Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hypocrites in the Church: The 16th Sunday of OT


Our Readings for this upcoming Lord’s Day involve a meditation on both God’s mercy and his justice, and the complex way both virtues of God are expressed in his government of human affairs in general and his people in particular.  We see that God’s apparent tolerance of evil in the short-term is an expression of his mercy and desire that all should repent; yet ultimately God can and will establish justice. 

1.  Reading 1 Wis 12:13, 16-19:


There is no god besides you who have the care of all,
that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.
For your might is the source of justice;
your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;
and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.
But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,
and with much lenience you govern us;
for power, whenever you will, attends you.
And you taught your people, by these deeds,
that those who are just must be kind;
and you gave your children good ground for hope
that you would permit repentance for their sins.

The Wisdom of Solomon, one of the last Old Testament books to be written, provides perhaps the most thorough treatment of the final judgment, resurrection, and eternal life of any book prior to the Gospels.  Some see it as a canonical answer to the agnosticism of Ecclesiastes: if in Ecclesiastes Solomon expressed skepticism about the life to come and despondency over the prospect of death, in Wisdom he has found faith that death is not the final answer, and righteousness finds its reward in the life to come.

The Book of Wisdom was almost certainly written first in Greek, in the third or second century BC, probably in Alexandria, Egypt, the premier center of Hellenistic Jewish culture in antiquity.  Because of its late origin, Greek language, and Alexandrian connections, it was not received as canonical in Rabbinic Judaism, whose roots were in the Pharisee movement in Palestine.  However, it was received as canonical among Greek-speaking Jews in the diaspora and by the early Church.  Indeed, it was quite popular among the Fathers, who quoted it frequently and explicitly as Scripture.

In the Septuagint tradition, the book was called Sophia Salōmōnos (Wisdom of Solomon) and eventually found a stable place in the canonical order after Job, thus providing a robust vision of the life to come after Job’s struggles with the injustices of this present life.  In the Vulgate tradition, the book’s full title is Liber Sapeintiae Solomonis (The Book of the Wisdom of Solomon), and it was placed immediately after the “three books of Solomon” (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song) proper, because the pseudepigraphal nature of Wisdom was long recognized.  Falling in this order, the four books Proverbs through Wisdom present a kind of theological odyssey of the “canonical Solomon”:
in Proverbs, he attains the wisdom that leads to temporal success;
in Ecclesiastes, he despairs of temporal success because death renders it vain;
in the Song, he discovers that love is stronger than death (Song 8:6);
in Wisdom, he falls in love with Lady Wisdom and so attains immortality.

The Book of Wisdom falls naturally into two main parts.  In the first (chs. 1-9), Solomon exhorts the “rulers of the earth” to love righteousness (1:1), which will enable them to become wise (1:4) and reign forever (6:20-21), following Solomon’s own example (chs. 7-9).  In the second part (chs. 10–18), the sacred author seeks to demonstrate his thesis about the connection of righteousness, wisdom, and immortal reign by tracing and justifying Wisdom’s actions through the sacred history of Israel, from Creation to the Exodus.

The first part (chs. 1-9) also breaks down into two main sections: In chs. 1-6, Solomon focuses on the relationship between righteousness, wisdom, and immortality, especially highlighting the eternal life of the righteous with God, and the judgment that will face the unrighteous after death.  In chs. 7-9, Solomon teaches the “rulers of the earth” how he himself attained wisdom, namely, by seeking here in humble prayer from God, and then living in spousal communion with her thereafter.

The second part of the book (chs. 10-18) has a much different feel than the first, as Solomon traces the activities of Wisdom through salvation history.  One chapter covers Wisdom’s work from Creation up to the Exodus (ch. 10), whereas eight chapters are devoted to Wisdom in the Exodus itself (chs. 11-19).  Within his treatment of Wisdom’s actions in the Exodus, he incorporates a digression on God’s mercy (11:17-12:22) and on the foolishness of idolatry (13:1-15:17).

The Wisdom of Solomon is read frequently in the contemporary lectionary, especially for a short Old Testament book.  This Sunday’s reading comes from the digression on mercy during the discussion of God’s wisdom through the Exodus.  Combined with the parable of the weeds and the wheat in the Gospel (Matt 13:24-43), this reading helps us understand that God’s refusal to root up the weeds (sinners) from within the Church is not a failure of his justice but an expression of his mercy, since he desires that all may come to salvation.

Wisdom affirms that God’s supreme power does not imply that God is a tyrant.  Our God is a God strong enough to be gentle; that is, challenges to his authority do not, so to speak, shake his self-confidence and provoke a violent response, as is the case with human dictators or “strongmen.”  Human rulers should follow the divine example: power is to be combined with justice and kindness.

In the context of Wisdom 12, the sacred author is discussing in particular God’s mercy on the Canaanites: despite their moral evil, God did not wipe them out at once, but allowed them hundreds of years and many opportunities to repent.  To repent of what?  “Their merciless slaughter of children,” and “these parents who murder helpless lives” (Wis 12:5-6).  The Canaanites practiced child sacrifice to their gods, which also served as a kind of birth control—since promiscuous sexual activity in the worship of their divinities produced “unwanted” children.  So we see how similar ancient Canaanite culture is to modern America, where promiscuous sexual activity is sought out and celebrated, with the result that one in five children is killed in the womb, since the right to kill one’s child is a foundational principle of our culture.  The Book of Wisdom gives us hope that America and similar societies will not be destroyed at once, but given time and opportunity to repent and turn to God.

2.  Responsorial Psalm Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16:

R/ (5a) Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R/ Lord, you are good and forgiving.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O LORD,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
R/ Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.
Turn toward me, and have pity on me;
give your strength to your servant.
R/ Lord, you are good and forgiving.

Psalm 86 is a plaintive cry of the righteous sufferer, a man undergoing persecution because “insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seek my life, and they do not set thee before them” (v. 14).  In the cry of the psalmist, we see expressed the emotion of every person who has attempted to say what is true and right, although it is unpopular and “politically incorrect,” and as a result suffered misrepresentation, character assassination, public mockery, social or physical abuse, even torture and death.  Despite all this, the psalmist’s hope is in God, because “great is thy steadfast love toward me; thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (v. 13).  The literal sense of the text is a kind of resurrection from the dead, which may have been poetic hyperbole for David himself, the traditional author of the psalm, but takes on greater power in light of the resurrection of the Son of David.  The Psalm reminds us that God’s justice and mercy will be accomplished, whether in this life or at the end of time. 

3.  Reading 2 Rom 8:26-27:
 
Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.

The Second Reading at this time in the Church year continues to proceed through the Epistle to the Romans.  In the previous verses, St. Paul gave us hope in the midst our present sufferings, reminding us that those sufferings are as nothing compared to the glory and love that await us in the presence of God in the next life.  We must truly believe this in order to persevere in a life of love in the present!  

Sometimes the believer feels so beleaguered or overwhelmed by the apparent success of lies, falsehood, and evil in the present life, that he or she is not even certain how or for what to pray.  In such situations, we have the assurance that the Holy Spirit, given to us in Baptism, prays to God on our behalf, in a way that transcends words!  What a powerful promise from the Apostle, and what little stock we usually put in his words and this truth!  If we really believed what St. Paul says—and it is true!—with what greater confidence we would pray, and what greater priority we would place upon spending time in God’s presence, interceding for ourselves, the Church, our loved ones, and the world. 

4. The Gospel is Mt 13:24-43.  It’s a bit lengthy, so I will comment on it in parts:

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Matthew 13 comprises the third of five major discourses that structure the Gospel of Matthew: (1) The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7); (2) The Missionary Discourse (Matt 10); (3) The Parables of the Kingdom Discourse (Matt 13); (4) the Church Discourse (Matt 18); and (5) the Eschatological Discourse (Matt 24-25).

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells seven parables about the Kingdom of Heaven.  All of them are important to ponder, because they teach us about the nature of the Church.  The Church is both the Kingdom of David (since ruled by Jesus the Son of David) and the Kingdom of God/Heaven (since ruled by God).  The Parables of the Kingdom help us to understand that the Kingdom is truly present in the Church, despite appearances to the contrary.

One of the reasons we may disbelieve that the Church is the manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven is the presence of hypocrites and other willful sinners within the visible Church.  In the parable of the Weeds and the Wheat, Jesus addresses and explains why God permits this to be the case.  God permits sinners within the Church to allow them the opportunity of repentance.  Were He to execute judgment in this age, some destined for repentance would be judged prematurely.  The Church Fathers typically understood this parable as counseling against too quickly and rashly condemning the imperfect believer:

For room for repentance is left, and we are warned that we should not hastily cut off a brother, since one who is to-day corrupted with an erroneous dogma, may grow wiser tomorrow, and begin to defend the truth; wherefore it is added, Lest in gathering together the tares ye root out the wheat also. (St. Jerome, Catena Aurea ad loc.)

He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

Here our Lord makes an allusion to several passages of the Old Testament where a king or a dynasty is likened to a great tree that provides shelter and food to the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky: Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4; Pharaoh in Ezekiel 31; and the Son of David in Ezekiel 17.  Of particular importance is Ezek 17:22-25, which predicts a coming time when God will replant the royal house of Israel (i.e. the House of David) and it shall become a great, life-giving “tree” (international kingdom or empire).  We can understand Jesus himself to be the “mustard seed,” the “smallest of seeds” in the sense that he is the humblest of men, “despised and rejected” by men, ignored by his own people to whom he comes.  He is “sowed in the field” of this world through his death and burial, yet “sprouts” in the resurrection to become—through his mystical body—the largest and longest-lived kingdom the world has ever known: a spiritual and sacramental kingdom that still boasts over a billion adherents, even if many of these be “weeds” spoken of in the earlier parable. 

He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

This parable describes the quiet and subtle growth and influence of the Church throughout society.  In the early centuries of the Church, Christians were everywhere publically scorned and persecuted, yet somehow the numbers of Christians kept “invisibly” increasing, to the consternation of the pagan elite who ruled the Roman Empire.  In our own age, the Church is mocked and scorned at all points in public and private, yet society only manages to limp along based on concepts (human rights, the dignity of the person, the rights of the poor) and institutions (the hospital; the university) borrowed from the Church.  So the influence of the Gospel is felt everywhere, even if the Church seems “absent” from the public square—like the invisible work of yeast in bread.

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

As I said above, the Church Fathers understood this parable to speak about the presence of hypocrites in the Church.  Many schismatics throughout Church history have denied this sense of the text, and insisted that the visible church had to be pure.  Typically, these schismatics break off with like-minded followers and establish a group aggressively regulated according to the mindset of the founding leader, and a certain visible moral rectitude is maintained in such a manner for perhaps a generation or so, before the schismatic group loses its momentum and begins to tolerate dissent and diversity within its own ranks.  Countless “reform” groups have broken off the Church in this manner through history.  These groups put stress on the fact that “the field is the world”—therefore, they interpret the parable as speaking of the mixture of followers of Christ and unbelievers in the world in general, not in the Church.  However, they overlook that, at the end of the age, the Son of Man sends angels to root the weeds “out of his kingdom”!  This clearly indicates that, prior to the end of the age (the final judgment), there are “those who cause others to sin” and “evildoers” present in Christ’s kingdom, which is the Church.  Schismatic purist would prefer that Jesus told a parable in which the farmer planted all the good seed on one side of the field, and the enemy planted all the weeds on the other side, such that there was easy visible distinction between them.  Sadly, that’s not the parable Jesus told. 

So often we are scandalized by the behavior of other Catholics, even members of the hierarchy.  I have known many who use the presence of hypocrites within the Church as an excuse for not participating in the sacraments or the life of the Church in general.  I’ve never fully grasped the logic of this reasoning; it seems to me to be like refusing to attend an exercise class at the local YMCA, because not everyone who goes to the class tries their hardest.  So does that mean I shouldn’t try to get in shape myself?

Regardless, Jesus tells us this parable so that we do not become surprised and scandalized by the presence of evildoers within his visible body.  We should not conclude that, since the visible Church is not pure, the visible Church is not the manifestation of kingdom of God.  Of course, the Church Triumphant is the Kingdom of God in the clearest and most direct sense; but the visible Church Militant is also the Kingdom of God, despite the sins and failings of its members.

We should also keep in mind that, although in this life we may complain about God’s tolerance of “weeds” in the Church, at the final judgment we may find that we ourselves were “weeds” for whose conversion to “wheat” the Son of Man was patiently waiting!  So often we are completely blind to our own sins and hypocrisy, but see clearly that of others.  So elsewhere Jesus urges us to remove the “beam” from our own eye before taking the “speck” out of the eye of our brother.

Finally, this parable soberly warns us about the reality of final judgment.  Contemporary sensibilities might prefer a vision of reality in which “all dogs (and people) go to heaven,” but Jesus’ actually teaching contradicts this.  At times, we have to decide whether we are going to trust Jesus on this issue, or take the word of modern theologians who deny hell.  Jesus’ warnings, here and elsewhere in the Gospel, are firm and straightforward, and in no way imply that hell is only a theoretical possibility that will never be realized for anyone.  Reality is that we can so distort our souls by our evil choices in this life, that we end up calling good evil and evil good, and rejecting the goodness of God for eternity.  That is hell.  From one perspective it is a punishment of sin; at the same time, it is a freely chosen reality on our part.  

This week, let’s pray to the merciful God that he save us from our own hypocrisy and spiritual blindness, such that we may be true wheat, gathered into his barn!

186 comments:

Thomas Renz said...

One need not be promoting schismatic attempts at purity to question the attempt to draw lessons about church discipline from the parable of the weeds in the field. I would be interested to know on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church. (While the church is a key instrument in the exercise of his authority, Christ's authority is over all the earth and his kingdom relates to both those who affirm it and thsoe who rebel against it.)

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
One need not be promoting schismatic attempts at purity to question the attempt to draw lessons about church discipline from the parable of the weeds in the field.


Huh? Would you please explain what you're talking about?

I would be interested to know on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church.

On the grounds that God is King of Kings. And the Church is His house:

1 Timothy 3:15King James Version (KJV)

15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Ipso facto, the Church is the Kingdom of God.

On the grounds that those who are baptized are children of God:
Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

And all who are baptized are added to His Church.
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

God is King. Therefore, again, the Church is the Kingdom of God.

(While the church is a key instrument in the exercise of his authority,
Christ's authority is over all the earth and his kingdom relates to both those who affirm it and thsoe who rebel against it.)


In the earth exist both, those who submit to and affirm God's authority and those who don't.

1. Those who do are members of His Kingdom.

1a. But within His Kingdom are also weeds within the wheat. These are they who have fallen away from the truth and turned away from God.

2. But in this world there are those who don't submit to the authority of God. They are not members of His Kingdom. They are those who reject and deny God's authority. They are those who submit to the authority of the god of this world, Satan.

I hope that helps.

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
One need not be promoting schismatic attempts at purity


No one is doing that here. He simply pointed out that the Church of Scripture contains weeds amongst the wheat. And Scripture points out that these weeds will be allowed to grow with the wheat til the end of time.

to question the attempt to draw lessons about church discipline from the parable of the weeds in the field.

To question? So, you are questioning what? That God is merciful and permits the weeds to grow in His Church in order to give the opportunity to repent?

If that is what you're questioning, then I doubt that you will have any support from Scripture to back you up.

As an Evangelical minister, this is probably giving you problems. Your tradition teaches that all of you are "saved". Therefore, you believe that your church is populated by the elect. However, according to Scripture, the Church of Jesus Christ is populated by sinners and saints. Weeds and wheat. This should indicate to you, that your church is NOT the Church of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps, that is what is giving you trouble?


Thomas Renz said...

"Would you please explain what you're talking about?" The post comes close to dismissing any attempt at church discipline as a schismatic attempt at purity. I am saying that affirming church discipline is possible without becoming a schismatic. John Bergsma would presumably agree. He does not want to dismiss Matthew 18:15-20, I am sure.

But he and you seem to believe that the interpretation of this parable is divided along sectarian lines. Do you not know that, e.g., John Calvin interpreted the parable as relating to the church?

Jesus says that the field is the world. He does not suggest that there is a patch in the field which is entirely free of weeds but neither does he imply that there is another terrain somewhere else where only weeds grow. The field is the whole world.

To be sure, this parable can serve as a warning against attempts at establishing a weed-free church, if anyone is tempted in this direction. I can assure you that I have no illusions about the presence of weeds in the church and I do not believe that this will change before the end of times. But this is not why Jesus told the parable. He told the parable to address the issue that God has begun to establish his kingdom on earth without immediately removing the evildoers from the world.

If you re-read your answer to me you should be able to see that it does not address my fundamental point: Jesus says that the field is the world and there is no reason to limit our horizons to the church.

Does Christ's kingdom only extend over God's house? Does Christ have no royal claims over the unbaptised? There is of course a sense in which God is king only over those who acknowledge and submit to his rule but there is also a sense in which God is king over all. The rebels could hardly be said to be rebels, if they were not under God's kingship. And it is this more extended royal claim that is the focus of the parable in the interpretation which Jesus himself gives.

Susan Moore said...

As with most themes of the Bible, perhaps Matthew 13:24-43 can only be understood correctly if a correct understanding of Genesis chapters 1-4:9 is kept in mind.
It seems that if Jesus intended to mean that the entire field represented the entire world,
then He would have had to propose this parable instead:

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field that was overgrown and choking with weeds.
By rights he should have burnt the field bare prior to scattering the good seed but, instead, he had mercy on the weeds and let them grow.
He scattered His good seed over the canopy of mature invasive weeds,
hoping against hope that His good seed would filter down and find good soil and somehow take root and grow through the dark canopy of weeds and find the light of the sun.
It took a miracle, but 11 of the 12 original seed grew. And then speaking to the seed of His (that grew into strong plants in the weed-choked field that represents the entire world), He commissioned them, telling them to go out into the world…”
If the field already represented the entire world, where, then, did Jesus expect His to go when they were sent out into the world in Matthew 28:18-20?


The above hypothetical parable is not what Jesus said or did.
What actually happened is that Jesus came to His field given to Him by His father,
and purchased the seed with His own sacrificed blood.
For three years He grew His seed in that clean field, and protected the young shoots from weeds.
He told them that after He left they would be attacked by weeds (wolves in sheep clothing),
and plundered by thieves.
He told them if a person wasn’t against them, then that person was on their side.
He explained to His good seed that, like Him, they were in the world for a time but not of the world.
He told them not to be afraid, because He was going away to make them a place somewhere else so that they could be with Him forever.
He told them that He would send them a Helper.
He told them He would never go back on His word.
He commissioned them by dispersing His good seed into the world, and telling them to be fruitful and multiply.
And they have been fruitful and have multiplied, into the billions, because He sent His helper,
and will never go back on His word:
The Word of God is Faithful and (absolutely) True.

Thomas Renz said...

You must realise that your story of "what actually happened" is not portrayed in the parable either. There is nothing here about three years or seed producing further seed or weeds attacking wheat or a Helper coming alongside the wheat etc.

This parable is unusual for the amount of detail Jesus offers by way of interpretation. Even so, it is not a full blown allegory (e.g., the servants seem to be props) and there is no warrant for asking how the missionary activity of Christ's disciples fits into this story - or, e.g., the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Harvesting is a standard image for God's judgement of the world at the end of days; angels regularly feature in Jewish descriptions of this final judgement as God's helpers. There is therefore a prima facie case for seeing the harvest in this parable as an image for the final judgement of the world, not just the church.

If the story were soley concerned with the church, Jesus could have said "the field is the church". But that's not what Jesus said.

Susan Moore said...

I understand the confusion.
It is interesting, and sometimes complicated, how the themes in the Bible interconnect. But before I continue I would like to share with you that I suffered a head injury in a car accident several years ago, and because of that I write in a very direct way, because that is the form of communication I, myself, best understand. That directness, though, is sometimes misunderstood as a lack of humility or a voice of anger. Please understand that, at least in my case, it is neither of those things. I am writing this to you in the most sincere and peaceable way, and having just woken up from a nap. Also, please feel free to dumb it up as much as you can. I lost over 85% of my words due to that injury, and I am still learning them.

But there is one more thing that is very important before we continue about ‘seed’.
When I re-entered religious life in 2001, I went to a non-denominational evangelical church. Over a period of years, I shared with them about the interconnectedness of the themes in the Bible, but it seems due to their pride they did not want to interact with a lone woman. But it also seems the bigger issue was that their cessationistic beliefs had separated them from the grace of God, so even the one pastor who would hear me out was unable to see or hear what I showed him through what I said.

So, before we continue, I must inquire if you believe God is present and active, and able and willing to effect your beliefs and His purpose through His direct signs, wonders and miracles (such as through an instantaneous –miraculous- healing), or if you are cessationistic in your beliefs. If you are cessationistic in your present belief system, He will not permit you to hear or see what I say, and you will not be able to stop twisting my words even when you realize I intend you no harm.

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas, thanks for responding,

Thomas Renz said...
The post comes close to dismissing any attempt at church discipline as a schismatic attempt at purity.


That must be your presupposition. As Catholics, we understand authority and discipline. Most Protestant groups chafe at the disciplines imposed by the Catholic Church. So, that couldn't possibly be the case. If it were, every Catholic on this site would have complained.

The post does not dismiss or denigrate church discipline. The post merely recognizes that many schismatic groups have established intolerant puritanical societies which do not understand the mercy of God towards sinners.

I am saying that affirming church discipline is possible without becoming a schismatic. John Bergsma would presumably agree. He does not want to dismiss Matthew 18:15-20, I am sure.

Correct.

But he and you seem to believe that the interpretation of this parable is divided along sectarian lines.

I don't think that he expected any non-Catholic to reply to his post.

And I simply recognize the fact that Protestants disagree with Catholic Teaching. We, Catholics, don't interpret the Word of God differently. It is the Traditional and Orthodox interpretation. Protestants disagree with the historical interpretation of the Word of God BECAUSE they disagree with the Catholic Church. It is Protestants who are sectarian, by definition.

Do you not know that, e.g., John Calvin interpreted the parable as relating to the church?

No. But I'm not a student of John Calvin. I'm a Catholic. I disagree with the little which I've read by John Calvin. No free will, Total Depravity, irresistable grace, etc. etc. I don't agree with any of those. I believe they contradict the Word of God in Scripture and Tradition. I especially disagree with the idea of Sola Scriptura, which I believe, he and the other Reformers embrace as the pillar of their faith. I also disagree with Sola Fide.

Jesus says that the field is the world.

True. He didn't say that the field is the Kingdom of God. In the world, Jesus established His Church. In the field, Jesus planted His seed. Ok.

He does not suggest that there is a patch in the field which is entirely free of weeds but neither does he imply that there is another terrain somewhere else where only weeds grow.

From where did the enemy bring the weeds? There is nothing to indicate that the weeds were in the field from the beginning? Jesus said,

While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’


That strongly implies that the enemy brought his seed from without.

Further, Jesus explains:
He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.

The good seed are the children of the Kingdom. Jesus established His Church.

The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.


Further proving that the weeds are not members of the Kingdom of God. Their king is Satan.

The field is the whole world.

But the field is not the Church. Jesus planted His Church in the field. So did Satan his.

cont'd

De Maria said...

Thomas also said:
To be sure, this parable can serve as a warning against attempts at establishing a weed-free church, if anyone is tempted in this direction. I can assure you that I have no illusions about the presence of weeds in the church and I do not believe that this will change before the end of times.

In that sense you agree with the Catholic Church. But how does that agree with the Protestant doctrine that one is Once Saved Always Saved.

But this is not why Jesus told the parable. He told the parable to address the issue that God has begun to establish his kingdom on earth without immediately removing the evildoers from the world.

That is only part of the message. However, Jesus went on:
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.


Note that the Angels will collect out of his kingdom all evildoers. That means that Satan sowed his seed in the church as well as outside of it.

If you re-read your answer to me you should be able to see that it does not address my fundamental point: Jesus says that the field is the world and there is no reason to limit our horizons to the church.

1. We didn't.
2. But we do focus upon the Church because we are members of said Church. Therefore, it is of more interest to us. As the Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 5:12King James Version (KJV)

12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

Does Christ's kingdom only extend over God's house?

No. Again, the Scripture says:

Psalm 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

But Jesus plainly limits the parable to the children of the Kingdom vs. the children of Satan.

Does Christ have no royal claims over the unbaptised?

Certainly, but again, the point of the parable is the children of the Kingdom vs. the children of Satan.

According to the Teaching of the Catholic Church, which is the Word of God, many baptized will not be saved and many unbaptized will be saved. So, the parable fits perfectly the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

There is of course a sense in which God is king only over those who acknowledge and submit to his rule but there is also a sense in which God is king over all.

True. And the parable is obviously written in the first sense. While you are objecting to that sense of the parable.

The rebels could hardly be said to be rebels, if they were not under God's kingship.

Because you have presumed that the seed which Satan sowed remained outside of the Kingdom. But it is obvious that the seed of Satan entered the Kingdom and was or will be taken out of it in the end and thrown into the fire.

And it is this more extended royal claim that is the focus of the parable in the interpretation which Jesus himself gives.

That is your interpretation. But Jesus' interpretation is plain. The sinners will be pulled out of the Kingdom at the end. The weeds will be pulled out of the Church at the end.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Deacon Augustine said...

I agree with Thomas Renz that we should not be so quick to draw a clear demarcation between the Church and the world in this parable.

The Church exists in the world, and indeed, it is destined to fill the whole world, which is why we call it catholic. It is meant to spread out into the whole world like leaven and grow into a truly catholic institution, extending the rule of God's Kingdom to all nations. But sadly, the world also exists in the Church, and I have only to look in my own heart to know that this is true. The reason that the weeds are not pulled out is as much for my benefit as it is for those who reject God outright.

I would agree that the point of the parable is about the existence of weeds amongst the wheat within the Church. But I see no inherent contradiction in the words of Our Lord that the field is the world, because the parable is also about the reality of the Church in the world.

Deacon Augustine said...

I should have added that another significance of Our lord saying that the field is the world is that He did not say that the field is just Israel, Judah or Sion, which would no doubt irk His hearers amongst the Pharisees.

John Bergsma said...

Dear Thomas Renz:

In this document, you will find Cardinal Schonborn quoting Henri de Lubac quoting St. Augustine to the effect that the Church is the kingdom, on page 219:
http://bit.ly/1raKdfF

I would also recommend everyone read the parable of the net, which in my view says the same thing as the parable of the weeds and wheat, but even more clearly.

I do firmly believe in Church discipline, but this is not the passage to expound on it. I'll let loose on that when we get to Matt 18.

God bless and thanks for all the comments!

Matt said...

