Jesus and the Schismatics: don't heresies matter?


#1

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-1)
This is one of the most poignant of Jesus’ prayers, both for the fact that it espouses Christian unity in such vivid terms, equating it with the consubstantiality of Trinity, and for the fact that it failed. Think about it. Jesus, God Incarnate, who could walk on water, raise the dead, and convince the corrupt and the wicked to repent immediately, prayed to Almighty God, his Father, for this. Yet it did not happen. Within the decades, heterodoxy and schism were rife in the Christian Church, and much of the rest of the New Testament books are devoted to attempts, by Paul in particular, to eradicate these.

Thinking about heterodoxy, a subject dear to my heart, I thought that it might be worthwhile to look at what Jesus had to say about it. The result was enlightening. In all of the Gospels, Jesus only says one thing which is applicable to Christian heterodoxy, while discussing the Ten Commandments:

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19).
Even in this, he censures the activity rather than villifying it. While I say that Mt 5:19 is the only thing that he says against possible Christian heterodoxy, he does condemn aspects of the teaching of the Church of his own time, the Jewish lawgivers. Thus he says of those who use their own traditions to countermand Scripture,you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men’
(Mt 15:6-9).
Thus, we see that heterodoxy was less of a problem to Jesus than was legalism. There is also the extended, vehement rant in Matthew 23 against the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, whom he condemns for adhering to the letter of the Scripture rather than the Spirit of it. Here is one tiny slice:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel (vv. 23-4).
Along with his abhorrence of this legalism, he condemns the idea of the ‘great teacher’, saying,
But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Mt 23:8-12).
He does validate his own teaching, frequently advising that following it is both wise and efficacious, e.g., in John 14:23, where he says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him,” and John 7:17, where he says, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Nonetheless, he never disagreed with John the Baptist, although John did not have the full revelation of the message that Jesus did (Luke 7:18-23).

If he valued the Truth of his own words, why was he not afraid of distortion of them? Why did he not want to protect the purity of the message? Perhaps a partial answer can be found in this:

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward” (Mark 9: 37-41).
Jesus, like his Father, was more concerned with the purity of action than with the purity of doctrine. God has never been a legalist.


#2

You are a self proclaimed heretic, why should anyone listen to you?! :wink: :wink:


#3

[quote=Mystophilus] God has never been a legalist.
[/quote]

Never? I suggest you read Leviticus.:wink:

1John 1:3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace from God the Father, and from Christ Jesus the Son of the Father; in truth and charity.

Truth and charity are important.

James 5:19 My brethren, if any of you err from the truth, and one convert him:

Erring from truth should be corrected:)

God cares about what we do, but He also desires us to come to all Truth.


#4

[quote=Genesis315](God was never a legalist)
Never? I suggest you read Leviticus.:wink:
[/quote]

I have already, thanks, and, having read it, I went on to read the rest of the Bible, in which I kept finding situations in which God rejected the rules laid down there, for example:

Psalm 50:9-15
I need no bullock from your house, no goats from your fold.
For every animal of the forest is mine, beasts by the thousands on my mountains.
I know every bird of the heavens; the creatures of the field belong to me.
Were I hungry, I would not tell you, for mine is the world and all that fills it.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
Offer praise as your sacrifice to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High.
Then call on me in time of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.
(cf. Lev 1, 3, 4)

Isaiah 58:5-12
Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; “Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “Restorer of ruined homesteads.”
(cf. Lev 16:29-30)

2 Chronicles 30:18-20
The greater part of the people, in fact, chiefly from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves. Nevertheless they ate the Passover, contrary to the prescription; for Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the LORD, who is good, grant pardon to
everyone who has resolved to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, though he be not clean as holiness requires."
The LORD heard Hezekiah and spared the people.
(cf. Lev 5:2, 15:31, Num 6:9-10)

God gave those laws to Israel, but obedience to those laws was evidenly not what God wanted from them.

Hosea 6:6
For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.

Micah 6:8
You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Legalism, despite its popularity amongst humans, was never the point.


#5

[quote=E.E.N.S.]You are a self proclaimed heretic, why should anyone listen to you?! :wink: :wink:
[/quote]

:stuck_out_tongue:
Possibly because anyone who knows enough to know that s/he is a heretic might also know something else?

Everyone should listen to everyone, on the off chance that they might learn something: listen, but do not believe; listen, consider, investigate. More importantly, while the words of a heretic may not be particularly important, the words of the Bible should be. Read the text, and find the answers for yourselves.

This, I confess, leads me to the one thing that I find truly disappointing here: a tendency among Christians, particularly Catholics, not to bother reading the Bible because they have other people to do that for them. While diffusion of responsibility is a very natural human response, it is not a good one. Catholics, in my heretical opinion, ought to be the best of the best Bible readers, having not merely the text but also two thousand years of other people’s readings to draw upon; they ought to be towards the Bible as Jews are towards the Tanakh.


#6

Of course, right before Matt 5:19 he also says

1713 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

Remember that while Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy he also affirmed their authority, Matt 23:1-3:

11 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 2 saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. 3 Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.

