Saturday, June 23, 2007

P.S.: Some Quick Replies to Caelius

* Caelius seems to say the issue conceived under Christian tradition represented in the Articles is one about whether "to bar unsavory persons from the waters of regeneration" and whether a priest should "deny the unrepentant but honestly earnest" the Sacrament of the Altar. Indeed,
parts of the church long ago fought about whether to admit the lapsed to sacraments. It was decided long ago--with the help of Augustine--that the lapsed should be admitted, the church being a mixed body. For not all the lasped were for that reason damned, e.g. the church's sacrament of penance remained efficacious.

But it is simply wrong to think the eschatological perspective was irrelevant to these controversies about whom should be permitted sacraments; it is rather to the point that we do not have now the relevant eschatological viewpoint from which we might be permitted to sort the saved and damned. For through the sacraments God is even now at work. From the temporal viewpoint of the church here below, the main issue--salvation--is still in play.

*He writes that "when we offer communion to the baptized, we say nothing about the verity of their election, which is between them and God. Instead we recognize their potential for election...." At this I wished to pull my hair out--if we offer communion to the unbaptized, are we not also recognizing their potential for election? Why may we not do so for the unbaptized? If he is willing to admit this much--what issue does he have against CWOB?

* Caelius notes the Gospels speak of teeth gnashing, outer darkness, etc--but these texts do not imply there are humans damned. They are consistent with a number of other readings incompatible with damnation: e.g. it may be that they are in the outer darkness for a time, even for a very long one. It is making them say something they do not say to read into their silence on duration a definite disambiguation. An argument would do more than a gesture.

*Thus, when he says "I cannot admit...we are mandated to hope for somethig that is contrary to the promises of the Scriptures" the case for contrariety has yet to be made with any force. He gestures at Romans--but if he really likes Paul so much, I think he should read Ephesians.


At 3:32 AM, Blogger Jon said...

The stories about damnation in Scriptures don't clearly prove that some will be damned, but they certainly don't help the arguments in favor of universalism. The most we can probably say, given these stories, is that Hell is very much real even if it winds up being empty.



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