26 September, 2010

Discussion of Limbo and Changing Doctrines with JoeBama

(JoeBama) “The word "doctrine" means "teaching". When I said that the Catholic Church has changes its doctrine, I could have also said they changed their teaching. Both these statements say the same thing. The fact that the Catholic Church considers some teaching (or doctrine) essential and unchangeable and they consider other doctrine changeable does not alter the fact they have changed their teaching on many points”.

(Cristoiglesia) The Church through the centuries has discussed many speculations as to what happens to infants who have not been baptized if they die. Two doctors of the Church St. Agustine and St. Aquinas each had different ideas on this. In order for there to have been a change there would have had to be a dogmatic teaching on Limbo but there was not. Instead there were many very different speculations not only held by Augustine and Aquinas but others as well. There is no change in the teaching of “limbo” or any other teaching. It has always been a question open to speculation. So, the doctrinal teaching on Limbo is that there is no dogmatic belief in regards to what happens to infants when they die without baptism. The Magisterium has never officially taught limbo. It is the teaching of the Magisterium that is binding on the Church and never the opinions of individual scholars on any teaching of which there are many opinions on a host of similar speculations. If a teaching is not dogmatic as defined by the Magisterium individual Catholics as well as scholars are free to have divergent opinions and agreements. No change has occurred because the Magisterium has never declared dogmatic doctrine.

(JoeBama) “You said, "Catholics are free to believe it, not believe it or have no opinion." Isn't this true of any teaching? Don't people of many religions have the freedom to reject things their church teach? In fact, many freely rejected the words of Jesus.”

(Cristoiglesia) Personal interpretation and conclusions is a Protestant concept that is not a part of Catholic Christianity. We do not believe nor teach that each individual is their own theologian. We follow the biblical teaching closely that teaches that it is the Church and not private interpretation of Scriptures that has the chrism and the authority to discern the interpretation of Scripture and to come to dogmatic theological teaching. The Magisterium is the final word on doctrine and it cannot ever change. What ever the Magisterium teaches is binding on Catholic Christians for all times. To reject Church teaching is to depart from the familial relationship that Christ desires in His Church.

What Pope Benedict XVI was speaking to was really a moral question. Some people believed that aborted babies were excluded from heaven for eternity which would be a victory for Satan and against the hope that we all have in Christ. The Pope was removing that speculation by some with a more charitable belief that by some means God will provide salvation even though they have not been exposed to the laver. This is in line with Catholic teaching that God will provide for the salvation of those by some means unknown because of his divine mercy for those without actual sin. The Church is open to a path to salvation that is not normative as is Baptism but charitable through divine mercy and justice.
We know from Scriptures efficacy of Baptism for infants as it related to the circumcision of the Old Covenant being the circumcision of the New Covenant.. Of course, in the New Covenant circumcision both male and females are baptized which denotes the change in the familial relationship between God and man. In Old Covenant Judaism the familial relationship is passed to a child from its mother where in the New Covenant of the perfected Jews represented by Christians the familial relationship is passed on through the father and the mother as God the Father is the cause of our salvation through His Son so that the replacement of circumcision with Baptism has the same efficacy for males and for females. As circumcision was not necessary for the salvation of a female as she carried the bloodline of Judaism instead under the New Covenant the familial relationship is passed to both through Baptism.

(JoeBama) “If "Limbo" was not a doctrine of the Catholic Church, where did this teaching come from?”

(Cristoiglesia) From the beginning of the Church the subject of Limbo was not a common one among the fathers. The prevailing opinion was that dying with original sin was not punished until the teaching of St. Augustin who first agreed with the majority of the fathers that preceded him but later changed his teaching when he was confronting Pelagianism at the Council of Carthage. He said that there is not a “middle state” for unbaptized infants and that they were undeserving of the familial relationship enjoyed with the baptized in heaven. Later others supported this view such as Anselm. Abelard and Aquinas took a different view saying there was no punishment for these infants. Others, like Savonarola, Catharinus and Suarez taught that they would be with God in the general resurrection which is close to the prevailing Protestant view. So as you can see some of the best minds that the Church has ever produced, which I include the brilliant theologian Pope Benedict XVI, do not agree on this teaching. You can also see from the evidence that this teaching never reached the level of dogma but has remained as theological speculation which clearly shows there is no change in the Church’s position and the open speculation persists. Except that with the Statements of Pope Benedict XVI we should remain in hope for divine mercy.

(JoeBama) “Likewise the doctrine that priests should not marry which changed in 1079 AD. I read one article that calls this a "disciplines" and not a "doctrine". 1 Timothy 4, however, calls it a "doctrine" and a departure from "the faith".”

(Cristoiglesia) This is a discipline for some Catholic priests but not for all. The majority of priests make a vow of chastity. There are 23 Rites in the Catholic Church. 22 of the 23 Rites do not have the discipline of chastity nor do they require that all priests are chosen from the chaste. Even in the Roman Rite that has the discipline it is a choice. The Church does not forbid anyone to marry as is the teaching of St. Paul in his epistle to St Timothy. However the Church does honor those who choose chastity and make their vow’s to God as is taught by St. Paul, St John and Jesus in Word and/or in practice. Both Jesus and St. Paul taught that the ideal state of clergy was chaste and not married. But you are correct that St. Paul taught against forbidding to marry as it is against God’s commandment to multiply.

St Paul- “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs. Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7: 32-34)

“He who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry he does even better (1 Corinthians 7: 38)

Jesus- “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of Heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it” (Matthew 19: 10-12).

St. John- “ There are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure...purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb (Revelation 14:4)

(JoeBama)“I never said every doctrine of the Catholic Church has changed, but many have. The fact that when changed they no longer call that point of teaching "a doctrine" does not change the fact.”

(Cristoiglesia) The fact is that the dogmatic teaching of the Church has never changed in the 2000 year history of the Church. Doctrine is not the teaching of each individual theologian but instead the teaching of the Magisterium which is the binding doctrine of the Church. Theological speculation on those things that are not dogmatic doctrine as taught by the Magisterium are simply opinions without the charism of the teaching authority of the Church which is the Magisterium of which all Catholics are bound to recognize as the truth. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

No comments:

Post a Comment