Authority is authority. Although they abuse it, he still commands them to listen to authority. Incidentally, we were having a discussion in the other thread about authority. You must know that we Catholics view the seat of Peter as an authority something like that of the chair of Moses. You know, the keys and the binding and the loosing. We still have to obey authority. And that’s a very tough thing, especially since independence is so valued by modern society.
Personally, I think your idea about being genuine and against too much legalism is very interesting. But I also think, that perhaps it doesn’t balance out everything quite as well. The problem with reading Scripture sometimes is not just in interpretation, but also in emphasis. Yes, Jesus actually ratches up certain things for us, really impressing on us being righteous, i.e.,
[

17 But I say to you, whoever is angry 18 with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
](“http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/matthew/matthew5.htm#foot17”)
And that’s quite a statement! It’s so hard genuinely following that commandment of his (who of us here can say we are successful with that one? I can’t).

Oh yes, and, as an interesting foil to your quote of Mark 9:37-41, Matt 7:22-23:

22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. 11 Depart from me, you evildoers.’

The Church’s primary mission is the salvation of souls. So yes, people who incorrectly are with us do help us, they are our brethren, even if separated, but just because they can help us, it does not mean that they will be saved. However tangentially this applies, the epithets hurled at Christ, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.” (Scripture is such a rich tapestry!) Anyway, we still have the obligation to help our brother who is straying from the path.As a side note, I always find fascinating Scripture passages fortuitiously. I didn’t aim to find that passage, but did so while ignorantly browsing through Matthew to find that earlier quote about the Pharisees and the chair of Moses. Perhaps we Catholics should know the Bible just well enough to know what we’re looking for, but not well enough to know where it is, that way we stumble on interesting things along the way!

What do you think?


#7

Hey Mystophilus,
Did you ever hear the saying…It ain’t over 'til the fat lady sings?..
Just want to point out that it isn’t over yet…I firmly believe that there will be a unification yet to come. Unfortunately, for a unification of this magnitude to happen, there will be something truly terrible and evil that proceeds it…are you ready?


#8

What an odd thread…
I fail to see how Sola Scriptura is a reliable basis for this discussion. Do not forget that we have the Holy Church who is entrusted to correct errors, interpret scripture and keep the people of God in tune with the Gospel message. If this invovles so called “legalistic” methods then Let it be!!
God Bless


#9

[quote=RobNY] Remember that while Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy he also affirmed their authority, Matt 23:1-3… Authority is authority. Although they abuse it, he still commands them to listen to authority.
[/quote]

Indeed he did; he avoided any advocation of rebellion, even against the Romans, saying, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21). Jesus certainly did not preach antinomianism.

Incidentally, we were having a discussion in the other thread about authority. You must know that we Catholics view the seat of Peter as an authority something like that of the chair of Moses. You know, the keys and the binding and the loosing. We still have to obey authority. And that’s a very tough thing, especially since independence is so valued by modern society.

The ease of obedience depends upon both the subject and the authority, as far too many Christian leaders forget. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-5)

Yes, Jesus actually ratches up certain things for us, really impressing on us being righteous.
And that’s quite a statement! It’s so hard genuinely following that commandment of his (who of us here can say we are successful with that one? I can’t).

“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
Perfection before God, however, is not the same as orthodoxy before the Church.

Oh yes, and, as an interesting foil to your quote of Mark 9:37-41, Matt 7:22-23

I would like to expand it a little, actually: A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them.
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?‘
Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7:18-23)
Jesus’ target here is clearly the hypocrites, those who claim to be righteous but are actually unrighteous. Judging by their words, they are the leaders. A greater contrast to the passage in Mark could be provided by this one:
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
"Either declare the tree good and its fruit is good, or declare the tree rotten and its fruit is rotten, for a tree is known by its fruit. (Matthew 12:30-3)
The overlap is interesting, is it not? Fruit and the proper behaviour of the religious leadership.

The Church’s primary mission is the salvation of souls.

Is it? Jesus wasted a lot of time healing people then.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-21)
While I would say that the salvation of souls is included in there, I think that there is a lot more to it: poverty has many guises.

[font=Verdana]What do you think?

I think that Jesus likes dissenters (having been one himself), but not rebels. I do not think that it is right to separate one church from another, but freedom of thought is a necessity.


#10

[quote=BlestOne]Hey Mystophilus,
Did you ever hear the saying…It ain’t over 'til the fat lady sings?..
Just want to point out that it isn’t over yet…I firmly believe that there will be a unification yet to come.
[/quote]

I pray for it constantly.

Unfortunately, for a unification of this magnitude to happen, there will be something truly terrible and evil that proceeds it…are you ready?

No. But God is.


#11

[quote=Mystophilus]Everyone should listen to everyone, on the off chance that they might learn something: listen, but do not believe; listen, consider, investigate.
[/quote]

I think that it would be better if we listened more to the saints, those who have already fought the battle and won. The enemy is everywhere, suttle, and seeks our destruction.