"If another member of the church sins, go and point out the fault when the
two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.
But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that
every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the
member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender
refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and
a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound
in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again,
truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will
be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in
my name, I am there among them."

De Maria said...

Deacon Augustine,

Your understanding of the parable is very much in the Catholic tradition. We can see and understand that the parable can be understood on many levels. I would be very surprised if John Bergsma doesn't agree with you.

However, I would be equally surprised if Thomas Renz will agree with you. Because Protestants generally give a verse one interpretation and can not see that Scripture speaks on many levels. I very much doubt that Thomas will agree that this parable can be used to explain both the sinners in the Church and the sinners in the world and to a lesser extent, even the sins in our own souls. But Thomas can correct me if I'm wrong.

Furthermore, Deacon, Thomas' underlying supposition is that the Church IS NOT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. He said:
I would be interested to know on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church.

He sees the Church as a human institution which has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.

But the Catholic Church says:
865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that "the Kingdom of heaven," the "Reign of God," already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made "holy and blameless before him in love," will be gathered together as the one People of God, the "Bride of the Lamb," "the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God." For "the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

I am afraid some of you seem to be obsessed with the idea that (all) "Catholics" interpret this parable in one way and (all) "Protestants" in another way. This is factually incorrect and my reference to John Calvin was meant to point out this error. I picked Calvin nearly at random; the idea that the field represents the church is very common among "Protestant" commentators.

And there are Roman Catholic scholars who agree with me. The Jesuit Daniel J. Harrington states in his commentary: "Contra Jeremias (Parables, 82 [a "Protestant" scholar!], there is no reason to identify the kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church" (Sacra Pagina, 206).

Some of you also seem to be quick to attribute to me all sorts of beliefs, so I am grateful that Susan Moore has the courtesy to ask. (And thank you for sharing your story.) No, I am not a cessasionist. Nor am I a purist.

Nor have I said or believe that the church has nothing to do with the kingdom of God. In fact, I am not sure I would disagree with the citation from the Catechism. I have only spoken against a one-to-one equation of kingdom of God with the church and an exegesis which claims that Jesus told this story to speak about hypocrisy in the church. (The use of the aorist in the opening of the parable also suggests that in referring to the sowing of good and bad seed Jesus is talking about something that has already happened.)

John Bergsma: Thank you for the link to Cardinal Schönborn's essay. In the context of the discussion in which he participates I might even side with him, i.e. to affirm that the heavenly kingdom is already on earth and the church is already in heaven. But it is problematic to read this back into the parables of Jesus. And before I am accused of driving a wedge between the teaching of Jesus and the doctrine of the church: This is not my intention here at all. I merely want it recognised that phrases do not mean the same in each context (contrast "sons of the kingdom" in 8:12 with 13:28!).

Susan Moore said...

Thank you very much for your direct explanation that even I can understand!!
I am very curious, if it is not too forward of me to ask, what has your faith walk been like (your testimony)?
Please forgive me if you think I should not have asked that.

Thomas Renz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Renz said...

(Hoping to get the formatting right this time.)

I have located another Roman Catholic commentary. Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri wirte in The Gospel of Matthew (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture): "the parable encourages patience with the presence of wickedness in the world (13:30a), it also provides assurance that the faithful children of the kingdom will be vindicated and the wicked will face a severe judgment". I wholeheartedly agree with that. What's more. If you want to add "and, by the way, the wicked are there in the church as well and it will always be thus until the end of this age", feel free to do so. I am only asking that you don't claim that this further observation is the heart of Jesus' teaching here.

Susan Moore: I don't mind your question at all but it's a long story, involving both a growing up in the faith and some dramatic moments.

Susan Moore said...

I've been known to write (very)long stories on this blog response, and some have fussed, but Dr. Bergsma has not fussed. I am listening if you care to share, no doubt others are listening as well, because they have listened patiently and lovingly to me.

heidi said...

Mr. Renz,
I agree with you that the field can not initially be interpreted as being exclusively the Church, since Jesus himself says it is the world and not the kingdom.

However, interpreting the passage with Daniel 2:1 ff in mind, (which is why, I believe, that Jesus refers to Himself as the "Son of Man" in the parable so that His hearers would call to mind the Danielic prophesies) - I think it is reasonable to suggest that what the Lord is saying is that initially the seeds to the kingdom are indeed planted in the world, alongside the evil seeds that the devil has planted since Eden.

The kingdom of God will grow and grow in the world (field) until the entire world is consumed by the kingdom (Dan 2). This is why, perhaps, at the end of the parable, Jesus says, "41 ¶ The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers"

Because by harvest time (the end of the age), the Kingdom- the Church- will have taken over the entire world as predicted in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Then, it is true, as the Lord says, that the angels will remove the sinners "from the kingdom" ( he no longer referred to the field as 'the world' but now as 'His kingdom' )

In summation, you are right - at the beginning of the parable the field is not the Church.
Dr. Bergsma and the Catholic tradition are right- at the end of the parable the entire world (the field ) is the Church (all baptized Christians- weeds and wheat)

How's that for a Catholic answer? Both-AND!!!

Thomas Renz said...

Susan Moore: I cannot take the time at the moment.

Heidi: Many thanks.

"The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

De Maria said...

Hi Thomas,

First of all, I'd like to apologize if I have misunderstood your comments. Thanks for your clarifications.

you said:

Thomas Renz said...
I am afraid some of you seem to be obsessed with the idea that (all) "Catholics" interpret this parable in one way


Well, yes, as Catholics, we have guidelines to follow for our understanding of any Scripture. We also understand Scripture on many levels. Frequently, the same verse will provide many levels of understanding, simultaneously.


and (all) "Protestants" in another way.

On the contrary, I'm surprised when Protestants agree with anyone. But I am chiefly surprised when they agree with Catholics.


This is factually incorrect and my reference to John Calvin was meant to point out this error. I picked Calvin nearly at random; the idea that the field represents the church is very common among "Protestant" commentators.

Sorry. That went right over my head. I thought you were showing him as your authority.

And there are Roman Catholic scholars who agree with me.

I doubt sincerely that those Catholics would object to John Bergsma's article as you have.


The Jesuit Daniel J. Harrington states in his commentary: "Contra Jeremias (Parables, 82 [a "Protestant" scholar!], there is no reason to identify the kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church" (Sacra Pagina, 206).

That doesn't give enough context for me to take the words at face value. I sincerely doubt that ANY knowledgeable Catholic would object that the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of the Son of Man is the Church.

I don't think you realize that we believe the Church extends into heaven. What goes without saying in our discussion, is that Jesus is speaking of the Church, on earth.

Some of you also seem to be quick to attribute to me all sorts of beliefs, so I am grateful that Susan Moore has the courtesy to ask. (And thank you for sharing your story.) No, I am not a cessasionist. Nor am I a purist.

Do you believe in justification by faith alone? Once Saved Always Saved? Sola Scriptura?

These things make a difference when we are in discussion because they are presuppositions which you bring into the discussion. Of course, we bring opposing suppostions.


Nor have I said or believe that the church has nothing to do with the kingdom of God.

I'm really surprised at that statement, because your comment sounded outraged that we should believe such a thing. You asked us to justify that the Church could be considered the Kingdom of God?

In fact, I am not sure I would disagree with the citation from the Catechism.

I quote, "I would be interested to know on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church."

cont'd

De Maria said...

cont'd

Thomas Rentz also said:

I have only spoken against a one-to-one equation of kingdom of God with the church

That is precisely what we believe. The Church is the Kingdom of God. The Church is not limited to those who are on earth. That is why we believe that we can pray to the Saints.

Hebrews 12:22-24King James Version (KJV)

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

and an exegesis which claims that Jesus told this story to speak about hypocrisy in the church.

Please quote John Bergsma saying such a thing. In my opinion, John used actual human history to confirm the truth of the Parable and to explain why such efforts are futile. But he didn't claim that Jesus was making any claims about hypocrisy at all. At least, I didn't see it. If you did, please provide the quotation.

(The use of the aorist in the opening of the parable also suggests that in referring to the sowing of good and bad seed Jesus is talking about something that has already happened.)

I disagree. It is something that is ongoing until the end of the age. That is the intent which Jesus communicates. It will be in the past tense when the end has come. But it is not the end, yet.

John Bergsma: Thank you for the link to Cardinal Schönborn's essay. In the context of the discussion in which he participates I might even side with him, i.e. to affirm that the heavenly kingdom is already on earth and the church is already in heaven. But it is problematic to read this back into the parables of Jesus.

In your opinion. I disagree because it is clear, from Scripture, that Jesus knows precisely what He is doing. He knows precisely what type of Institution He is establishing, with the power to bind and loose, on earth and in heaven.

And before I am accused of driving a wedge between the teaching of Jesus and the doctrine of the church: This is not my intention here at all. I merely want it recognised that phrases do not mean the same in each context (contrast "sons of the kingdom" in 8:12 with 13:28!).

To me, they are used in precisely the same way there. Can you explain why you think they are different? Would it help for you to understand that we don't believe in Once Saved Always Saved?

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria: I am afraid, you have not only misunderstood me, you are a long way from understanding me. E.g., I don't think you realize that I believe the Church extends into heaven in spite of what I have said about Cardinal Schönbom's essay.

If it had been my intention to attack John Bergsma and to promote "once saved always saved" I would have pointed out that according to Jesus' interpretation only the seed that produces wheat is "of the kingdom", i.e. belongs to the church [see footnote below], while the weed is not "of the kingdom" but "of the evil one" - they are mixed because both grow in the field = the world. There is no hint whatsoever of the curious idea of wheat turning into weed or weed turning into wheat. The Master does not say "don't pull out the weed, it might still turn into wheat" but "don't pull out the weed, it would uproot the wheat as well".

Footnote: Jesus does not use "kingdom" in exactly the same sense all the time, see again 8:12. I have no great problem with identifying "the children of the kingdom" with "the members of Christ's body, the church" and with Susan Moore I can envisage a day when the field (the world) and the church are co-extensive or rather the church encompasses the world here below while also encompassing the world above. Then the harvest from the field will be a harvest from the kingdom.

Thomas Renz said...

But this does not mean that the field as it is today (rather than at the end of days) can be identified with the church which is what seems to be required to turn this into a parable about hypocrisy in the church.

Also, "hypocrisy" suggests that the weeds and the wheat look pretty much the same but this is not the heart of the problem in this story. The Master's servants do not anticipate any problems identifying the weeds to be pulled out. The problem is that it cannot be done without "harvesting" the wheat prematurely.

Let me affirm again that I share the concern of the Church Fathers; I am just not persuaded that this parable is as well suited to the task of correcting purists as it might be.

Let me also affirm that there are good reasons for identifying the kingdom of God and the church in some sense.

The kingdom of God is embodied in Christ.
Christ's body is the church.
Therefore, the kingdom of God is manifest in the church.

My point is that there are other ways in which the phrase "kingdom of God" can be used so that a straight identification of the two wherever one of them is mentioned is not advisable.

Thomas Renz said...

And maybe my concern would have been better expressed by questioning the identification of the field with the church which is actually something on which De Maria and I seem to be in agreement.

But if only the good seed represents the church and the field is the world, how is the parable saying anything directly about the presence of hypocrites in the church rather than the presence of children of Satan alongside children of the kingdom in the world?

You may be interested to know that I did refer to the presence of hypocrites in the church and evil in our hearts in my sermons this morning. I do not deny that the parable can work on different, secondary levels; I just don't want to lose sight of the primary meaning which is the one given by Jesus himself in which the field is neither the church, nor the individual human heart, but the world.

De Maria, I would also like to note that you seemed to believe that you have enough context to read outrage rather than, e.g., genuine puzzlement into my initial query "on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church", but you refuse to accept that Daniel J. Harrington means that "there is no reason to identify the kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church" when he says that "there is no reason to identify the kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church".

I have learned something about the reasons for why any suggestion that the phrase "kingdom of God" may not always be used as being absolutely identical with "the church" causes such panic among some Roman Catholics. I hope you have learned something about the dangers of letting prejudice (in the literal sense) set the context for a comment made by someone who is not a Roman Catholic.

Susan Moore said...

It seems important (and difficult) to remember that there are two worlds; the physical world that is made up of the physical and measurable created things, and the invisible spiritual world that is made up of both created things as well as the divine and eternal Creator-God. God is able to come in and out of the physical world as a physical being, such as in the incarnation of the Son of God; therefore, because His body/His Church is indwelled with His Spirit, His Church/body is also a physical manifestation of a spiritual reality.

We know God is perfect. But it seems to be important to understand that although His body/Church will be perfected one day in our mortal way of thinking, it seems that in His eternal way of thinking it is already a done deal, and she is perfect in His sight due to Him being Faithful and True. The weeds do not belong to Her, the weeds are of the world. His return seems to have nothing to do with waiting for Her to mature in holiness, instead, it has to do with waiting for the full number of Gentiles to be brought in, so that the Jewish nation can then be brought in and His whole body be glorified together with Him for eternity (Rom. 11:25).

That there are two worlds, the physical world and the spiritual world, seems to be what causes the most confusion. In my mind the field in Matt. 13 is a spiritual space in the physical world where Jesus first grew His disciples safe from the weeds of the world. He told us that later the weeds would come, and it seems the first recorded weed in that space was the husband and wife Ananias and Sapphia who blasphemed the Spirit and died (Acts 5). Jesus had commissioned His seed to go out into the weedy world (Matt. 28:16), and at that point the field became as large as the physical world, but was still a separate spiritual space because His are in the world, but not of the world: and in that space, His Kingdom on earth and His Kingdom in Heaven join as one. That is to say, because His are both Spirit indwelled individually as well as collectively, it can be said that the Kingdom of God is both coming and has come.

Because we are spiritual beings in physical bodies, and belong to the Kingdom of God in heaven, and yet are made manifest as physical and erring mortal beings on earth, we cannot always tell the weeds from the wheat for the same reason it is hard to identify a plant, at times, when it is merely a sprout.

But He gives His people some guidelines:
1.At the last supper He conferred on the disciples a Kingdom (Luke 22:28-30).
2.He gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom (Matt. 16:13-20).
3.He told Peter to Shepherd the flock in His field (Kingdom) (John 21:15-17).
4. His seed will produce good fruit, not bad fruit, and will glorify His name.
5.His seed will not deny their identify in Jesus Christ.
6. His seed, when asked, will give the reason for the hope that they have.
7.”Whoever is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50).

Abraham, and others, came before the law, or had/have not heard the Word of Christ, and yet are in His Kingdom/Church. That is because Abram (and others) recognize(d) the divine nature and eternal power in the Word of God by seeing what the Word of God spoke into existence (John 10:38, Gen. 15:5-6, Romans 1:20, Heb. 11), and acted on that faith (for faith without works is dead James 2:25-26) without going against their conscience (Romans 2:12-16).

De Maria said...

Hi Thomas, thanks for responding.

Thomas Renz said...
De Maria: I am afraid, you have not only misunderstood me, you are a long way from understanding me. E.g., I don't think you realize that I believe the Church extends into heaven in spite of what I have said about Cardinal Schönbom's essay.


You are right. I thought you were opposed to that idea. But ok. Thanks for clearing that up.

If it had been my intention to attack John Bergsma

I don't think that you've attacked anyone. I'm just having a pleasant conversation with you.

and to promote "once saved always saved"

I don't think that you're promoting anything either. I do, however, believe that this is an underlying supposition to your argument.


I would have pointed out that according to Jesus' interpretation only the seed that produces wheat is "of the kingdom", i.e. belongs to the church [see footnote below], while the weed is not "of the kingdom" but "of the evil one" - they are mixed because both grow in the field = the world. There is no hint whatsoever of the curious idea of wheat turning into weed or weed turning into wheat. The Master does not say "don't pull out the weed, it might still turn into wheat" but "don't pull out the weed, it would uproot the wheat as well".

This isn't a strange concept at all. Remember that this is a parable. It is not meant to be taken literally. The weeds are not literally weeds. They are sinners. The wheat are not literally wheat. They are believers. The underlying teaching is the Mercy of God. God is postponing the final judgment so that the sinners may turn to Him and be saved.

Footnote: Jesus does not use "kingdom" in exactly the same sense all the time, see again 8:12.

True. But I thought we were discussing the term, Kingdom of the Son of Man.

I have no great problem with identifying "the children of the kingdom" with "the members of Christ's body, the church" and with Susan Moore I can envisage a day when the field (the world) and the church are co-extensive or rather the church encompasses the world here below while also encompassing the world above. Then the harvest from the field will be a harvest from the kingdom.

Agreed. I don't have any problem at all with those ideas.

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
But this does not mean that the field as it is today (rather than at the end of days) can be identified with the church which is what seems to be required to turn this into a parable about hypocrisy in the church.


1. We are not identifying the field with the Church. But the field with the world. And the Kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church.

2. The Kingdom of the Son of Man and the kingdom of Satan are both in the world and they have comingled. Jesus sends the angels to take the sinners out of His Kingdom.

Also, "hypocrisy" suggests that the weeds and the wheat look pretty much the same but this is not the heart of the problem in this story. The Master's servants do not anticipate any problems identifying the weeds to be pulled out. The problem is that it cannot be done without "harvesting" the wheat prematurely.

Again, this is a parable. The Master's servants want to pull out the wheat, but the Master knows that some of these weeds will become wheat. John quoted St. Jerome:

The Church Fathers typically understood this parable as counseling against too quickly and rashly condemning the imperfect believer:

"For room for repentance is left, and we are warned that we should not hastily cut off a brother, since one who is to-day corrupted with an erroneous dogma, may grow wiser tomorrow, and begin to defend the truth; wherefore it is added, Lest in gathering together the tares ye root out the wheat also. (St. Jerome, Catena Aurea ad loc.)"


Let me affirm again that I share the concern of the Church Fathers; I am just not persuaded that this parable is as well suited to the task of correcting purists as it might be.

I don't think he meant to correct purists as much as to illustrate the problem which purists run into.

Let me also affirm that there are good reasons for identifying the kingdom of God and the church in some sense.

The kingdom of God is embodied in Christ.
Christ's body is the church.
Therefore, the kingdom of God is manifest in the church.

My point is that there are other ways in which the phrase "kingdom of God" can be used so that a straight identification of the two wherever one of them is mentioned is not advisable.


I disagree. This is the Church age and I believe that is precisely how we must always understand it. We are born again, those of us who are members of the Body of Christ, and we dwell in the Kingdom of God, with the souls of just men made perfect. We should always remember this and keep it foremost in our minds.

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
And maybe my concern would have been better expressed by questioning the identification of the field with the church which is actually something on which De Maria and I seem to be in agreement.

But if only the good seed represents the church and the field is the world, how is the parable saying anything directly about the presence of hypocrites in the church rather than the presence of children of Satan alongside children of the kingdom in the world?


1. Its a parable. Therefore it is saying these indirectly and metaphorically.
2. It is not speaking about the presence of hypocrites in the church RATHER THAN the presence of children of Satan alongside children of the kingdom in the world. It is speaking about both. I believe this is the point Heidi made to which you agreed. It is speaking both about the presence of hypocrites in the church and the presence of children of Satan alongside children of the kingdom in the world.

You may be interested to know that I did refer to the presence of hypocrites in the church and evil in our hearts in my sermons this morning. I do not deny that the parable can work on different, secondary levels; I just don't want to lose sight of the primary meaning which is the one given by Jesus himself in which the field is neither the church, nor the individual human heart, but the world.

I agree with everything in that paragraph, except perhaps, about which is the primary meaning. I think the main point is that it does work on all those levels and we need to be aware of all those levels. They are each relevant and important.

De Maria, I would also like to note that you seemed to believe that you have enough context to read outrage rather than, e.g., genuine puzzlement into my initial query "on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church", but you refuse to accept that Daniel J. Harrington means that "there is no reason to identify the kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church" when he says that "there is no reason to identify the kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church".

Yes, I believed I had more context for your statement. But you have clarified your stance. As for Daniel J. Harrington, I looked it up. I can't find any quote where Jeremias says that the "Kingdom is the Church". Everyone seems to quote Jeremias as equating the Kingdom of the Son of Man with the Kingdom of God on this earth. Harrington seems to interpret this as meaning the Church. But without a direct quote from Jeremias or more information from Harrington, I don't think I have enough context to believe that he never equates the Kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church. Rather, I believe he probably accepts the same levels which we have been talking about but was simply not addressing the other levels in that quote.

cont'd

De Maria said...

cont'd

Thomas also said:
I have learned something about the reasons for why any suggestion that the phrase "kingdom of God" may not always be used as being absolutely identical with "the church" causes such panic among some Roman Catholics.

Why do you characterize it as "panic"? You know what you believe and I know what I believe. We are simply explaining to you what we believe. Do you consider yourself in a state of panic?

I hope you have learned something about the dangers of letting prejudice (in the literal sense) set the context for a comment made by someone who is not a Roman Catholic.

Its the opposite Thomas. If you want to color them "prejudices", that is fine. But I call them presuppositions because the word, "prejudice" carries a bad connotation.

And, I value my presuppositions. I am Catholic, with all that entails. I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth....I believe the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our faith. I believe in all the Catholic Church Teaches.

Whereas, you have described yourself as an Evangelical. As such, I know that you disagree with many of the Teachings of the Catholic Church.

Anyway, I've enjoyed our conversation. If you reply, I will respond. Otherwise, thanks for your courtesy and your patience.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

We’re still talking past each other. By way of explanation, your initial posts seemed to be all over the place in a way which suggested panic to me. It looked as if to allow for the possibility that the kingdom of the Son of Man may not be identical with the Church threatened your whole ecclesiology, as if any belief in the church being more than a human institution would come crashing down, if you had to admit that there are passages where “the kingdom of God” and “the church” are not interchangeable.

Jeremias suggests that the phrase “the kingdom of the Son of Man” here is pretty much a term for the church but considers this to be unique (the phrase is found only once more, in 16:28). You can find it on page 80 in the German edition which is the only one accessible via Google books from what I can see. (Harrington refers to page 82 in the English edition.)

When I spoke of “prejudice” I did not refer to your presuppositions in interpretation. I referred to the fact that you pre-judged me, supposing you knew a great deal about me with barely a shred of evidence, while claiming that you could not interpret a similar statement by a Jesuit writer for lack of context. (I am not even aware of having described myself as an Evangelical but I am happy with this designation, except for the fact that it may suggest to you something quite different from what it suggests to me.)

By the way, I have come across an essay which offers a glimpse of what this discussion would look like in a different context: Ralph Cunnington, “The Use of the Parables of the Weeds and the Dragnet in the Development of Reformed Ecclesiology,” Churchman 126 (2012) : 323-346 at https://www.academia.edu/2286451.

Following our conversation, I wonder whether your presuppositions allow you to distinguish between (a) [maximalist] readings of a text which are permissible and may even be edifying and (b) readings which are demanded by the text as a minimum. If not, this might explain that you cannot see why your “argument” doesn’t work as an argument.

Thomas Renz said...

Let’s imagine people who believe that their church community consists entirely of the elect who are and always will be saved. You may have come across such people. I have not, but I can imagine them for the sake of argument.

You say, “This parable is about the mercy of God. God is postponing the final judgment so that the sinners may turn to Him and be saved. It also tells us that there will always be evildoers in the church.”

They say, “No, only those who truly belong to the church are the wheat and they grow from the seed which Christ sows. The others alongside us in the field (the world) are sown by the devil; they are and always will be weed because wheat only grows from the seed that Christ sows. The parable teaches us that while God tolerates them for now, evildoers don’t really belong into the field because the whole world belongs to Christ and at the end, when the whole world is his kingdom, Christ will ensure that the children of the kingdom (= the church) are separated from everyone else. He does not remove evildoers (the weeds) now because to do so would damage the church (the wheat). But this is no reason to pretend that we cannot distinguish between weeds and wheat.”

You say, “Remember that this is a parable. It is not meant to be taken literally. The weeds are not literally weeds. They are sinners [unbelievers]. The wheat are not literally wheat. They are believers [the saved]. But sinners can become believers and the saved can become unsaved, therefore weeds can turn into wheat and wheat can turn into weed.”

They say, “But Jesus says that the wheat comes from his seed and the weed from the seed of the evil one, not that weeds turn into wheat and vice versa.”

You say, “…

Actually, I don’t know what you’d say. Probably something like “but Jerome says…” I don’t think you’ve got an actual argument against our (hypothetical) interlocutors.

What I am trying to say is that while reflection on weeds turning into wheat may be edifying as part of one's lectio divina, the thought is not demanded by the text and therefore ill suited as part of an argument against schismatics.

Thomas Renz said...

It occurred to me that it might help you to see why I resist the equation of the kingdom of God with church, if I referred to another passage in the Gospel according to Matthew:

Matthew 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

Is it really difficult for rich people to become church members and is this waht Jesus is talking about?

Matt said...

Matthew 28:18 states that all authority in heaven and on earth has already been given to Christ. Can a king not rule in a kingdom where there are those who oppose him? He is in this world in all the tabernacles throughout it despite those who reject his gospel. When this phrase is viewed particularly in light of the Eucharist, it becomes a lot easier to see the church as the kindom even here and now. The phrase in Matthew 10:7, "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" seems the most clear indication that he is not referring to an exclusive kingdom, but one which he will rule presently upon his passion, death, and resurrection...I do think it was not present until that occurred and the sacrament was instated, but there can be no doubt that after it did, his kingdom is really here right now and is present not just spiritually but physically because of his dwelling in flesh. That's not to say there won't be a greater ruling after the end of time. Just as a king has greater ability to rule when his subjects are loyal to him, so too will Christ be able to rule more freely when those within his church (where he physically resides as king) are loyal to him. Also it's important to separate the weeds from the world. While that's true (for those who know recognize, and reject in particular) it is applicable to those in his church just as much. But I think the best indication of the exegetical would not be direct passages on the kingdom, but passages on the erucharist, for where a king physically rules in a physical world, there too is his kingdom despite the obedience of his subjects subjects aka the bishops, priests, and layity.

Susan Moore said...

Dr. Bergsma, I don’t think I am interested in pursuing that Catechetic’s Certificate, after all. I used to think the Catechism was breathtakingly beautiful, but I don’t anymore. It’s like she’s been raped. Once what is lost is lost, there is no way to get it back. There is no place left to go. I feel desperately sad and in pain. I hope there is a way to study the themes in the Bible. If there is not, that’s ok. I’ll just learn the original languages and leave it rest at that. Susan

Thomas Renz said...

Susan, I am sorry to hear that you are in pain. I have of course no idea what brought on such strong language about the catechism, nor do I know whether further study is the solution. But I have confidence that there are still places for you to go and ways to study the great themes of the Bible. Maybe http://www.salvationhistory.com/studies/courses/online/?

