter to Timothy: "May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains but when he arrived in Rome, he searched for me eagerly and from me--may the Lord grant him to find mercy for the Lord on that Day--and you well know all the service he rendered to me at Ephesus" (2 Timothy 1:16-18) A second verse says: "Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus" (2 Tim. 4:19). Tradition adds that Onesiphorus followed Saint Paul to
Spain and back to the East, where he was martyred during the reign of Domitian somewhere on the Hellespont by being tied between wild horses and torn apart. Porphyrius, a member of the household of Onesiphorus, shared in the work and martyrdom of his master (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0906.shtml

I don't know if you can get a hold of the source, which sounds like a secondary source, but maybe it can lead to a prima facie source?

Mike Burgess said...

Somewhat promising, thanks. I am contacting a Classics scholar I know to see if he can help me track down lists of the proconsuls of Bythinia et Pontus and, on the chance that administrative changes during the Flavian reign occured, also the proconsuls of Asia (adjacent to Bythinia et Pontus along the straits). Pliny the Younger was proconsul of Bythinia et Pontus around the turn of the second century A.D., so I have begun perusing his published works at Project Guttenburg to see if I find anything that way. Pliny was invaluable in helping historians establish Roman Imperial administrative policies and procedures, so maybe he'll have a list of governors, aediles, proconsuls, etc. and Adrian will be among them. We'll see.

Nick said...

Cool post. I just looked up the Reformed Matthew Henry Commentary and it says this:

"It is probable that Onesiphorus was now absent from home, and in company with Paul; Paul therefore prays that his house might be kept during his absence. Though the papists will have it that he was now dead; and, from Paul's praying for him that he might find mercy, they conclude the warrantableness of praying for the dead; but who told them that Onesiphorus was dead?"
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc6.xvi.ii.html

Matthew Henry suggests rather than being dead, Onesiphorus is with Paul. However, examining the conclusion of 2nd Timothy makes this claim especially dubious:

2 Tim 4:
"9Do your best to come to me quickly, 10for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. ... ... 19Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 20Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers."

This is even stronger proof that Onesiphorus is dead, for Paul mentions all the saints and where they are, yet Onesiphorus is conspicuously absent. Further, contrary to Henry, Paul says "only Luke is with me."

Even if Protestants deny this is prayer for the dead (ie that Onesi is still alive), it is still proof of 'meriting' (in this case praying for) salvation for another.

Nick said...

I came across another interesting and well respected Protestant source, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedi (ISBE), written in 1915, and it gives an entry on Onesiphorus:
http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/O/onesiphorus.html

Here are the key quotes:

"It is not clear whether Onesiphorus was living, or whether he had died, before Paul wrote this epistle. Different opinions have been held on the subject."

Here the ISBE indicates it could go either way, but look what it says next:

"The way in which Paul refers twice to "the household of Onesiphorus," makes it possible that Onesiphorus himself had died. If this is so--but certainty is impossible--the apostle's words in regard to him would be a pious wish, which has nothing in common with the abuses which have gathered round the subject of prayers for the dead, a practice which has no foundation in Scripture."

So we see the ISBE acknowledging it is possible, but then rushes to throw dirt on it (eg "certainly impossible"), even suggesting Paul was making a "pious wish" rather than a heartfelt prayer! Ironically, nobody would dare argue the mercy Paul prays for in the previous verse for the family is merely wishful thinking.

Dave Armstrong said...

Yeah, I love this business about a "pious wish." I wrote about that in two books and commented that there is no distinction between that and a prayer, anyway. A prayer is wishing and hoping and asking for good things for someone else.

My book The Catholic Verses is devoted to these sort of Protestant rationalizations when confronted with passages that don't fit their theology.

Boik said...

"Pious wish" or not, there still remains a Catholic tradition saying that Onesiphorus died before Paul. If that is the case, one can't claim--on the one hand--that Paul is praying for the dead and--on the other--that he died in 81 A.D.

Boik said...

Sorry, I meant to say "after" Paul.

Bo

Mike Burgess said...

We're still looking into that, though, aren't we, Bo?

Mike Burgess said...

Set aside your misgivings about relevance and let me know when you think 2 Timothy was written, would you please?

Randy said...

This is not impossible for protestants to get around. The idea that Onesiphorus was away from his household might cause this to make sense. It is a bit awkward but not awkward enough to cause one to consider changing their whole view of the afterlife. The Jewish traditions are a bigger problem, as is the evidence that the early church did pray for the dead. Given that, silence by scripture can only be seen as an endorsement. What they need is a clear biblical injunction to indicate that is practice was contrary to the faith.

Boik said...

I don't want to get into a discussion about 2 Timothy and all the frills, because it would be irrelevant. I want to stick to the claim that Paul prayed for a "dead" Onesiphorus. A "pious wish" is also irrelevant if Onesiphorus wasn't dead when Paul stated this, because if it is going to be interpreted as a prayer (as per Dave's assertion), it still doesn't mean anything if Onesiphorus was still alive. So it would be a bit of a red herring if I decided to follow this road. If we get into the details of 2 Timothy, or other issues, such as someone else writing it, etc. it still veers from the point, that the Scripture is used for the purpose of proving an Apostle prayed for the dead when a tradition, by Catholics, assumes that Onesiphorus was alive much later than Paul. I understand what you are trying to do, but I think it would be to find the source by which these other Catholics claim he died in 81 A.D.

