Saturday, April 28, 2007

Limbo, RIP

But where there's sickening heresy, there's also good news: Pope Benedict XVI has approved a theological study essentially doing away with the concept of Limbo.
After several years of study, the Vatican's International Theological Commission said there are good reasons to hope that babies who die without being baptized go to heaven.

In a document published April 20, the commission said the traditional concept of limbo -- as a place where unbaptized infants spend eternity but without communion with God -- seemed to reflect an "unduly restrictive view of salvation."

...Grace has priority over sin, and the exclusion of innocent babies from heaven does not seem to reflect Christ's special love for "the little ones," it said.

"Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered ... give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision," the document said.

"We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge," it added.
I'm happy to see Limbo go the way of all flesh. As I wrote earlier, Limbo (thankfully) has no place in Orthodoxy. In our history:
St. Gregory of Nyssa "On Infants' Early Deaths" wrote "the innocent babe has no such plague before its soul's eyes obscuring its measure of does not need the soundness which comes from purgation, because it never admitted the plague into its soul at all." Infants "partake only so far in that life beyond (which consists, according to our previous definition, in the knowing and being in God) as this nursling can receive; until the time comes that it has thriven on the contemplation of the truly Existent as on a congenial diet, and, becoming capable of receiving more, takes at will more from that abundant supply of the truly Existent which is offered." Thus, he says the infant begins at the level upon which he/she has experienced and responded to God (a low level, to be sure) but holds out the promise of eternal advancement or as the Western Rite Liturgy of St. Tikhon says, "continual growth in Thy love and service."

Russian Orthodox Bishop HILARION (Alfeyev) weighed in on the subject, writing tersely that the historical Orthodox teaching on unbaptized babies "is opposite to the teaching of Thomas Aquinas." The Orthodox Office of Prayer and Supplication for the Victims of Abortion, prayed by H.G. Bp. BASIL, for instance, implores God, "[W]e humbly pray, according to Thy unfailing promise: grant the inheritance of Thy kingdom to the multitude of spotless infants who have been cruelly murdered."
Even Martin Luther understood and taught that infants had faith. With this move, the pope removed one of Orthodoxy's outstanding objections to RCC theology. (And brought his church into the 16th century. ) :) I'm happy for the change.

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Eric John and "Ethnic" Ben: New World Order Agents!

The vagantes aren't happy when someone calls their bluff.

This blog noted press coverage that "Metropolitan Archbishop Joseph Thaddeus, OSB, SSJt., Ph.D." (Alan S. "Skip" Stanford) had pleaded "no contest" to multiple charges of molesting teen boys, along with other sordid details. His "American Orthodox Church" apparently has a "Western Rite." Our friend Eric John posted a humorous comment, which I turned into its own guest blog post.

Well, someone on the website
perhaps Metropolitan Skip himself wrote a nasty missive about Eric and me.

Eric John
is "an eccentric" whose "ego is fully blown up now." He's "certainly lost it" and written a lot of "graffiti." (The Pseudodox guy uses the term four times.) Besides, "What rock of education or lack of it did this guy crawl out from under?" (He later asked, "What oyster shell did this guy crawl out of"; evidently, he owns a mitre but not a thesaurus.)

Our opponent also had a "few" words to say about me. I am:
a so-called "Orthodox" Church parishioner who is very "ethnic" oriented because of many of the statements allowed in his posting and web page (blog)... [SNIP]

The information he posts is a mixture of his personal mentality and the idea that one must be under a Patriarch... Well folks, this guy has lost it for he would not otherwise have posted it altogether if he were... It would actually seem to appear that he and those whom he belong to have joined in and with Synchrestic Ecumenism and those who desire a ONE WORLD CHURCH and a ONE WORLD CHURCH GOVERNMENT ... [SNIP]

he should be credited for his "ethnic" stand to corrupt and deceive the many who view his web blog pages [SNIP]

He appears to attempt to make himself appear as though he is an expert on Episcopal Lineage! He is not... He is ethnic and his attempt to cast aspersions others is to believed or opined to hide behind the pall of thwarting a more microscopic look at his parish or jurisdiction he belongs to.
A few things are striking about this attack, aside from its broken syntax.
  • I'm "ethnic"?
  • Eric John is a devotee of "Synchrestic Ecumenism"? (That would make him the pioneer of all things "Synchrestic.")
What's genuinely funny is that he objects to my statement that the American Orthodox Church, "has a 'Western Rite Orthodoxy' webpage and claims to be tied to the vagante 'Western Orthodox Church in America.'" He replies, "Never claimed anything of a sort! That's your attempt to read into things never stated or said." But on his own website you can see a link to WOCA, which the webpage states is a "member of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the AMERICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH."

Or maybe this is more false evidence planted by the ONE WORLD CHURCH GOVERNMENT!

Ethnic Ben, signing off.

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The Roman Catholic "Gay Mass"

A disgusting story -- and trust me, the picture in this story will make you sick:
The BBC is to relay a 'gay Mass' from San Francisco this Sunday, the first time such a service has been broadcast.

The 50-minute Mass at the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the predominantly gay Castro district of the city will feature prayers and readings tailored for the gay community.