Yes, every Christian will agree that the Bible is important, but it would be wise to look to the saints to see how they implemented the Word of God.

I say this not only to you, Mystophilus, but to all Christians, *especially *Catholics, for “to whom much is given, much is expected.”


#12

I think that no one should have humored this thread in the first place.

I don’t think that Mystophilus is on the brink of changing his beliefs.


#13

[quote=Mystophilus]:pPossibly because anyone who knows enough to know that s/he is a heretic might also know something else?

Everyone should listen to everyone, on the off chance that they might learn something: listen, but do not believe; listen, consider, investigate. More importantly, while the words of a heretic may not be particularly important, the words of the Bible should be. Read the text, and find the answers for yourselves.

This, I confess, leads me to the one thing that I find truly disappointing here: a tendency among Christians, particularly Catholics, not to bother reading the Bible because they have other people to do that for them. While diffusion of responsibility is a very natural human response, it is not a good one. Catholics, in my heretical opinion, ought to be the best of the best Bible readers, having not merely the text but also two thousand years of other people’s readings to draw upon; they ought to be towards the Bible as Jews are towards the Tanakh.
[/quote]

I agree with your post except for when you mention Catholics not reading the bible. Yes, there are many that don’t read the bible, but that is not because they are Catholic and others do that for them. There are Catholics that don’t read the bible because they don’t want to. We should all read it every day though.


#14

[quote=KingdomHallsEnd]I think that no one should have humored this thread in the first place.

I don’t think that Mystophilus is on the brink of changing his beliefs.
[/quote]

Far be it from me to ever say that someone is not entitled to his/her beliefs, but it would suggest that you may have read a little too quickly.


#15

[quote=E.E.N.S.]I think that it would be better if we listened more to the saints, those who have already fought the battle and won. The enemy is everywhere, subtle, and seeks our destruction.

Yes, every Christian will agree that the Bible is important, but it would be wise to look to the saints to see how they implemented the Word of God.

I say this not only to you, Mystophilus, but to all Christians, *especially *Catholics, for “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
[/quote]

This is an area about which I know nothing, which leads me to respectfully ask, is a saint necessarily an expert regarding the text? I thought that they were canonised on the basis of the holiness of their lives, which does not necessarily involve the text very much at all.


#16

[quote=Mystophilus]This is an area about which I know nothing, which leads me to respectfully ask, is a saint necessarily an expert regarding the text? I thought that they were canonised on the basis of the holiness of their lives, which does not necessarily involve the text very much at all.
[/quote]

One does not have to be an “expert” in the sense of the word to which I assume that you are implying, but if you examine their lives and writings there is no denying their sainthood. So I reitterate that we should follow their example in how they lived their lives according to the Gospel.

(Since you are not familiar with the saints, I would recommend you to pick up a writing or two from the saints and read them for yourself. They are an absolutely wonderful portrayal of how we should be living our lives for Christ.)


#17

[quote=jimmy]I agree with your post except for when you mention Catholics not reading the bible. Yes, there are many that don’t read the bible, but that is not because they are Catholic and others do that for them. There are Catholics that don’t read the bible because they don’t want to. We should all read it every day though.
[/quote]

I think that, should you go back and read my post again, you will see that “Catholics” represent a sub-category of ‘those who do not read the Bible because they have others to do it for them’. On the one hand, I have met more Protestants than Catholics who do this, but I have met far more Protestants than Catholics. Of those whom I have met, a higher proportion of the Catholics than of the Protestants do it, which is probably because most Protestant churches have a culture which more actively promotes personal study of the text.


#18

[quote=Mystophilus]This is an area about which I know nothing,…
[/quote]

If you would like I can provide some wonderful recommendations. :slight_smile:


#19

[quote=E.E.N.S.]If you would like I can provide some wonderful recommendations. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Thank you; opportunities for learning are always very much appreciated. The only source of which I have any experience is the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is not the most beautifully-written of texts…


#20

[quote=Mystophilus]Thank you; opportunities for learning are always very much appreciated. The only source of which I have any experience is the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is not the most beautifully-written of texts…
[/quote]

LOL.

I would recommend anything written by the saints, as they are all wonderful, but let me list some of my favorites:

God Alone (a collection of the writings of St. Louis de Montfort)
-I would recommend starting with the book Love of Eternal Wisdom within this book.
Preparation For Death by St. Alphonsus Ligouri (Doctor of the Church)
How to Die Well by St. Robert Bellermine (Doctor of the Church)
The City of God by St. Augustine (Doctor of the Church)
The Confessions of St. Augustine (also by St. Augustine)

…and so much more! (But I don’t want to overwhelm you! :wink: )

Also I highly recommend reading Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis (try to find the red one published by Tan, it’s my favorite), this book is about 600 years old and it is the second most published book next to the Bible (I think) and many, many saints quote from this book as well.

I don’t expect you to go and get all of these books all at once or anything, but I would ask that you get one or two of them and read them out of love for our Lord. God bless and happy reading!


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