Bo

Boik said...

Just for the record, do I believe the verse gives weight to the possibility that Onesiphorus is dead? Yes, there is a possibility, although it doesn't lose anything to say he may have been away. Do I think that Paul's statement can be viewed as "prayer for the dead." No, I don't and I don't think there is any reason to believe so. Do I believe that the early church prayed for the dead? Yes, although I don't believe it was for a release from purgatory. Again, I state this to give you an idea as to my mindset on these issues, but I don't want to talk about anything other than the immediate: How can Catholics say that Paul was praying for a presumably "dead" Onesiphorus when other Catholics say that Onesiphorus died after Paul.

Carmelite said...

I been to the catacombs in Rome and I saw with my own eyes prayer for the dead by Christains. One them said Peter and Paul pray for us. They had protected glass over them.

Carmelite said...

Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth."
Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures,23:9(A.D. 350),in NPNF2,VII:154

Grubb said...

Hey Guys,

Solomon said, "Whether a tree falls to the North or to the South, in the place where it falls, there will it lie." (Eccl 11:3b) The implication here is that once you die, your fate is sealed. If your eternal destiny is heaven, you're heaven bound. If it's hell, you're hell bound. You're simply waiting for judgment.

And on what are we judged? Rev 20:12b-13 says, "The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done." If we're judged according to what we've done, will someone praying for you remove your sins? Not likely if we believe Rev 20:12-13. Is it possible God would be more merciful due to the prayer of one of the true believers? Possible.

I'll leave the time-line of who died when to you guys, but I think it's safe to say if someone is unsaved when he dies, all the prayers of all the saints will not benefit or save him.

Grubb

Carmelite said...

Hi Grubb, I dont think you understand the Catholic teaching on Purgatory
Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's **grace**, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.Catholic Encyclopedia.

Nick said...

Grubb,

Most of what you said is actually correct...I'm just not sure you realize Catholics believe that too. Praying for the dead was never about pulling someone out of hell.

Rather, it only applies to those souls which died in communion with Christ, but who had not completed their sanctification on earth.

The interesting thing about Protestantism is that they don't have a good way of explaining how someone dying unsanctified can enter Heaven. We always hear about the death-bed confession example from Protestants, but since Protestants break up justification (instant) and sanctification (progressive), the man on his death bed has no time for sanctification. Or what about a Christian who lets off a cuss word as they're falling to their death in an accident?

Grubb said...

Hey Carmelite,

I understand the RC teaching of purgatory, but since it's unbiblical (ie. it's not found in the Bible) I don't agree with it. According to Mark 10:45, I Tim 2:6, and Heb 9:15, Jesus was a ransom for us. If He paid the price for our sins, did He only pay part of the price, or did He pay it all? I presume you agree He paid it all. And if that's the case, from what does one need to be cleansed when he dies? His sin has already been paid for.

Suppose I accept the RCC's teaching on purgatory. What good would it do to pray for some who's there? If they must be cleansed, they must be cleansed. Would prayer actually reduce the punishment to bring about their cleansing? And if you and scores of people prayed enough, could you reduce that punishment to 0? Logically, that must be the case. If that were true, the dead person could be cleansed without suffering any punishment. But that's what Reformed Christians believe. Why is it so hard to believe someone could be cleansed without punishment (as Reformed Christians believe) when you've seen an example of how it could happen in the RCC's model (aka purgatory)?

And if it can happen as we Reformed Christians believe it can, there's no need to pray for the dead.

Grubb

Grubb said...

Hi Nick,

As I said to Carmelite, Jesus paid (as a ransom) for our sins...all of our sins. That's why the curse word uttered as one dies, the death bed conversion, and the thief on the cross all have instant access to heaven. Isaiah said, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." (Isa 59:2) So we see it was our iniquities and our sins that have separated us from God. But then Isaiah says of our savior, "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa 53:5-6)

Our iniquities were laid on Him. How can I be forced to suffer for an iniquity that someone else already suffered for? And if my iniquities have been laid on him, what do I need prayer for when I die?

Dave Armstrong said...

Purgatory is quite biblical: infinitely more so that either sola fide or sola Scriptura. See:

Biblical Evidence for Purgatory: 25 Bible Passages
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2008/02/biblical-evidence-for-purgatory.html

Biblical Evidence For Purgatory and Analogous Processes (50 Passages)
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2009/03/biblical-evidence-for-purgatory-and.html

Grubb said...

Hey Dave, good to hear from you. I'm looking over those 25 verses you claim supports purgatory. I'm no where near as efficient as Ben M., Ken Temple, and you are at speed and volume. :)

Heyyyyy, what's up with that? It didn't convert my :) to a smiley face. Is there another way to insert the smiley face I don't know about?

Grubb

Boik said...

The first article doesn't really prove much because one would have to approach the verses with purgatory in mind, to find purgatory.

In the second article, I would agree that early fathers, such as Origen or Clement of Alexandria, laid the groundwork for what would become purgatory. Later, folks like Jerome and Augustine would add to the theory. You borrow from Francis de Sales and Newman where you would have to be Catholic in find to relate. Your point about "under the earth" really doesn't make sense to me. I'm in agreement with those, such as MacArthur, who say that it is a common biblical expression denoting the entire universe and not intended to teach 3 precise divisions.

Nick said...

