Pascal and Protestant hesitation


#1

I would like to quickly present something that has been running through my mind lately and see what your take on it is, particularly from a Catholic veiwpoint.

I have been thinking about Catholicism vs. Protestantism in light of Pascal’s wager. The three main issues I’ve been applying them to are purgatory, the saints, and transubstantiation.

Regarding purgatory the question would be, what if it is equally possible that there is and is not a purgatory. If the catholic is correct then he can only gain from this belief. Because the purification sought for can be sought in this life, and frankly why shouldn’t any of us want to be pure and be like God. Regarding this doctrine, the protestant stands to lose much more than the catholic.

Regarding saints, it seems a little trickier. What if it really does offend God to pray to anyone but Him? What if Mary really is esteemed too highly and God is displeased with that? It is certainly arguable that the saints help us and it is beneficial to pray to them, but in the back of my mind, there is the nagging what if…

Regarding transubstantiation, I think there is the strongest hesitency. What if Jesus really did intend a symbolic understanding of the eucharist? What if it is only a 50/50 chance?Isn’t just the possiblity that adoration of a piece of bread is really offensive to God, enough of a reason to say that it ought not to be practiced?

Thank you and God Bless

-Justin


#2

Yes it can be sought for in this life in fact that is who the saints are.

But people like me who are still working on it in this life and I would love to become saint like but I am being sanctified.

Purgatory is simply the last stage of sanctification. Sanctification in this life involves pain, (suffering) for “For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. . . . And For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant but later it brings righteousness to those who are trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:6, 11)

Yes it would be a loss for me if purgatory did not exist because if I was to die right now for sins that I have not been chastised for I wouldnt deserve heaven but God alows us to enter heaven

(Rev. 21:27) nothing unclean shall enter heaven.

The fact is that the suffering we experience in sanctification in this life is something we receive because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. His sufferings paid the price for us to be sanctified, and his sufferings paid the price for the whole of our sanctification in the first and final parts. Thus it is because of Christ’s sacrifice that we receive the final sanctification in the first place. If he had not suffered and died, we would not be given the final sanctification. Thus purgatory does not imply Christ’s sufferings were insufficient; rather it is because of Christ’s sufferings that we are given the final sanctification of purgatory.

most protestants agree there is a final sense of sanctification. When they die and see Jesus. They will be sanctified instantaneously and Jesus then will bring them home. Well this is common ground for us. Catholics call this purgatory who knows purgatory could very well be instantaneous all we know for sure is that it exist.

So I dont see any Protestant losing from this eather.

Regarding saints, it seems a little trickier. What if it really does offend God to pray to anyone but Him? What if Mary really is esteemed too highly and God is displeased with that? It is certainly arguable that the saints help us and it is beneficial to pray to them, but in the back of my mind, there is the nagging what if…

first of all lets see what PRAYER means. It means to ask or request it is a word that has changed in the english language over the year kind of like the word GAY

So pray yourself does it hurt to pray that people here on eath to pray for you? of course not.

So let me ask you what if. What if they can really see us would you really believe God is disipointed in asking the body of Christ tha tis in heaven to pray for us after all

They are partakers
(2 Peter 1:4) says when we are in heaven we will become partakers of the Divine nature. How can they partake if they cant see us to pray for us? And why would they cease to pray for us but be partakers? And why cant they do anything at all if they are partakers? This is precisely why Catholics ask not only for the body of Christ here on earth to pray for us but the body of Christ in heaven to pray for us. This goes well with the next verse that shows that the body of Christ that is in heaven is still part of the body of Christ here on earth.

Ephesians 2:19: “So then you are no longer STRANGERS and sojourners, but you are FELLOW-CITIZENS WITH THE SAINTS, and the household of God.”

Tobit 12:12 “I can now tell you that when you, Tobit, and Sarah prayed, it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer before the glory of the Lord.” Here we have an angel presenting a prayer to God! Just as we present prayer for one another here on earth, it has always been Christian tradition that they still do this in heaven


#3

Regarding transubstantiation, I think there is the strongest hesitency. What if Jesus really did intend a symbolic understanding of the eucharist? What if it is only a 50/50 chance?Isn’t just the possiblity that adoration of a piece of bread is really offensive to God, enough of a reason to say that it ought not to be practiced?

(Heb 11:6) tells us that God rewards those who seek him.

Catholics are earnestly seeking God I dont think he is disapointed at all. If and only if he meant symbolic.

But ask yourself what if Jesus really meant what he said “This is my body” What if all the early Church fathers got it right? What if this new belief of symbolic of is false?

After all Jesus founded One Church whom he wants everyone to be part of. So what if Jesus founded only one Church whom he want you to be part of?

