The reason why everyone is guilty of Original Sin is Because everyone Commit the Original Sin

So, I think its fair to say that only God himself is completely free. Now, in God, freedom and necessity coincide: it is necessary that he be free, but he freely embraces necessity. Divine simplicity. However in creatures, there is tension between freedom and necessity; in creatures, freedom and necessity are not the same thing. God wants to create us immediately in heaven, completely free, but this is not possible; we are creatures and therefore we must be created with a “history” of becoming and growing into our freedom.

Hence the story starts with humanity (represented by adam) in the garden of eden. God says to us “You may eat of any tree in the garden” – this corresponds to the modern idea of voluntarist, spontaneous freedom (which DBH rallies against so hard in all of his writings). Basically, any option is as good as any other; any tree in the garden we can explore, sample, experience, enjoy. But all of the trees are as good as any other, therefore there’s no real rhyhm or reason for why we would pick one rather than another. For this very reason it was not enough for God to give us this spontaneous freedom, because such a freedom is almost entirely “random” and therefore it is not appropriate to the sort of freedom that a “man made in the image of God” should have: God’s freedom is not random and spontaneous, therefore neither should man’s freedom be purely random and spontaneous.

Hence, God appends to his universal permission a single prohibition “But I command you: please do not eat from this tree, because if you do, you will die.” Now, the game has changed, rather than adam and eve being confronted with a field of arbitrary possibilities which they will randomly select between, all of a sudden the possibilities have a rational weighting. In other words, some possibilities are “better” than others. At this point, human freedom becomes one that does not merely randomly select from among equal options, but it must rationally deliberate and make a rational choice to select the best/the correct/the most good option. At this point, human freedom has been “shaped” by God so that it is not merely spontaneous and arbitrary but is rather rational and purposeful . So we are now getting much closer to a human freedom that accurately “images” divine freedom, because divine freedom is rational and purposeful, rather than merely being spontaneous and unconstrained/uncoerced.

So far so good. Adam and eve now have a collection of epistemic knowledge: 1.God is good, we can trust him. 2. Those trees are good and we should explore them. 3. That tree is bad and we should avoid it. 4. We are children made in our fathers image and he wants us to grow up to be just like him; this is our destiny.

Now, in order to grow up to be like God, this epistemic knowledge needs to become gnosis knowledge. So while adam and eve are aware that all the good trees contain hidden delights and pleasures, they do not have direct, experiental gnostic knowledge corresponding to their purely intellectual understanding. Hence God wants adam and eve to explore all of the good trees, and in doing so, accumulate more and more gnosis of both God and the creations inherent goodness.

The way God has set things up, everything should work smoothly to produce a divinised adam and eve who have maximum gnosis, and are therefore rendered incapable of sinning, because as they acquire more and more “direct knowledge” (gnosis), they will simply have less and less reason to act in a way contrary to that gnosis. Once adam and eve have eaten from ALL of the good trees in the garden, they would have ALL the gnosis, and therefore be fully and completely divinised, incapable of sinning, perfect children of the father existing in a state of perfect love and harmony from which no fall is possible. The reason why this is predetermined is because Adam and Eve would tend to always choose correctly on the basis of the gnosis they have already acquired, as well as the episteme which guides their choices (again, “These trees are good, those trees are bad. We should eat from these trees, not from those trees”). Basically, adam and eve have absolutely no reason to sin and misuse their freedom at this point, and therefore everything looks set to progress smoothly with no fall, no sin, no death, no pain.

But here comes the twist! Somehow, somewhere, some of the angelic beings had already fallen! Satan hijacks the snake and slithers into the garden, and introduces something of a “computer virus” into the whole order established by God. This computer virus takes the form of a well crafted lie. Adam and eve are doing well, they are on track, things are going smoothly. Adam and eve are eating from the good trees and accumulating gnosis, which is something of a “vaccine” against any possibility of sin. Their deliberative (gnomic) wills are operating just as God designed them to; they are making the correct decisions, avoiding the wrong decisions, because they simply have no reason to sin, so why would they? God is their loving father who has been nothing but a good dad, so why would they have any motivation to disobey him and eat from the bad tree?

