Purgatory, Hell, and the Afterlife

One of the things that seems to confuse our non-Catholic Christian brethren is the subject of purgatory. Those who enter purgatory are guaranteed to go to heaven at some point. Purgatory is not a second chance at redemption, and nor is it a permanent destination. The church has always taught what the scriptures teach in Hebrews 9:27, “And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment” (NRSV). It is a place that individuals go who have died in the friendship of God, but who must be purified before they enter the presence of God. This is also echoed in Revelation 21:27 which states, “But nothing unclean will enter it” (NRSV).
After death each person will be judged. Immediately after death, each person’s immortal soul will be judged by God according to his/her faith and works. One may be judged worthy to go straight to Heaven, maybe to go to purgatory to be cleansed of the consequence of venial sin, or to hell for unrepentant mortal sin. It is in this regard that hell and purgatory are similar. They are both a consequence of sin, but they are vastly different because Hell is permanent, and purgatory is temporary. Heaven and purgatory are vastly different from hell because hell is eternal separation from God. Regarding this the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created” (Catechism para 1035). Heaven, the resurrection of the body, and the Eucharist speak to the body culture that makes up our culture today. The answer to our youthful body obsessed culture is the true fountain of youth-the risen, immortal, glorified Christ in the Eucharist. We will only get eternal, youthful glory with a glorified body in Heaven. Jesus is this, and we are what we eat. For us to get to Heaven we must have faith in Christ and live the way he tells us to live. He tells us to be responsible for our own behavior. Christ will come again, and at that time the last judgment will commence. Jesus states in John 5:29 “and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (NRSV). He also comes every week in the form of the blessed sacrament to help us to endure the challenges of life and make good decisions. He gives us the very gift of himself to help us do the things he wants us to do.

 

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Works Cited

Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Doubleday Books.  New York, NY:  1995.  Print.

Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version

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The Importance of the Resurrection

Every Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  It is the foundation of our faith, and without the resurrection are faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:14).  Beyond proving that Jesus is the Christ, what does the resurrection prove?  The resurrection is about much more than the eyewitness accounts of the Apostles seeing the risen Jesus.  It is also about the new life that is present in every believer throughout time.

We have finite minds, and it is hard for us to grasp the miracle that is the resurrection.  Jesus is a divine being, and as a divine being he resurrected from the dead to prove who he was.  Though theologically true, this view leads to a somewhat simplistic understanding of the event.  The resurrection can also be seen in the transformation of the believer.  It is about the new life in Christ and not what the ocular vision of the disciples has perceived.  Saint Paul also echo this sentiment in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:  everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new” (NRSV).

The resurrection is a religious experience of one who has come to faith in Christ, and is much more than something that happened to those who physically encountered the risen Christ.  According to Scholars such as Luke Johnson this is a common theme in the Pauline Corpus.  Regarding this Dr. Johnson writes, “The resurrection experience, in Paul’s letters, is not something that happens to Jesus alone” (Johnson 25).  Every Christian with a genuine faith in Christ experiences the resurrection in a special way through baptism.  Through the sacrament of baptism original sin is wiped away, and we are raised in the newness of life.

Within the context of introducing the resurrection to Christian audience there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  From an apologetics standpoint, it is important to know the reasoning as to why the resurrection is the foundation of the faith.  One can go into the martyrdom of the early church because they were attesting to the resurrection.  People do not die for a lie.

Secondly, it is more important to assist the audience in learning to relate to the resurrection in a deeper way.  A way that is more personal, and something that they can share.  Everyone has something deep in the recesses of their mind that they are ashamed of.  It may be an addiction, adultery, or a gambling problem.  These things are destructive, but when one comes to faith those things are in the past.  They still may struggle, but through Christ they are resurrected and forgiven for those things that they have done.  Those types of experiences are the modern-day equivalent of the disciples physically seeing the resurrected Jesus.  Our former selves are dead and gone, but we were resurrected spiritually into a new creation.  The disciples’ experience of Jesus raised and exalted is the difference between their faith in the gospel.

Image result for resurrection

Works Cited

Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version

Johnson, Luke Timothy. “How Jesus Became GodCommonweal. 2/3/2015. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

 

Turn to the Subject: Who is Jesus?

The current theological landscape is one that has its roots in the 19th century.  In an attempt to discover what Jesus taught and experienced, theologians began to use methods that were only historical in nature.  An emphasis was placed on the historical and cultural context in which Christ lived.  Though this has its place, who Jesus was started to get lost in the shuffle.  Theologians began to come to conclusions about the person of Christ that were contrary to established Christian teaching.  In some cases, the theories formulated were downright hostile.  It is necessary to get back to the complete picture of theology and whom Jesus is.  In short, a turn to the subject to in order.