I wish you the best of luck and Ill keep you in my prayers


#4

As far as Pascals wager goes, it seems that Purgatory wins out, Saints are neutral, but transubstantiation loses.

Let me ask specificaly concerning transubstantiation; what is there to gain or to lose depending on belief? If it is the body and blood of Christ, that may be good to know and wonderful to adore, but does it take a part in salvation? As I understand it, Protestants can be and often are considered ‘saved’ according to the Catholic church. So if the true presence isn’t necessary to partake to be saved, then it is ok to be either catholic or protestant.

On the other hand, if it isn’t the body and blood of Christ, then Catholics are doing a very awful thing in adoring a piece of bread. This seems to say that much more can be lost than can be gained in beleiving in the real presence.

I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m attacking catholics. I am more sympathetic to the RCC than I am to protestant churches in my thinking at this phase. I’m just not sure how to answer this. Maybe I am misunderstanding something.
Thank you

-Justin


#5

And what if Jonah wasn’t really swallowed by that fish?

And what if Jesus was just a man.

And he didn’t found a Church that the gates of hell . . . . .

And Paul really wasn’t struck blind.

Forget all that stuff. The moral teachings of the Church prove the rest is true.


#6

Aahh, but you missed the point. If I believe that Jesus was God I can only gain. If I am wrong, then I will just die and nothing will happen. I will just cease to be. So I lose nothing. But if I am right I can go to heaven forever. If I choose to believe he isn’t God and I am wrong then I lose everything (i.e. my soul forever). So I can only gain from my belief that Jesus is God, and disbelief can potentially lose me everything. So the wise gambler will choose to trust that Jesus really was God.

-Justin


#7

That’s like asking “What if the Mona Lisa really is esteemed too highly and Leonardo da Vinci is displeased with that?”

Regarding transubstantiation, I think there is the strongest hesitency. What if Jesus really did intend a symbolic understanding of the eucharist? What if it is only a 50/50 chance?Isn’t just the possiblity that adoration of a piece of bread is really offensive to God, enough of a reason to say that it ought not to be practiced?

I think you’ve got this one backwards. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” It is the Protestants who stand to lose that wager, by refusing to eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood.

Jeremy


#8

I was responding to the necessarily Catholic part of the post:

The three main issues I’ve been applying them to are purgatory, the saints, and transubstantiation.

But I do agree with:

So the wise gambler will choose to trust that Jesus really was God.


#9

( Eph 1:22-23) “And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the Church which is his body, the FULLNESS of the one who fills all things in every way.”)

Its important to have the fullness of Christ. If you are right than I would not have the fullness. If you are wrong you do not have the fullness. Granted we dont think anyone of the other is hell bound but we must seek the truth. And once you have discoverd the truth only then do you realize what you are missing.

Have you tried to understand what the Church teaches on holy communion.

The Mass, being the Holy Sacrifice is indeed the fulfillment of the command of Christ to “do this in remembrance of me.“ We bring present something that happened in the past. In the Mass this is made a true reality because the acts of Christ permeate all of time. So in the Mass we bring to the present the events of all of salvation history now, in this time, on the altar. And in this we access in time something that is timeless.

When the Jews celebrated the Passover, they celebrate that very sacrifice that happened when God passed over their houses. Every year the Passover was believed to be part of the original Passover sacrifice.

“When your children ask you what does this rite of yours mean? You shall reply This IS the Passover sacrifice of the Lord who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians he spared our houses.” Exodus 12:26-27

And what is the new Passover? In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Jesus is called the paschal Lamb who has been sacrificed and it tells us to keep the feast.

The early Christians believed the same thing about the new Passover meal.
(Hebrews 12:22-24) “No, YOU have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in FESTAL gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.”

A perfect explanation for what is taking place at the Mass we are having the exact same feast that is taking place in heaven. We are accessing in time something that is timeless.

And this is exactly what John was explaining in Revelation 14:1 “Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Fathers name written on their foreheads.” John sees the same things that the author of Hebrews was explaining about the Mass.

this is also what the early fathers tought
St Augustine said “You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. The chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ.”

I would say that if I was wrong than I would really be missing out on alot of what the bible says Is really taking place at a Catholic Mass.

And if just if we are wrong God would not be angree with one who is searching honestly for truth. In revelation did not John fall to worship an angel? He was worshiping what he thought to be God he did not get in trouble for it.

But I would say if you where to look into it and what we actually teach you would see Protestants are missing alot. The Mass is heaven on earth.

peace be with you.


#10

( Eph 1:22-23) “And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the Church which is his body, the FULLNESS of the one who fills all things in every way.”)

