Can you help refute some claims made by my friend?

Can you please assist me in refuting a friend of mine? Here are some of his claims:

  1. He believes that sinners, including the fallen angels, have a “reasonable chance” of salvation. He asserts that the only reason any soul would be “eternally damned” is merely because of their stubbornness, and that, even after death, if they repent, may be saved. He also argues that the references in the Bible of “eternal hell-fire” are indistinguishable from the purgatorial fire described by St. Paul in First Corinthians.
  2. He believes that the Blessed Virgin Mary was a reincarnation, most possibly of Eve. His argument is that there are essential lessons and graces one can only receive by battling sin throughout one’s life. Since Our Lady was deprived of this, being cleansed of sin at the moment of her conception, and sustained as sinless throughout her life, there must’ve been a way that could she learned these things previously, hence her alleged reincarnation. When I point to the Fathers’ unanimous condemnation of reincarnation, including that of Origen, he merely brushes it off and says “I’m not talking about that ‘kind of reincarnation’.”
  3. He believes that the Fall of Man was, on net, positive. He says that Original Sin and concupiscence are merely the natural consequences of being made “like God”, i.e. autonomous. He says that our first parents were just blank-slates and that God, no good and well they would fall, wishing to make them free, placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in front of them and enlisted the serpent (whom he doesn’t necessarily believe is a representation of Satan, whom he believes is merely God’s helper) to eat of the fruit. He says that this is the only idea which makes sense because any other explanation makes God out to be incompetent, by failing to prevent them from eating of the Tree. His authority on this is the verse from the*Easter Vigil Mass Exsultet: “O happy fault, necessary sin of Adam, etc.”
  4. Related to the above proposition is his claim that Adam and Eve were genderless before the Fall. Because of this, he refers to them almost always by the Hebrew words for man and woman, “Ish” and “Ishshah”. His response to Gen. 1:27 is that this does not necessarily imply that Adam and Eve were made male and female at their creation, but that it merely refers to their being “made” male and female at a later date, namely after the Fall for the propagation of the human race.

Please be elaborate in your responses.

Thank you and God bless.

Is your friend Catholic? Does he believe in the authority of the Church? It sounds to me like he’s making up his own religion based on his own reasoning to suit himself. If he’s not sincerely looking for the objective truth, I don’t know how anything we say is going to help . . .

Tolkien13,

At first I thought your friend soundly quite a bit like a Mormon, but after reading further it almost reads as someone who has taken insane arguments not just from the Church of Latter Day Saints, but also the Jehovah’s Witness religion and every other polemical attack against Christianity out there including his/her own imagination.

If you honestly think any argument would be worth it myself and others can supply the appropriate answers, but reading through your post it really will not make a difference.

An example “Oh happy fault” which appears in Church Liturgy only once a year has never meant or had the attachment he surmises. The Church has never taught that any sin is good. Instead “Oh Happy Fault” is an echoed response to the proto-evangelium in Gen 3:15 where God announces the Good News for the first time. This of course is God’s mercy and not justice.

You see he quotes the bible and resources when it suits his/her fancy, and when you counter he/she will just say no that is not right. You will not find any ancient Jewish or Christian scholar state that Adam and Eve were genderless. You will find scholars that speak of their virginity, but not that is not even in the same ball park.

Sin is not a natural consequence of being made in the image and likeness of God. God does not sin nor can He deceive.

At the end of the day find out if your friend is even serious or if he is simply evil. I really meant to use that word evil and not bad as they are two very different words. You see a bad person can steal or even kill someone. An evil person may do neither of the two but they seek to destroy the good in others it is a hate that hopefully few of us encounter, but it is out there more and more. I wish you the best and pray for God to show your friend His Mercy.

Your friend’s beliefs sound somewhat like Mormonism. I wouldn’t bother arguing with him. You can’t debate crazy notions. You have to have some common ground for a debate and you have none with this fellow.

I can assure you that he is Catholic, of the Byzantine Rite particularly. He is impeccably orthodox most, if not 90%, of issues. It is just these particular things that I have found irksome. He is very much open to argument, and will generally welcome it. I look forward to any actual rebuttals to his above propositions. Thanks

If hell was said to be endless, I could understand his argument. But hell is said to be eternal. This is an entirely different thing altogether. To only eternal being is God. To enter into eternity is to enter into God. Eternity is the duration of simultaneity, and for God, that means He is present to all moments at once. Entering into eternity means entering into that duration of simultaneity in a limited way, since we are limited beings. This means that through the eternal presence of God, all moments are set before us at once, and our relationship to God becomes static, becoming itself an eternal reality.

If you love God, and or in union with Him relationally at death, then you enter into His eternal presence, and that can never change. Likewise, if you hate God, or are excommunicated from Him by sin, relationally, at death, then you enter into His eternal absence, and that can never change.

If he believes that repentance can occur in hell, then he must also be willing to assert that sin can occur in heaven. If the will can change after death, it must be able to do so in both circumstances. So, since nothing imperfect can enter heaven, then likewise nothing imperfect can leave hell.

His argument regarding essential lessons only makes sense when you’re speaking from a “sinner standpoint.” What I mean is, for a sinner, these lessons are essential. They are essential for only one reason, because they lead toward repentance and salvation. These are not necessary for a sinless person. Whatever truths one might learn from such lessons, one may conceivably understand and know without having to go through sin first. A pure, sinless person may understand such truths without sin.

And since that’s true, the logic leading to reincarnation is entirely unnecessary.

[To continue…]

…continued]

First, he believes this can be true due to point number 1. above. If one can repent after death, then potentially everyone will eventually go to heaven. Thus, everything else being equal (everyone getting to heaven eventually), we have a gain, and that is Jesus, the Incarnation, which we wouldn’t have had if the fall had not occurred.

However, if his first point can be shown to be false, then there’s no way you can rationalize a net gain here.

Regarding his logic about Eden, it is extremely problematic for a very simple reason: it shows God, Himself, to be deceptive. Moreover, if God intended for us to eat of this forbidden fruit, then it also means that God intended for us to die, and to harm our relationship with Him. Neither of these are for our good, and so his logic leads us to the conclusion that God intended evil for us. So, God is deceptive and intends evil, by his logic.

His logic here is also faulty. Adam is not called Ish until Eve is created. Prior to this, Adam is always referred to as “Adam.” When Eve is created, he names her “Ishshah,” thereby also naming himself “Ish.” So referring to them as only Ish and Ishshah ignores man in his original creation.

And it’s even more senseless than this. Sure, he could interpret Gen. 1:27 this way, as referring to a later even (post-fall). But he cannot do the same for the very next passage, Gen. 1:28, which continues the flow of the creation narrative “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” This command implies gender from the outset of their creation, and is tied directly to the reason for their creation. This is what they were created for. Gender wasn’t a late addition because of the fall. There is absolutely zero evidence for this from the text.

Furthermore, it is widely understood that the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 creation accounts come from two different sources. They are two different narratives that have been brought together into one text. That being the case, the creation of man in Genesis 1, which states clearly they were created male and female, is a narrative that does not include the idea of a fallen humanity. So, tying this narrative to the second in this very specific way is in no way justified.

[LIST]
*] Where is his proof one can repent after death?
[/LIST]

[LIST]
*] purgatory ≠ Hell, purgatory is NOT eternal, hell IS eternal.
[/LIST]

he has his definitions screwed up

There is no reincarnation.

Where is he getting all this stuff? Have him give his references properly referenced

have him give you credible references for his beliefs. And what organization does he belong to?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.