These turns are nothing new in the realm of theology, but they can take a couple different turns.  One way would be almost atheistic as was the case with Ludwig Feuerbach.  Feuerbach reduces theology to anthropology (a theory of human being).  It became further reduced as this anthropological trend became materialistic and was reduced to a series of economic factors by Karl Marx.  Though this is an extreme, it is met by an equal extreme that says history should have no bearing on who Christ is (O’Collins 162).   According to O’Collins, “This was to isolate faith from history and rely on direct experience of Jesus here and now” (O’Collins 162).

These are to examples of turning to the subject, and many theologians have made this turn.  Historical consciousness is an important development in this process.  Historical consciousness looks at individual and group experiences, as well as cultural and historical understandings.  Though the New Testament, the Gospel accounts in particular, are critical to theology and Christology and about so much more than their interpretation and historical consequence.  It is necessary to go back and investigate Jesus through the eyes of the disciples.  This investigation begins with the meaning of Jesus with the disciples’ experience and not with a naïve interpretation of the texts of the gospels.

The New Testament is an expression of meaning from those who had encountered Jesus.  Their experience is not something that can be overshadowed or discounted as it is their experience that is one of the foundations of the Christian faith.  There are some scholars today who claim that the historical Jesus became mythologized and became deity over time (O’Collins 166).  Those that claim this classify Jesus as a wise man and sage, but miss the experience of what those who knew Jesus really thought.

A turn to the subject would see early examples of Jesus being called Lord.  The earliest know Christian writer we have is Saint Paul who holds to a very high Christology in his writings.  Regarding this O’Collins writes, “Paul, the earliest Christian writer, quotes even earlier traditions that involved a ‘high Christology’ and the worship of Jesus” (O’Collins 167).  A turn to the subject is about recognizing Jesus as more than just a historical figure, but a transformative figure who radically changed the lives of those who knew him.  Their witness to who he was changed the world in which we all lived, and their testimony quickly went through the known word and lives were changed.

 

Works Cited

O’Collins, Gerald. “Developments in Christology:  The Last Fifty Years.”  Australasian Catholic Record Apr. 2013: 161-169.  Accessed December 19, 2017.

Importance of the Resurrection

Every Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  It is the foundation of our faith, and without the resurrection are faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:14).  Beyond proving that Jesus is the Christ, what does the resurrection prove?  The resurrection is about much more than the eyewitness accounts of the Apostles seeing the risen Jesus.  It is also about the new life that is present in every believer throughout time.

We have finite minds, and it is hard for us to grasp the miracle that is the resurrection.  Jesus is a divine being, and as a divine being he resurrected from the dead to prove who he was.  Though theologically true, this view leads to a somewhat simplistic understanding of the event.  The resurrection can also be seen in the transformation of the believer.  It is about the new life in Christ and not what the ocular vision of the disciples has perceived.  Saint Paul also echoes this sentiment in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:  everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new” (NRSV).

The resurrection is a religious experience of one who has come to faith in Christ, and is much more than something that happened to those who physically encountered the risen Christ.  According to Scholars such as Luke Johnson this is a common theme in the Pauline Corpus.  Regarding this Dr. Johnson writes, “The resurrection experience, in Paul’s letters, is not something that happens to Jesus alone” (Johnson 25).  Every Christian with a genuine faith in Christ experiences the resurrection in a special way through baptism.  Through the sacrament of baptism original sin is wiped away, and we are raised in the newness of life.

Within the context of introducing the resurrection to Christian audience there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  From an apologetics standpoint, it is important to know the reasoning as to why the resurrection is the foundation of the faith.  One can go into the martyrdom of the early church because they were attesting to the resurrection.  People do not die for a lie.

Secondly, it is more important to assist the audience in learning to relate to the resurrection in a deeper way.  A way that is more personal, and something that they can share.  Everyone has something deep in the recesses of their mind that they are ashamed of.  It may be an addiction, adultery, or a gambling problem.  These things are destructive, but when one comes to faith those things are in the past.  They still may struggle, but through Christ they are resurrected and forgiven for those things that they have done.  Those types of experiences are the modern-day equivalent of the disciples physically seeing the resurrected Jesus.  Our former selves are dead and gone, but we were resurrected spiritually into a new creation.  The disciples’ experience of Jesus raised and exalted is the difference between their faith in the gospel.

 

WORKS CITED

Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version

Johnson, Luke Timothy. “How Jesus Became GodCommonweal. 2/3/2015. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

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