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
We’re still talking past each other.


That's ok. People with different presuppositions tend to do that until they begin to understand each other.

By way of explanation, your initial posts seemed to be all over the place in a way which suggested panic to me.

; ) That's funny. I guess you haven't noticed that I'm addressing your posts, point by point. If I am all over the place it is because you are all over the place.

It looked as if to allow for the possibility that the kingdom of the Son of Man may not be identical with the Church threatened your whole ecclesiology, as if any belief in the church being more than a human institution would come crashing down, if you had to admit that there are passages where “the kingdom of God” and “the church” are not interchangeable.

Perhaps that is a bit of transferrance on your part. Do you feel as though your whole ecclesiology is going to come crashing down simply because I don't agree with you? I certainly don't feel that way.

Jeremias suggests that the phrase “the kingdom of the Son of Man” here is pretty much a term for the church but considers this to be unique (the phrase is found only once more, in 16:28). You can find it on page 80 in the German edition which is the only one accessible via Google books from what I can see. (Harrington refers to page 82 in the English edition.)

And apparently Harrington doesn't feel that it has to be so. But unless I see something more concrete from Harrington, saying that he absolutely denies it can ever be so, I will consider his ideas to be those of a typical Catholic. I don't think he would agree with you 100%.

When I spoke of “prejudice” I did not refer to your presuppositions in interpretation. I referred to the fact that you pre-judged me,

Nor did I. I did prejudge you as being non-Catholic. I even thought I had identified that you were a typical Evangelical from the ideas which you seemed to be communicating.

supposing you knew a great deal about me with barely a shred of evidence,

If I'm wrong, why don't you correct me? Are you afraid your ecclesiology will come tumbling down if I am right?

while claiming that you could not interpret a similar statement by a Jesuit writer for lack of context. (I am not even aware of having described myself as an Evangelical but I am happy with this designation, except for the fact that it may suggest to you something quite different from what it suggests to me.)

I know what Jesuits believe because they are Catholic.

By the way, I have come across an essay which offers a glimpse of what this discussion would look like in a different context: Ralph Cunnington, “The Use of the Parables of the Weeds and the Dragnet in the Development of Reformed Ecclesiology,” Churchman 126 (2012) : 323-346 at https://www.academia.edu/2286451.

Following our conversation, I wonder whether your presuppositions allow you to distinguish between (a) [maximalist] readings of a text which are permissible and may even be edifying and (b) readings which are demanded by the text as a minimum.


Yes, with certain caveats. I interpret Scripture according to the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church.

If not, this might explain that you cannot see why your “argument” doesn’t work as an argument.

I believe my argument is working just fine. If we keep talking, perhaps you will begin to see why yours don't.

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
Let’s imagine people who believe that their church community consists entirely of the elect who are and always will be saved. You may have come across such people. I have not, but I can imagine them for the sake of argument.

You say, “This parable is about the mercy of God. God is postponing the final judgment so that the sinners may turn to Him and be saved. It also tells us that there will always be evildoers in the church.”

They say, “No, only those who truly belong to the church are the wheat and they grow from the seed which Christ sows. The others alongside us in the field (the world) are sown by the devil; they are and always will be weed because wheat only grows from the seed that Christ sows. The parable teaches us that while God tolerates them for now, evildoers don’t really belong into the field because the whole world belongs to Christ and at the end, when the whole world is his kingdom, Christ will ensure that the children of the kingdom (= the church) are separated from everyone else. He does not remove evildoers (the weeds) now because to do so would damage the church (the wheat). But this is no reason to pretend that we cannot distinguish between weeds and wheat.”

You say, “Remember that this is a parable. It is not meant to be taken literally. The weeds are not literally weeds. They are sinners [unbelievers]. The wheat are not literally wheat. They are believers [the saved]. But sinners can become believers and the saved can become unsaved, therefore weeds can turn into wheat and wheat can turn into weed.”

They say, “But Jesus says that the wheat comes from his seed and the weed from the seed of the evil one, not that weeds turn into wheat and vice versa.”

You say, “…

Actually, I don’t know what you’d say.


You should. You just paraphrased your argument. Previously, you called it a "curious idea that wheat should turn into weeds or weeds into wheat".

Probably something like “but Jerome says…”

Yes, I did quote St. Jerome in my response.

I don’t think you’ve got an actual argument against our (hypothetical) interlocutors.

The so-called hypothetical interlocutors sound suspiciously like you and I.

What I am trying to say is that while reflection on weeds turning into wheat may be edifying as part of one's lectio divina, the thought is not demanded by the text and therefore ill suited as part of an argument against schismatics.

1. Parables are tools for indirect teaching. With reference to a parable, it is inappropriate to claim that the text demands this or that, since the text is making indirect connections and metaphors.

2. He wasn't arguing against schismatics. He was describing why their efforts fail to accomplish their purifications of the church.

3. It is quite a good argument against any who would try to advance the idea that the Church must be populated only by Saints who will never fall away.

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
It occurred to me that it might help you to see why I resist the equation of the kingdom of God with church, if I referred to another passage in the Gospel according to Matthew:

Matthew 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

Is it really difficult for rich people to become church members and is this waht Jesus is talking about?


It might help if you explain what YOU THINK Jesus is talking about. Here's what I understand.

1st. This is a short parable.
2nd. Jesus is using the idea of a rich, self supporting, self reliant individual to represent pridefulness and power.
3rd. The Kingdom of God can be both, the Church and Heaven.

We can confirm that the doctrine that the prideful will not enter the Kingdom by reading in St. Luke, the story of the Pharisee in the Temple:

Luke 18:9-14King James Version (KJV)

9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Note how the "poor" or humble man went home justified. But the "rich" or prideful and self reliant man, did not.

But does the Kingdom only mean the Kingdom of heaven or does it also mean the Church.

Here's where my presuppositions come to the fore because I know that Protestants don't believe that Baptism washes away sin. They don't believe it is a true washing of regeneration.

But, we, Catholics do. So, it is difficult for Protestants to equate the Kingdom of God and the Church.

Now, Catholics believe we are justified in Baptism. But it isn't automatic. We must have the proper disposition. Do you think that would be the disposition of the Pharisee? The disposition of the Rich Man? Or the disposition of the poor and humble who recognize that they need God?

And so, in the parable of the camel going through the eye of the needle, the Rich Man will not be permitted into the CHURCH, the Kingdom of Heaven, until he divests himself of his pride and becomes like the poor man and submits to Baptism calling on the name of the Lord.

Please explain your understanding.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Susan Moore said...

Dear Pastor Renz,
Is that your title? I don’t want to be disrespectful.
I am a Registered Nurse. Here is the U.S. God is being taken out of healthcare, out of the hospitals. Nurses are no longer allowed to address a person holistically, body, mind and spirit, but must pretend the person does not have a spirit. To make matters worse, so to speak, I had suffered from a debilitating and chronic illness for 38 years, but 5.5 years ago God miraculously healed me (instantaneously, unexpectedly, no scientific reason can account for the immediate and total absence of it other that it was a miracle).

Because of that miraculous healing, I cannot and will not deny the spirit, or the Spirit. Being able to pay my bills notwithstanding, I desire to enter the institutions and provide Spiritual care. People are perishing for lack of it, and the lack of adequate spiritual care is what is driving health care costs through the roof.
To get into the institutions, however, the institutions require me to have a Master’s degree in Theology or Divinity. As a Catholic woman I cannot get the preferred Divinity degree, so I have opted for the Theology degree.

After my prolonged experience with cessationism, and its debilitating spiritual effect in my area on other denominations, Jesus led me back to the Catholic Church last October. I talked to my Priest and he directed me to go to this school. So, here I am, to get my Master’s degree starting this fall. I was going to get the Catechetic’s certificate also, but now I won’t. But I can still get a degree in Theology, except now I feel nervous because if being a Catechetic’s teacher means I am expected, in the name of God, to be unloving and beat people over the head with my beliefs (is not the Sword our only ‘weapon’ in the armor of God Eph. 6? And does not the Sword instruct us to love others? Or perhaps I’m still confused, I thought ‘others’ meant all humans, but perhaps it only means Catholics.)
then I shudder to think what is expected of me as a Catholic theologian. That degree may not be for me, either. Which leaves me wondering how I am to get into the institutions and care for the spiritually perishing.
I just feel very, very sad. But I know God loves the broken-hearted…

Thank you for asking about my sadness. It seems easy to forget that we do not get into heaven because we know God, we get into heaven because He knows us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:21-23).

And what is the will of the Father? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

There’s no logic to God. It’s all about relationships. Nothing else matters.

Matt said...

This brings up an interesting point. De Maria, your stating that the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church. When I was referring to Kingdom of God, I was referring to a ruling of Christ on earth both spiritually and physically through the sacrament of the Eucharist in particular. This was not referring the Church itself as heaven. In fact, I don't think its safe to draw the analogy between the two as you do when you state:

"The Rich Man will not be permitted into the CHURCH, the Kingdom of Heaven, until he divests himself of his pride and becomes like the poor man and submits to Baptism calling on the name of the Lord."

While baptism opens wide the doors to the kingdom of heaven for those actively perusing a life of grace, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven **while we are still in flesh** are separate from each other. Why is the Church is the kingdom of God then? Because a kingdom is a country, state, or territory ruled by a king or queen and again, Jesus is here among us. There is more to be said on that, but the point is that the Church still has yet to experience her passion and resurrection and share in the final joys she will experience at the end of salvation history.

Matt said...

Actually, thinking about it more, Christ does state that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is a subject that I need clarification on because it would seem that while you could claim the kingdom of God, you would still not yet be able to claim the kingdom of heaven. Though admittedly, at the mass heaven kisses earth. If the focus were the mass, than this could have been directly what Christ was referring to.

Matt said...

I think I have reached an answer....at least for how it can be called the kingdom of heaven. In the article that Dr. Bergsma referenced above Aquinas states:

“The kingdom of God is spoken of by preference (as it were) in a double sense: first, as the group of those
who walk in faith, and in this sense the Church militant is called the ‘kingdom of God’; but then also as the assembly of those who have already safely attained their goal, and in this sense the triumphant Church is called the ‘kingdom of God.’”1


It easy to limit the Church to those physiscally on earth. But if you add that second element into the equation (the faithfully departed) it begins to make more sense...though I do still question if the mass does also still play a role in even us here being able to say "the kingdom of heaven" instead of just the "Kingdom of God." What needs clarifcation is teh definition of heaven. Is heaven the presence of God AND the complete absence of suffering (AND/BOTH?) If so than I still fail to see how we can call the Church the kingdom of heaven apart from it being so for the faithfully departed.

Thomas Renz said...

Dear Susan,

I am not worried about how I am addressed. I am most often called “Thomas” or “Father Thomas” and also sometimes “Rector” (my position within the community) and (outside the church) “Dr Renz”.

There are similar restrictions on nurses in the UK from what I know although some hospitals have not only chaplaincy teams but pastoral visitors under the supervision of chaplains and these pastoral visitors need not have academic training. All Christians are called to care for others and bear witness to the life-giving Spirit of God and I pray that you will find a shape to your vocation which will bring glory to God, help to others and satisfaction to yourself.

It is maybe inevitable that we should extrapolate from our experience with individuals to the characteristics of groups but we need to resist this. Some people have been put off the Christian faith by their encounter with spiteful "taking their faith seriously" Christians.

I am sure that you are not expected to be unloving and arrogant when offering catechesis as a Roman Catholic, quite the opposite. The pursuit of academic study does not always bring the best out of people (I have been an academic teacher of Sacred Scripture for twelve years before moving into parish ministry).

There are bad apples, sometimes plenty of them, but this need not mean that the harvest is going to fail. We must pray to find the good apples as well.

The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Where there is no love, you know that God does not yet truly and fully reign.

Blessings,

Thomas

Thomas Renz said...

Matt,

It is not advisable to distinguish sharply between “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God”. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is the preferred one in the Gospel according to Matthew which also uses, more rarely, “kingdom of God”. I don’t think “kingdom of heaven” is used in Scripture outside Matthew’s Gospel – “heaven” in this phrase is an alternative expression for the word “God” rather than a reference to a place.

Throughout Scripture “kingdom” is mostly used as an action word; it refers to the regal function, the active lordship of the king, not so much the terrain over which the king rules.
In some ways, “kingdom of God” is an inadequate translation. “It would be better to speak of God’s being-Lord, of his lordship.”
When Jesus tells us that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, he is saying that it is hard for rich people to submit to God’s rule. (It is not hard for them to become church members; it is possible get baptised without being divested of one’s pride, i.e. to receive the water of baptism without the right disposition.)

There is a relationship between God’s rule (the kingdom of God) and the church (the people of God) – obviously, but it isn’t that one is simply another way of speaking about the other.

Susan Moore said...

Thomas,
How funny it is, that I missed that overgeneralization, in that I am always pointing other’s overgeneralizations out to them! I was so sure I was seeing things correctly, and things looked pretty gloomy.
Thank you for taking the time to show me the error in my thinking. Things are looking brighter already!
Yes, please pray. I know the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective (James 5).
Blessings,
Susan

Matt said...

Thanks Thomas. It's seen interchangeably quite often, but I never realized it was only the gospel of Matthew that's limited to this terminology or that the word heaven in this phrase, was in reference to God/interchangeably. When I addressed the ruling element, that to me seems directly connected with regal function. It doesnt seem possible to disconnect the two:

"The regal reign of God is at hand"

"The ruling of the king over all creation (both physical and spiritual) is at hand" (though the passion, death and resurrection)

In a like manner, it would seem that both can be used interchangeably to describe the same thing. But it does help to be able to recognize that the word heaven in this particular phrase of Matthew is also used to describe the kingdom of God.

Thomas Renz said...

Matt, you're welcome. The other thing worth knowing is that the typical introduction to some of the kingdom parables seems to reflect an Aramaic idiom; "the kingdom of God is like..." is really short for "when God rules, it is like this: ...".

E.g., the translation "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant..." (Mt 13:45) may mislead some to identify God's rule/realm with the merchant in the story. A more idiomatic translation into English would be: "Again, with the rule of God, it is like this: a merchant..."

The same applies of copurse to the preceding verse, even though the identification of the kingdom with the treasure in the field makes more immediate sense than the one with the merchant searching pearls. The idiomatic way of rendering this would still be: "With the rule of God it is like this: there was a treasure..."

In other words, it is first of all the stories that are about the kingdom of God, not individual items in the story. While it is sometimes possible to identify items in the story with the kingdom (the treasure and maybe more likely the pear than the merchant), such an identification is not secured by the introduction, as if the first element mentioned is necessarily "the kingdom", nor indeed is it a requirement of these stories that they contain individual elements which on their own represent the kingdom. It is the events first of all which speak of the kingdom.

(You can probably tell that my focus is now on next Sunday's texts.)

De Maria said...

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your message. I read all three of your messages. It sounds like you started out disagreeing with me:

You said:

Matt said...
....In fact, I don't think its safe to draw the analogy between the two as you do when you state:


But end up agreeing with me when you said:
They
... But if you add that second element into the equation (the faithfully departed) it begins to make more sense...


So, I think we're in complete agreement there.

I'm also with you on the questions you asked. They are deep and thought provoking questions which I've been considering all day. To which, all I can do is give speculative answers. You asked:

Actually, thinking about it more, Christ does state that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is a subject that I need clarification on because it would seem that while you could claim the kingdom of God, you would still not yet be able to claim the kingdom of heaven.

That is true. I believe it is called the sin of presumption to claim the Kingdom of heaven in the sense that we are absolutely assured of our salvation.

Though admittedly, at the mass heaven kisses earth. If the focus were the mass, than this could have been directly what Christ was referring to.

I believe Christ was making reference to this. I believe in His Eucharistic reign. But I also believe that Jesus was making reference to the authority which He vested in the Church through His Vicar:

Matthew 16:18-19

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.


Note that He gave St. Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. As I understand it then, the Church on earth, aka the Church militant, is connected to the Church glorious which resides in heaven. This is by the grace of God and is a mystery. But it is an ongoing mystery, not just one which happens during the Mass. Although, that is where it is more tangible for those of us who believe in the Real Presence of Christ, Our King, in the Holy Eucharist.

Come to think of it, all our prayers, all our Liturgies, our entire faith is grounded in and connected to the Heavenly Liturgy. It is as though the Mass is eternal. This is why the Church recommends that we pray continually.

cont'd

De Maria said...

Cont'd

And Matt also asked:

What needs clarifcation is teh definition of heaven. Is heaven the presence of God AND the complete absence of suffering (AND/BOTH?) If so than I still fail to see how we can call the Church the kingdom of heaven apart from it being so for the faithfully departed.

The Church says:
The Church - instituted by Christ Jesus

763 It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent.160 "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures."161 To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."162

The Church - perfected in glory

769 "The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,"179 at the time of Christ's glorious return. Until that day, "the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world's persecutions and God's consolations."180 Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will "be united in glory with her king."181 The Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials. Only then will "all the just from the time of Adam, 'from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,' . . . be gathered together in the universal Church in the Father's presence."182

III. THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH

770 The Church is in history, but at the same time she transcends it. It is only "with the eyes of faith"183 that one can see her in her visible reality and at the same time in her spiritual reality as bearer of divine life.


So, if I were to venture an answer, it sounds as though we are united to heaven but we are in an imperfect state of holiness. We have not yet achieved that perfection which is necessary to obtain the Beatific Vision where we will see God as He is.

What do you think?

Sincerely,

De Ma

De Maria said...

Thomas,

You gave Matt some advice which goes against Catholic Teaching. It probably makes you no difference, but as Catholics, we desire to follow the Doctrines of Jesus Christ very closely.

You see, Jesus Christ saves only those who obey His Word:

Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

And the Word of God also says:
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

With that in mind, you are contradicting the Teaching of Jesus Christ when you keep passing off your opinion as His Word.

You say:
(It is not hard for them to become church members; it is possible get baptised without being divested of one’s pride, i.e. to receive the water of baptism without the right disposition.)

And what would be the result?

Here is what Jesus said would be the result of anyone who is baptized without the proper disposition of faith:
Mark 16:16King James Version (KJV)

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Anyone who is baptized without first possessing that proper disposition of faith, that person has condemned himself.

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that human beings add us to the Church. You're wrong. It doesn't matter whose name is written in the records of the brick and mortar building down the street. What matters is whom God has added to the Church. It is God who reads the heart. You are right, anyone can be baptized and anyone can have water poured on them. But only those who have the proper disposition of faith are added to the Church, BY GOD:

Acts 2:47 ... And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

We don't add ourselves to the God's Church. It is His Kingdom. He decides who merits His grace.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Matt said...

I would have to agree: The Church is the kingdom of heaven not only because of the saints that have gone before us marked in the sign of faith, but because we are united to heaven at every mass even though we are not able to obtain the Beatific vision that they share in...that isn't to neglect Thomas Renz's points though. While Aquinas may in fact relate both to the Church, one to the heavenly, (The kingdom of heaven is at hand) and the other to us here below (the kingdom of God is at hand), it is interesting that Matthew is one of the only to use this phrase. I think Thomas Renz has a point, that the kingdom of heaven as used by Matthew to refer to the kingdom of God is plainly stated the kingdom of God. It seems that Aquinas did not make this connection when he interpreted the two phrases as separate. Of course never really separate because both are referring to the Church...but separate in that one is related to the church here below and the other to the Church above...or maybe there is an element where St. Matthew did use the phase this way, but Thomas is still correct in his interpretation.

De Maria said...

Matt said...
I would have to agree: The Church is the kingdom of heaven not only because of the saints that have gone before us marked in the sign of faith, but because we are united to heaven at every mass even though we are not able to obtain the Beatific vision that they share in...


Ok.

that isn't to neglect Thomas Renz's points though. While Aquinas may in fact relate both to the Church, one to the heavenly, (The kingdom of heaven is at hand) and the other to us here below (the kingdom of God is at hand), it is interesting that Matthew is one of the only to use this phrase.

I'm not understanding your point. Are you saying that SAINT Thomas Aquinas is wrong and that Thomas Rentz is right?

I think Thomas Renz has a point, that the kingdom of heaven as used by Matthew to refer to the kingdom of God is plainly stated the kingdom of God.

How about this verse in Matthew?
Matthew 16:18-19

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.


Did Jesus Christ not establish His Kingdom of heaven on earth when He established the Church upon the Rock of Peter and give him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven?

Or how about this?

Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

How could the Pharisees enter the Kingdom of Heaven if it were only in heaven?

And how about this one?

Matthew 25:13-15

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.


Who is the Man who went on a journey? Is He the King of Heaven? And His servants? Are they in the Kingdom of Heaven?

It seems that Aquinas did not make this connection when he interpreted the two phrases as separate. Of course never really separate because both are referring to the Church...but separate in that one is related to the church here below and the other to the Church above...or maybe there is an element where St. Matthew did use the phase this way, but Thomas is still correct in his interpretation.

You may prefer Thomas Rentz opinion if you like. But I don't. I prefer St. Thomas Aquinas' understanding of the Word of God.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, are you claiming that it is essential for a faithful Roman Catholic to distinguish sharply between "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God" in the following passage?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."


Are you claiming that those who believe that the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32 esentially refers to the same realities as the parable of the mustard seed in Mark 4:26-29 go against the teaching of the Roman Catholic church?

If so, what's your evidence? If not, why do you describe my response to Matt as going "against Catholic teaching"?

Matt said...

Everything here is hard to follow. Im going to sum this up a bit as I have reached some conclusions on my own part. Am I saying that St. Thomas Aquinas is wrong? St. Thomas Aquinas does have thoughts and opinions that differ even from other saints. While his words carry great impact, they are not infallible.

On the one hand I see how Aquinas can make the claim he does. The Church consists of both those who are here on earth as well as those in heaven. The "kingdom of God" being referred to as who are here on earth...The kingdom of heaven as those in the church who are now presently in heaven.

But Thomas Renz then made the point that such distinctions should not be made. His backing for this was that the phrase "the kingdom of heaven" instead of "the
kingdom of God" is only found in Matthew...that it may have been the author that chose to use the word heaven instead of God. Thomas Renz appears to be eliminating the distinction made by Aquinas, something that seems completely permissible and is actually very interesting. But this topic of the distinctions between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God as used in Matthews gospel is a side subject.

....Now to the main subject and what started the very first comment on this blog. Thomas Renz is in my opinion being misunderstood. He is not making the claim that the Church is not the kingdom of God. When he stated his first question, he stated "I would be interested to know on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church."

De Maria your quotes two above on the kingdom from the various scripture passages clearly layout how it is. But it seem evident based on everything said that what he is actually asking this: "I would be interested to know on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church related to THIS PASSAGE"

And he has a good basis for asking it. Christ identified the field in this gospel as the world. The wheat and weeds are not simply the church but the entire world. Its very similar imagery to that of Matthew 13, where you once again have the imagery of the world on a global scale and not limited to the Church. I'm not contesting that the fathers of the Church make reference to this gospel being the church but it would be interesting to know why they do when there is clear imagery in this and other passages near this in Matthew indicating that Christ isn't just identify his Church here.

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, I have been reflecting on what it is that prevents you from truly engaging with me.

With regard to Harrington you say “I don't think I have enough context to believe that he never equates the Kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church.” But you assumed that I would never equate the two and you did so based on a query which is substantially making the same point as the statement I later cited from Harrington. Why? Because you knew that as a Jesuit Harrington could hardly be advocating a complete separation of kingdom and church, while you presumed that this was my intention.

The irony is that if you had read my statements as if coming from a priest of the Roman Catholic church, you would likely have understood better what I was saying.

If I point out that the parable as initially told by Jesus (without Jerome’s additions) need not give any who “advance the idea that the Church must be populated only by Saints who never fall away” nearly as much trouble as John Bergsma and you assume, I am not thereby abandoning catholic ecclesiology. In spite of my attempts to correct you, you failed to grasp that I would have nothing to lose, if I found your reading of the parable compelling. My ecclesiology would not need to change. I am with Augustine against the Donatists. I am just saying that if I ever meet any modern-day Donatists, I will not be using this parable as evidence that the church must be a mixed body.

By contrast, you seem to think that if you had to acknowledge the point I am making, you would have to abandon your ecclesiology, or so it seemed to me because you were introducing a whole host of other topics (e.g., intercession of the saints, baptismal regeneration) which seem to me to have even less to do with this parable than the question of church discipline. Admittedly, it was not panic which made you jump from place to place, labouring points which you imagined to be contentious between us. You are probably living, maybe re-living, discussions with (imagined or real) “Protestants” on the basis of your belief that “it is difficult for Protestants to equate the Kingdom of God and the Church” and that this is the reason I queried the reading offered in this blog post. Because it is not you find yourself arguing against an interlocutor of your imagination.

Thomas Renz said...

It may be true that I, too, do not always grasp what you are saying and why. Because you rarely explain how what you say relates to anything I said, I have to guess what is going on in your mind to make sense of your posts. E.g., in your 3:51 PM post you seem to be saying that “the kingdom of God” and the kingdom of heaven” must always be sharply distinguished because not to do so (my advice to Matt) “goes against Catholic Teaching”. Why does it go “against Catholic teaching”?

You see, Jesus Christ saves only those who obey His Word. You seem to assume that I would disagree with Hebrews 5:9 and 1 Timothy 4:16. But have I given you any reason to believe that I deny that “Jesus Christ saves only those who obey His Word”? I don’t think so.

And what has this to do with the question at hand? One guess would be that you (absolutely, always) equate “the kingdom of God” with the church and “the kingdom of heaven” with heaven and that on this basis you must sharply distinguish between them because you believe that not all who belong to church will “go to heaven” in the end.

But this guess may be wrong because in your 6:38 PM post you ask rhetorically “How could the Pharisees enter the Kingdom of Heaven if it were only in heaven?” I have no idea why you think this is an argument against Matt who from what I can see did not say that the kingdom of heaven is only in heaven. In fact, here you seem to come close to acknowledging that “the kingdom of heaven” in these passages is not in fact different from “the kingdom of God” and yet the claim that the two are often interchangeable is precisely the one you wish to contest. So why don’t you tell us how they are distinct?

Maybe You see, Jesus Christ saves only those who obey His Word. was not meant as an argument to prove that “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven” must always be distinguished. Maybe its purpose was to suggest that I do not obey the word of Christ because (allegedly) I go against Catholic teaching.