Grubb,

You are confusing two issues here:

(1) That since Protestants separate justification and sanctification, they cannot explain how sanctification takes place with a death bed conversion (because there is no time). The Catholic position has no problem with the death bed conversion situation, because sanctification happens at justification.


(2) When you speak of Jesus paying the ransom at the Cross, you are confusing judicial-punishment and chastisement-punishment. All sides agree that through the merits of Christ the judicial-punishment (hellfire) is remitted*, but punishments of the NATURE of "chastisement" still occur to further sanctification. Protestants and Catholics agree Christians undergo punishments by God of the nature of chastisement, and that's the plain teaching of Scripture as well (eg Heb 12:4ff). This fact is precisely what is behind the concept of purgatory: chastisement. Through this the soul is purged from the very desires for sins.

Prayers for the souls in purgatory is for their sanctification to be sped-up so to speak, and is based on the same principle of a Christian praying for the conversion/healing/etc of another.

*It is important here to note that Catholics reject the Protestant notion of Penal Substitution as unbiblical and blasphemous:
http://catholicdefense.googlepages.com/psdebate

I strongly suggest you look into the issue of Penal Substitution, because Jesus being damned to hell by the Father is not only blasphemy, it's propping up Sola Fide.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy said...

The first article doesn't really prove much because one would have to approach the verses with purgatory in mind, to find purgatory.

It is not a question of finding purgatory. You are thinking like a proof-texter. The goal is to find a theology that explains all the biblical passages. So when you see a verse like:

Matthew 12:32 And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Then you have to wonder what Jesus is talking about. There will be forgiveness in the age, sure, and then more foregiveness in some age to come. Hmmmm. There is not forgiveness in hell. It is eternal punishment. There is none in heaven. Nothing impure can enter there so there is nothing to forgive. So what is Jesus talking about?

Now if you find many passages hinting at some kind of purging or punishment after death then we need to try and make sense of them. It is similar to what the church did when it arrived at the doctrine of the trinity. Taking many passages and coming up with a theology that fits them all.

Boik said...

It is not a question of finding purgatory. You are thinking like a proof-texter. The goal is to find a theology that explains all the biblical passages. So when you see a verse like:

Matthew 12:32 And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Then you have to wonder what Jesus is talking about. There will be forgiveness in the age, sure, and then more foregiveness in some age to come. Hmmmm. There is not forgiveness in hell. It is eternal punishment. There is none in heaven. Nothing impure can enter there so there is nothing to forgive. So what is Jesus talking about?


I'm in full agreement with you, theology does matter; however, one can’t approach Scripture with preconceived notions and then use Scripture to support that notion. One would be in danger of falling into eisegesis or anachronism. Yes, theology matters, and we'll look at this theologically. You mentioned Matthew 12:32 as an example but we can't isolate it without looking at its parallel verse in Mark 3:29 where it is rendered, “…but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit NEVER has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” As you can see, it's the same event, but there is no mention of afterlife forgiveness and Mark is firmer in his words, one can NEVER be forgiven, lending credence to those who say that the words in Matthew 12:32 is nothing more than an expression to convey the fact that the sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, will NEVER be forgiven. Besides, it proves too much. Does the concept of purgatory teach that one is “forgiven” in the afterlife OR that one is purged from the stains of sin that have already been forgiven. If memory serves me correct, Catholicism teaches that sins can only be forgiven while living. Hence, your interpretation of Matthew 12:32 would make no sense.

Now if you find many passages hinting at some kind of purging or punishment after death then we need to try and make sense of them. It is similar to what the church did when it arrived at the doctrine of the trinity. Taking many passages and coming up with a theology that fits them all.

But if one doesn’t find the concept of “afterlife” purgation in Scripture then what is there to make sense of? Purgation, yes. Afterlife purgation, no. Yes, I know that, when in dialogues regarding purgatory, a parallel is often made, by Catholics, to the Trinity. Yet, I don’t see the relevance. The Scriptures that point to a Trinity are much clearer than the verses claimed to imply purgatory. I mean, if you were in a conversation with a modalist regarding purgatory, bringing up the Trinity isn’t going to matter. Seriously, let’s look at the concept of purgatory without making comparisons to other doctrines.

Bo

Dave Armstrong said...

one doesn’t find the concept of “afterlife” purgation in Scripture

1 Cor 3 is the clearest example of that.

Randy said...

I'm in full agreement with you, theology does matter; however, one can’t approach Scripture with preconceived notions and then use Scripture to support that notion. One would be in danger of falling into eisegesis or anachronism.

The concept is not to have one notion in mind but to apply the same biblical tests to all the theological possibilities. The protestant notion of a binary afterlife where everyone is either in heaven or hell immediately does not work with many verses. The notion of heaven, hell, and purgatory does work. The problems that some protestants see with the Catholic view in other scriptures are much easier to resolve.

You mentioned Matthew 12:32 as an example but we can't isolate it without looking at its parallel verse in Mark 3:29 where it is rendered, “…but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit NEVER has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” As you can see, it's the same event, but there is no mention of afterlife forgiveness and Mark is firmer in his words, one can NEVER be forgiven, lending credence to those who say that the words in Matthew 12:32 is nothing more than an expression to convey the fact that the sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, will NEVER be forgiven.

I agree that the main emphasis is to say the sin will never be forgiven. But Jesus did use the expression that Matthew records. So it must make sense to Him. So the fact that Jesus’ main point was not to teach us about this age and the age to come does not mean we should ignore what He said about it. His words should always be true.