Its important to have the fullness of Christ. If you are right than I would not have the fullness. If you are wrong you do not have the fullness. Granted we dont think anyone of the other is hell bound but we must seek the truth. And once you have discoverd the truth only then do you realize what you are missing.

Have you tried to understand what the Church teaches on holy communion.

The Mass, being the Holy Sacrifice is indeed the fulfillment of the command of Christ to “do this in remembrance of me.“ We bring present something that happened in the past. In the Mass this is made a true reality because the acts of Christ permeate all of time. So in the Mass we bring to the present the events of all of salvation history now, in this time, on the altar. And in this we access in time something that is timeless.

When the Jews celebrated the Passover, they celebrate that very sacrifice that happened when God passed over their houses. Every year the Passover was believed to be part of the original Passover sacrifice.

“When your children ask you what does this rite of yours mean? You shall reply This IS the Passover sacrifice of the Lord who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians he spared our houses.” Exodus 12:26-27

And what is the new Passover? In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Jesus is called the paschal Lamb who has been sacrificed and it tells us to keep the feast.

The early Christians believed the same thing about the new Passover meal.
(Hebrews 12:22-24) “No, YOU have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in FESTAL gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.”

A perfect explanation for what is taking place at the Mass we are having the exact same feast that is taking place in heaven. We are accessing in time something that is timeless.

And this is exactly what John was explaining in Revelation 14:1 “Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Fathers name written on their foreheads.” John sees the same things that the author of Hebrews was explaining about the Mass.

this is also what the early fathers tought
St Augustine said “You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. The chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ.”

I would say that if I was wrong than I would really be missing out on alot of what the bible says Is really taking place at a Catholic Mass.

And if just if we are wrong God would not be angree with one who is searching honestly for truth. In revelation did not John fall to worship an angel? He was worshiping what he thought to be God he did not get in trouble for it.

But I would say if you where to look into it and what we actually teach you would see Protestants are missing alot. The Mass is heaven on earth.

peace be with you.


#11

No problem.

Regarding saints, it seems a little trickier. What if it really does offend God to pray to anyone but Him? What if Mary really is esteemed too highly and God is displeased with that? It is certainly arguable that the saints help us and it is beneficial to pray to them, but in the back of my mind, there is the nagging what if…

If this offended Jesus, I’m sure his Mom would have told us by now. :rotfl:

Regarding transubstantiation, I think there is the strongest hesitency. What if Jesus really did intend a symbolic understanding of the eucharist? What if it is only a 50/50 chance?Isn’t just the possiblity that adoration of a piece of bread is really offensive to God, enough of a reason to say that it ought not to be practiced?

It’s the other way around, IF we are worshipping bread then we do so with a clear conscience in order to glorify God and not to worship ANOTHER god. So, that’s not a problem. OTOH, in light of the following:

John 6:53
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

Those who accept mere bread and grape juice have a real problem on their hands. They’ve been told - by Jesus no less - and still they cling to their own traditions.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


#12

If the the Catholic church is the one True church just think how
much higher level of Glory one can achieve than a Protestant
especially if Mary is the Queen of Heaven.:smiley:


#13

Dear Justin:

I am not sure this understanding is correct. Why do you have the impression that “Protestants . . . often are considered ‘saved’ according to the Catholic Church?”

Certainly Christ’s statements to the effect that the Eucharist is necessary to life are a source of great concern about those who reject the Real Presence, relying on protestant theories, which are heretical, even if those who follow them are not heretics themselves.

This is even more concerning given St. Paul’s statement that “Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition.)

So, to fail to eat the Body of Christ is to have no life. To eat without discerning it as the true Body of Christ is to eat judgment and to be guilty of murdering the Lord.

The Church’s concern is to save as many as possible. You should not confuse her decisions of how best to nurture those who are ill with a notion that they are not in serious condition.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


#14

It seems like the conclusion that you are trying to reach is that the literal presence in the bread must be taken to have life. what is this life? Is it eternal life? I have a simple syllogism that would disprove it.

  1. Did Moses and Elijah have eternal life? Yes, and the evidence is that they appeared at the transfiguration.
  2. Did they partake of the eucharist? No, they predated it.
  3. Therefore partaking of the eucharist is not a necessary condition to gaining eternal life.
    So if Jesus says that you can’t have life without taking his body and blood, then he must have meant something symbolic.

The quote about taking the blood unworthily leads me (using Pascal’s wager) to not taking any form anywhere, just to be safe.

-Justin


#15

They also predated the commandment to receive it. They were under the Old Covenant. You can be certain that both of them were circumcised, and that neither of them ate anything that was not kosher. They faithfully followed the precepts of the Old Covenant.