Which opinion of mine have I been passing off as the Word of Christ? I am merely saying that phrases such as “the kingdom of God” do not always mean and signify the same and that the phrase “kingdom of heaven” is often used in Matthew as another way of saying “kingdom of God”. This is a simple observation which in no way contradicts the teaching of Jesus.

You continue your imaginary conversation by attributing to me the belief that “human beings add us to the Church” which you then refute. In fact, you should be having a discussion with yourself because you have earlier said that “all who are baptized are added to His Church” and now you say “anyone can be baptized and anyone can have water poured on them. But only those who have the proper disposition of faith are added to the Church.” (I am not in fact in real disagreement with either of these statements; they can be read as both true, if phrases and terms are allowed to have different meanings in different contexts.)

De Maria said...

Hi Matt,

You said:
Anonymous Matt said...
Everything here is hard to follow. Im going to sum this up a bit as I have reached some conclusions on my own part. Am I saying that St. Thomas Aquinas is wrong?


That's what it sounds like to me.

St. Thomas Aquinas does have thoughts and opinions that differ even from other saints. While his words carry great impact, they are not infallible.

Ok.

On the one hand I see how Aquinas can make the claim he does. The Church consists of both those who are here on earth as well as those in heaven. The "kingdom of God" being referred to as who are here on earth...The kingdom of heaven as those in the church who are now presently in heaven.

But Thomas Renz then made the point that such distinctions should not be made.


Who made that rule? Thomas Renz?

His backing for this was that the phrase "the kingdom of heaven" instead of "the
kingdom of God" is only found in Matthew...that it may have been the author that chose to use the word heaven instead of God. Thomas Renz appears to be eliminating the distinction made by Aquinas, something that seems completely permissible and is actually very interesting.


Not if it contradicts Catholic Teaching. Unless you are now submitting to the authority of Thomas Renz.

But this topic of the distinctions between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God as used in Matthews gospel is a side subject.

....Now to the main subject and what started the very first comment on this blog. Thomas Renz is in my opinion being misunderstood. He is not making the claim that the Church is not the kingdom of God. When he stated his first question, he stated "I would be interested to know on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church."

He and I already dealt with that. On one hand he says that it is. On the other hand, he wants to control when it is and when it isn't. I have explained my reasons to him why I believe it is always so. And unless anyone can show me where this contradicts Catholic Doctrine, I will continue to stand on my arguments.

cont'd

De Maria said...

Matt also said:
De Maria your quotes two above on the kingdom from the various scripture passages clearly layout how it is. But it seem evident based on everything said that what he is actually asking this: "I would be interested to know on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church related to THIS PASSAGE"

Asked and answered. Please reread my responses to him.

As I told him, one must divest himself of pride and adopt the proper disposition in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven. He denies this. That is the symbolism of the Rich Man.

As a Catholic, how did you enter the Kingdom of Heaven? As for me, I believe the Church that I was born again a son of God, by Baptism.

That is the symbolism of the Rich man and the Kingdom of heaven which he brought up.

The weeds and the wheat are similar. Christ planted his seed in the world. That is the Church, His Kingdom. The Devil also planted his seed in the world. That is his kingdom. Some of Christ's seed is in the Devil's kingdom and some of the Devil's seed is in Christ's kingdom. That is why Jesus says:

"The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. "

Note that he does not say out of the field or out of the world. But out of His Kingdom, which is the Church. We know this because earlier he said that the "good seed are the children of the Kingdom".

And he has a good basis for asking it. Christ identified the field in this gospel as the world. The wheat and weeds are not simply the church but the entire world.

You are mistaken. Read the parable again. Read also Jesus' explanation of the parable.

Its very similar imagery to that of Matthew 13, where you once again have the imagery of the world on a global scale and not limited to the Church. I'm not contesting that the fathers of the Church make reference to this gospel being the church but it would be interesting to know why they do when there is clear imagery in this and other passages near this in Matthew indicating that Christ isn't just identify his Church here.

Your question has been answered over and over. If you choose to believe Thomas Renz over the Father's of the Church, that is your business.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, I believe that you are not only slandering me but also bearing false witness about the teaching of the Roman Catholic church.

"The meaning of the expressions kingdom of heaven, kingdom of God, and kingdom of Christ in Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, as well as in the documents of the Magisterium, is not always exactly the same, nor is their relationship to the Church, which is a mystery that cannot be totally contained by a human concept. Therefore, there can be various theological explanations of these terms."

This is what I am trying to say in the words of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The quote is from the Dominus Iesus declaration, as is the following:

"To state the inseparable relationship between Christ and the kingdom is not to overlook the fact that the kingdom of God — even if considered in its historical phase — is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality."

De Maria said...

Thomas, you asked:

Thomas Renz said...
De Maria, are you claiming that it is essential....


Are you referring to my comment which begins:

Blogger De Maria said...

Thomas,

You gave Matt some advice which goes against Catholic Teaching....


Please read what I said carefully. Catholic Teaching says that one must have the "proper disposition" in order to receive a baptism.

1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.

But you nonchalantly dismissed the idea saying:

(It is not hard for them to become church members; it is possible get baptised without being divested of one’s pride, i.e. to receive the water of baptism without the right disposition.)

Your words are a direct contradiction of the Teaching of the Catholic Church.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

O De Maria, words fail me. Did you not yourself say that “many baptized will not be saved”? Are these all people who had the right disposition when they received baptism but later changed and got lost?

My point was that there are people who undergo the rite of baptism without the right disposition , not to deny that the right disposition is required for baptism to bear fruit.

Thomas Renz said...

I assume of course that the church (in some sense) consists of all the baptised (minus the excommunicated maybe), while only the "saved" will inherit the kingdom of God.

If we say "many baptized will not be saved" we therefore say that there are members of the church who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But I brought up the saying of Jesus about how difficult it is for rich people to enter the kingdom of God/heaven not to talk about baptism, let alone to decry Roman Catholic teaching about baptism, but for the specific purpose of asking you whether you believe we must distinguish between "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" in this saying in order to be faithful Catholics. In your excitement about smelling another alleged heresy of mine, you have not actually answered the question.

De Maria said...

Hi Thomas,

I'm glad you're online.

Thomas Renz said...
O De Maria, words fail me. Did you not yourself say that “many baptized will not be saved”?


Again, this is where my presuppositions come to the fore again. You should really try to learn more about what Catholics believe. If you did, you would know that a valid baptism does not guarantee salvation. We do not believe in once saved always saved.

Let me illustrate. Baptism is just the first Sacrament. One must continue to receive all the Sacraments in the right disposition. We believe in continual justification.

Are these all people who had the right disposition when they received baptism but later changed and got lost?

Yes. Remember the curious idea of wheat becoming a weed?

My point was that there are people who undergo the rite of baptism without the right disposition , not to deny that the right disposition is required for baptism to bear fruit.

Yes. But you insinuate that these people become part of the Church. That they are born again. But they are not. Mark 16:16, He who believes and is baptized is saved. He who does not believe is CONDEMNED.

Receiving a Sacrament without the right disposition is a sacrilege. That is why St. Paul says of those who receive the Eucharist without the right disposition:

1 Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
I assume of course that the church (in some sense) consists of all the baptised (minus the excommunicated maybe), while only the "saved" will inherit the kingdom of God.


As I understand the Catholic Faith, not all who are baptized receive the grace of baptism, which is to be born again a child of God. Only those who receive the grace in the proper disposition.

1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.

If we say "many baptized will not be saved" we therefore say that there are members of the church who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

That is correct. Many who received baptism in the proper disposition and became children of God, will be lost.

But I brought up the saying of Jesus about how difficult it is for rich people to enter the kingdom of God/heaven not to talk about baptism,

Baptism is how we enter the Church, the Kingdom of Heaven.
1273 Incorporated into the Church by Baptism, the faithful have received the sacramental character that consecrates them for Christian religious worship.84 The baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.85

let alone to decry Roman Catholic teaching about baptism,

I didn't say decry. I said that your advice went against Catholic Teaching.

Essentially, Thomas, you don't know what you are saying. You are advising us, your ideas which we consider errors.

You say that we are talking past each other. But we are not. I know precisely where you are coming from. You don't understand where I'm coming from. That is why these things surprise you. I don't know how many times I've repeated that we don't believe in OSAS. Yet, you are still surprised that we believe some of the baptized will not be saved.

but for the specific purpose of asking you whether you believe we must distinguish between "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" in this saying in order to be faithful Catholics.

No, we don't have to. The terms are synomymous.

In your excitement about smelling another alleged heresy of mine, you have not actually answered the question.

I didn't call yours a heresy. But it is an error.

Your hyperbole doesn't add to the understanding between us. It tends to muddle things up whn you constantly accuse someone of panic, threatened ecclesiology and calumny. Please stick to the point, we'll get on much better.

And yes, I've answered every single one of your questions. If you go back and add up your questions and mine, you'll find that it is you who conveniently dismiss most of mine.

Thomas Renz said...

I do know that the Roman Catholic church teaches that a valid baptism does not guarantee salvation. And I do not disagree with that.

I probably did not fully realise that the Roman Catholic church teaches that at the moment of baptism, the person being baptised is saved (only for many of them to lose their salvation afterwards) or nthat it is impossible to receive baptism without the right disposition.

Yes, I still find the idea of wheat turning into weed "curious" in the sense that (a) it's not the natural way; (b) it's not a point Jesus makes; (c) it is not a thought developed by Augustine or Jerome from what I can see. They only refer to weeds turning into wheat. You seem to be basing your particular argument against "once saved, always saved" on an idea without precedence in nature, the Gospel, or the Church Fathers.

Assuming then that everyone receives baptism with the right disposition, do people lose not only their salvation but also membership of the Church on the day that they lose the right disposition? Are you now saying that the Church only consists of "the saved"? You certainly seem to take issue with my claim that the church includes those who are baptised but do not have the right disposition.

Thomas Renz said...

This was an interesting cross-posting. Your later post helps me see that you do agree that it's possible to receive baptism without the proper disposition. But the fundamental question remains: Are you saying that people who receive baptism without the proper disposition are not members of the church?

I am afraid "my surpise" at your acknowledgement that not all the baptized will be saved is entirely in your imagination. I am not surprised to hear that you don't believe that the baptised equals the saved. I am surprised that you don't realise that this, our common belief, implies that the church (the baptised) and the kingdom (inherited by the saved) cannot be fully identical.

You now seem to be avoiding this conclusion by narrowing the reference of the term "church" which is ironic, given that you had always assumed that I hold the view that the church only consists of "the elect" or "the saved" or "the ones with the right disposition" whatever you wish to call it.

Thomas Renz said...

And having given Matt a hard time for (apparently) preferring my advice that "the kingdom of God" and "the kingdom of heaven" should not be sharply distinguished over the distinctions Thomas Aquinas makes, you now say (nonchalantly!): "The terms are synomymous." I wonder whether you have lost the plot somewhere.

Thomas Renz said...

And in your very first response to me you claimed that the kingdom and the church are identical because

"those who are baptized are children of God"

"And all who are baptized are added to His Church"

Do you really still know what you are saying?

Matthew the meek said...

Regarding what you quoted Thomas: "To state the inseparable relationship between Christ and the kingdom is not to overlook the fact that the kingdom of God — even if considered in its historical phase — is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality."

I would respectfully have to disagree with this one.It comes back to the sacramental nature of how Christ is present with us here. To me it seems clear that the Church even in her visible reality is directly related with the kingdom of God. You are peter and on this rock I will build my church...I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven (the kingdom of God/the Church). The indication that he is directly speaking of the Church as the kingdom of heaven (as used in Matthews terminology)/the kingdom of God (as used elsewhere, follows in the very next sentence: whatever you bind on earth (in this kingdom of God that I am establishing here on earth) shall be bound in heaven (the other side). Here at the last part heaven is now breaking away from the phrase kingdom of heaven which to Matthew as you explained is interchangeable with "kingdom of God". Here it seems clearly to be speaking about the life to come. Feel free to engage me on this, I would like to discuss it further on why you think this, its a very interesting subject to me.

But for the rest of this lets just agree to ignore De Maria. There is very little righteousness thats eminating from those comments. I want to actually understand your thoughts on this a bit more without slamming you in the process in a serious discussion on why you think that the visible Church cannot be identified with the kingdom of God.



Thomas Renz said...

And are there any real questions I did not attempt to answer? If so, I apologise. Chances are that I have overlooked them in your barrage of rhetorical questions. Take the first which I did not answer.

I said that it is possible "to question the attempt to draw lessons about church discipline from the parable of the weeds in the field" without promoting schismatic attempts at purity.

You replied: "To question? So, you are questioning what? That God is merciful and permits the weeds to grow in His Church in order to give the opportunity to repent?"

Frankly, it was hard for me initially to see how this related to my statement. Now I know that you believe that the parable teaches us something about God patiently giving opportunities to repent. I still find this a bit of a stretch but to question that this parable is about God's mercy for repentance is not the same as to question God's mercy for repentance. Your apparent equation of the two is purely to score points, so even now I do not see the need to answer the question. If you believe that I question God's mercy, it says more about you than me.

The post ended with another question: "Perhaps, that is what is giving you trouble?" This question is based on your assumption that I am an "Evangelical minister" and that this means: "Your tradition teaches that all of you are "saved". Therefore, you believe that your church is populated by the elect." I have said that I believe neither of these things you attribute to me, so your question is redundant.

De Maria said...

Thomas said:
I do know that the Roman Catholic church teaches that a valid baptism does not guarantee salvation. And I do not disagree with that.

ok

I probably did not fully realise that the Roman Catholic church teaches that at the moment of baptism, the person being baptised is saved (only for many of them to lose their salvation afterwards) or nthat it is impossible to receive baptism without the right disposition.

Ok

Yes, I still find the idea of wheat turning into weed "curious" in the sense that (a) it's not the natural way;

I don't know what you mean by the natural way, but St. Paul says:

1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

And St. Peter says:
2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

(b) it's not a point Jesus makes;

That's because you are reading literally. When Satan plants a seed, he doesn't plant it in the ground, but in the soul of a man.

(c) it is not a thought developed by Augustine or Jerome from what I can see.

They are more concerned with repentance, that is, with weeds to wheat.

They only refer to weeds turning into wheat. You seem to be basing your particular argument against "once saved, always saved" on an idea without precedence in nature, the Gospel, or the Church Fathers.

I thought you didn't believe in OSAS? Now you're defending it?

But that's ok, because all you're doing is guessing. If Jesus(Matt 7:21), St. Paul, and St. Peter are not enough for you, how about these two?

Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165).
But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded . . . to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved. And I hold, further, that such as have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back from some cause to the legal dispensation, and have denied that this man is Christ, and have not repented before death, shall by no means be saved. Further, I hold that those of the seed of Abraham who live according to the law, and do not believe in this Christ before death, shall likewise not be saved . . . – Justin Martyr, Dialogue Of Justin 47

Irenaeus (A.D. 120-200),
Those who do not obey Him . . . have ceased to be His sons. Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book 4.41.3.

Assuming then that everyone receives baptism with the right disposition, do people lose not only their salvation but also membership of the Church on the day that they lose the right disposition?

What does that have to do with the question we're discussing? The Scriptures teach that believers may fall away. The Church Fathers do also.

Are you now saying that the Church only consists of "the saved"?

No. The Church is composed of those whom God has added to the Church:
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

You certainly seem to take issue with my claim that the church includes those who are baptised but do not have the right disposition.

Yes. I have explained why.

I think you're struggling with the spiritual dimension of the Word of God.
2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

It sounds as though you think that all the people who attend church and walk around in the building are children of God. The brick and mortar building which we call the church is not the Church which Jesus Christ built. It is where His members assemble. But not all those who assemble therein are His members. Remember, not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven" (Matt 7:21).

De Maria said...

Blogger Thomas Renz said...
This was an interesting cross-posting. Your later post helps me see that you do agree that it's possible to receive baptism without the proper disposition.


Yes. But the results are disastrous.

But the fundamental question remains: Are you saying that people who receive baptism without the proper disposition are not members of the church?

Correct. They do not receive the grace of new life in Christ. They commit the mortal sin of sacrilege/

I am afraid "my surpise" at your acknowledgement that not all the baptized will be saved is entirely in your imagination.

Really? So when you said "words fail me", you did not mean that you were so surprised that you could not think of what to say?

I am not surprised to hear that you don't believe that the baptised equals the saved. I am surprised that you don't realise that this, our common belief, implies that the church (the baptised) and the kingdom (inherited by the saved) cannot be fully identical.

Does "synonymous" mean "identical"?

The Church is the Kingdom of God whether I remain in it or not. The Church is the Kingdom of heaven, whether I remain in it or not. You're from the UK. Presumably from England. If you defect to the US, does that make England any less a Kingdom?

You now seem to be avoiding this conclusion by narrowing the reference of the term "church" which is ironic, given that you had always assumed that I hold the view that the church only consists of "the elect" or "the saved" or "the ones with the right disposition" whatever you wish to call it.

I'm not avoiding anything. I've proven your arguments wrong and Now you're seeking to change the argument in order to make it appear that your point is valid. We aren't discussing OSAS. Even though I've already proven that the Scriptures do not teach it. Even though you're defending it even though you say you don't believe in it.

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
And in your very first response to me you claimed that the kingdom and the church are identical because

"those who are baptized are children of God"

"And all who are baptized are added to His Church"

Do you really still know what you are saying?


Yes. Do you deny that the baptized are children of God? Do you deny that the Baptized are added to His Church?

You're confusing yourself because You focus upon the earthly part of the Church. Claim it isn't part of the Kingdom of heaven. Then when proven that it is a part of the Kingdom of heaven, you turn to the spiritual part of the Kingdom of Heaven and forget that the Church also has a spiritual component. Yes, Virginia, the Church Triumphant is already in heaven. And there is another spiritual part of the Church, the Church suffering which is in Purgatory.

Again, I mentioned it before, you focus on the letter, but the letter kills. The Spirit is life. The Word of God requires spiritual discernment.

De Maria said...

Thomas,

Its been fun, but if you post anything, I'll have to wait til tomorrow to respond. Good night.

Thomas Renz said...

Matthew the meek: I shall take your advice and ignore De Maria. His ludicrous misreadings would be funny, if it weren't so sad.

I don't think I disagree with the substance of your second paragraph. But even then the visible church is the seed of the kingdom rather than its full substance which must, e.g., also include the part of the church which is no longer visible to us.

And there is a sense in which the kingdom of God rules over all - he is the great king who rules the whole earth. Already the psalmist claims as much, while of course there is a sense in which God's kingdom is only present in and through the people of God. In the same way, because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ (Mt 28:18 cf. John 3:35; 13:3; 17:2), there must be a sense in which Christ is king over all, even though there is of course also a sense in which only those who have been rescued from the power of darkness have been transferred into his kingdom (Col. 1:13).

Dominus Iesus distinguishes between the church and the kingdom, e.g. on the grounds that the kingdom is yet to be fully realized. We might offer a rejoinder by pointing out that this could be said of the church as well. But it is not unreasonable to picture the visible church as the seed and the kingdom as the tree, even if this is not the only valid reading of the parable of the mustard seed.

The reason given for saying that "the kingdom of God — even if considered in its historical phase — is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality" in the immediately following sentence (which I had not quoted) is this: "In fact, “the action of Christ and the Spirit outside the Church's visible boundaries” must not be excluded" (quoting John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 18).

There has been a fair bit of discussion within the Roman Catholic church as well as more widely. Ironically, given the discussion here, I am if anything on the more ecclesiocentric end of that discussion. But I don't think this makes it right to substitute "church" for "kingdom" without further argument.

The claim that this parable makes a point about the inevitability of the church being a corpus mixtum seems to rest entirely on the straight identification of "the church" with "the kingdom of the Son of Man" and there is not much of a reason why we should do so. Yes, the seed which the Son of Man sows grows into "children of the kingdom" but this can hardly be used as an argument for equating "kingdom" with "church" and then extending church to cover the whole field, given that the weeds are pretty much explictly not children of the kingdom. (Unlike De Maria, you will have realised that I have not argued against the possibility of children of the evil one becoming children of God [how ridiculous would that be!], nor against children of God making shipwreck. I have merely denied that these truths are taught in this parable, as there is no hint of weeds turning into wheat or wheat into weeds.)

(Augustine's argument against the Donatists was in fact more subtle than that. He pointed out that the wheat grows in the whole field = the world and that this creates problems for those who see weeds everywhere but claim that the church is suddenly only to be found in Africa.)

Thomas Renz said...

In the essay “The Church and the Kingdom: A Study of their Relationship in Scripture, Tradition, and Evangelization,” Letter & Spirit, 3 (2007): 23-38, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J offers these reasons for being reluctant about equating kingdom and church.

"Some competent scholars continue to maintain that the Church in the New Testament is identical with the kingdom of God. This opinion is, in my judgment, too narrow. The kingdom, as I have said, is sometimes identified with the work of Christ in his public ministry, even prior to the founding of the Church. At other times, the kingdom is treated as a future eschatological reality. Even after the Church is established, Christians still have to pray for the coming of the kingdom, as they do in the “Our Father.” Then again, Jesus indicates that the kingdom will be taken away from the Jews (Matt. 21:43), but the Jews never possessed the Church. Furthermore, metaphors such as the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price (Matt. 7:44-46), which are depicted as standing for the kingdom, are difficult to apply to the Church. One may conclude then, that while many kingdom sayings in the New Testament can be applied to the Church, the kingdom and the Church do not fully coincide."

He claims that "Augustine is often considered the author of the idea that the Church and the kingdom of God are identical…But Augustine sometimes points to differences between the Church and the kingdom.”

He observes: “In the documents of the Catholic magisterium, the kingdom is frequently depicted as in some respects transcending the Church.” The vatican document I have already quoted says of course as much. But Cardinal Dulles refers to two encyclicals by Pope Pius XI, Ubi Arcano (1922) and Quas Primas (1925). “In both these encyclicals he pointed out that Christ’s empire is all-encompassing; it includes the secular as well as the religious, the temporal as well as the spiritual, the natural as well as the supernatural. The Church, on the other hand, has a limited sphere of authority…According to Pius XI, therefore, the reign of Christ is not restricted to the Church.”

More recent popes have stressed the link between the kingdom of God and the church, speaking out against more secularist interpretations. (As indicated above, I side with Benedict XVI, see chap. 3 in his Jesus book.)

Dulles sums up John Paul II as saying (in Redemptoris Mission): “The kingdom cannot be detached from the Church any more than it can be detached from Christ, for Christ has endowed the Church, his body, with the fullness of the blessings and means of salvation. The Church has a specific and necessary role in the process of salvation, for it is commissioned to announce and to inaugurate the kingdom among all peoples." He then observes, "The same pope is willing to say, as did Paul VI, that the Church is at the service of the kingdom.”

If I had to offer a thumbnail sketch definition I'd say that "the kingdom of God" is about God's rule, while "the church" refers to God's people. The two are obviously very closely related but -equally obviously to me- the community that submits to God's rule is not identical with God's rule itself.

Matt said...

No! Don't give in! Let that be the last one. He or she is really not worth the energy. I cant respond at the moment, but I will respond sometime shortly here. Dr. Bergsma had some more insightful things to say on his new weeks posting that bring up some more points on the usage of kingdom, but I would like to finish this conversation. PS: you dont have to call me Matthew the Meek. It was more a poking fun statement that while I may disagree or have a debate I will respect you in the process and be open to hearing what you have to say.

heidi said...

Thomas and Matthew the Meek:
I am glad you both decided to carry on with this debate while ignoring De Maria - who does nothing but confuse and obfuscate the subject matter.

I would like to offer an excerpt on the subject of the kingdom which is taken from Hilarin Felder's Jesus of Nazareth p. 173

"The dominion of God over the world, or the kingdom of God in the world, was in general the sum total of all the hopes for the future. The entire Old Testament is replete with the idea which Jesus expresses in the words: "Thy Kingdom come!" By the term Malkuth Schamaim or Malkuth Jahweh (the kngdom of heaven or the kingdom of God, heaven being only a metonymic designation of God), Holy Scripture means, in line iwth Semitic usage, precisely the concrete, royal rights which God possesses over the world, the exercise of these rights on the part of God, and the recognition of them on the part of men- consequently a kingdom which is governed from heaven and which must be entirely subject to heaven, a heavenly dominion, a royal government of God.
It is precisely this recognition of the inalienable rights of God on the part of men which the Messias is to make a reality. Kingdom of God and Messias are therefore correlative ideas. All the distinctive traits of the Messias unite here as in one focal point. As the suffering servant of God he makes the kingdom possible, as the Son of David he steps in at the head of it, as the Son of Man he will return one day in glory to sit in judgement over it. Since, finally, the Messias is himself, "God with us," his dominion will be one with that of God, and the Messianic kingdom becomes in the highest sense God's kingdom. "

He goes on to point out that Jerusalem is to be the center of the kingdom. So I would suggest that the baptized are the "recognition of the inalienable rights of God" - that is to say, ONE ASPECT of the Kingdom, which will have reached its summit when the Messias returns in judgement.

De Maria said...

I'm surprised at you, Heidi. The Catholic Church says that the Church is the Kingdom of heaven on earth. But you would rather believe a Protestant minister. What happened to all that obedience you were preaching?

763 It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent.160 "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures."161 To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."162

764 "This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ."163 To welcome Jesus' word is to welcome "the Kingdom itself."164 The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the "little flock" of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is.165 They form Jesus' true family.166 To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new "way of acting" and a prayer of their own.167

765 The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head.168 Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem.169 The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ's mission and his power, but also in his lot.170 By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church.

766 The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus."171 "For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the 'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'"172 As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.173

I guess you were just blowing smoke.

De Maria said...

Thomas said,

Thomas Renz said...
Matthew the meek: I shall take your advice and ignore De Maria.


That's the only choice you have left mate. I've proved you wrong from Scripture, Tradition and by the application of simple logic.

Matthew said...

Okay De Maria got it out of his system. Moving on:

Thomas you stated that the visible church is the seed of the kingdom rather than its full substance which must, e.g., also include the part of the church which is no longer visible to us.

comment: this seems to support what aquinas says in that the kingdom of God is both the elect here as well as those who have passed...though I do still see your point on the phrase as it is worded in Matthews gospel.

"In the same way, because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ (Mt 28:18 cf. John 3:35; 13:3; 17:2), there must be a sense in which Christ is king over all, even though there is of course also a sense in which only those who have been rescued from the power of darkness have been transferred into his kingdom (Col. 1:13)"

Definatly seems to be the case. If the field is in fact the entire world, than weed or grain he owns the everything on it. There is a reason why Satan is called the prince of this world. thats because Jesus is the king of the whole world... But not in hearts yet. Thats why were still praying the our father to let his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven there is complete submissiveness to his will.......but I still do think in a unique way the Church is the kingdom of God because of the authority she has been given by Christ to Peter. Dr. Bergsma also makes a new point of this in his most recent posts when he states that “The Kingdom” in the Gospel of Matthew is, in one sense, nothing but Jesus himself: the King (the autobasileia). However, since the Church is the Body of Christ and united to him, what is said about the Kingdom applies also to the Church, both Triumphant (in heaven) and Militant (on earth).