Besides, it proves too much. Does the concept of purgatory teach that one is “forgiven” in the afterlife OR that one is purged from the stains of sin that have already been forgiven. If memory serves me correct, Catholicism teaches that sins can only be forgiven while living. Hence, your interpretation of Matthew 12:32 would make no sense.

Forgiveness can be a process. We can be forgiven and still need to do penance. So both times can be described as the moment of forgiveness. The time absolution is declared and the time the penance is complete. This is not a big problem.

But if one doesn’t find the concept of “afterlife” purgation in Scripture then what is there to make sense of? Purgation, yes. Afterlife purgation, no.

But some do find the concept. 1 Cor 3 is one place: “because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” The Day refers to the second coming of Jesus. So what is going on if the afterlife is really a binary heaven or hell thing? In that view the phrase “will be saved” makes no sense after the last judgment. But Paul uses it.

If you accept the concept of purgation at biblical then afterlife purgation should not be a great leap. The logic is exactly the same. Sin has temporal consequences because God has graciously given them to us to help us become holy. Why would the reasons disappear in the case where somebody expects to die soon?

Paul Hoffer said...

Doesn't the "pius wish" notion that is advanced concerning St. Paul's prayer for Onesiphorus undermine the argument that Protestants often make about prayer to saints and Mary? I mean it would be easy to say that our prayers to the saints and Mary to ask God for His aid, blessing, etc. is nothing more than a pius wish on our part, right, particularly when we do not pray to the saints or Mary like we pray to God.

Also, one can also find a notion of afterlife purgatation in the OT Books of Daniel, Zechariah Chapter 13, 1 Samuel 2:6 and Wisdom Chapter 3 as well according to the teachings of Hillel and Shammai and the intertestamental writings of the Jewish people such as the Book of Enoch and Assumption of Abraham. I happen to like Jude 9: if there was no intermediate state where was Michael and Satan wrestling for the soul of Moses?

Boik said...

Doesn't the "pius wish" notion that is advanced concerning St. Paul's prayer for Onesiphorus undermine the argument that Protestants often make about prayer to saints and Mary? I mean it would be easy to say that our prayers to the saints and Mary to ask God for His aid, blessing, etc. is nothing more than a pius wish on our part, right, particularly when we do not pray to the saints or Mary like we pray to God.

As opposed to Dave, I don't see the "pious wish" as a prayer. I don't think that one's well-wishes constitute a prayer; therefore, it doesn't compromise the Protestant position.

Also, one can also find a notion of afterlife purgatation in the OT Books of Daniel, Zechariah Chapter 13, 1 Samuel 2:6 and Wisdom Chapter 3

Again, I think you would have to approach the verses with purgatory in mind, in order to get afterlife purgation.

as well according to the teachings of Hillel and Shammai

The Jews were a mess because of the traditions of men. Shammai intepreted Zechariah 13:9 as three classes of souls, but verse 8 qualifies the verse by stating "...but in the land...", thus they are very much alive. Hillel, although believing in an intermediate state, didn't seem to believe in purgatory. Of course, this has led to the present-day Judaism that seems almost universalist in nature.

and the intertestamental writings of the Jewish people such as the Book of Enoch and Assumption of Abraham. I happen to like Jude 9: if there was no intermediate state where was Michael and Satan wrestling for the soul of Moses?

So, what your saying is that, seemingly, Michael and Satan were wrestling for the "soul" of Moses in purgatory??? Well, Scriptures say that it was the body that they were wrestling for and not the soul.

Bo

Boik said...

1 Cor 3 is the clearest example of that.

No it isn't.

Bo

Boik said...

The concept is not to have one notion in mind but to apply the same biblical tests to all the theological possibilities. The protestant notion of a binary afterlife where everyone is either in heaven or hell immediately does not work with many verses. The notion of heaven, hell, and purgatory does work. The problems that some protestants see with the Catholic view in other scriptures are much easier to resolve.

Again, this doesn’t say much, considering you assume that the verses that imply purgation are afterlife-based. Hence, a binary afterlife still makes sense.

I agree that the main emphasis is to say the sin will never be forgiven. But Jesus did use the expression that Matthew records. So it must make sense to Him. So the fact that Jesus’ main point was not to teach us about this age and the age to come does not mean we should ignore what He said about it. His words should always be true.

I don’t exactly follow your logic. If Christ used an expression to indicate that something will NEVER be forgiven, it doesn’t necessitate a belief in the literality of the expression.

Forgiveness can be a process. We can be forgiven and still need to do penance. So both times can be described as the moment of forgiveness. The time absolution is declared and the time the penance is complete. This is not a big problem.

So, purgatory is penance? Can you steer me the official Catholic teaching on this?

But some do find the concept. 1 Cor 3 is one place: “because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” The Day refers to the second coming of Jesus. So what is going on if the afterlife is really a binary heaven or hell thing? In that view the phrase “will be saved” makes no sense after the last judgment. But Paul uses it.

The verses speak about “works” and not sin. Therefore, it is irrelevant to afterlife purgation, but it is relevant to our works. The context of the chapter adds more to the “works” aspect as well.

If you accept the concept of purgation at biblical then afterlife purgation should not be a great leap.

But isn't that the point I made, that you would have to "accept the concept" before purgatory can be valid. It smells of eisegesis to me.

The logic is exactly the same. Sin has temporal consequences because God has graciously given them to us to help us become holy. Why would the reasons disappear in the case where somebody expects to die soon?