We are under the New Covenant. We are bound by the precepts of the New Covenant - one of which is to eat the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.


#16

Regarding transubstantiation, I think there is the strongest hesitency. What if Jesus really did intend a symbolic understanding of the eucharist? What if it is only a 50/50 chance?Isn’t just the possiblity that adoration of a piece of bread is really offensive to God, enough of a reason to say that it ought not to be practiced?

Re “adoration of a piece of bread”.
No Catholic gets down on their knees (or stands up :slight_smile: ) before the Eucharist and says or thinks - “Bread, I adore you.” What/who we adore is Jesus Christ. Our hearts an minds are adoring Jesus Christ and He knows it. And you know what our Lord judges - not from the outside, but what is in the heart.

So, according to your Pascal wager, what if Jesus words were literally true (eg. This is My Body; I am the Bread of Life; etc) and you refuse to believe it. Whereas if you believe it literally, and adore Jesus in the Eucharist, you can only gain since Our Lord knows it is Him you are adoring.

Nita


#17

You know Justin, Jesus didn’t specify a time limit on when we consume His body and blood. His words in John 6 are so clear.
6:53 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you;

This is God saying “truly, truly”.

I have often thought about this, not just in regards to Protestants but baptized babies that die before receiving the Eucharist.

Now, from here on, it’s just some of my personal thoughts and not at all any official teaching of the Catholic Church.

There have been Eucharistic miracles that have taken place where angels have brought the Eucharist to people (occasionally visible to others, most times not). Perhaps that’s what first prompted the following thoughts. Since Jesus says there is no life in anyone who does not eat His flesh, perhaps there is some sort of “miraculous” offering just prior to death whereby those who need it may receive it. ??? Or perhaps it’s offered at the end of Purgatory. ??? As to those who died before Jesus instituted the Eucharist, He could have offered it to them after His death, just as He went and preached to them. ??? (cf 1 Peter 3:19)

Nita


#18

Hmmm good point.
So as a protestant, if I believe that it is what is in the heart that matters; and when Jesus speaks symbolically, he means for us to examine our heart… then if we seek God in the wrong way, but with right motives of the heart, then the wrong way of seeking is forgivable. But like you say, if the symbolism of the eucharist is actually more and not less than what I think, then I am foolish to not partake. Well played!:clapping:


#19

Dear Justin:

Your argument is a little glib. The entry of Moses and Elijah into heaven did not predate the Eucharist; they entered heaven at least two days after the Mass was instituted.

As for Pascal’s wager, I do not think you are applying his mathematics. The “wager” applied to a simple consideration of Faith as opposed to non-faith. This yields a clear cost benefit analysis, which allowed the “wager” argument. However, an attempt to apply the same reasoning to each part of the Gospel does not fall into so clear a comparison. In fact, the analysis seems quickly to become so complex as to be useless.

However, you did not answer my question; what gives you the impression that the Catholic Church regards Protestants as often “saved?”

Pax Christi tecum.

John Hiner


#20

I am just curious if it is possible that this statement is both literal and figurative. I guess the reason I am wondering is because this is one of the things that is making me think the catholic church makes more sense.
For example, the first thing that I accepted about the catholic church is purgatory. Let’s take examples of salvific stories in the old testament. The Exodus is a good example. The passover lamb is the act of faith that saved the Jews, but they still had to wander in the wilderness before they reached the promised land. All because of the hardness of their hearts! What a clear image of salvation and purgatory. The temple is actually the analogy that first convinced me. Their is the sacrifice outside of the temple that saves the people, but that is still a long way from the purity that the priest had to have to enter the holy of holies. I don’t think God would create this symbol, without the express intention of showing us how to understand salvation. The act of faith is the beginning of the process. That gets us into the temple. then we must be cleansed to get in the rest of the way…
i wonder if the eucharist is like this. Like the pascal lamb it is a symbol of faith and a real protection from the angel of death, but it is also a symbol of Christ. And the bread is the symbol of christ and it is Christ, and represents our partaking of His divine nature and it really is the partaking. I think that this makes the issue so much fuller and it truly compels me towards catholicism.

So to get back to my question which isn’t very clear…
What if, for those who do not have the chance to take communion, might it be that in that afterlife moment of limbo, they can really imbibe Christ in the fullest way. without even the symbolic aspect of the eucharist. This is also speculation. When it comes to those who aren’t given much of a chance, I don’t have a lot of answers, but I do think the catholic church has the most sensible answers, from what I’ve read in the Cathechism.

I think I am still a little hesitant on beleiving that it is a necessary condition for salvation. But I do admit that the strong language Jesus uses makes me uncomfortable as a protestant.:hmmm:

God Bless

-Justin


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.