There is a whole bridal element here that needs to be studied more deeply....Ultimatly Thomas, you have made some interesting points and I will be looking more into this whole subject. It interests me for multiple reasons.

Hedi. Beautiful quote. I do think there is a summit that will be reached after the end of time. There is a reason we are still praying thy kingdom come. Its not that Gods kingdom has not been established...But it has not been established yet in the sense of all things being subject specifically to Christ.

Thomas Renz said...

Heidi - yes, beautiful quote. You've found a good apple!

Matt - I wasn't sure that you and "Matthew the meek" were the same person! I entirely agree that there is a unique relationship between the kingdom of God and the church and the fact that we are the body of Christ is an important part of it. But this doesn't mean that we can shift from kingdom to Christ to church at will in interpreting the parables.

In this parable, Christ is the Sower and he has a field of wheat (into which an enemy has sown weeds) = his kingdom. It would not be of great benefit to equate the Sower (Christ) with the field (the kingdom) here, however much it is true theologically that the kingdom of God is first of all Christ.

Thomas Renz said...

I'd add that in this parable the evil one doesn't actually have a kingdom. The wheat are the children of the kingdom because only they truly belong to the one and only kingdom there is. The weeds are the "children of the evil one", not "the children of the devil's kingdom", because the devil does not have a field on his own but seeks to harm Christ's field.

(This of course need not mean that in other contexts one cannot speak of the realm of the evil one.)

Thomas Renz said...

With regard to my use of "good apple": I hope Susan Moore was still reading this because it should encourage her to find another Roman catholic who talks with nuance and sensitivity about the kingdom of God. There are plenty such good apples around.

Thomas Renz said...

I have come across a blog which discusses the reception history of parables http://parablesreception.blogspot.co.uk/ from which it is worth citing:

Some interpreters like Chrysostom (Homily 46 on Matthew) argue that the parable of the Wheat and Weeds teaches that “unbelievers ought by no means to be compelled to the Faith.” Chrysostom also concludes that it is wrong to kill heretics since innocent persons would be killed as well.

Similarly, Wazo of Liège (c. 985-1048) used the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds/Tares to argue against executing heretics. This will have saved lives. Anselm of Liège informs us that some people in Roger’s diocese (the person who wrote Wazo for advice about heretics) were identified as heretics simply because they had a pale complexion (!), since it was assumed that vegetarianism both was an indication of heresy and caused a more pale complexion.

Thomas Aquinas rejected these arguments on the grounds that killing a heretic uproots the heretic but not anyone else; therefore killing a heretic “is not contrary to Our Lord's command, which is to be understood as referring to the case when the cockle cannot be plucked up without plucking up the wheat”.

In this he agrees with Augustine, I think, who once he had not succeeded in persuading the Donatists recommended the use of force.

Thomas writes: "Our Lord commanded them to forbear from uprooting the cockle in order to spare the wheat, i.e. the good. This occurs when the wicked cannot be slain without the good being killed with them, either because the wicked lie hidden among the good, or because they have many followers, so that they cannot be killed without danger to the good, as Augustine says (Contra Parmen. iii, 2)."

There is also a summary of the interpretation offered by Macrina the Younger: http://parablesreception.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/macrina-younger-teacher-and-philosopher.html

De Maria said...

I'm simply responding to comments I missed. I do this for my own edification and for those who are interested.


Thomas said,
Thomas Renz said...
And are there any real questions I did not attempt to answer?


Yes.

If so, I apologise.

ok

Chances are that I have overlooked them in your barrage of rhetorical questions.

Barrage? Really? Is that like the panic and the threat of ecclesiology falling apart?

Take the first which I did not answer.

Ok

I said that it is possible "to question the attempt to draw lessons about church discipline from the parable of the weeds in the field" without promoting schismatic attempts at purity.

You replied: "To question? So, you are questioning what? That God is merciful and permits the weeds to grow in His Church in order to give the opportunity to repent?"

Frankly, it was hard for me initially to see how this related to my statement.


Frankly, your statement is constructed very poorly. I had to read it several times before I realized what you were saying.

Now I know that you believe that the parable teaches us something about God patiently giving opportunities to repent. I still find this a bit of a stretch

Since you find it a bit of a stretch, does that mean that I must agree with you?

This is what John Bergsma said:

We should also keep in mind that, although in this life we may complain about God’s tolerance of “weeds” in the Church, at the final judgment we may find that we ourselves were “weeds” for whose conversion to “wheat” the Son of Man was patiently waiting! So often we are completely blind to our own sins and hypocrisy, but see clearly that of others. So elsewhere Jesus urges us to remove the “beam” from our own eye before taking the “speck” out of the eye of our brother.

Notice the exclamation point! He is stressing this teaching. And he used St. Jerome to also punctuate this teaching.

For room for repentance is left, and we are warned that we should not hastily cut off a brother, since one who is to-day corrupted with an erroneous dogma, may grow wiser tomorrow, and begin to defend the truth; wherefore it is added, Lest in gathering together the tares ye root out the wheat also. (St. Jerome, Catena Aurea ad loc.)

And I agree with them. Does this insult you? Must I, in order to be a good person in your eyes, agree with everything which you propose? Answer the question.

cont'd

De Maria said...

cont'd
but to question that this parable is about God's mercy for repentance is not the same as to question God's mercy for repentance.

One. Let me quote what I said:
To question? So, you are questioning what? That God is merciful and permits the weeds to grow in His Church in order to give the opportunity to repent?

You see that ? at the end. That makes it a question. It is a request for clarification because I found it hard to believe that you would be questioning the mercy of God.

But that's not all, further, I said:
If that is what you're questioning, then I doubt that you will have any support from Scripture to back you up.

See the big, "if" at the very front of that statement? That signifies that the following defense is in case that is what you believe. All you had to do was point out that it doesn't apply to you. But, you chose to ignore rather than to explain.

Whose problem is that, mine or yours?

Oh and when John questioned the schismatic use of this parable to justify puritanical practices, you claimed he was against all forms of church discipline. And now you pretend to teach me about not making overgeneralizations? Please.

Your apparent equation of the two is purely to score points,

And what were you doing when you claimed that John Bergsma was rejecting all forms of Church discipline? What were you doing when you claimed that I was all over the place with my responses? What were you doing when you claimed that Isaid it is essential for a faithful Roman Catholic to distinguish sharply between "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God"?

Now, that's a barrage of rhetorical questions. No need to answer.

Take the wood out of your own eye.

so even now I do not see the need to answer the question. If you believe that I question God's mercy, it says more about you than me.

You are accusing me of that belief. I asked you a question based upon your poorly constructed statement. You chose not to respond.

The post ended with another question: "Perhaps, that is what is giving you trouble?" This question is based on your assumption that I am an "Evangelical minister" and that this means: "Your tradition teaches that all of you are "saved". Therefore, you believe that your church is populated by the elect." I have said that I believe neither of these things you attribute to me, so your question is redundant.

That post, was my first or second post to you. You didn't reveal that you didn't believe these things until long after I posted those words. Therfore, the question is not redundant. Apparently, you are painting it that way now because you want to score points.

Heidi said...

Thomas and Matt,
I agree that the word "kingdom" is not always coterminous with the word "church". Because the phrase "Kingdom of God (heaven)" is so polyvalent, one can not simply use the two words interchangeably at all times, as Thomas noted above.

As Felder says, the kingdom is not only the authoritative rule of the King (governance), but also the people being governed (both in pilgrimage towards perfection and those who have been perfected), and the creation where the kingdom exists as a reality.

Jesus inaugurated the final and new age ('the age to come' as it was refered to by the rabbis) the Olam haba in the 'fullness of time' rather than at the eschaton, which was the semitic expectaion. I think this sheds some light on why Jesus compassionately condescends to his 1st c audience in the parable of the weeds and wheat and the other kingdom parable in order to amend the expectaion that the kingdom would only be inaugurated at the end of time .

Also, the semitic belief was that the final age would actually come to be as a result of the perfect compliance of all israel with the torah and the interpretive yoke of the rabbis. For the kingdom to come concurrent with and alongside an israel that was not perfectly upholding the torah was unthinkable! Weeds and wheat coexisting?!

The unimaginable, the olam haba coexisting with the olam hez eh was to become a reality. This means that all the facets of the kingdom- the rule of God, the observance of the New covenant, the Messianic banquet, the sons of the Kingdom, have been inaugurated and only await final fulfillment when the old age (olam hez eh) is finally and fully taken over by the Kingdom of God which will then take on its final and escatological fulfillment.

Matt, you mentioned the keys being given to Peter and how that connects. Like Thomas pointed out, the Kingdom in the Old Covenant was Israel. So the keys were previously held by the chief rabbi (to the temple) and the keys to the kingdom were held by the asher al habeit (the prime minister or over the house) (Is22) in the Davidic kingdom. Therefore, the keys are not so much to the church as they are the symbol of an office which holds definitive doctrinal authority over the kingdom's citizens and who's infallibility in this matter is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. This is one of the "luxuries" of kingdom citizens- the infallibility in belief of faith and morals.


Thomas Renz said...

I think your description of the context of the parable is spot on. Jesus announced the nearness of God's kingdom. This would have led many of his hearers to expect a cataclysmic disruption of society with the triumph of the faithful over the wicked. (At Qumran they would have called it the victory of the "sons of light" over the "sons of darkness".) People would have expected the Romans to be dealt with but also corrupt Jewish leadership. One function of a number of parables Jesus told, including the parable of the weeds, is to alert his hearers to the gap between the inauguration and the consummation of the kingdom and to call for patience.

The kingdom of God coming in our midst without everything in the world changing at once is the mystery that needed fathoming - and still does.

De Maria said...

Still responding to comments that I missed.

Thomas Renz said...
De Maria, I have been reflecting on what it is that prevents you from truly engaging with me.


"Truly engaging with" you must be code for "agreeing with" you, because I've engaged just fine. I simply disagree with your opinions.

With regard to Harrington you say “I don't think I have enough context to believe that he never equates the Kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church.” But you assumed that I would never equate the two

Not true. You said you accepted the three levels of understanding of the Kingdom of God. You claimed that Harrington, a Catholic Priest, would reject the possibility the Kingdom of the Son of man could be the Church, in that in that parable of the wheat and tares.

You said:
you refuse to accept that Daniel J. Harrington means that "there is no reason to identify the kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church" when he says that "there is no reason to identify the kingdom of the Son of Man with the Church".

and you did so based on a query which is substantially making the same point as the statement I later cited from Harrington. Why? Because you knew that as a Jesuit Harrington could hardly be advocating a complete separation of kingdom and church, while you presumed that this was my intention.

I didn't presume anything. Its what you said.

The irony is that if you had read my statements as if coming from a priest of the Roman Catholic church, you would likely have understood better what I was saying.

If you had not sounded incredulous that the Church could be the Kingdom of God in this parable. And if you had not insisted that Harrington did not identify the Kingdom of the Son of man with the Church. If you had not objected everytime I said so. If you had not claimed that Jesus says that the field is the world and there is no reason to limit our horizons to the church. For all these reasons, I understood you to say that IN THIS PARABLE, the Kingdom of the Son of man COULD NOT be the Church.

If I point out that the parable as initially told by Jesus (without Jerome’s additions)

St. Jerome did not add to Scripture. He explained it.

If I point out that the parable as initially told by Jesus (without Jerome’s additions)need not give any who “advance the idea that the Church must be populated only by Saints who never fall away” nearly as much trouble as John Bergsma and you assume,

That's another of your complicated sentence constructions. Are you saying that Jesus words could be interpreted as supporting absolute salvation by those who believe in OSAS?

1. That has nothing to do with that which we are discussing.
2. Protestants have proven resourceful at twisting the meaning of Scripture ever since they discarded the Traditions of the Church which are the foundation of the New Testament.

cont'd

De Maria said...

cont'd
I am not thereby abandoning catholic ecclesiology.

You're not Catholic. So, you're here using catholic with a little "c" and pretending that you believe the Doctrins of the Catholic Church. You can't abandon anything which you didn't first possess.

In spite of my attempts to correct you, you failed to grasp that I would have nothing to lose, if I found your reading of the parable compelling.

Then why are you arguing so vehemently? If it doesn't matter to you, then present your opinion and I will present mine. But it really feels as though you require my aquiescence to your doctrines. Otherwise, why are you so upset.

My ecclesiology would not need to change.

Yes, it would.

I am with Augustine against the Donatists.

Many Protestants claim Augustine. They read his words apart from the Tradition of the Catholic Church. They twist his words they way they twist Scripture.

I am just saying that if I ever meet any modern-day Donatists, I will not be using this parable as evidence that the church must be a mixed body.

1. I would. The truth is true whether anyone believes it or not.
2. That's your opinion, only. Why must anyone agree with it?

By contrast, you seem to think that if you had to acknowledge the point I am making, you would have to abandon your ecclesiology,

That's funny. Because we've exchanged close to 50 comments and you could have acknowledged my point a long time ago. But you haven't. You merely said, "if" you were to do so, it wouldn't hurt anything. But you didn't come out and say, "hey, you're right!"

So, anytime you want to admit that I'm right, please do so.

As for me, I don't see the sense in lying to you and claiming that you have a point, when I don't believe you do.

or so it seemed to me because you were introducing a whole host of other topics (e.g., intercession of the saints, baptismal regeneration) which seem to me to have even less to do with this parable than the question of church discipline.

Intercession of the Saints- I guess you're referring to my saying "that's why we pray to the Saints." And the reason I said it is because we believe we walk amongst them (Heb 12:21-24). This goes to prove that the Kingdom of heaven on earth is connected to the Kingdom of heaven in the spiritual realm.

Baptismal regeneration- I suppose you mean when I said that we are born again, children of God. This went to prove the claim which caused your astonishment, that the Church is the Kingdom of God.

Admittedly, it was not panic which made you jump from place to place, labouring points which you imagined to be contentious between us. You are probably living, maybe re-living, discussions with (imagined or real) “Protestants” on the basis of your belief that “it is difficult for Protestants to equate the Kingdom of God and the Church” and that this is the reason I queried the reading offered in this blog post. Because it is not you find yourself arguing against an interlocutor of your imagination.

The reason I answer post by post, is in order to pre-empt the accusation that I'm arguing against a "straw man". That didn't seem to stop you however.

De Maria said...

Thomas Renz said...
It may be true that I, too, do not always grasp what you are saying and why. Because you rarely explain how what you say relates to anything I said, I have to guess what is going on in your mind to make sense of your posts.


Have you not learned the use of the "?"


E.g., in your 3:51 PM post you seem to be saying that “the kingdom of God” and the kingdom of heaven” must always be sharply distinguished because not to do so (my advice to Matt) “goes against Catholic Teaching”. Why does it go “against Catholic teaching”?

You misunderstood. In that same comment, you told him that "the right disposition" was not necessary for Baptism. That is what goes against Catholic Teaching.

You see, Jesus Christ saves only those who obey His Word. You seem to assume that I would disagree with Hebrews 5:9 and 1 Timothy 4:16. But have I given you any reason to believe that I deny that “Jesus Christ saves only those who obey His Word”? I don’t think so.

Yes, you said that the right disposition isn't necessary. You said that the prideful could be baptized and joined to the Church. Jesus said, "one will go home justified and not other (Luke 18:9-14

The one that went home justified was the humble man. The one that didn't, was the prideful pharisee.

Today, we are justified in Baptism. Therefore, you disagreed with the Teaching of Jesus Christ.

And what has this to do with the question at hand? One guess would be that you (absolutely, always) equate “the kingdom of God” with the church and “the kingdom of heaven” with heaven and that on this basis you must sharply distinguish between them because you believe that not all who belong to church will “go to heaven” in the end.

You seem to be confusing your argument with mine. Remember, it is you who denied that the Kingdom of the Son of man is the Church in the parable of the wheat and tares.

I believe that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God and the Church, are one and the same. There is a Kingdom of God on earth and there is a Kingdom of heaven on earth and there is the Church on earth. And the three are one.

cont'd

De Maria said...

cont'd


But this guess may be wrong because in your 6:38 PM post you ask rhetorically “How could the Pharisees enter the Kingdom of Heaven if it were only in heaven?” I have no idea why you think this is an argument against Matt who from what I can see did not say that the kingdom of heaven is only in heaven. In fact, here you seem to come close to acknowledging that “the kingdom of heaven” in these passages is not in fact different from “the kingdom of God” and yet the claim that the two are often interchangeable is precisely the one you wish to contest. So why don’t you tell us how they are distinct?

1. Matt is defending your ideas. He said:
But Thomas Renz then made the point that such distinctions should not be made.

2. I have no idea whether Matt is Catholic, so I ended my conversation with him at that point since he seems to prefer Protestant teaching to that of the Church. I ended the conversation saying, "believe what you want."

3. I don't see any reason to discuss Matt in the third person, as though he weren't here. If he has anything against what I said, he can object to it himself.

Maybe You see, Jesus Christ saves only those who obey His Word. was not meant as an argument to prove that “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven” must always be distinguished. Maybe its purpose was to suggest that I do not obey the word of Christ because (allegedly) I go against Catholic teaching.

Which opinion of mine have I been passing off as the Word of Christ?

Are you referring to the fact that I objected when you said that a person's disposition was not important for baptism, directly contradicting the Word of Christ.

I am merely saying that phrases such as “the kingdom of God” do not always mean and signify the same and that the phrase “kingdom of heaven” is often used in Matthew as another way of saying “kingdom of God”. This is a simple observation which in no way contradicts the teaching of Jesus.

Again, you contradicted Jesus when you said that a person's disposition was not important for baptism.

You continue your imaginary conversation by attributing to me the belief that “human beings add us to the Church” which you then refute.

Again, logically, since you believe that a person can simply be added to the church by pouring water on his head, you do not seem to be aware that it is God who adds to the Church, those whom He judges to merit the grace.

This is typical of Protestant thinking since they claim that all they have to do is say, "I am saved".

In fact, you should be having a discussion with yourself because you have earlier said that “all who are baptized are added to His Church” and now you say “anyone can be baptized and anyone can have water poured on them. But only those who have the proper disposition of faith are added to the Church.”

If you read what I said in context, you'll understand what I meant.

(I am not in fact in real disagreement with either of these statements; they can be read as both true, if phrases and terms are allowed to have different meanings in different contexts.)

That's good. But the strange thing is, that even though you claim to have no trouble admitting those things, you still object to them. As you have just shown.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, because going methodically over something you wrote on the other thread helped me and so I feel I have a little progress in understanding your way of arguing, I will do one more thing here, namely answer your questions to me, i.e. those I have not yet answered. This is without the intention of re-entering the debate with you. For this I would need to correct the many false statements you make about me even in your last few posts. But this is to acknowledge that maybe some of the questions I identified as rhetorical were meant to be real questions.
So, starting with the more recent ones:

“Barrage? Really? Is that like the panic and the threat of ecclesiology falling apart?”
Ok, maybe your questions sounded rhetorical to me when they were not meant to be. So let me answer these three questions. “Barrage?” Yes, I think so, see list to follow. “Really?” Really. “Is that like the panic and the threat of ecclesiology falling apart?” No, I’ve already realised and acknowledged that you’re not panicky or threatened.

“Does this insult you? Must I, in order to be a good person in your eyes, agree with everything which you propose?” You may not realise that to me these come across as rhetorical, and indeed hostile, questions. But as you add “Answer the question” let me do so. “No” and “No”.

“See the big, "if" at the very front of that statement?” also seems to be a rhetorical question but in case it isn’t: The answer is “yes”.

“Whose problem is that, mine or yours?” is a classic rhetorical question. Ok, let’s say it is mine for not recognising the function of “if” in your statement.

“And now you pretend to teach me about not making overgeneralizations?” I did not think I was doing that.

Thomas Renz said...

“And what were you doing when you claimed that John Bergsma was rejecting all forms of Church discipline?” I wasn’t claiming that.

“What were you doing when you claimed that I was all over the place with my responses?” I was referring to the fact that you introduced a range of topics beyond the one under discussion. While I agree that in a sense all our beliefs are, or rather should be, interrelated, I do not believe that it all comes down to presuppositions. Ok, I acknowledge that you felt those topics to be relevant because you assumed that we were in disagreement about them and that this disagreement shaped the discussion. So I take this back. But I still believe that the way you attributed certain beliefs to me (“I know precisely where you are coming from” – actually, you don’t) was obfuscating rather than helping matters.

“What were you doing when you claimed that I said it is essential for a faithful Roman Catholic to distinguish sharply between "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God"? I did nothing of the sort. I asked you whether you are claiming that it is necessary to do so and it wasn’t meant as a rhetorical question. Matt said that Aquinas distinguishes between the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God” but he found my arguments against doing so compelling. You said, “You may prefer Thomas Rentz opinion if you like. But I don't. I prefer St. Thomas Aquinas' understanding of the Word of God.” Thus you side with the one who claims (or is reported as claiming, but you don’t say that the report is wrong) that we must distinguish between the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God”. Given the strong arguments against doing so, I wondered whether you considered it essential to make this distinction in order to remain a faithful Catholic. It still seems to me a fair question.

“Are you saying that Jesus words could be interpreted as supporting absolute salvation by those who believe in OSAS?” No, I am saying that such people would likely not have great trouble with this part of Scripture (but of course with other parts of Scripture).

”Then why are you arguing so vehemently?” If I am arguing vehemently, it would be because I am frustrated about your failure to grasp what I am saying.

Thomas Renz said...

”That's your opinion, only. Why must anyone agree with it?” You simply don’t get the difference between my “opinion” and the argument at hand. No one must agree with my opinion but those with ears to ear will pay attention to my arguments.

Have you not learned the use of the "?" I guess I did not know where to start.

Are you referring to the fact that I objected when you said that a person's disposition was not important for baptism, directly contradicting the Word of Christ. I did not say that “a person's disposition was not important for baptism” but that it is possible for someone to undergo the rite of baptism without the right disposition (e.g., for opportunistic reasons, maybe because they want to have a Roman Catholic marriage ceremony), i.e. it is possible for people with wrong motives and dispositions to get baptised and so to become members of the church

Thomas Renz said...

Now to previous posts. The following all seemed to me rhetorical questions. But if you meant them as real questions, the answer to all but one of them (in brackets below) is “No”.

“So, you are questioning what? That God is merciful and permits the weeds to grow in His Church in order to give the opportunity to repent?”

“Perhaps, that is what is giving you trouble?”

“Would it help for you to understand that we don't believe in Once Saved Always Saved?”

“Do you consider yourself in a state of panic?”

“Do you feel as though your whole ecclesiology is going to come crashing down simply because I don't agree with you?”

“Are you afraid your ecclesiology will come tumbling down if I am right?”

“Do you think that would be the disposition of the Pharisee? The disposition of the Rich Man?”

(The answer to the third question, “Or the disposition of the poor and humble who recognize that they need God?” is “Yes”.)

Do you deny that the baptized are children of God?

Do you deny that the Baptized are added to His Church?

Thomas Renz said...

“And what would be the result?” seemed to me also a rhetorical question. You answered it yourself and I agree with your answer.

“Remember the curious idea of wheat becoming a weed?” seemed another rhetorical question. I think I answered it anyway. What is curious is not the idea of people abandoning the Christian faith but the picture you associate with it – wheat becoming weed – which is not found in nature, our Lord’s teaching, or (as far as I know) anywhere in the Church Fathers.

In a way the rhetorical question “I thought you didn't believe in OSAS? Now you're defending it?” could also be answered with a simple “No” but it reveals one of the basic things I think you fail to grasp: I am able to say “x is a bad argument against y” even if I don’t hold “y” myself. I am primarily interested here in establishing what constitutes a valid argument, not whether Augustine or the Donatists were right. The latter is of no interest to me here because I think I already know the answer. (“Augustine” is the right answer even though you deny that I can be Augustinian. What I mean is that in this particular debate between Augustine and the Donatists, I am with Augustine.)

“If Jesus (Matt 7:21), St. Paul, and St. Peter are not enough for you, how about these two?” Well, I have not and do not disagree with any of them, so the question is invalid. But if you want an answer: I see no reason to disagree with your quotes from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus.

Thomas Renz said...

And more rhetoric:

“If I'm wrong, why don't you correct me?” I tried.

“Really? So when you said "words fail me", you did not mean that you were so surprised that you could not think of what to say?” I did mean that “I am surprised that you don't realise that this, our common belief, implies that the church (the baptised) and the kingdom (inherited by the saved) cannot be fully identical” and that “I am not surprised to hear that you don't believe that the baptised equals the saved.” Just as I said. Hence “your acknowledgement that not all the baptized will be saved” was not the source of my surprise.

Thomas Renz said...

I am not sure I understand what you’re getting at with the question Does "synonymous" mean "identical"? If “the kingdom of God” and “the church” are synonyms, the two are identical. If the kingdom and the church are not exactly identical, “the kingdom of God” and “the church” are not synonyms. A third possibility is that “the kingdom of God” and “the church” are not synonyms but the communities to which they refer are in fact one and the same. Either the first or the last option reflects your belief in which case not only the church but the kingdom of God contains both the saved and (some of) the lost and so I wondered if not Jesus, when he talks about “the sheep” inheriting the kingdom but not “the goats” used “kingdom” as belonging to the saved only (cf. “children of the kingdom”). I think I have my answer now in that on both our assumption it seems possible to distinguish between (for a while) being in the kingdom and inheriting/belonging to it.

Thomas Renz said...

“From where did the enemy bring the weeds?” Not from another field; they grow out of his seed.

“You asked us to justify that the Church could be considered the Kingdom of God?” Yes, but to ask this and even to imply that the two are not absolutely identical is not the same as saying “the church has nothing to do with the kingdom of God”. The former I do, the latter I don’t.

“Can you explain why you think they are different?” This question seems to assume that I want to distinguish between the teaching of Jesus and the doctrine of the church but the quote to which this question refers says that this is precisely not my intention.

“But how does that agree with the Protestant doctrine that one is Once Saved Always Saved?” You assume that there is a Protestant doctrine which says that the church consist exclusively of OSAS people. Well, if there is, I don’t hold to it and therefore nothing of what I say needs to agree with it.