Well, it seems you are rationalizing at this point. I mean, the point is that I don’t see the purification that God puts us through in life (as He sanctifies us) as demanding that it happens in the afterlife. And why can’t it disappear? I don’t see any reasons to believe that it doesn’t.

Bo

Dave Armstrong said...

"1 Cor 3 is the clearest example of that."

No it isn't.

Well! I stand corrected, then! Who could argue with that compelling reasoning? :-) :-)

Grubb said...

Dave,

If I Cor 3 is the best example, purgatory should be scrapped immediately. : )


Everyone/Anyone,

The RC position seems to be that every sin requires penance. EVERY sin...even those we don't know about. I presume that's why purgatory makes sense to y'all; because there are so many sins we don't even realize we do that we must be cleansed of. But hasn't one of your children ever done something against your "rules" that they don't even realize? Do you require penance for every single instance, or do you forgive some "sins" completely without even mentioning it to them? Most of us would be beating our kids or punishing them temporally the live long day if we required penance for every single disobedient act. But instead, we forgive.

Moreover, we forgive completely. And Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, "Which of you if his son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give good gifts to those who ask him?" (Matt 7:9-11) Are you suggesting we're more merciful than God, because we can forgive a sin completely without penance? God forbid!!

I coach my daughter's soccer team, and regularly they do something wrong in a game or at practice that requires correction/punishment. Suppose one of them commits the worst "sin" (crossing the ball in front of the goal on defense) in the last game of their career. Do I force them to run wind sprints after the game? Do I make them show up for one more practice to punish them for that "sin"? What would be the point? The primary goal of punishment is to alter future behavior, but if they won't ever play soccer again, there's no future behavior to alter. No, I simply forgive them of that "sin" and remember it no more.

Is God incapable of doing the same? Once we die, there is no future behavior to alter, so there's no need for temporal punishment.

Grubb

Boik said...

Well! I stand corrected, then! Who could argue with that compelling reasoning? :-) :-)

Well, all you said was that 1 Corinthians 3 is the clearest example of that. Would you call that "compelling reasoning"? Am I missing something in that seven letter statement?

Bo

Boik said...

Excuse me, I meant seven "word" statement.

Grubb said...

Ben M.

Firstly, let me say I'm thrilled to talk with you again. I'm sorry I haven't been in better touch. How are things with you? Did you ever get your brother's and uncle's estates figured out or worked out? I surely hope all that's behind you.

Grubb, I think the key to understanding purgatory, redemptive suffering,

But what's the point of suffering? One of the great truths of suffering is that (if viewed rightly) it draws us closer or drives us closer to God. Once we die, He can cleans us instantly for unrepented sins, and there's no reason not to. Our sins have already been paid for.

When someone becomes a follower of Jesus, is he required to do penance for everything he ever did up to that point? Not at all!! And yet we know that at the point that salvation is imparted, we're washed as white as snow. How can that be? Here's how. II Cor 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Verses 18-21 make a good case for God being the one who does the reconciling through Jesus. If we believe in purgatory, it appears we're doing the reconciling on our own and by our own merit.

Grubb

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Boik,

You should know if you have read anything of mine at all or looked over my site to the slightest degree, that I can back up any broad statement of mine with a probable paper somewhere (out of my 2300+). You made a simple negative claim; I followed with a positive affirmation. I didn't claim it was an argument. It was a declarative statement.

In this case I made a lengthy reply to James White. As usual, he took a pass on replying. Perhaps you could take his place and answer for him?:

"Refutation of James White on 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and Purgatory"

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/03/refutation-of-james-white-on-1.html

That article is over 11,000 words. Is that sufficient to possibly be called an "argument"? :-)

And what is your opinion regarding the Catholic Church? Can a person adhere to all Catholic dogmas and be considered a Christian in your eyes? Or is he out of the fold?

This is necessary because I don't debate anti-Catholics, as a matter of policy. But I would love to debate a Baptist who wasn't an anti-Catholic.

Randy said...

Again, this doesn’t say much, considering you assume that the verses that imply purgation are afterlife-based. Hence, a binary afterlife still makes sense

I am not assuming anything. I am comparing the two views against all of scripture to see which one holds up better. The binary afterlife cannot make sense based on my assumption. If I assume it is true then scripture does not make sense. So I am best to assume something else. How else do you resolve 2 views when neither is explicitly taught?

I don’t exactly follow your logic. If Christ used an expression to indicate that something will NEVER be forgiven, it doesn’t necessitate a belief in the literality of the expression.

So you think Jesus talked about forgiveness in the age to come when the concept does not even make sense? Anything to get around the text, I guess.

Nick said...

Grubb,

I am flabbergasted that you can embrace Penal Substitution and say what you just said about forgiving sin. You're logic there effectively undermines Psub and thus Sola Fide.

Further, you are missing the punish versus chastise distinction. A parent can forgive a child, but that doesn't rule out chastisement (imposing a 'correction' in the hopes the child will change). Chastisement can come in numerous forms, but the intent is for the parent to teach the child and root out bad habits.

Boik said...

I am not assuming anything. I am comparing the two views against all of scripture to see which one holds up better. The binary afterlife cannot make sense based on my assumption.

I don't know what you mean here. It sounds as if your saying that you aren't assuming, but then you say you are assuming.