So, Satan comes in under the guise of the snake, and introduces a great lie which serves to scramble Adam and Eve’s decision making. Adam epistemically knows that his purpose and destination is to be like God, and he epistemically knows that if he disobeys God, it will be really bad, leading to death. Adam epistemically knows that eating from the bad tree would be a bad idea. However Adam has not yet acquired the full amount of gnosis in order to see through a lie. So the snake comes in and tells an incredibly crafty lie: “God wants you to be like him right? and you want to be like God? well, you and I and God are all fully aware that if you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will be like God, so why is God stopping you? Does he want you to be like him or not? Why is he making you wait? You are already very smart and enlightened, you have already eaten from all the good trees and have already learned so much: so why is God making you wait? Why not just take a shortcut to theosis and eat from the tree God has forbidden you?”

Short but relevant tangent: It is a popular opinion among the church fathers that adam and eve would have been permitted to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil later. So God’s prohibition was just a provisional thing for while they were “little children” (as it were). Once adam and eve had accumulated enough gnosis by eating from all the good trees, at such a stage the father would have said to them “Ok, you have learned everything, you are ready now; you may eat of the final tree and experience the gnosis of death.” So basically, the mission of adam and eve was to eat from ALL of the good trees, acquire ALL the gnosis, and only then would they be ready and permitted to confront death.

So, Satan slides in, and constructs a lie. Adam knows that his destiny is to become like God, so why is Father Yahweh not letting him eat from the forbidden tree, which allegedly will do just that? All of a sudden, Adam’s “deliberative” (gnomic) freedom has gone haywire, because it has become faced with a cognitive dissonance: Basically, should he continue to trust God the father, continue to accumulate gnosis in the slow and patient way? Or should he trust the snake, who has managed to make a compelling argument that it would be better to just cut to the chase and eat the forbidden fruit NOW .

Another short but relevant tangent: The story of adam and eve eating the apple is a typology for every individual human person ever. For more details, read Bulgakovs, “The bride of the Lamb”. Basically, all of us were in the garden, and all of us were individually tempted by the snake, and all of us individually succumbed to his lies, although in each case the lie was different and the fall was different (hence why each of us is born into different circumstances during our lives: some in better circumstances, some in much worse). Bulgakov calls this “meta-history.” During this meta-history, everyone become personally guilty of the original sing just because everyone personally commit the original sin. As such, every individual person has an individual and personalised original sin somewhere in their past, and we can’t do the augustinian thing and put all the blame on adam himself. All of us are personally culpable. At the point that each of us succumb to the snakes lies, that is the exact point that each of us are individually cast out of eden and born in this broken world. (However, the boundary between meta-history and history is a mind-blowing thing and hard to explain. again, read bulgakov)

Returning to adam and eve and the snake: The snake delivers a perfect lie, and all of a sudden the clear distinction between right and wrong, good and evil doesn’t seem so clear. All of a sudden adam is uncertain whether God the father really is completely trustworthy. At this point of confusion and indecision, the opportunity to disobery God becomes a live option. Now, some of us gave in to this lie sooner, some of us gave into this lie later. For some of us, we continued to trust God, continued to eat from the good trees, continued to accumulate gnosis of how good, loving and wonderful God really is. However, the snake kept coming back, and his lies became more and more elaborate: every time we grew in gnosis, the snake was able to use that very gnosis to construct an even better lie. Eventually, one by one, all of us ended up giving in and committing the original sin, and one by one each of us fell out of eden (metahistory) into this broken world (history).

Once we fell into the world, our freedom became totally hijacked. Now our deliberative (gnomic) will is constantly making bad decisions, and where before the journey towards God was easy, now we struggle to continue to grow in gnosis of God, instead, we experience gnosis of suffering, sin, evil and death. Our freedom was always a combination of sponaneous/arbitrary freedom with the rational freedom oriented towards God, but now both of those aspects of our freedom have gone haywire. We deliberate, and we think we know what the best choice is, but as it turns out that’s actually not the best choice and just causes more problems. Basically, we end up in a severe “bondage of the will” situation.