“Do you believe in justification by faith alone? Once Saved Always Saved? Sola Scriptura?” With every one of these questions it depends on what you mean by these terms. I believe that Scripture is to be interpreted in and by the church within the context of the regula fidei but I do not consider the church or the regula fidei sources of revelation in the sense Scripture is. I believe that those Jesus saves he doesn’t lose again but I don’t believe that the church consists only of people who will not fall away. I believe that genuine faith is never alone.

De Maria said...

homas Renz said...
De Maria, because going methodically over something you wrote on the other thread helped me and so I feel I have a little progress in understanding your way of arguing, I will do one more thing here, namely answer your questions to me, i.e.


Ok


those I have not yet answered. This is without the intention of re-entering the debate with you.

No problem. I've made my point.

For this I would need to correct the many false statements you make about me even in your last few posts.

That knife cuts both ways. Are you sure you don't intend to start the debate over, because its beginning to sound like all you want to do is take a few parting shots.

But this is to acknowledge that maybe some of the questions I identified as rhetorical were meant to be real questions.

Ok.

So, starting with the more recent ones:

“Barrage? Really? Is that like the panic and the threat of ecclesiology falling apart?”
Ok, maybe your questions sounded rhetorical to me when they were not meant to be. So let me answer these three questions. “Barrage?” Yes, I think so, see list to follow.


See, with statements like these, I tend to doubt your sincerity. I addressed about 22 long comments to you. The questions were spread throughout. Then, you accused me falsely of not answering your questions. A claim easily refuted because my style of point by point response forces me to address every question.

It is at that point that I pointed out that you had not answered most of mine. Then, you claimed they were a barrage. But they would not have been a barrage if you had taken the time to answer them as they appeared.

Now, you say, "look at the list, its a barrage". But I did not ask them in a barrage. I asked them one at at time throughout our discussion. Now you are portraying them as a barrage because you have taken them out of the context in which they appared and listed them one after the other.

Anyway, I've made my point. I hope you answer the rest of the questions more honestly than you've answered this one.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, you claim that I accused you "falsely of not answering your questions." No, I did not. I did not use the plural. I pointed you to one specific question about Mt 19:23-24 which you had failed to answer, while you were bringing up all sorts of other things about this saying. (I could have used the plural because you did not answer the question about the mustard seed either but my intention was not to portray you as someone who never answers questions; I wanted you to address the point I was making when I talked about how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God/heaven.)

"Barrage" is not only about the number of questions (you asked several at once on several occasions) but about the relationship between rhetorical and real questions. What I meant is that so many of your questions were rhetorical (or so I thought) that I might have missed answering a real question.

There are some 20 questions which I read as rhetorical, then there were several questions which proceeded from incorrect assumptions, such as “If Jesus (Matt 7:21), St. Paul, and St. Peter are not enough for you, how about these two?” Plus one or two questions which seemed pointless to answer, even if they were not mean rhetorically, such as “If I'm wrong, why don't you correct me?”

The three questions “Do you believe in justification by faith alone? Once Saved Always Saved? Sola Scriptura?” raise what seem to me rather complex issues. I could answer all three with "yes" if the phrases are understood in a certain way and would have to answer all three "no" if they are understood in another way. Answering them would have required much space and time. (I have of course no answered them briefly but I strongly suspect that the answer will only raise further questions for you.)

I can see how it felt for you, as if I did not answer your questions but I still have a little hope that you can now see why they felt like a barrage to me. In the midst of more than 25 questions I have found one which I overlooked, one I could have answered to advance the argument: “From where did the enemy bring the weeds?”

Thomas Renz said...

Of course, if you now grasp my argument, now that I have answered pretty much all your questions, rhetorical or otherwise, I will acknowledge that answering them sooner probably would have made a difference.

I considered most of your questions to be rhetorical because the answer seemed obvious to me. E.g.,“Would it help for you to understand that we don't believe in Once Saved Always Saved?” If you seriously contemplated the possibility that I might have been at any time under the impression that the Roman Catholic church teaches OSAS, I am astonished. I have never met a person who does.

Or, "do you deny that the Baptized are added to His Church?" I cannot see why on earth I would want to deny this or why you would think that I might, so it seemed to me a rhetorical question and so on.

De Maria said...

Hi Thomas,

I was about to respond to your last posts in my customary fashion, point by point. But I noticed something.

You asked several questions also. I could have interpreted them in good faith and ignored as you did. But, I didn't. I responded to each in a manner which I consider courteous. Let me give an example of one series.

Your comment time stamped 11:44pm


You said:
Does Christ's kingdom only extend over God's house? Does Christ have no royal claims over the unbaptised? There is of course a sense in which God is king only over those who acknowledge and submit to his rule but there is also a sense in which God is king over all. The rebels could hardly be said to be rebels, if they were not under God's kingship. And it is this more extended royal claim that is the focus of the parable in the interpretation which Jesus himself gives.

I answered your questions and I answered them in detail:

Does Christ's kingdom only extend over God's house?

No. Again, the Scripture says:

Psalm 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

But Jesus plainly limits the parable to the children of the Kingdom vs. the children of Satan.


Does Christ have no royal claims over the unbaptised?

Certainly, but again, the point of the parable is the children of the Kingdom vs. the children of Satan.

According to the Teaching of the Catholic Church, which is the Word of God, many baptized will not be saved and many unbaptized will be saved. So, the parable fits perfectly the Tradition of the Catholic Church.


The difference between you and I is that I accepted your questions in good faith and responded in good faith.

Whereas, it is obvious that you spent more time agonizing over why I had asked the questions and apparently feeling insulted that I had asked the questions in the first place.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Hi Thomas,

I'm trying to be brief and also trying to avoid re-engaging the original debate. So I'm only engaging what I consider to be major issues. Actually, just one.

You said:
Thomas Renz said...
Of course, if you now grasp my argument,


I wonder why you remain under the impression that I don't grasp your argument?

When I asked you if I must agree with you in order to understand you, your response was, "no".

I'm pretty certain that I understand and grasp, firmly, all the arguments you've made. And I have said so, unequivocally.

Do you, for instance, also believe that John Bergsma does not grasp your arguments?

So, I wonder why you still question my grasp of your arguments?

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, if you'd be happy to summarise my argument, I will gladly tell you whether It refelcts what I am trying to say.

De Maria said...

Thomas, you said:

M Delete
Blogger Thomas Renz said...
De Maria, if you'd be happy to summarise my argument, I will gladly tell you whether It refelcts what I am trying to say.


See, Thomas, you do quite a lot of that. You are still avoiding answering my questions. It is you who is claiming that I don't grasp your argument. You should have a reason for making that claim. Therefore, answer the question. What gives you the impression that I don't grasp your argument?

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, the vast majority of your questions sound to me rhetorical. Rhetorical questions are questions for which one does not expect an answer. It is therefore unfair and uncharitable to accuse me of avoiding your questions. By all means accuse me of being stupid for failing to see that your questions are meant as genuine enquiries and if you are willing to help me, phrase your questions so that they are clearly requests for information, e.g. "Could you explain to me why...?" (Obviously both rhetorical and substantive questions end with a question mark.)


"Do you, for instance, also believe that John Bergsma does not grasp your arguments?" How could I have an opinion about that? I don't even know whether he is reading all these comments. On what basis could I possibly know whether or not he understands my argument?

The fact that you consistely ask rhetorical questiosn which seem to me beside the point (see above), attribute to me things I don't believe etc. are all marks of a failure to grasp what I am saying. John Bergsma has done none of those things.

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

Thanks for your response.

Then, in answer to my question, "why do you feel I don't grasp your arguments?"

You say,
The fact that you consistely ask rhetorical questiosn which seem to me beside the point (see above), attribute to me things I don't believe etc. are all marks of a failure to grasp what I am saying. John Bergsma has done none of those things.

Thanks for that.

Ok, let me see, you also said:

De Maria, the vast majority of your questions sound to me rhetorical. Rhetorical questions are questions for which one does not expect an answer.

Some of my questions were rhetorical. But most were not.

It is therefore unfair and uncharitable to accuse me of avoiding your questions.

I didn't know that you did not understand my questions. And the last one, which you have just now answered, sort of confirmed my suspicions that you were simply avoiding my questions.

Thanks for clearing that up.

By all means accuse me of being stupid for failing to see that your questions are meant as genuine enquiries and if you are willing to help me, phrase your questions so that they are clearly requests for information, e.g. "Could you explain to me why...?" (Obviously both rhetorical and substantive questions end with a question mark.)

I'm not sure why the question, "why do you feel I don't grasp your arguments?" would sound rhetorical?

"Do you, for instance, also believe that John Bergsma does not grasp your arguments?" How could I have an opinion about that? I don't even know whether he is reading all these comments. On what basis could I possibly know whether or not he understands my argument?

Since you have expressed very strong opinions about that which he has written and you obviously disagree with him, I thought perhaps you thought he didn't grasp what you are saying.

Ok, fair enough. In the previous message, you asked me to summarize your "argument", singular. But, by way of authentication, I will quote your words where you admit to having many arguments:

You simply don’t get the difference between my “opinion” and the argument at hand. No one must agree with my opinion but those with ears to ear will pay attention to my arguments.

I think, if I go through all your arguments, I might as well begin the debate over. Don't you agree? Unless you still don't believe I understood you at all, which is what you said previously.

But if you pinpoint, which argument in particular you think I didn't understand, I will summarize what I believe you were saying.

Let me know how you want me to proceed to summarize your argument.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

I am not minded to write a commentary on our exchange but if we just take the very first part of the exchange by way of example, I can try to show you why I feel that you by-pass the argument in a way which suggests to me that you do not grasp what I am saying and thus answer what I did recognise as a genuine question.

The field is the world. The weeds and the wheat grow together in this field. In the interpretation they are said to be gathered from "the kingdom of the Son of Man". It would seem that the obvious equation (at least at the end of days) is field = world = kingdom of the Son of Man.

So I ask "on what grounds Christ's kingdom is equated with the church."

You say "On the grounds that God is King of Kings. And the Church is His house"

I find this reply odd. If God is King of Kings, he is surely not King of His House only. And the question is not whether Christ is king over the children in God’s house (the church) but whether he can be said to be king over others as well.

So I ask: "Does Christ's kingdom only extend over God's house?"

You say. "No"

In other words, you agree with my suggestion that Christ's kingdom does extend beyond "God's house" (the church). But you fail to realise that you have thereby granted that God's kingdom cannot always be equated with the church. It cannot be "equal" and "extending beyond" at the same time.

Does this help?

Thomas Renz said...

As for argument/s: I think there is a basic argument I sought to put forward by way of a few arguments to which were then added arguments in response to your propositions. No, I don’t want to rehearse all these. I wonder whether you can summarise my basic argument, maybe, if you wish, adding the basic presuppositions that you think I hold which directly affect this argument.

I’ll do it for you. I try to summarise in my own words what I hear you saying. As far as I have understood it, your basic argument runs as follows.

The parable of the weeds must be interpreted as teaching that until the end of days there will always be a mixture of the faithful and the unfaithful because wheat and weeds are collected “out of the kingdom” and the kingdom must be interpreted as the church. Why must “kingdom” in this parable be interpreted as the church?
(1) because it is Roman Catholic teaching that “kingdom” [when used with reference to a time period following the Ascension of Jesus ] always equates with “the church” ;
(2) because the two are logically identical on the grounds that a number of things are true for both the kingdom and the church (God is king in the kingdom; and God is king in the church; the kingdom has an earthly and a heavenly dimension and the church has an earthly and a heavenly dimension and a few others)

Is this a fair summary? Can it be easily improved?

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

You said:


Blogger Thomas Renz said...

I’ll do it for you. I try to summarise in my own words what I hear you saying. As far as I have understood it, your basic argument runs as follows.

The parable of the weeds must be interpreted as teaching that until the end of days there will always be a mixture of the faithful and the unfaithful because wheat and weeds are collected “out of the kingdom” and the kingdom must be interpreted as the church. Why must “kingdom” in this parable be interpreted as the church?
(1) because it is Roman Catholic teaching that “kingdom” [when used with reference to a time period following the Ascension of Jesus ] always equates with “the church” ;
(2) because the two are logically identical on the grounds that a number of things are true for both the kingdom and the church (God is king in the kingdom; and God is king in the church; the kingdom has an earthly and a heavenly dimension and the church has an earthly and a heavenly dimension and a few others)

Is this a fair summary?


Yes

Can it be easily improved?

Yes. I will rewrite it with my improvements in bold.

The parable of the weeds must be interpreted as teaching that until the end of days there will always be a mixture of the faithful and the unfaithful IN THE WORLD. (PERIOD) THERE WILL ALSO BE weeds WHICH are collected “out of the kingdom” BECAUSE SATAN SOWS HIS SEED IN MAN'S HEARTS WITHIN AND WITHOUT THE CHURCH.

The kingdom must be interpreted as the church. Why must “kingdom” in this parable be interpreted as the church?
(1) because it is Roman Catholic teaching that “kingdom” [when used with reference to a time period following the Ascension of Jesus ] always equates with “the church” ;
(2) because the two are logically identical on the grounds that a number of things are true for both the kingdom and the church (God is king in the kingdom; and God is king in the church; the kingdom has an earthly and a heavenly dimension and the church has an earthly and a heavenly dimension and a few others)


Overall, you summarized my main point very well.

My summary to follow.

De Maria said...

Thomas,

In my own words, I understood you to say that the Kingdom of God is not always necessarily the Church. You feel that others, even Catholics, like Harrington, accept the term to be used in reference to other things exclusive of the Church.

In addition, you felt that in particular, in this parable of the weeds and the wheat, it is a bad idea to associate the Kingdom exclusively with the Church. Because, you understand Christ to be speaking of the entire world. You supported some of your argument by mentioning that you don't see weeds becoming wheat in nature. Nor wheat becoming weeds. Therefore, this is not about individuals. Nor about the mercy of God awaiting the repentance of the sinner. Therefore, you were against St. Thomas and Jerome's interpretation of the parable.

How did I do?

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria,

Thank you for this. Not too bad but there are some critical differences in how I would want to express my argument.

I would not say "exclusive of the Church". There is of course a relationship between the kingdom and the church. Better: "not limited to the Church" or "not identified exclusively with the Church".

I would not use "bad idea" because there is a difference between a reading of the parable which is legitimate as a devotional practice and a reading which can claim to be compelling. In seeking to refute error one must rely on readings which are compelling rather than possible. So my main concern is that while reading the parable with the Church as a focal point is possible (cf. my comments on my sermon), such a reading does not have sufficient warrant in the text to be compelling as an argument against schismatics.

My observation that "wheat turning into weeds" or vice versa is not actually mentioned in the parable and the related thread was by way of countering some of what you said. This belongs to my basic argument only in so far that I believe that if Jesus wanted to use the parable primarily to teach that the saved can be lost again or that sinners can become saints he would have spoken of wheat turning into weeds and weeds turning into wheat. But he didn't. A reading of the parable which heavily relies on a concept which is not mentioned in the parable itself is not very compelling.

"Therefore, this is not about individuals" I don't understand. Of course the parable is about the children of the kingdom and the children of the Evil one growing alongside each other in the world.

The parable is about God's patince more than God's mercy and you're right that I don't see "God awaiting the repentance of the sinner" expressed in this parable.

Our discussion surrounding Thomas Aquinas concerned the question whether "the kingdom of God" and "the kingdom of heaven" must be distinguished. If Aquinas insists that they always must, I must respectfully disagree with him.

What I meant with my clumsy reference to "Jerome's additions" is better, namely more fully, expressed by Augustine: “Or perhaps the wheat is declared to be rooted up if the tares should be gathered out of it, on account of many who though at first tares would after become wheat; yet they would never attain to this commendable change were they not patiently endured while they were evil. Thus were they rooted up, that wheat which they would become in time if spared, would be rooted up in them.”

The addition is the thought of weeds turning into wheat which is too speculative for my taste. Here I prefer the reasoning in Thomas Aquinas who stays closer to the text when he discusses what it means not to gather the tares for fear of uprooting the wheat.

Thomas Renz said...

PS: I do rather like Jerome's reading from a devotional point of view (i.e., addressed to ourselves rather than used against others): "The Lord then warns us not to pass a hasty sentence on an ambiguous word, but to reserve it for His judgment, that when the day of judgment shall come, He may cast forth from the assembly of the saints no longer on suspicion but on manifest guilt."

De Maria said...


Thanks Thomas,

I have to say, in about 20 years of interreligious discussions on the internet, this ranks amongst the most interesting.

I'm glad we came to a good understanding even though we disagree on the main points.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

Yes, we have hopefully grown in understanding - and maybe even a little in wisdom. I don't want to leave a sour note, nor re-open the discussion, but because you say that it is important for you to agree with the teaching of the Roman Catholic church, I want to alert you to something in three steps:

(1) The belief that the Roman Catholic church teaches that God's kingdom (post-Ascension) always equates with the church is a key plank of your argument.

(2)You commented on most of my posts sentence by sentence.

(3) Yet you pretty much ignored any comment I made to question the assumption that the Roman Catholic church teaches that kingdom always equates church, including my references to two papal encyclicas and a declaration from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

(I have now put these quotations and a little framing material in my online scapbook at http://hadleyrectory.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-kingdom-and-church-in-roman.html.)

De Maria said...

Thomas,

You said,

Thomas Renz said...
Yes, we have hopefully grown in understanding - and maybe even a little in wisdom. I don't want to leave a sour note, nor re-open the discussion, but because you say that it is important for you to agree with the teaching of the Roman Catholic church, I want to alert you to something in three steps:


I'll accept it in good faith, but I believe your concern is misplaced. I'll explain why at the end of your comment.

(1) The belief that the Roman Catholic church teaches that God's kingdom (post-Ascension) always equates with the church is a key plank of your argument.

True.

(2)You commented on most of my posts sentence by sentence.

True.

(3) Yet you pretty much ignored any comment I made to question the assumption that the Roman Catholic church teaches that kingdom always equates church, including my references to two papal encyclicas and a declaration from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

(I have now put these quotations and a little framing material in my online scapbook at http://hadleyrectory.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-kingdom-and-church-in-roman.html.)


No, actually, that is one of those posts that I missed. We exchanged a "barrage" of comments and it was difficult for me to keep up. I thought I had caught up, there at the end. But apparently, I still missed one.

Fortunately, I think we had already crossed this ground. Tell me if you agree. Do you remember this exchange from early on in the conversation?

You said:
... I do not deny that the parable can work on different, secondary levels; I just don't want to lose sight of the primary meaning which is the one given by Jesus himself in which the field is neither the church, nor the individual human heart, but the world.

I replied:
I agree with everything in that paragraph, except perhaps, about which is the primary meaning. I think the main point is that it does work on all those levels and we need to be aware of all those levels. They are each relevant and important.

I actually thought that we had come to an amicable end to the discussion at that point. That is why I ended the comment with these words, "Anyway, I've enjoyed our conversation. If you reply, I will respond. Otherwise, thanks for your courtesy and your patience."

Now, if you notice, you and I both agreed that there are different levels of understanding to the Kingdom, not only in the parable but also in general. And this is the Teaching of the Catholic Church.

The only thing to which I objected at that point, was your insistence of what was the primary meaning, as you described it. Here's the proof, I said:

I agree with everything in that paragraph, except perhaps, about which is the primary meaning....

From that point on, it seemed that you were dead set on forcing your preference upon me. To the point that it seemed as though you had changed your mind and had begun to insist that it was what Jesus Himself had prescribed.

But that's water under the bridge. Suffice to say that I am a devout Catholic with everything that entails. I believe everything the Church Teaches. I don't think I have contradicted anything which you have presented by the Catholic Church.

I hope this has added to our deeper understanding. Thanks again.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, as far as I am aware I am not forcing my preference but saying that it is not possible to force an equation of kingdom and church in this parable. (And if such an equation is not compelling, it cannot be used as an argument against those who refuse to make the equation here.)

If, in addition to equating the kingdom with the chuirch, you also allow for the equation of kingdom with the world and the individual soul, your argument could be re-phrased as saying "however you understand the kingdom, one thing you always must do is to equate it with the church."

This argument is in direct contradiction to: "To state the inseparable relationship between Christ and the kingdom is not to overlook the fact that the kingdom of God — even if considered in its historical phase — is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality."

To say that in some contexts we can speak of the church as the kingdom of God or the kingdom of God as the church (which none of us denies) is not the same as claiming that, whatever else one does, one must always identify the church and the kingdom, as you do.

This claim is in direct contradiction to "Some competent scholars continue to maintain that the Church in the New Testament is identical with the kingdom of God. This opinion is, in my judgment, too narrow."

(The arguments Avery Dulles S.J. offers include specific examples where he thinks an equation of kingdom and church in the parables of Jesus is inadvisable.)

A direct equation of Christ's kingdom and the church says that Christ's reign only extends over the church. This is in direct contradiction to “In both these encyclicals he pointed out that Christ’s empire is all-encompassing; it includes the secular as well as the religious, the temporal as well as the spiritual, the natural as well as the supernatural. The Church, on the other hand, has a limited sphere of authority…According to Pius XI, therefore, the reign of Christ is not restricted to the Church.”

No, I don't think we had already crossed that ground.

Yes, we both agree that "there are different levels of understanding to the Kingdom, not only in the parable but also in general." But you fail to see that as far as Roman Catholic teaching is concerned (and I agree) we must also acknowledge that we cannot always equate the kingdom and the church.

And yet your claim that we must always equate the two is your basic argument for saying that we must do so here.

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,


Blogger Thomas Renz said...
De Maria, as far as I am aware I am not forcing my preference


It felt that way. Because I thought we had come to agreement and brought the discussion to an amicable conclusion, but you pressed on. And the only thing left about which we had not agreed, was your idea about which was the primary meaning.

but saying that it is not possible to force an equation of kingdom and church in this parable.

Yes, I know what you are saying. And as you know, I disagree.

(And if such an equation is not compelling, it cannot be used as an argument against those who refuse to make the equation here.)

Upon whom have I tried to force it? The only other persons with whom I've discussed this at any length are Deacon Augustine and Matt. And when Matt dismissed my argument and St. Thomas and the Fathers of the Church so easily, I quickly ended my discussion with him. Before he ignored me, I had already stopped addressing him on this subject.

It is you who have been pressing the argument with me and it does feel, even now, as though you are trying to compel me to agree with you.

If, in addition to equating the kingdom with the chuirch, you also allow for the equation of kingdom with the world and the individual soul,

That is the both/and logic of the Catholic Church. If a verse can be understood on more than one level, it is acceptable as long as it doesn't contradict the Sacred Tradition of the Church.

your argument could be re-phrased as saying "however you understand the kingdom, one thing you always must do is to equate it with the church."

I would phrase it thus, "You can understand the Kingdom on many levels, but the primary meaning is the Church. Anyone who denies that the Kingdom can be understood as the Church anywhere in Scripture and including in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, is contradicting the Teaching of the Church."

cont'd

De Maria said...

Thomas also said:
This argument is in direct contradiction to: "To state the inseparable relationship between Christ and the kingdom is not to overlook the fact that the kingdom of God — even if considered in its historical phase — is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality."

You're ripping this statement out of context. Here is what else the very same document says:

4. The Church's constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church.

18....The meaning of the expressions kingdom of heaven, kingdom of God, and kingdom of Christ in Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, as well as in the documents of the Magisterium, is not always exactly the same, nor is their relationship to the Church, which is a mystery that cannot be totally contained by a human concept. Therefore, there can be various theological explanations of these terms. However, none of these possible explanations can deny or empty in any way the intimate connection between Christ, the kingdom, and the Church. In fact, the kingdom of God which we know from revelation, “cannot be detached either from Christ or from the Church..

cont'd

De Maria said...

Thomas also said:
To say that in some contexts we can speak of the church as the kingdom of God or the kingdom of God as the church (which none of us denies) is not the same as claiming that, whatever else one does, one must always identify the church and the kingdom, as you do.

See the Teaching of Dominus Jesu above.

This claim is in direct contradiction to "Some competent scholars continue to maintain that the Church in the New Testament is identical with the kingdom of God. This opinion is, in my judgment, too narrow."

(The arguments Avery Dulles S.J. offers include specific examples where he thinks an equation of kingdom and church in the parables of Jesus is inadvisable.)


Again, I'd have to see more of the context of what the good Bishop said. I don't think that he would contradict the Teaching of the Magisterium as your quote has him doing.

A direct equation of Christ's kingdom and the church says that Christ's reign only extends over the church.

Not if all the distinctions are understood. Nor if the idea of the king of this world, Satan, is understood.

John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

2 Corinthians 4:4 [Full Chapter]
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

This is in direct contradiction to “In both these encyclicals he pointed out that Christ’s empire is all-encompassing; it includes the secular as well as the religious, the temporal as well as the spiritual, the natural as well as the supernatural. The Church, on the other hand, has a limited sphere of authority…According to Pius XI, therefore, the reign of Christ is not restricted to the Church.”

On the contrary, this is easily correlated to Dominus Jesu and to the Teaching of the Church. It is in reference to one of those "distinctions" which you ignore.

No, I don't think we had already crossed that ground.

I do, but if we didn't then, we're doing it now.

Yes, we both agree that "there are different levels of understanding to the Kingdom, not only in the parable but also in general." But you fail to see that as far as Roman Catholic teaching is concerned (and I agree) we must also acknowledge that we cannot always equate the kingdom and the church.

I agree with the Church. I don't agree with you trying to force what you consider to be the "primary meaning" upon this parable or any other. Since it is clearly Catholic Teaching that the primary meaning of "Kingdom of God" is the Church.

And yet your claim that we must always equate the two is your basic argument for saying that we must do so here.

Dominus Jesu, the encyclical you brought up, says much more than the excerpted quote you ripped out of context:

In fact, the kingdom of God which we know from revelation, “cannot be detached either from Christ or from the Church..

Have we come to an amicable end to this discussion? Or will you continue to try to force me to accept your non-Catholic interpretation of the Teaching of the Church to which I have dedicated my life?

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

To affirm “the inseparability of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church” or “the intimate connection between Christ, the kingdom, and the Church” (as you and I do) is not the same as to say that each parable about the kingdom has a teaching about the church. You have not shown that the Roman Catholic church teaches the latter. Your claim that I am reading out of context can be checked by everyone, as the encyclica and declaration are online on the Vatican website (linked from my blog).

“Again, I'd have to see more of the context of what the good Bishop said. I don't think that he would contradict the Teaching of the Magisterium as your quote has him doing.”

I’ve quoted him at length earlier in the thread and on my blog and the whole essay is available on Google books. He exlicitly says that some parables of the kingdom are better not applied to the church but you think you know better what the teaching of the Church is than the Bishop.