If I assume it is true then scripture does not make sense. So I am best to assume something else. How else do you resolve 2 views when neither is explicitly taught?

I still don't get what you mean. If I don't inflict purgatory into the verses, I find understanding via the context and I don't see anything that must be interpreted in the afterlife sense. Heck, the verses do not have to be interpreted with heaven, hell, or purgatory in mind.

So you think Jesus talked about forgiveness in the age to come when the concept does not even make sense? Anything to get around the text, I guess.

The point is that Christ didn't speak about forgiveness in the age to come. He used an expression to firmly state that there will NEVER be forgiveness in blaspheming the Holy Spirit. No one is ignoring the text, but rather, realizing that it's an expression. Tell me, who cited Christ correctly, Matthew or Mark?

Carmelite said...

What intersting is that the belief in purgatory was well establish as a part of Christanity before any Protestants churches ever existed.

The Catholic Church has the pedigree and the antiquity of any Christian church in the world. This Church which is one billion members stretches 4 corners of this blue earth that is truly universal.

There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to to-day and forever, lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed Pope Celestine,according to due order,is his successor and holds his place..."
Philip,Council of Ephesus,Session III (A.D. 431),in NPNF,XIV:223

Grubb said...

test

Grubb said...

Sorry for the "test" message.

Grubb said...

Nick,

I am flabbergasted that you can embrace Penal Substitution and say what you just said about forgiving sin. You're logic there effectively undermines Psub and thus Sola Fide.

I'm not really sure how my position would undermine Faith Alone or whether I would equate our iniquities being laid on Jesus with penal substitution.

Further, you are missing the punish versus chastise distinction. ... Chastisement can come in numerous forms, but the intent is for the parent to teach the child and root out bad habits.

How is punishment different from chastisement? I don't understand the distinction. Would you ever punish your child and NOT hope it "roots out bad habits". Do you ever spank your child as a punishment and not care whether it affects their future behavior? That doesn't make any sense. Are you saying we never "punish" our children, we only "chastise" them? Anytime we discipline, it's with the intent of altering future actions. Even in the event of capital punishment, the goal is two fold: 1) to ensure the criminal doesn't repeat the bad behavior, and 2) to help deter others from doing it as well.

I look forward to hearing your explanation of how punishment and chastisement are different and how that applies to our children and to purgatory.

Grubb

Grubb said...

Hey Randy,

It's good to talk with you again.

What's the goal of purgatory? To cleans? I've heard the analogy that one doesn't go directly from a sporting event to a wedding; he stops someplace and showers first.

If that's all it is, God can make us clean in an instant, and He can do it pain-free, fire-free, and instantaneously.

I don't know of any passage that doesn't make sense without purgatory. Dave said I Cor 3 was the best passage for supporting purgatory, but I've read it many, many times without thinking of purgatory, and it made perfect sense theologically. Don't get me wrong. I can see how that could support purgatory, but I agree with Boik: if I didn't have purgatory in mind when I read it, I wouldn't have thought, "This passage makes no sense without some temporary stopping place between earth and heaven."

And if the entire Reformed Christian world and I (yes, I know I'm setting myself up for a comical "slam" here :) ) can read the best passage supporting purgatory and think it makes perfect theological sense without thinking of purgatory, then maybe someone did think up purgatory and then find passages to potentially support it.

What passages don't make sense theologically if purgatory isn't real?

Grubb

Carmelite said...

**then maybe someone did think up purgatory and then find passages to potentially support it**

Nope that not what happen as I told you belief in purgatory was well establish as a part of Christanity before any Protestants churches ever existed. The Early Church Fathers confirm this and already estabish authority of the Catholic Church before Martin Luther decided become a Catholic monk because of a lighting storm.

Luther is in the same boat as Gnostics ,Marcionites ,Encratites ,Montanists,Manich├Žans ,Arianism,Pelagianism ,Nestorianism ,Lutheranism, Calvinism ect

What you are doing is rejecting purgatory and then find passages to potentially reject it.

Luther and Calvin have no credibility at all and have hurt Christianity with its new teachings.

Carmelite said...

**

Luther is in the same boat as Gnostics ,Marcionites ,Encratites ,Montanists,Manich├Žans ,Arianism,Pelagianism ,Nestorianism ,Lutheranism, Calvinism ect

Grubb said...

Carmelite,

The fact that purgatory had come into being before the Reformation has no bearing whatsoever. Requiring celibate priests had too, but that's equally unbiblical.

The question isn't, "Did purgatory become a fully accepted theological doctrine before the Reformation?" The question is, "When did it become a fully accepted theological doctrine?" Obviously it wasn't fully accepted as doctrine prior to the 2nd or 3rd century, because some of the sources you've quoted are from later than that I believe. And since it didn't become a fully accepted doctrine until much later, it's possible that someone came up with the idea of purgatory (possibly from another belief system) and then found Bible verses to help support it. Don't you agree?

Just because something became doctrine prior to the Reformation, doesn't make it right. In fact, that's the reason the Reformation occurred; because many ungodly practices had crept into the RCC. Dave has agreed that the RCC needed to be reformed at the time, so you can't say a doctrine is valid just because it was 'doctrine' prior to Luther & Calvin.

Grubb

Carmelite said...

The Catholic Church in the early days was very conservative and any new teaching that would come up would bring up controversy,,purgatory did not bring up any controversy until Luther time.

I think it came fully accepted around the fourth century like the New Testment canon.

