Original sin and damnation


#1

This was going on in another thread, but I want to make this a topic with more voices, because I really need some answers on this.

Short story: please reconcile these things:

Council of Lyons II: “…The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only, however, immediately descend to hell, to be punished with different punishments…-- (Denzinger 464)

Pope John XXII: “It (The Roman Church) teaches… that the souls… of those who die in mortal sin, or with only original sin descend immediately into hell; however, to be punished with different penalties and in different places.” (Denzinger 493(a).

Council of Florence: “…Moreover, the souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, descend immediately into hell but to undergo punishments of different kinds.— (Denzinger 693)

with

CCC 1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.

With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God’s mercy and to pray for their salvation.


#2

There is really nothing to reconcile, since there is nothing contradictory in these doctrines.

Jesus revealed to us, “Unless you are born again of water and the Spirit (ie, Baptized), you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The Church has always taught this (and still does). But there’s a “mercy problem” when considering the death of unbaptized innocents.

If one takes the Bible literally, as some protestants do, there is no question at all. Jonathan Edwards, the great Calvinist preacher, wrote in his famous sermon, *Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God *(one of the masterpieces of the English language), “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of unbaptized babies.” What a grim picture!

Catholic theology, however, recognizes a distinction between innocent and not-so-innocent unbaptized persons. This is why the Church is always careful to point out that the fate of the innocents is DIFFERENT from the non-innocents.

We do not know exactly what that fate is - we don’t know what those “differences” are. For awhile, Catholic theologians played around with the idea of a semi-hell called Limbo. Limbo would not be an unpleasant place - it was supposed that a soul in Limbo would experience the fullness of natural happiness (ie, the type of happiness we may enjoy on earth) but would be denied the fullness of supernatural happiness.

Such a person might be compared with a king in the Middle Ages. A king surely thought he was living the good life - even though his bed had fleas, his castle was drafty, his means of transportation was a horse, and his main form of entertainment was a clown in a silly hat. This king could not even imagine the wonderous lifestyle that even the middle-class enjoy today. If the king COULD imagine such wonders, he might feel his own lifestyle was lacking in many respects. But since he CANNOT imagine such things, he is quite happy.

However, most theologians have abandoned the Limbo idea in favor of simply saying, “We don’t really know what happens - we pray for the best.”

The Church has never precluded the possibility that the unbaptized innocents may have some opportunity for salvation even in the next life. After all, Jesus went to some place of unbaptized innocents (the “Bosom of Abraham”) between his death and ressurection.

So the Church encourages us to pray that innocent people who die unbaptized will somehow attain their salvation, just as those ancient unbaptized innocents were able to do.

We simply don’t know how or if this is possible (because God has not made these specifics known to us), but we hope and pray for the best and let God work out the details. Which is exactly what CCC 1037 says.


#3

Check this out:Neither Saved Nor Condemned


#4

Well what seems to contradict is CCC 1036, which says that mortal sin is required for damnation, and Florence, which says that those dying in only original sin will be damned.


#5

[quote=Matt16_18]Check this out:Neither Saved Nor Condemned
[/quote]

You seem to support the existence of Limbo. However, it seems as though that is to be declared “unnecessary.”

Also, the premise that the infants do not go to hell, the place of punishment, is based on the false understanding that the word hell in the creed means the same thing as the word hell in the councils. It is a different latin word.

I really wish I understood this.


#6

[quote=Lazerlike42]Well what seems to contradict is CCC 1036, which says that mortal sin is required for damnation, and Florence, which says that those dying in only original sin will be damned.
[/quote]

Florence says nothing about damnation. It only says the unbaptized innocents descend into “hell” - but clearly points out that it is a DIFFERENT sort of “hell” (but does not tell us what those differences are).

The word “hell” has no precise and timeless theological definition. Nowadays we generally use the term to mean the place to which the eternal damned are condemned. But, historically, the term can mean more generally, “any spiritual place that is not heaven.”