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

Thomas Renz said...
To affirm “the inseparability of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church” or “the intimate connection between Christ, the kingdom, and the Church” (as you and I do) is not the same as to say that each parable about the kingdom has a teaching about the church.


In your opinion. But no one is obligated to share your opinion. And I don't.

You have not shown that the Roman Catholic church teaches the latter.

I have shown. You have not believed me. I don't require your acceptance in order to be satisfied that I have made an adequate explanation of my understanding of the Faith. The truth is true, whether you believe it or not.

Your claim that I am reading out of context can be checked by everyone,

Certainly. That is why I provided the context which you left out.

as the encyclica and declaration are online on the Vatican website (linked from my blog).

“Again, I'd have to see more of the context of what the good Bishop said. I don't think that he would contradict the Teaching of the Magisterium as your quote has him doing.”

I’ve quoted him at length earlier in the thread


You have cherry picked the quotes.

and on my blog

Tellya what I'm going to do. I'm going to take your article and respond to it on my blog.

and the whole essay is available on Google books.

Google books is not a convenient app from which to cut and paste. I'll look for another digital copy from which I can simply point and click to transfer information.

He exlicitly says that some parables of the kingdom are better not applied to the church but you think you know better what the teaching of the Church is than the Bishop.

I think I understand the Catholic Bishop better than you. You are cherry picking words without looking at the context from which he writes. I don't mean the context of the page. I mean the context of his being a Catholic Bishop obedient to the Magisterium.

In you article on your blog, you start out quoting Alfred Loisy, a Catholic Priest, and you admit that he was excommunicated for making the same claim that you want to force out of me. The same claim that you are putting in Fr. Avery Dulles mouth.

cont'd

De Maria said...

continuing with Fr. Avery's excerpts:
But Fr. Avery Dulles never made such a claim.

Lets look at 2 excerpts from "models of the Church" by Avery Dulles. Notice that he uses the term Kingdom of God and Church synonymously and interchanging them continually. He doesn't even seem to feel the need to explain that the Church is the Kingdom of God.

the concept of service must be carefully nuanced so as to keep alive the distinctive mission and identity of the Church… Interpreted in the light of the gospel, the Kingdom of God cannot be properly identified with abstract values such as peace, justice, reconciliation, and affluence. The New Testament personalizes the Kingdom. It identifies the Kingdom of God with the gospel, and both of them with Jesus… Not to know Jesus and not to put one’s faith in him is therefore a serious failure. It is not to know the Kingdom as it really should be known… The notion of the Kingdom of God, which is rightly used by secular theologians to point up the dimension of social responsibility, should not be separated from the preaching of Jesus as Lord. The servant notion of the Kingdom, therefore, goes astray if it seeks to set itself up in opposition to the kerygmatic. (102)[6]

and also:
Each of them [the five models] in my opinion brings out certain important and necessary points. The institutional model makes it clear that the Church must be a structured community and that it must remain the kind of community Christ instituted. Such a community would have to include a pastoral office equipped with authority to preside over the worship of the community as such to prescribe the limits of tolerable dissent, and to represent the community in an official way. The community model makes it evident that the Church must be united to God by grace and that in the strength of that grace its members must be lovingly united to one another. The sacramental model brings home the idea that the Church must in its visible aspects – especially in its community prayer and worship – be a sign of the continuing vitality of the grace of Christ and of hope for the redemption that he promises. The kerygmatic model accentuates the necessity for the Church to continue to herald the gospel and to move men to put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The diaconal model points up the urgency of making the Church contribute to the transformation of the secular life of man, and of impregnating human society as a whole with the values of the Kingdom of God. (194)

He doesn't make any explicit statement about associating the Kingdom with the Church. He simply does it. He assumes the very thing which you claim he rejects.

The problem is that you read into his and other Catholic writing your Protestant presuppositions.

I'll let you know when I've written my examination of your article.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, I am afraid none of this makes much sense to me as an argument. It rather confirms that you fail to understand what I ams aying. You are writing as if the difference between us is that you associate the Kingdom with the Church, while I reject such an association.

I now find it very difficult to take anything you write seriously which means I won't be wasting my time reading it.

If, however, John Bergsma or Michael Barber or Brant Pitre comment here or email me (rector@stmarymh.co.uk) to confirm

(a) that the Roman Catholic church teaches that “kingdom” [when used with reference to a time period following the Ascension of Jesus ] always equates with “the church”,

(b) that therefore each parable about the kingdom must be read as offering teaching about the church,

(c) and that I have badly misunderstood the Roman Catholic authors I cited, "cherry picking words",

then I will accept this and take the necessary consequences.

I hope you will not be offended by my refusal to take your word for it.

Blessings,

Fr Thomas / Revd Dr Thomas Renz

Thomas Renz said...

The necessary consequences:

(a) apologising to De Maria

(b) accepting and teaching that it is Roman Catholic doctrine that we are to equate the kingdom with the church in all contexts,

(c) accepting that Roman Catholic discourse is so very different from the discopurse I inhabit that I am not liklely to understand Roman Catholic authors correctly and therefore need to be very cautious about citing Roman Catholics in my writing.

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

I had a bit of an insight when I was praying at Mass today. As I was listening to the homily about the Kingdom, the following thought occurred to me.

Would you ever consider it right to say, "Jesus is not God." For any reason?

I know I wouldn't.

Jesus is God and man. And it is never correct to insist that when Jesus is God, He is not man. Or when Jesus is man, He is not God.

In the same way, the Church is the Kingdom of God. And the Kingdom of God is the Church.

When we are speaking of the Church, it is not correct to say that the Church is not the Kingdom of God. And when we speak of the Kingdom of God, it is not correct to say that the Kingdom of God is not the Church.

It is the same mystery. Jesus is human and divine. The Church is His Body. Therefore the Church is human and divine.

That is the Catholic Teaching.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

You said,

I hope you will not be offended by my refusal to take your word for it.

Of course not. I never took your word for anything. How would it seem if I now was insulted because you require more than my say so.

No sir. I consider that eminently reasonable and I take it as a compliment that a man of your stature is considering my words at all.

Blessings,

Fr Thomas / Revd Dr Thomas Renz


Blessings to you as well,

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, because your example nicely illustrates the logical fallacy in your reasoning, I shall address it.

Would you ever consider it right to say, "Jesus is not God." For any reason?. No.

"Jesus is God" and "God is Jesus". But this does not mean that we can replace "God" with "Jesus" in every Christian sentence about God. If this were true, then the following sentence

We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity"

could be re-written as

We do not confess three Jesuses, but one Jesus in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity".

I don't think it can and I hope you're not telling me that the sentence in italics is what Roman Catholics mean when they say the sentence in bold.

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

Let's keep thinking along those lines, because I think we're near a breakthrough.

You said:

Blogger Thomas Renz said...
De Maria, because your example nicely illustrates the logical fallacy in your reasoning, I shall address it.


If we keep thinking along these lines, I think I'll prove your logic fallacious.

"Jesus is God" and "God is Jesus". But this does not mean that we can replace "God" with "Jesus" in every Christian sentence about God. If this were true, then the following sentence

We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity"

could be re-written as

We do not confess three Jesuses, but one Jesus in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity".

I don't think it can and I hope you're not telling me that the sentence in italics is what Roman Catholics mean when they say the sentence in bold.


Nor would I. And that is not what I'm saying.

I recognize that:

The Father is not Jesus. Yet, at the same time, I know that Jesus is God.
I recognize that the Spirit is not Jesus. Yet, at the same time, without any contradiction, I know that Jesus is God.

Simply because I know that the Father is not the Son, I will not say that the Son is not God.
Simply because the Spirit is not the Son, I will not say that the Son is not God.

By the same token, I can speak of the Church and yet know that the Church is the Kingdom of God.

And I can speak of the Kingdom of God and recogize that it is the Church.

And when I speak of the Church, I will not claim that the Church is not the Kingdom.
And when I speak of the Kingdom, I will not say that the Kingdom is not the Church.

That is what the Catholic Church is trying to tell you which you have misunderstood. There are distinctions where it is more appropriate to speak of one or the other. But it is never appropriate to deny that they are both one. Just as Jesus is man and God. The body of Christ is the Church and the Kingdom.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria, as far as I can see we are nowhere near a breakthrough. The structure of your argument is "a" therefore "b".

You say (a) "the kingdom is the church" therefore (b) "when the parable says 'kingdom' it means 'church'."

I say that this argument proceeds on the mistaken asumption that the terms "kingdom" and "church" are univocal and always refer to one and the same entity. Because they are not, the "therefore" is not warranted.

You reply by offering further evidence for (a), not realising that we do not disagree about (a). We disagree about "therefore".

You do the same here. This time(a) = "Jesus is God". Let us grant that the analogy is valid. If the structure of your argument were valid, we should be able (b) to substitute "Jesus" for "God" in every Christian statement about God.

I have demonstrated that "a" therefore "b" does not work here. And you agreed.

And again you think you are proving your case by offering evidence for (a), not realising that (a) is not the issue on which we disagree.

I think I have done what I could.

Thomas Renz said...

Let me say it one more time slowly. Contray to what you alleged is an issue for "Protestants" (of which you think me one - your call)

I have no problem saying that in some sense the kingdom of God is the church.

But I don't believe that "the kingdom of God" is always used in exactly the same sense (or indeed "the church"). I don't believe that it is always warranted to substitute "church" for "kingdom".

Therefore, to say that "the kingdom is the church" is not sufficient warrant for identifying "the kingdom of the Son of Man" as "the church" in this parable. There may be other arguments for doing so but yours doesn't work for me and the reason that it doesn't work is nothing to do with any desire on my part to separate kingdom and church.

I feel as if I am shouting. I better shut up.

Thomas Renz said...

Except that I should stress that the issue is about the use of words as much as anything else.

I am not sure that the "Jesus is God" analogy works 100%. But if you asked me whether I would say that "Jesus is in some sense God", my answer would be "No". "Jesus is God in every sense" if we talk theology, but "Jesus" is not "God" in every sense if we talk about semantics. This is why the move illustrated above (from the statement in bold to the one in italics) doesn't work.

heidi said...

oh Thomas....
God bless you for trying but as I regrettably had to inform De Maria in a previous string, he or she is simply not "fertile ground" and "throwing your pearls before swine" is a waste of your good evangelical efforts.
Look at the previous few posts and the succeeding ones to see that there is unanimous voice in these comment threads saying very clearly that De Maria is misguided in any efforts at apologetics so long as he/she is unable to communicate effectively, charitably and -above all- with theological precision.

Matt was right, my brother in Christ! Sow seed on good ground....

Blessing and Pax,
Heidi

Susan Moore said...

Over the next 14 days or so the temperatures in Nineveh, Iraq (Mosul) will average around 115 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 90 degrees at night. In the meantime one-half million of our brothers and sisters –people who identify themselves as belonging to the Kingdom of God- have fled for their lives, leaving everything behind; cars and homes and businesses and professional practices and food and water –they have been stripped of all their created things. Apparently Catholics and Protestants are understood to be of the same enemy by the ISIS, the terrorist group who is taking over that part of Christendom, for all have been given the choice between converting to Islam, leaving, or death.
Besides urgent and unending prayer, does anyone know of avenues to help provide for their food and water and clothing and shelter?

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Thomas Renz said...

Heidi: It may have been the tutor instinct in me. Also, stubbornness maybe. Several times I thought "surely De Maria will be able to see that..." only for my hopes to be dashed one more time. I hope it wasn't altogether wasted but one of the attributes of God which challenges me every now and again is his hseer "wastefulness", i.e. generosity. (I grew up in a household where watefulness was most definitely not encouraged and this has remained deeply ingrained in me.) Blessings on you as well!

Susan: http://barnabasfund.org/

Susan Moore said...

Thank you, Dr. Renz!!!

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria,

I don't want my last post to be one in which I talk about you in the third person. I agree with Heidi, who I believe is a Roman Catholic, that your efforts at apologetics are misguided. They give the Roman Catholic church a bad name.

I have benefitted from reading Roman Catholic authors over the years, so I know not to take your comments as representative. You may of course think that the reason I have valued Roman Catholic authors is that I don't understand them correctly but you'd be the first to suggest this and I know that you'll respect that I won't take your word for it.

I wish you all the best and hope and pray that one day you'll find someone whom you respect who will be able to guide you in the direction Heidi suggested.

Blessings,

Fr Thomas / Revd Dr Thomas Renz

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,


Blogger Thomas Renz said...
De Maria, as far as I can see we are nowhere near a breakthrough. The structure of your argument is "a" therefore "b".


Then you haven't understood what I said. The structure of my logic is:

a is synonymous with b. When we speak of a, we can never forget b.

You say (a) "the kingdom is the church" therefore (b) "when the parable says 'kingdom' it means 'church'."

In that parable about the weeds and the wheat, the primary meaning of the kingdom is the Church.

I say that this argument proceeds on the mistaken asumption that the terms "kingdom" and "church" are univocal and always refer to one and the same entity. Because they are not, the "therefore" is not warranted.

You can say whatever you want. I have explained my argument. You are simply trying to put words in my mouth.

You reply by offering further evidence for (a), not realising that we do not disagree about (a). We disagree about "therefore".

After reading this message, I realize that you don't understand what we disagree about.

You do the same here. This time(a) = "Jesus is God".

Correct.

Let us grant that the analogy is valid.

You don't believe that Jesus is God?

If the structure of your argument were valid, we should be able (b) to substitute "Jesus" for "God" in every Christian statement about God.

Answer the question. Do you believe that Jesus is God?

I have demonstrated that "a" therefore "b" does not work here. And you agreed.

Do you believe that Jesus is God?

And again you think you are proving your case by offering evidence for (a), not realising that (a) is not the issue on which we disagree.

Do you believe that Jesus is God?

I think I have done what I could.

Do you believe that Jesus is God or not? The statement, Jesus is God is not an analogy. It is an ABSOLUTE truth of our faith.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...


Blogger Thomas Renz said...
Let me say it one more time slowly. Contray to what you alleged is an issue for "Protestants" (of which you think me one - your call)


Yes, I think you're a Protestant.

I have no problem saying that in some sense the kingdom of God is the church.

ok

But I don't believe that "the kingdom of God" is always used in exactly the same sense (or indeed "the church"). I don't believe that it is always warranted to substitute "church" for "kingdom".

a. In the Parable about the weeds and the wheat, the primary meaning of kingdom of God is Church.
b. It is never appropriate to deny that the Church is the Kingdom of God.

Therefore, to say that "the kingdom is the church" is not sufficient warrant for identifying "the kingdom of the Son of Man" as "the church" in this parable.

It is the primary meaning of the Kingdom of the Son of man and the Kingdom God in this parable.

There may be other arguments for doing so but yours doesn't work for me

It doesn't matter to me if it works for you or not. It works for me. Unlike you, I don't require your approval or confirmation. Nor will I attempt to force you to agree with me.

and the reason that it doesn't work is nothing to do with any desire on my part to separate kingdom and church.

I don't care why it doesn't work for you. But it works for me.

I feel as if I am shouting. I better shut up.

Thomas, it doesn't matter how loud you shout. The truth is true whether you believe it or not.

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

Blogger Thomas Renz said...
Except that I should stress that the issue is about the use of words as much as anything else.


Yeah. The issue of words is a big thing.

I am not sure that the "Jesus is God" analogy works 100%.

You consider the statement that Jesus is God an analogy?

But if you asked me whether I would say that "Jesus is in some sense God", my answer would be "No". "Jesus is God in every sense" if we talk theology,

Thank you.

but "Jesus" is not "God" in every sense if we talk about semantics.

In what sense, semantically, is Jesus not God?

Jesus is not the Father, but Jesus is God.
Jesus is not the Holy Spirit. But Jesus is God.

Jesus is man and Jesus is God.

In what sense, semantically, is Jesus not God?

This is why the move illustrated above (from the statement in bold to the one in italics) doesn't work.

Friend, Jesus is God. And it is not wise for you to say that Jesus is not God.

To end,
In this parable, the primary meaning of Kingdom is Church.
And it is never appropriate to deny that the Church is the Kingdom of God.

You can shout, you can stomp and you can talk about me in the first, second and third person. You won't budge me from the Teaching of the Catholic Church.

De Maria said...


Thomas


Blogger Thomas Renz said…
…. Several times I thought "surely De Maria will be able to see that..." only for my hopes to be dashed one more time…..


I felt exactly the same way Thomas.

De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

Blogger Thomas Renz said...
De Maria,

I don't want my last post to be one in which I talk about you in the third person.


Ok.

I agree with Heidi, who I believe is a Roman Catholic, that your efforts at apologetics are misguided.

I'll let God be the judge.

They give the Roman Catholic church a bad name.

You're entitled to your opinion. So is this very devout Catholic by the name of IgnatiusBenedict. And many others. I've even had a few former Protestants to write to me and tell me that they converted to the Catholic Church because of my apologetics.

I have benefitted from reading Roman Catholic authors over the years, so I know not to take your comments as representative. You may of course think that the reason I have valued Roman Catholic authors is that I don't understand them correctly but you'd be the first to suggest this and I know that you'll respect that I won't take your word for it.

Correct.

I wish you all the best and hope and pray that one day you'll find someone whom you respect who will be able to guide you in the direction Heidi suggested.

Heidi's pride is hurt and she has become spite filled because I proved to her that the 66 book King James Bible supports all Catholic DoctrinesSee the comments. Apparently, she thinks that because she posted a Catholic Blog, she is now an infallible expert on Catholicism. If she is your mentor, you have fallen in my estimation.

Blessings,

Fr Thomas / Revd Dr Thomas Renz


And to you. I sincerely hold no malice towards you. You're in error. But in my estimation it is an error which is made in good faith.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Susan Moore said...

It is curious to me that twice on this Catholic blog response site I have asked for assistance when I was in great spiritual pain. Dr. Renz not only responded quickly and effectively, addressing this stranger’s needs with Godly wisdom, he also was the one and only one person to respond.

Also, he could have used the vulnerability of my desperate sadness and pain to direct me away from Catholicism to his own faith-tradition, but he did not. He referred me to a Catholic site and people for further assistance.

So it seems if he is a non-Catholic, as long as he does not direct people away from Catholicism, particularly by telling lies (such as that Catholics are idol worshippers), then there need not be felt any desire to convert him to Catholicism (Luke 9:49-50). Instead, there should be a curiosity and gratefulness expressed to him for loving your sister for you. If for no other reason than those good deeds, he has earned his inheritance, “the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:31-46).

We are only capable of offering sacrificial love after we have first subordinated ourselves to God (the same God who first loved us by sacrificing His life for our lives). Dr. Renz, not once but twice, demonstrated that love of Christ to me when he could have just as well ignored my issues, but he was eagerly obedient to the will of God and loved me, instead.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

If someone does not believe what we believe, but they do not teach against Catholicism, and are also sacrificially loving, it greatly unwise to be unloving towards them, because one then risks directly offending God. The safest thing to do in all cases, even if they teach against Catholicism, is to love them, anyway. It helps me to remember the lesson of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

De Maria said...

Susan Moore said,

The safest thing to do in all cases, even if they teach against Catholicism, is to love them, anyway.

I am doing my best Susan.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Susan Moore said...

Dear De Maria,
I believe you are doing your best. Your good intention warms my heart greatly, but your ‘doing’ worries me just as greatly because we have God in us, so therefore there is nothing for us to 'do [our] best' when it comes to loving others. We simply get out of His way and let Him love others through us.

He loves with great compassion and tenderness. Even when I was a rageful rebel, literally cocked and ready to destroy the earth and everyone on it (this should bring to mind people who go into crowds and start shooting automatic rifles), He loved me with great compassion and tenderness. Even when I abandoned or destroyed every relationship in my life, He loved me with great compassion and tenderness. Through every single suicide attempt he loved me with great compassion and tenderness. Even when I screamed and shook my fists at Him He outstretched His arms to hold me…

He never tried to change me, He simply loved me. It was His intense and beautiful love that grew my heart towards His. He never insisted that I think a certain way, or believe a certain thing, He simply listened and walked with me. His presence was discernible and real and here, He is just invisible for now.

This all came to a head a couple of years ago when I was disappointed that people were not listening to me and changing from their idolatrous and evil ways (this was after I was healed). So, in anguish I was talking with Him in prayer, and He challenged me.

He had me to say ‘hello’ to everyone I came into –people on the bus, the sidewalk, at work, in the stores- every single person regardless of whether or not it was convenient for me or I felt like it. And if they made eye contact with me and said, ‘hello’, then to ask them how they are doing that day. Then just listen to them, while silently praying and inviting Him to intervene through me if He would like. Allowing them the freedom to express themselves in whatever way comes, and accepting that expression is an amazing and faith growing experience. You know what I learned? I learned there is a lot on people minds, and they need someone to listen to them. I learned I could not do that if I was focusing on myself and how I should respond to them. I had to abandon myself and leave it in God’s hands.

I lost so much confidence in my own ability to say the right thing that I staunchly refused to say anything unless I believed without a shadow of a doubt that He would use my voice apparatus and speak through me. Many time I said nothing, just listened. Sometimes they would hug me for listening. They come in all shapes and sizes and genders, religions and nations and economic backgrounds. None of that seems to matter to God, and the fact that I am a middle aged little white woman does not seem to matter one iota to them. They, without me having said anything more than ‘hello’ and ‘how’ya doin?’, would identify me as belonging to the Kingdom of God and would often ask me to pray for them. I grew so much compassion for people that at times I cry at their stories and urgently pray for Him to intervene. Guess what?

His LOVE heals people!! (Remember, He uses the word ‘heal’ in the Bible to mean healing of the body, mind and spirit. ‘Heal’ and ‘save’ are used interchangeably in english translations of Scripture!)

De Maria said...

Hi Susan,

You said,

Your good intention warms my heart greatly, but your ‘doing’ worries me just as greatly because we have God in us,

Thank you for your concern. I, in turn, am a bit concerned about you. You are a very nice person. And you are influenced by people who speak nicely to you. But I am reminded that the serpent spoke very nicely to Eve in the Garden.

Dr. Renz, for all his niceness, was hear trying to debunk Catholic Doctrine. Let me show you.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Renz' blog:

The Church of England

Members of the Church of England (Anglicans) trace their Christian roots back to the early Church.

The basis of the faith of the Church of England is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (the Bible), as understood by the Church throughout the ages and proclaimed in the three ecumenical creeds, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed and the one commonly called the Apostles' Creed.

We believe that particular churches need not have the same traditions and ceremonies in all places and at all times but that it is not lawful for the church to ordain anything that is contrary to the will of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures.


Notice the words in bold there at the end. In other words, the church where he presides does NOT believe in the infallibility of the Catholic Church. If they did, they would not remain outside the Catholic Church, would they?

The reason that Dr. Renz is so adamant that the Church is not the Kingdom of God is because he doesn't believe in the infallibility of the Catholic Church. That is why it is so important for him to make everyone believe that the Church is not the Kingdom of God. Because if the Church is not the Kingdom of God, it can't be infallible. But if the Church is the Kingdom of God, it must be infallible.

And of course, he resented my speaking of "presuppositions" because his presuppositions are anti-Catholic. He can deny it all he wants, but the Church of England outlawed Catholicism in England to this day. The law has not been taken off the books. And it is the Church of England (better known as the Anglican Church) which has introduced divorce, contraception, female and gay clergy and many other abominations to non-Catholic Christianity.

And, he was here trying to plant that seed.

So, I was as nice as I could be, but I will not be swayed. The Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God. I don't care how much anyone protests.

Now, it may seem to you that I compared him to the serpent in the Garden. But I don't. I compare him to Eve. She turned around and embroiled her husband in her sin. In the same way, he has already bitten Satan's fruit and is embroiled in a religion which is not valid in the eyes of God.

Now, he wants to come here and offer us of that fruit. No thanks.

I will pray for him that God open his eyes and he turn to the true Church of Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Catholic Church. But I will not join him in his error.

Sincerely,

De Maria

heidi said...

Thomas,
I enjoyed reading and learning from your comments. So in that respect I am glad you continued to engage with your misguided interlocutor.
I hope that you will not let "Simon" steer you away from engaging in meaningful dialogue with other Catholics on this blog. When we allow the Father to speak through us, we speak not as Simon, but as Peter. It is not always obvious which one of the two is speaking. One is a stumbling block, the other is Divinely revealed truth.

It is unfortunate that this blog forum- which has been so generously provided by the blog authors as a means of enriching one anothers faith through constructive dialog- has been commandeered by one voice who insists on monopolizing strings even when informed by other commenters that they no longer wish to engage with this combative and irrational voice. This to me, is a failure in Christian charity, a failure to respect the wishes of others, as well as a failure in humility to see one's own limitations. You are bountiful, Thomas, to say that he/she is "well meaning". Unfortunately, I can't concur that what has every sign of "vain glory" is simply "well meaning".

If it is any consolation for all the effort you put into getting your points across, I think you were perfectly clear and precise in your message and correct in your conclusions. You taught me a great deal, and I thank you.

One last point I wish to convey is that there is no unanimous voice from the church fathers on the issue that has been the center of your discussion (church = kingdom without qualification). Nor can this point of view be described as the "Roman Catholic teaching" as it is nowhere in CCC article 9, no. 748 -975 nor is it found in Sacrosanctum Concillium- the Church's dogmatic self statement. Indeed, you will find from both of these authoritative resources a very nuanced and broadly encompassing application of the term "Kingdom".
If you'd like to converse on this or any other Christian subject, please contact me via my www.cafecatechesis.com
There any conversation/debate engaged in will be unsullied by 'misguided apologists'.

Thanks again Thomas.

De Maria said...

Heidi said:

One last point I wish to convey is that there is no unanimous voice from the church fathers on the issue that has been the center of your discussion (church = kingdom without qualification).

Nor did I make that point. Yours is a straw man argument.

My points are clear.

1. It is not right to say that the Church is not the Kingdom of God. It is not right to deny that the Church is the Kingdom of God.
2. In this parable, the primary meaning is the Kingdom of God is the Church.

And the Catholic Church is the Church which I speak of. The Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God.

Do you deny it?

Sincerely,

De Maria



Susan Moore said...

Actually I am not always a very nice person, nor am I naïve. But what matters is to grasp that we are each made in the image of God, Himself. Moreover, some of us have God in us. Therefore, any derogatory words to a human being insults both the God who made humans in His own image, as well as the God who dwells inside of some of us.

I am not suggesting that we believe anyone, I am not addressing belief. Instead, I am suggesting that we love everyone, as Jesus loves us and has commanded us. It is not necessary that we agree with someone in order to love them, if that were the case then we would all be doomed to hell, for Jesus loved us when we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).