The reform of the Catholic Church was needed for abuses not doctrines of its true nature. Throwing out the baby with the bath water is never acceptable.

Do I think its possible that someone made up this teaching and it creep into the Church? yes but its highely unlikely. I think it more likely that a monk name Luther made up new teachings and rejected old ones.

Celibacy of the clergy is a discipline not a doctrine,,so the it could be change. What interesting that Martin Luther took a vow of chastity and brook it with a nun that broke her chastity vow.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carmelite said...

Hey Ben nice job. I agree to have a foundation what Purgatory is you need to have a firm understanding what the Mystical Body is.

Its like when it come to the blessed Virgin Mary you need to know your Christology very well because getting to the Virgin Mary is advance Christology.

When you see the Catacombs with your own eyes its really something.
I got to see the famous Peter and Paul pray for us prayer.

Nick said...

Grubb: I'm not really sure how my position would undermine Faith Alone or whether I would equate our iniquities being laid on Jesus with penal substitution.

Nick: If you deny P-Sub then you deny Sola Fide as the Reformers understood it. Do you deny Psub?


Grubb: How is punishment different from chastisement? I don't understand the distinction. Would you ever punish your child and NOT hope it "roots out bad habits". Do you ever spank your child as a punishment and not care whether it affects their future behavior? That doesn't make any sense. Are you saying we never "punish" our children, we only "chastise" them? Anytime we discipline, it's with the intent of altering future actions. Even in the event of capital punishment, the goal is two fold: 1) to ensure the criminal doesn't repeat the bad behavior, and 2) to help deter others from doing it as well.

Nick: Chastisement is a specific type of punishment, it is specifically of the model of a parental correction. That's how the Bible explains it as well. Other punishments are not chastisement, because the one punishing need not care nor intend correction, especially in acts of vengeance. If God wanted to wipe out a nation, that wouldn't be considered chastisement, but if God were to send his people into exile with the hope they reform themself, that is chastisement. In the case of hellfire, that's certainly not a chastisement, where as having His Adopted Children undergo suffering for the sake of rooting out vices then that's chastisement. Protestants have long recognized this (very Biblical) distinction as well.

Grubb said...

Nick,

After I typed my comment, I went out and did my homework on penal substitution. Thanks for your comment to help clarify it. I presume you also accept penal substitution as valid, right?

Paul says in Eph 2:3, "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we WERE [not "are"] by nature objects of wrath." He also said in Rom 8:1, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation [aka "wrath"] for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." And in I Thess 1:9b-10, "They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."

So we see that before salvation, we were objects of wrath and were subject to wrath, but Jesus "rescues us from the coming wrath" by what he did on the cross. And we know that wrath is reserved only for unbelievers. Therefore, Christ did receive our penal punishment on the cross but not necessarily our chastisement punishment/suffering. It sounds as though we agree on that, but please correct me if we don't.

Paul says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28) We see here that all suffering endured by Christians will fall into the chastisement category, not penal. And if all our suffering/punishment is chastisement, we must ask, "What would be the purpose of 'chastisement' after our death?" Purgatory sounds as though it's penal punishment, which Christians aren't subject to.

Since I know you don't agree with my conclusion, where did I lose you? :)

Grubb

Grubb said...

Ben M.

I'm glad things are settled with your uncle. I think you misunderstand my position. I in no way, shape, or form want to be rid of the cross or suffering that I must endure to enter the kingdom. Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34b) and "anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matt 10:38) I'm not trying to be rid of my cross or deny what Jesus did on THE cross.

Getting melanoma 12 years ago was the best thing that ever happened to me spiritually and with regard to family priorities. John Piper did a sermon called "Don't Waste Your Cancer" in which he encourages followers to view suffering rightly. So I really do see the benefit of suffering (even though, like you, I'd rather not) and don't try to avoid Godly chastisement. The author of Hebrews says, "Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons; for what son is not disciplined by his father?" (Heb 12:7)

I heard this quote years ago and haven't really found fault with it, "Suffering doesn't take you anywhere you shouldn't already be." If endured correctly, suffering will draw us closer to God. It will help us get out priorities right, change our way of thinking, or simply drive us to a greater dependence on God. But all those things are things we should have been doing anyway. Sometimes suffering just forces us to do what we wouldn't have been willing/able to do without it. For example, Lance Armstrong could never win the Tour de France, but when he got cancer, he lost a ton of weight. When he came back to cycling, he was much lighter and able to do much better (7 wins in a row). Now, Lance should have lost that weight before he got cancer if he wanted to win the TdF, but he wouldn't/couldn't. His suffering forced him to. Similarly, our suffering can force us to a better walk with God. But I often wonder if we couldn't avoid much of our suffering if we were more obedient in the first place.

I'll try to find time to read the link you posted, so we can discuss it.

Why did Jesus come incarnate? Here's how Jesus answered that, "Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.'" (Luke 19:9-10) "To seek and to save the lost" implies that He came to restore the relationship between the Father and His children. If we take this a little deeper, since the Mosaic law was given, sin has always been atoned for through the shedding of blood; and for Christ to atone for our sin, He became the perfect, sinless sacrifice who's blood was shed on the cross.

Grubb

Grubb said...

Nick,

I meant to (but didn't) answer your direct question. I do not deny penal substitution.

Here's your 3 comments describing "chastising" punishment.