Thus, in the Creed, we say that Jesus “descended into hell,” but we don’t really mean the place of the eternal damned - we mean some OTHER “hell” (the nature of which is not clearly defined, but from which salvation IS possible). I’ve seen the Creed rendered,* “He descended into the place of departed spirits.”* More accurate in modern linguistic context, maybe, but it just doesn’t flow off the tongue…

Don’t confuse “hell” with “damnation.” The word “hell” can be ambigious (especially when the term is used in antique writings). In some contexts, the term does not imply an unpleasant or permanent state.


#7

[quote=DavidFilmer]Florence says nothing about damnation. It only says the unbaptized innocents descend into “hell” - but clearly points out that it is a DIFFERENT sort of “hell” (but does not tell us what those differences are).

The word “hell” has no precise and timeless theological definition. Nowadays we generally use the term to mean the place to which the eternal damned are condemned. But, historically, the term can mean more generally, “any spiritual place that is not heaven.”

Thus, in the Creed, we say that Jesus “descended into hell,” but we don’t really mean the place of the eternal damned - we mean some OTHER “hell” (the nature of which is not clearly defined, but from which salvation IS possible). I’ve seen the Creed rendered,* “He descended into the place of departed spirits.”* More accurate in modern linguistic context, maybe, but it just doesn’t flow off the tongue…

Don’t confuse “hell” with “damnation.” The word “hell” can be ambigious (especially when the term is used in antique writings). In some contexts, the term does not imply an unpleasant or permanent state.
[/quote]

I would disagree. I was hoping this was the case, because it would make it much simpler. But the latin term used in the creed is the general term for the underworld. The term used in florence is infernum, which refers, as far asthe best of my research ability can conclude, to the place of the damned.


#8

[quote=Lazerlike42]Ybased on the false understanding that the word hell in the creed means the same thing as the word hell in the councils. It is a different latin word.
[/quote]

Who told you that?

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae. Et in Iesum Christum, Filium eius unicum, Dominum nostrum, qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus, descendit ad infernos

, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis, ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis, inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos. Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem et vitam aeternam. Amen.“Inferno” is the common and usual Latin word for “Hell” (just ask Dante).

Although I do not have the Latin text of the Council of Basle at hand, Google shows several sites which claim the Council used the exact same term, such as:

   [orestesbrownson.com/index.php?id=14]("http://orestesbrownson.com/index.php?id=14")
   [freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1427688/posts]("http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1427688/posts")

Where do you get your information that Basle (Florence) used any other Latin term than the common and ordinary “Inferno”?


#9

[quote=Lazerlike42]IBut the latin term used in the creed is the general term for the underworld. The term used in florence is infernum, which refers, as far asthe best of my research ability can conclude, to the place of the damned.
[/quote]

No, it’s just a difference between singular (-um) and plural (-os). It’s the same base word (inferno) and has the same base meaning.

If you have a source that says otherwise, please cite it. But be advised that the Church does not proclaim doctrine with such subtle differences as the implied differences between singluar/plural Latin nouns.


#10

[quote=DavidFilmer]No, it’s just a difference between singular (-um) and plural (-os). It’s the same base word (inferno) and has the same base meaning.

If you have a source that says otherwise, please cite it. But be advised that the Church does not proclaim doctrine with such subtle differences as the implied differences between singluar/plural Latin nouns.
[/quote]

Why would one be plural and the other singular?

In other words, how can hell be described as plural or singular?


#11

Also… when a modern pope, like B16 issues an encyclical or something which mentions hell, how do we know if he means the place of the damned or not? How do we know this throughout history? When a statement in a council refers to the place of the damned, how do we know? Surely there must be a way to indicate in Latin that the reference is to the place of the damned?


#12

[quote=Lazerlike42]when a modern pope, like B16 issues an encyclical or something which mentions hell, how do we know if he means the place of the damned or not? How do we know this throughout history?
[/quote]

You expect too much from the language. You need to look at the context.

Basle (Florence) used a singular noun, but made very, very clear that there was a DIFFERENT sort of “hell” for the non-Baptized innocents. By DIFFERENT we may assume that the Council is talking about a, um, different thing. This context shows that there is more than one understanding of the term (because “different” means they are not, um, the same). The Council used a singular noun, but made it clear that there were different understandings of what that (singular) noun means.

The meaning of the word (in this situation) is made unmistakebly and absolutely clear from its context.