Furthermore, we also reveal great wisdom when we heed St. Paul’s warning, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:1-3).

When we are too frightened or rebellious to come to Jesus, or to heed the advice of St. Paul, then perhaps it feels safe to listen to our kindly Pope Francis. The following rest of this response (I apologize in advance, I’m not sure how to do the formatting) is an excerpt from today’s post (7/28/14) of the National Catholic Register regarding a visit by Pope Francis to a Protestant church in Rome:

“After the visit was announced, Brian Stiller, global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), revealed on his blog that the Holy Father had privately informed them during a meeting in late June organized by the late Evangelical bishop Tony Palmer with evangelical leaders at the Vatican, that he was going to make this visit and why.

“He listened and then told a remarkable story,” Stiller recounted. “In his years in and out of Rome, he became friends with an Italian pastor. In time he came to learn that the church and pastor felt the power and presence of the Catholic Church, with its weighty presence, obstructing their desire to grow and be a witness. So he decided to visit the church and offer an apology for the difficulty brought to their congregation.”

James Robison, a founding pastor and televangelist with his wife Betty of the LIFE Outreach International, was there as well. He told the Register he believed the Pope wanted to correct and see healing for the wrongs treated against any person.

“He thinks there was reason to apologize to this group, and I clearly got the impression [he seeks to apologize] to Evangelicals and Protestants in other parts of the world where Catholics had in any way been unkind [to them],” he said.

Robison said he and the others went back and forth with the Pope through a translator. He emphasized that they communicated to the Pope that they are encouraging fellow Christians to build Christ-filled relationships with Catholics.

“One of the things that we try to do, and I think the Pope appreciated that, is to stop the unkind attacks from Protestants on Catholics, and really seek understanding,” he said.

Robison added, “Both sides still need to learn, both sides have repentance to do to answer for their very un-Christlike attitude toward one another.”

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/evangelicals-praise-pope-francis-promotion-of-the-gospel#ixzz38mUjHWtV

De Maria said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for your counsel. You said:

Susan Moore said...
Actually I am not always a very nice person, nor am I naïve. But what matters is to grasp that we are each made in the image of God, Himself. Moreover, some of us have God in us. Therefore, any derogatory words to a human being insults both the God who made humans in His own image, as well as the God who dwells inside of some of us.


1. We are still talking about my discussion with Dr. Renz, right? Because I hope you don't feel that I have insulted you. But if you do, please point to that word which I spoke which offended you.

2. But if you believe that I spoke any derogatory word towards Dr. Renz, please point to it as well. The only one that I used which I believe could possibly be called derogatory is "protestant". And I don't mean that in a derogatory way. He is a member of a Church which rejects and denies the authority of the Catholic Church. Therefore, in my opinion, he is protestant. That is a descriptive fact.

3. By the way, did you know that the term, "Roman" Catholic is a pejorative in Protestant circles.

True, some Catholics use Roman Catholic, and I hasten to add that this isn't an absolute linguistic matter, but I prefer not to for the following reasons:

1) The traditional pejorative use of Roman, Romanist, Romanism, etc. in Protestant anti-Catholic circles (particularly among Anglicans, originally) - and to some extent, by Orthodox.


When he called us Roman Catholic, he didn't mean it in the same way as we do.

But I'm interested in knowing what I said that you construe as derogatory towards the man.


Susan also said:

I am not suggesting that we believe anyone, I am not addressing belief. Instead, I am suggesting that we love everyone, as Jesus loves us and has commanded us.

Do you think that Jesus loved the Pharisees when He said:

Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

What is it in my message that you construe as unloving? Did you not notice that I tried to end the conversation amicably several times, but he kept pressing me?

After 8 messages, I said:

Anyway, I've enjoyed our conversation. If you reply, I will respond. Otherwise, thanks for your courtesy and your patience.

Sincerely,

De Maria

8:07 PM

Several times, I said something to the effect of:

Blogger De Maria said...
Thomas,

Its been fun, but if you post anything, I'll have to wait til tomorrow to respond. Good night.

or

Thanks Thomas,

I'm glad we came to a good understanding even though we disagree on the main points.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Did you not notice that when I apologized, he took the opportunity to insult me?

I said:

Blogger De Maria said...
Hi Thomas,

First of all, I'd like to apologize if I have misunderstood your comments. Thanks for your clarifications.

He responded:

Blogger Thomas Renz said...
De Maria: I am afraid, you have not only misunderstood me, you are a long way from understanding me.

So, please tell me where I was derogatory towards him and what you would have done differently.


Robison added, “Both sides still need to learn, both sides have repentance to do to answer for their very un-Christlike attitude toward one another.”

We all have a great deal to learn. But my conscience is clear in this instance. When I apologized to him, he took the opportunity to malign me. When he wasn't talking to me, he was maligning me to other people. When I didn't agree with him, he became insulting.

But, if refusing to believe his teachings is wrong, then count me guilty.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Susan Moore said...

De Maria, at your request I am pointing out words you have written that are of concern:
“Thank you for your concern. I, in turn, am a bit concerned about you. You are a very nice person. And you are influenced by people who speak nicely to you. But I am reminded that the serpent spoke very nicely to Eve in the Garden.

Dr. Renz, for all his niceness, was hear trying to debunk Catholic Doctrine. Let me show you.”

It seems quite extreme to compare Dr. Renz to Satan, or me to Eve. Scripture teaches us what to look for in Satan, and demons, and Dr. Renz fills none of those descriptions except that he disagrees with you.

At the risk of sounding too harsh, I have to say that it is irrelevant how you perceive he has treated you in regards to how Jesus, St. Paul and Pope Francis have commanded/beseeched us and have set an example of how we are to love others. Forgiveness makes the world go around.

I have not forgotten the help you gave me on that other blog. Because of that, I know your heart is desiring to help others. I see you as Paul, full of zeal for God but lacking in knowledge of some things. I do not desire to break you down, but rather build you up. To have the knowledge of Catholicism is a great gift, but it is vital to only offer it in a loving manner. It does no good to change a person’s head if their heart does not change with it.

It is impossible to register someone’s affect/emotions/intent just through written words, without knowing that person or having that person also report as they write what is going on in their head. Any negative type words, even in jest, can have a catastrophic negative effect if the inflection is not understood. I have learned it is important to always yield to the passions of the other if the discussion seems to be getting too heated. Perhaps the Lord will give another go at it later when things cool down, it’s all in His hands anyway. If I died right this minute, He would still keep the world spinning, and Dr. Renz would still get his reward or his punishment, whatever is due Him in the Lord’s eye’s. In the meantime, love Protestants like Jesus loves you –beyond reason.

P.S. Yes, I believe Jesus loved the Pharisees enough to die for them as well, and Judas as well. After all, He made them in His image, too, and they were part of the world that He came to save. Even Satan is a created being of His whom we are to therefore respect, but not to fear because He has given us His power over Satan, sin and death –so what is left to fear but fear itself?

De Maria said...

Thanks for your input Susan,

Anonymous Susan Moore said...
De Maria, at your request I am pointing out words you have written that are of concern:
“Thank you for your concern. I, in turn, am a bit concerned about you. You are a very nice person. And you are influenced by people who speak nicely to you. But I am reminded that the serpent spoke very nicely to Eve in the Garden.

Dr. Renz, for all his niceness, was hear trying to debunk Catholic Doctrine. Let me show you.”


Oh, I thought you were concerned about things I had said to Dr. Renz during our debate/discussion.

I'm sorry I compared you to Eve. I intended to show the same type of concern for you that you are showing for me.

All you have said is true Susan. And you confirmed that during the debate I did not say anything to him which was derogatory. I didn't think that I had.

I think that I love Protestants. If I didn't, I wouldn't be trying to teach them the Word of God. And sometimes, fighting the good fight, is not for the weak of heart.

Matthew 11:12New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,[a] and the violent are taking it by force.

I don't consider myself a violent person, but I'm not accustomed to anyone telling me what to believe, if I don't agree.

Thanks for your input Susan. I do agree with you and understand what you are saying. But in God's world, there is a time for everything. There is a time for sweet love, which is what you represent. And there is a time for tough love. Which, hopefully, I have represented.

In any case, God is my Judge:
1 Corinthians 4:3-4N

3 It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by any man: I do not even pass judgment on myself; 4 I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord.

That sounds a bit harsh also. But i don't intend it as harsh as it sounds. I just mean that I leave everything in God's hands and I live my life the way I think He wants me to.

Thomas Renz said...

Dear Susan and Heidi,

thank you for your kind words and, Susan, for sharing a little of your story. Heidi, do not fear I will not let one fool steer me away from engaging in meaningful dialogue on this blog although I won’t do so in the near future.

I did smile when I read that De Maria, having misunderstood John Bergsma (as if the post claimed that schismatics used “this parable to justify puritanical practices”), misrepresented the Roman Catholic church (as if one could not be a faithful member, if one questioned the equation of kingdom and church in one of the parables), wrongly attributed to me beliefs which I do not hold and motives which I do not have, now disowns the very argument he himself pursued for claiming that we must identify kingdom and church in this parable, pretending that all he ever said was that “the kingdom is the church” and “the primary meaning of kingdom in this parable is the church”. It is of course not a laughing matter; so much falsehood and refusal to see it is frightening.

You may well know this, but in case you don’t, I want to clarify the use of “Roman Catholic”. It is not true that it is derogatory, as maybe “Romanist” was (I withhold judgement on that). The reason we use it, especially in the Anglican church, is that we do not believe that only Roman Catholics are Catholic. I confess my belief "in the holy, Catholic church" every week in our liturgy. For some of us our own Catholic identity is so important that “Anglo-Catholic” is used alongside "Roman Catholic".

I decide not to take offence at the use of “Catholic” to refer only to those in communion with Rome; I understand where you are coming from. But I cannot join in this exclusive use because it denies my own Catholicity. This would require a much longer discussion but you should know that there are Church of England clergy who are more in agreement with the Catechism of the Roman Catholic church than many Roman Catholics. For some the main reason not to convert to Rome is that to do so would be to deny the validity of their own orders (and those of many of their friends), something they cannot do in good conscience.

I myself am not as close to Roman Catholic teaching as some of my fellow clergy (and not as far away as others) but I do grieve about our separation. I am Protestant in the sense that I belong to one of the historical Protestant churches and Reformed in the sense that I agree with much of the teaching of the mainstream Reformers. (Reformed Catholic is my preferred self-dsignation, if I have to have one.) I am not Protestant in the sense of seeking out and stressing disagreement with Rome. So here you have a little bit more about me.

Blessings,

Thomas

De Maria said...

Hello again, Thomas,

The reason we use it, especially in the Anglican church, is that we do not believe that only Roman Catholics are Catholic

I don't know how to say this any more sensitively than this. It doesn't really matter if you consider yourself Catholic. What matters is if you obey the Pope and the Catholic Church over which he presides. If you don't, you're not Catholic.

891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

That's what a true Catholic does.

This link says what you believe.


I don't see anything there about obeying the Pope or the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Susan Moore said...

Hi De Maria,
Ok, well, I think we have heard each other out on these things. Our gifts are different, and I do not doubt that you are Spirit led, but reality checks (for both of us) never hurts.

I know it’s true that if I had kids I would more than likely take them to their father if they misbehaved!
I also know what it feels like to feel attacked. For instance, when I work in mental health nursing every now and then I suddenly feel the need to defend myself and my position of authority, but I have learned that Proverb 15:1 works best; “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Actually, it works better than anything else. It works.

I also know that in the past I have let people mistakenly think I am a nice person by giving them more and more ‘rope’ to tell me their argument, but that’s just because I am fascinated by how weird a human’s thinking can get (my own thinking included), when we are so sure we are absolutely right, when it is obvious to everyone else that we are absolutely wrong. Then when I’ve seen their whole argument, they find out the rope stops in a noose. Not very nice, I know -please know I’ve turned from that wickedness!

I think it must be true, what my Evangelical pastor taught us; we are more messed up than we can ever admit, and more loved by God than we can ever imagine.

Love,
Susan

Thomas Renz said...

De Maria,

Apologies for failing to accept your apologies explicitly. Maybe I should have ended the conversation at one of the points you suggested. The trouble was that we always ended on what you thought was some amiable agreement and I considered to be at best a misunderstanding. And it may seem churlish of me, but I am afraid I cannot return the thank you for courtesy and patience because I do not think you gave me much of either.

I won’t go over the past to demonstrate how you have attributed to me beliefs which I do not hold. There is a sense in which understanding is not possible between us at this moment in time. All my attempts to explain seem to have fallen on deaf ears. But let me point you to a few of your recent statements.

“And it is not wise for you to say that Jesus is not God.” As if I ever said such a thing. It was you who introduced the analogy between the statement “Jesus is God” and the statement “the kingdom is the church”. I went with the analogy, while expressing some reluctance about its complete validity. (Ironically my reluctance stems from the fact that to me Jesus = God works better than reign=people.) But I have unequivocally stated that I believe Jesus to be God and it is therefore mischievous or even vicious of you to imply otherwise. (I now realise that in all likelihood you don’t understand words like “univocal” and “unequivocal” and, of course, “semantically” but I will use them anyway, because it is only your presumption that prevents you from looking them up you.)

The claim that “Dr. Renz, for all his niceness, was hear trying to debunk Catholic Doctrine” rests on your illusion that it is Roman Catholic doctrine to always equate kingdom and church and that for this reason we have to do so here or, maybe, since you seem to have changed your mind, that it is the infallible doctrine of the Roman Catholic church that whoever questions the identification of kingdom and church in this parable is in error. I will acknowledge my error once John Bergsma or another of the owners of this blog confirms this or you can point me to an authoritative source that makes this point rather than in your opinion implies it.

As for your quotation from our church’s website (not my blog, actually). Yes, it is true that we believe that “it is not lawful for the church to ordain anything that is contrary to the will of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures.” Do you wish to disagree? Do you believe that it is lawful for the church to ordain something that is contrary to the will of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures? I doubt it. But you seem to like to smear and slander more than exploring what it is exactly on which we disagree.

“The reason that Dr. Renz is so adamant that the Church is not the Kingdom of God is because he doesn't believe in the infallibility of the Catholic Church” is nonsense and the pretence that it is still illegal in England to be Roman Catholic is preposterous, see http://www.thepapalvisit.org.uk/The-Catholic-Faith/History-of-the-Catholic-Church-in-England-16th-19th-Century. I will not cite the specific passage because you’ll just claim I have ripped it out of context, as you like to do when a sentence says something you cannot allow it to say.

Your latest post follows the same pattern. You didn’t grasp that I have already acknowledged that for you only those in communion with Rome are Roman Catholics and I said that I decided not to take offense at the use of “Catholic” in this sense; I just explained why I cannot use the term in this sense. (Then you cite a part of the Catechism that does not even mention “Catholic” – if you felt a need to back up that the Roman Catholic church teaches that those not in communion with her are not Catholic, you should have been citing the passage in the Catechism where it says “only those in communion with the Pope are Catholic”. )

I hope this does not stir up anger.

God be with you

Dr Renz

Susan Moore said...

Dr. Thomas Renz,
Don’t make me get stern with you! :-)
The same thing I’ve shared with De Maria also goes to you if you want to be in the club -you have to play nice!

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a pastor or a priest in the UK. That’s ground zero for the protestant reformation, isn’t it? It seems like the ground is still shaking from the aftershocks of that ripping apart. There were no winners in that war. We all lost. And the world still groans…

This may come as a surprise, I don’t know, but here in Catholicville we truly understand each other to be brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family. Although I cannot speak for everyone, I think it is fair to say that many of us do not come to this blog site to become indoctrinated with Catholicism, we come here because the blog writers are our brothers, and we love them. We are all human and have God in us, which means some of what we say is true, and some of what we say is false. So what? Love us, anyway, the way that Jesus loves you!

heidi said...

Thomas,
The idea that "Roman Catholic" is perjorative is utter nonsense. I am not surprised if that absurdity came from yet another intellectually belligerent outpouring of ignorance directed your way.

However, the term is not in any sense perjorative and I would never- whatsoever- have taken anything you said to be less than fair and just.

Moreover, you have gone ABOVE AND BEYOND in charity to address every question directed at you in this string by myself and others. You have also answered IN CHARITY AND GRACIOUSNESS every accusative, insulting and outrageous claim made against you by a voice in these blog posts who insists on trumpeting their theological, religious, social and spiritual ignorance to all who give ear.
That being said, it isn't likely at this point that I would question any device of yours as coming from ANY MOTIVE other than the Love of God.
Alas, if "Roman Catholic" is perjorative, somebody better inform Dr. Nathan Eubank and Dr. Baglow as they use the term liberally when they speak at Catholic conferences! http://www.salvationhistory.com/personnel/Dr.+Christopher+Baglow
http://www.nathaneubank.com/about/

Additionally, you ARE Catholic - by virtue of your baptism. Thus, you have every right to identify yourself as such. However, I will continue to pray that someday all Catholics submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff.

Thomas, you are a good soldier and it is clear that God gave you the gift of "stubbornness" in order to give Him glory!

A quick question, do you use logos? If so, do you have the ACCSS?

Thank you for sharing more about yourself. I would like to hear more about the Church of England and the positions of clergy you know regarding church unity.

BUT NOT IN THIS BLOG STRING! At this point, I'm actually getting worried about your blood pressure.
From a purely medical point of view, I think you should 'opt out' of anymore debate with the one "who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.” (Jeremiah 5:21)

I had to stop reading those silly posts from that person two blogs ago. What he/she posits is so far afield that it would only be the 'occasion of sin' for me to keep reading them. I tell you, however, it takes A LOT of scrolling to get past so much nonsense!!

Like Origen said, "Ubi divisio, ibi peccatum....."


De Maria said...

Hello Thomas,

Well, you can tell them that you are Catholic and that you believe in the infallibility of the Catholic Church. But, pardon me if I don't believe it.

From your blog:

Reading the Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage


The House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage has drawn fierce criticism (see TA for a round-up of reactions). Here is an attempt at a more sympathetic reading of the guidance.

The guidance consists of a letter and a statement. From the letter I highlight two things. First, while we are not agreed as a church on how to respond to the introduction of same sex marriage, the House of Bishop is agreed that “the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.”….

Your conclusion:

Cranmer is right to say that "it is not what Canon Law prohibits in theory but how the bishops handle disobedience in practice which will determine and define the Church's theology on same-sex marriage" and he is likely also right to anticipate no end to bad publicity (and worse) along this road. But it is possible that the House of Bishops went down this road not naively but because they could not go down any other road with integrity.

Emphasis mine

I know you'll have an answer for this as well Thomas. But, as for me, you've used up all your credibility.

Thomas Renz said...

Susan,

I knew that I sounded less gentle in the last two posts. This was a feature of speaking plainly about falsehood, "Open rebuke is better than secret love." I still assume that De Maria is genuinely blind rather than deliberately deceptive but I felt it right to rebuke the blindness as culpable because born out of presumption.

I consider the blog writers my brothers and come here because I like their writing, even if I do not always agree with them.

Thomas

Thomas Renz said...

Heidi,

I use Logos albeit not for biblical research, for which I have been using BibleWorks for nearly twenty years. I Have a few commentaries in Logos but not the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. (My quote from Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri came courtesy of Goggle books.)

Thomas

Heidi said...

Hi Thomas,
I was wondering about the Ancient Christian commentary on sacred scripture.
It came available on logos about a year ago.
But maybe you use the print addition.
Pax
H

Susan Moore said...

I’m not advocating secret love, I’m advocating open, sacrificial love!
Live with great courage, be outrageously extreme, and love all others as Jesus loves you!

We all start out blind to the Word of God, and we all still have blindnesses (the proof being that none of us are glorified and in heaven), but are we willing to follow Him and love each other like He loves us? Or are our words empty and powerless, void of His love? Are we willing to follow His command to us and die to our human nature, so that others may have abundant life in Him through our love of Him?
He says it starts here, with us, now.

Why is it that we who profess to know Him, in the name of God, puff-up in self-righteousness when a person disagrees with us, and instead of attacking only the words of the disagreeing argument, we use our God-given words and ability to communicate to reveal our indignation and attack that person, instead?

If we truly believe someone is ‘blind’ to the Word of God, would we not have even greater compassion on that person and try to protect them in their weakness, and instead of attacking that person, attack that which blinds them?

Jesus did. On top of a hill, in public, to His death He hung naked on a cross out of His great love for us, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus was so outraged by sin that He died for all of us, all sinners, including the sinners who slander Him, so that all may have eternal life in Him; even the great sinners whom He created in His image but who disagree with us. If He sees them worthy enough to die for, why do we not see those people that way? Is our human way better than His way?

It seems fair to say that all anger, nowadays, is actually anger at God that we displace on humans.

“Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11).

Thomas Renz said...

Indeed, Susan. For myself, I did not speak in anger although I admit to frustration. I do not think that to call a fool a fool is necessarily unloving.

Heidi, O I see. No, I don't have the Ancient Christian Commentary on Sacred Scripture on Logos either and have only vol 14 in hardcover, as far as I remember, plus the Ancient Christian Devotional on lectionary Cycle C based on it. Does the Logis edition by any chance link to ccel.org where possible? If so, I would be tempted. Sometimes I like to read the short extracts with their larger co-text.

Thomas Renz said...

PS: I am mindful of Matthew 5:22 although I had been thinking of Proverbs when I wrote "fool". I do not think Jesus prohibits the use of "fool" with reference to someone any more than the use of "father" (Matthew 23:9). He speaks of angrily dismissing someone.

Augustine explains: "In all these three sentences there are some words understood...in He who says, You fool, two things are understood: to his brother, and, without cause. And this forms the defense of the Apostle, when he calls the Galatians fools, though he considers them his brethren; for he did it not without cause."

heidi said...


Hi Thomas no it is not linked to the ccel. It is just amazing that for 300$ you can own the entire commentary.

And I agree about calling a fool a fool. Admonishing the sinner is a spiritual act of charity and vain glory is a sin...

Imagine what wouldve become of the nascent church had St Paul not penned so many masterpieces of hurried angry writing such as Galatians?
In Christ,
Heidi

Thomas Renz said...

You're right, the prize is not bad but I am always a little worried about upward compatibility and I think I'd prefer The Church Bible series of which only four volumes have been published so far.

Susan Moore said...

Heidi and Thomas,
You are both fools!!

Paul could get away with calling the Galatians ‘fools’ not because Paul understood the Galatians to be his brethren, but rather because the Galatians considered Paul to be their brethren. If the Galatians did not identify with Paul, or if they considered that Paul might be their enemy, Paul could not have gotten away with calling them fools; in those cases, the use of derogatory words like ‘fool’ would have quite possibly built a wall instead of a bridge to further relationship.

Likewise, my opening line was intentional for emphasis, because now I would like to ask you if you think it would be best for me, instead of having called you fools, to have instead said something like, “I think your thinking is foolish” or, better yet, to leave a personal opinion out of it and simply go onto my remark about Paul and the Galatians.
Which response seems the most relationally bridge-building and loving?

Thomas Renz said...

Dear Susan,

I did not mind your opening "You are both fools!". In fact, I think it more endearing than the line "I think your thinking is foolish" would have been, a line which sounds very serious.

The relationship between words and relationships is not one way, as you point out. Because of our relationship with us so far I read "you are both fools!" in a way which did not suggest anger or dismissal and did not threaten our relationship.

The comparison with my use of "fool" is in any case imprecise, as I did not address De Maria as a fool but reassured Heidi that I realise that "people like De Maria" are not representative of this blog or the Roman Catholic church. I needed a word for "people like De Maria" and "fool" suggested itself because it seems to me most characteristic of De Maria, as far as our exchange here is concerned. I do not mean it as an insult but as a description of someone whose presumption prevents him from understanding and who talks about "the application of simple logic" without even knowing how a syllogism works.

I sincerely believe that the sooner De Maria realises what a fool he (or she) has been on this thread, the better for him (or her) and everyone else. Helping De Maria towards this is about the best I can do here to further good and loving relationships.

Blessings

Susan Moore said...

Fool,
It seems that by the application of simple logic you would be able to deduce that Jesus had compassion for us because He emptied Himself of His glory and lovingly came to us and experienced through our eyes our lostness and separation from God.

If we are not willing to empty ourselves of our ‘glory’ and love someone enough to see the world through that person’s eyes, because we are unwilling to leave the world that exists only behind our own eyelids, how can God use us to save and heal others?

Thomas Renz said...

;-)

heidi said...

Good grief Susan.
Remember I told you that you were badly in need of a fundamental theology course?
Here again and precisely in the field of moral theology- you need to further your study before you shoot off ridiculous and morally incoherent statements if you want to be a good Christian example.
You are seeing the way the world sees, not the way God sees.

heidi said...

Susan-
Since I do beleive you mean well, if you would like I can email you excerpts from both fundamental and moral theology resources that I have in my Verbum.
If you want me to help you with this send your email.
In Christ,
Heidi

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxHkLdQy5f0

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I just noticed that you are all having a very long conversation and felt like an intermission would be helpful for everyone to recollect their thoughts. The best way to listen to this song is with your head out a car window going at least 55mph

Anonymous said...

Well inside for most, but then then 630. hats where the mind clearing kicks in. And then after this is done come back and I garentee the conversation will still not make any sense at all.

Anonymous said...

Actually its more like 635-643 to be precise, but even for those few short moments with the summer breeze this intermission will clear sinuses and at the very least allow oxygen back to the brain, and anyone who is starting to hallucinate just reading this whole mess to continue.

Matt said...

Nobody? If thats the case, it will have to be the ending song then. And a good thing too. There are over 180 comments on here and the new post has been up for well over a week now. Had it reached 190 on this old post, there could have been a disruption in the space salvation history time continuim on the sacred pages. I had no choice but to help. So now, thanks to me, you either have a nice ending song, or a nice intermission song and another possible 190 comments for this blog

Susan Moore said...

To mimic the ending of the old "The Waltons" TV show:
"G'nite Matt. G'nite Anonymous. G'nite Heidi. G'nite Thomas. G'nite De Maria. G'nite Dr. Bergsma."
"Dr. Bergsma?"

Matthew James Robert said...

Thank you Susan, good night to you as well and great TV show. I still remember when it first came out in the 70s. God bless.

Thomas Renz said...

Addendum: Available to read on Google books: Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, on "kingdom and church" in The Church According to the New Testament, pp. 19-20, and Benedict Viviano, OP, on "The Kingdom of God in the New Testament," in Trinity - Kingdom - Church: Essays in Biblical Theology.