"Chastisement is a specific type of punishment, it is specifically of the model of a parental correction.

but if God were to send his people into exile with the hope they reform themself, that is chastisement.

where as having His Adopted Children undergo suffering for the sake of rooting out vices then that's chastisement.
"

And I agree with all of that. The question I think must be asked is, "What 'current vice' or future behavior is God trying to fix by causing us to suffer AFTER we die?" Christ has already satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf, and we've already been chastised and suffered on earth for our sins done here. There's no need for chastisement once we're dead. That goes back to my soccer analogy: the girl who "sinned" will never play soccer again, there's no need to punish her once her career is over.

Grubb

Nick said...

Grubb: I presume you also accept penal substitution as valid, right?

Nick: No, Catholics reject Penal Substitution. It is unBiblical and blasphemous. Catholics believe Jesus died for our sins but we don't believe God turned the wrath we deserved onto Christ instead.


Grubb: Paul says in Eph 2:3...Rom 8:1...I Thess 1:9b-10...
So we see that before salvation, we were objects of wrath and were subject to wrath, but Jesus "rescues us from the coming wrath" by what he did on the cross. And we know that wrath is reserved only for unbelievers. Therefore, Christ did receive our penal punishment on the cross but not necessarily our chastisement punishment/suffering. It sounds as though we agree on that, but please correct me if we don't.

Nick: Penal Sub teaches God turned His wrath onto His Son instead of us, but that's unBiblical. Rather, we are rescued by means of 'propitiation' which means to appease wrath rather than re-direct it. As for Christ getting punished versus chastised, the fact is (and most Protestants don't realize this) is that the Bible actually uses the term "chastise" in reference to Christ and not punishment. Isaiah 53:5 uses the Hebrew term "chastise" and not 'punishment'.


Grubb: Paul says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28) We see here that all suffering endured by Christians will fall into the chastisement category, not penal.

Nick: Yes, it's chastisement with the hope of the Christian reforming their life, otherwise they will be condemned with the rest of the world. 1 Cor 11:32 is one plain reference.


Grubb: And if all our suffering/punishment is chastisement, we must ask, "What would be the purpose of 'chastisement' after our death?" Purgatory sounds as though it's penal punishment, which Christians aren't subject to.

Nick: Well, purgatory is chastisement so hopefully that's cleared up. Picture this, an alcoholic who gives up drinking but still has the desire to drink must have even that desire purged away. If it's not purged on earth, then it's purged away in purgatory.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grubb said...

Ben,

I finally found time to read the article by Fr. Mersch (FM) you posted about the Mystical Body of Jesus.

Pure Act of Existence or Pure act of Being

He lost me a little up front. Was he saying these were terms that are accurate or terms that the heretics were using? I presumed (as best I could) from the context that these were the acceptable/desirable terms for God, because it didn't seek to divide His qualities or attributes.

At all events they cannot be collaborators in the work; they cannot be truly united with the gift, blended with it, transformed into it. To associate God, in this way, with our abject nothingness would be a profanation of the divine. Hence, until death has destroyed everything that is in man, until it has suppressed all of his natural life, he is totally incapable of possessing any intrinsic justice or of placing any salutary act.

If I understand him correctly, FM makes a serious error here. He's confusing the Reformed view of man before salvation with how we view man after salvation. Yes, we believe man can't be a part of God until salvation; but after salvation we are a "new creation" (II Cor 5:17) and are called "to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph 2:10) Further, we're filled with the Holy Spirit, "because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Rom 5:5b)

FM accused the Reformed Christian of dualism, but doesn't Paul talk of a dualism that goes on within him: "As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. [How can there be a dualism in Paul but not in us?] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." (Rom 7:17-20) But then in Rom 8 he tells us, "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." (Rom 8:6-8) Is it possible for one of the elect to be controlled by their "sinful nature?" Paul says "yes" in Rom 7:17-20.

In other words, God holds Himself aloof from that humanity, even when He assumes it to Himself in a personal union, ...

I don't know any Reformed Christian who thinks God withheld anything when He became man. That's why we claim Jesus was fully God and fully man. If we acknowledge that fact, what could we possibly be saying He withheld from Himself as a man?

...just as He keeps us at a distance, even when He makes us His adoptive sons. But in that case, what is left of our adaptive sonship and of the hypostatic union? And where is the excessive bounty of our God?

Not sure I'd say God keeps us at a distance after we're saved, but I think our own sins can keep us at a distance. It's not His doing; it's ours. Suppose I do everything I can to have a great relationship with my son, but he chooses to do things that are against my will. Even though he's my son, I know he'll eventually repent, and I'm not pushing him away, he can cause a "distance" to be between us by his actions and his thoughts. The "excessive bounty" is still present when I forgive him completely when he does repent and ask forgiveness.

Grubb said...

Here, on the contrary, the heretics have abandoned the Light of life, and everything falls into darkness and death; they have broken away from unity, and the whole mosaic is shattered into fragments.

I have no idea what he's saying here. Actually, I understand what he's saying but don't understand why. Why does he claim the Reformed have broken from unity? Because we understand (as the Apostle Paul did) that there are two natures alive in us?

As to the reason I read this, I didn't see anything about the mystical body of Jesus that shows me where the Reformed have it wrong. Fr. Mersch makes some accusations, but none are valid as far as I can tell. I look forward to your reply.

Grubb

Ben M said...
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Grubb said...

Thanks Ben.☺

It's been 9 months since I posted that. How did you stumble on to the question now?
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