The Church, however, is not always this clear on what She means. Some doctrines may, indeed, be ambiguous for one reason or another. In such situations, we must resist the temptation to turn a “Sola Scriptura” mindset to Council documents, as if we believe the documents themselves are somehow self-interpreting (by subtle differences in Latin endings or any other measure). Only the Church may rightly interpret Church doctrine. She has done so once again (in this case, and many others) in the CCC.


#13

It’s too much to expect that the language will differentiate between two completely different ideas? (the place of the damned and the place of the dead)


#14

[quote=Lazerlike42]It’s too much to expect that the language will differentiate between two completely different ideas? (the place of the damned and the place of the dead)
[/quote]

Maybe. You speak English. Can you give me a single English word that means “place of the damned” (and which has no other meaning) and another single English word that means “place of the dead” (and which has no other meaning)?


#15

Actually, the CCC itself can be ambiguous, especially since it abbreviates much of what it references. The fact it is a translation also renders it subject to the translators’ interpretation in various places. We must still read up on the documents referenced to ensure our understanding is well-founded.

And English itself is prone to ambiguity. I have this problem just trying to deal with some people in how to read scripture. How one reads statements of truth is dependent somewhat on how much they are already in the truth.

hurst


#16

[quote=DavidFilmer]Maybe. You speak English. Can you give me a single English word that means “place of the damned” (and which has no other meaning) and another single English word that means “place of the dead” (and which has no other meaning)?
[/quote]

If you want to be a rigorist, then no. But I can say that in english, when someone says the word “hell” people know they mean the place of the damned. I dont think it is too much to ask that the official language of the Catholic Church at least has a way to make this same reference.

What I am saying is that if the only word for “the place of the damned” in latin is also the only word for “the place of the dead,” then that seems to be a major obstacle to clearly communicating doctrine.


#17

[quote=hurst]Actually, the CCC itself can be ambiguous, especially since it abbreviates much of what it references. The fact it is a translation also renders it subject to the translators’ interpretation in various places. We must still read up on the documents referenced to ensure our understanding is well-founded.

And English itself is prone to ambiguity. I have this problem just trying to deal with some people in how to read scripture. How one reads statements of truth is dependent somewhat on how much they are already in the truth.

hurst
[/quote]

Exactly. So how are we different from Protestants in this regard? Protestants all have different views of what the Scriptures say. Catholics have different views of what the Magisterium says. We say we have a Magisterium to interpret Scripture, but who do we have to interpret the Magisterium? The Magisterium? That is the same as a Protestant saying that Scripture interprets itself.


#18

[quote=Lazerlike42]What I am saying is that if the only word for “the place of the damned” in latin is also the only word for “the place of the dead,” then that seems to be a major obstacle to clearly communicating doctrine.
[/quote]

I don’t know of any other Latin word for *“hell” *than “inferno.” Of course, Latin is a pagan language. No language can fully express every idea, and I would not expect Latin to be able to fully express every idea - especially Catholic ideas which were unknown to the people who developed the Latin language.

That is why context is so important (in Latin or any other language). Basle was careful to teach that there was a difference (distinction) between the fate of the innocnet and not-so-innocent non-Baptized. This context is critical in understanding what the Council teaches (and what the Catholic Church has always taught, and still teaches today).


#19

[quote=Lazerlike42]Exactly. So how are we different from Protestants in this regard? Protestants all have different views of what the Scriptures say. Catholics have different views of what the Magisterium says. We say we have a Magisterium to interpret Scripture, but who do we have to interpret the Magisterium? The Magisterium? That is the same as a Protestant saying that Scripture interprets itself.
[/quote]

Good point. But at least we have the Pope, who can step in and set things right if he so deems. And we can submit a “dubium” to get an official clarification on a teaching.

Perhaps that is what you should do. Have you thought about submitting a dubium?

Protestants are limited to the manual, but we also have the live help desk.

hurst


#20

[quote=hurst]Good point. But at least we have the Pope, who can step in and set things right if he so deems. And we can submit a “dubium” to get an official clarification on a teaching.

Perhaps that is what you should do. Have you thought about submitting a dubium?

Protestants are limited to the manual, but we also have the live help desk.

hurst
[/quote]

What is a dubium?


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