The church has been described as an "inspiration" to gay and lesbian Christians around the world because of its ministry to homosexuals.

...Its parish priest, Father Stephen Meriweather, blesses participants in the San Francisco's annual gay pride march.

But it has also infuriated many Catholics in the U.S. who have complained about such activities as transvestite bingo nights during which sex toys and pornographic DVDs were handed out as prizes.

...However, Father Donal Godfrey, the U.S. Jesuit priest celebrating the Mass, said he was delighted the BBC was "exploring how gay people fit into the perspective of the Christian narrative".

"Being gay is not special," he said. "It's simply another gift from God who created us as rainbow people."

The preacher will be James Alison - a homosexual British Catholic theologian and author of 'Is it ethical to be Catholic? - Queer perspectives'.

...[L]ast October, it emerged that a transvestite group calling themselves the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence regularly staged lewd and irreverent bingo nights on the church premises.

And such is the current state of the modern RCC.

(Hat tip: York Forum)

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Monday, April 23, 2007


I read these comments quite some time ago and intended to make a post of them. Fr. Thurman's recent post gave me the impetus to do it. Two friends, also Orthodox bloggers, had good insights on the idea of "converts." Let's begin with Eric John's comments on conversion from the blog "Orthodixie."
When people start talking about "converting" to Orthodoxy, I begin to wonder: "What does that really mean?" Most so-called "converts" to Orthodoxy are Christians, former Roman Catholics and Protestants. As such, they are merely returning to the true Church. Quite unlike pagans, Hindus, Mohammedans, etc., who are embracing the revelation of Christ. Roman Catholics and Protestants already know Christ, even if nominally. I don't like it when all the non-Orthodox are thrown into one category: either Orthodox or not. There are degrees of Orthodoxy because the Roman Catholics and Protestants have their roots in Orthodoxy. These Christians have forgotten their roots, but the others had no Christian roots in the first place. Thus, I don't see that other Christians being received into the Orthodox Church have to undergo a process whereby they are converted to Christ (one can argue whether or not conversion in Orthodoxy is to Christ or to an idol of Orthodoxy), rather they simply come into the fullness of the Christian faith. I'm not sure that such a thing really calls for the inner change that conversion to Christ does.
Important insights — made the more pleasant by his un-PC reference to Muslims (look again if you must). Thus, when Christians join the Orthodox Church, they must forsake their "former delusions," but it is also clear they are not accepting a new religion, like Buddhists, Hindus, etc.

Next, I offer these words from Eric Jobe. (Yes, they are two different people, like me and Subdn. Benjamin Andersen):

As a catechumen, I dealt with many feelings of inadequacy that were very discouraging. Watching small children receive the sacraments while I was made to wait an interminable amount of time until my own Chrismation was very troubling. I was often made to hear that I was "not yet Orthodox" even though I had been enrolled as a catecumen and, for all intents and purposes, identified myself fully with the Orthodox faith. While these feelings were no doubt from the Enemy, they were perhaps aggrevated by the attitude of the faithful towards those 'outside' of the faith as well as those who are 'newly illumined'.

Of course, for many, it would seem, 'newly illumined' really means 'not yet fully illumined' or 'not as illumuned as we are.' This phrase, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, is used to establish , in my opinion, an us/them mentality that is harmful to the unity of the parish community and the Church as whole.

As I posted several months ago, I feel that the Orthodox Church has not yet found a reasonable and agreeable position on how to deal with the number of converts who are entering the Church. We continue the tired old disitinction between 'convert' and 'cradle' (albeit a necessary distinction). We hear about 'convert baggage' and 'ueberfrommichkeit' among the zealous covnerts who are desparately trying to 'blend in' and not stick out as one of those pejoritavely-termed 'converts'.

...Approaching Pascha, I thought that those feelings of inadequacy and isolation would go away once I was fully received into the Church through the sacrament of Chrismation. Unfortunately, they have not. If the catechumen/faithful distinction was no longer there, the newly-illumind/illumined-longer-than-you distinction remains. The us/them mentality remains.

To be sure, we are all at different levels of maturity in the faith. Some of us are 'newly illumined' and new to the ways of the faith, new to the 'phronema' or 'mind of the Church', while others are more advanced in the Way. Yet I do not believe that the relative progress of individuals in thier journey toward salvation should create an artificial and defacto hierarchy among the laity.

...If there is a problem here, is it not in part because of a lack of proper and sufficient catechesis before and after one is received into the Church? If one wrongly articulates the faith, is it not possibly due to a failure to teach the Orthodox faith in the proper manner?

...But then again, I am only 'newly illumined.' What do I know?

This is worthy of exploration on its own. For the purposes of our ongoing discussion — Eric, just imagine: numerous vagantes, particularly grouped around the Yahoo Group Occidentalis, condescendingly refer to lifelong Orthodox as "unconverted Orthodox," because they do not celebrate a Byzantine Liturgy or the "Old Sarum Rite Missal," a recent, homemade "Western" innovation nearly indistinguishable from Byzantium. Evidently, only after Western Rite Orthodox follow the vagantes' every decree can we become "newly illumined" know-nothings. Then, Eric, you can lord over us! :)

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