But lets zoom out of history and return to the story happening in eden, in metahistory. Back in eden, humanity is being seduced by the snake one by one and falling into this history. But as mankind slowly apostatiss into a massa damnata, there are two souls who continue to trust Father Yahweh, despite being constantly and repeatedly lied to by the snake. No prizes for guessing who 🙂 Mama Mary and Christ Jesus.

Now, Mary is constantly being approached by the snake, and the snake is constantly tempting her to “cut to the chase” and just eat from the forbidden tree. But mary continues to eternally say her “fiat” and trust God, regardless of how convincing the snakes lies become. Mary knows that Father Yahweh is good and trustworthy, and has his reasons for making her wait. The struggle only continues to get more intense and the lies become ever more convincing, but Mary stalwartly trusts Yahweh and continues to accumulate gnosis by only eating from the good trees.

Eventually, it gets to the point where Mary has eaten from literally every good tree in the garden. In other words, Mary eventually achieves a full and complete gnosis. In other words, Mary manages to live an authentic human life without ever committing the original sin, like the rest of us do. We can imagine someone like St Isaac of Ninevah in the garden, resisting all the lies and onslaughts of the devil, and yet even he at some point was seduced by the serpent and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, and therefore “fell” into this broken world (I personally tend to think that the lie the snake told St Isaac was something along the lines of “Look at all your brothers and sisters suffering on earth and in Hell: they need your help, right now; why is father God stopping you from going down to rescue them? He wants you to rescue them right? Look how much they are suffering: it would be so cruel of you to remain up here and continue your training in righteousness: you already know enough to rescue so many souls, why don’t you eat the fruit now and try to rescue as many of them as you can?” and of course, this appeal to love overcame st isaac, and he ate the fruit before the right time, commit the original sin, and fell into earth, just like the rest of us)

But unlike St isaac, Mary never gave in. She successfully became what all of us were called to be, by trusting in Father yahweh to the end. At this point, father yahweh entered the garden and spoke to her: “Mary my lovely daughter! You have been my best child! You are now ready to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You now know all that there is to know: you are prepared to experience the final gnosis: the gnosis of death, and because you have full gnosis of my love and goodness, you will not be overcome by it”. At this point, mary eats the fruit and yet does so without committing original sin. As such, Mary does not fall into history; rather, she obediently descends into history, so as to save all the rest of us who commit the original sin. By being recapitulated in Mary (the church), all humanity is obedient to the father, just like she was, with the same human obedience that she displayed.

Now, Jesus is different: Jesus was also in the garden, but Jesus, being the only-begotten, homoousian son of the Father, always had the gnosis necessary to avoid committing original sin. Jesus did not have to acquire and grow in gnosis of the father because he eternally possesses such gnosis. This is why, while the snake did indeed tempt and lie to Jesus just as much as he tempted and lied to mary; in Jesus case it was impossible that he could have fallen because he always had the full gnosis necessary to see right through the lies of satan. Whereas Mary was merely human and therefore had to grow in this gnosis. So while recapitulation and redemption was a real struggle and ordeal on the part of both Mary and Jesus, the human acheivement is thanks to Mary in a sense that it isn’t thanks to jesus, because Mary was a kierkgaardian “knight of faith” – constantly trusting God even in the face of the compelling lies of Satan. Whereas Jesus always had maximum gnosis, and therefore his obedience was always a foregone conclusion.

In any case, Jesus too eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, just like mary. And just like mary, for jesus it was not the original sin because he and mary had both “completed their training,” and therefore they were both ready to descend to the deepest depths of the gnosis of sin, suffering, evil and death, without being overcome by it. So Jesus and Mary do not fall into this broken history, instead, they obediently and joyfully descend into this history, so as to gather humanity up, redeem all of our mistakes and sins, and eventually bring us back into our final destination: blissful trinitarian union with God.

Returning to the “freedom” theme we started with: all humanity, one by one, was deceived by the lies of satan, and thus our freedom became hijacked and diverted from it’s proper course. Mary was the only one who never fell for it, and Jesus (being God) simply never could have fallen in the first place. So Mary is a type of all of us: eventually all of us become perfect in a synergistic struggle and attain to the full gnosis that we were all originally destined for, and it is only at that point that humanity finally becomes free in the sense that it was always destined for: we have finally achieved a full and comprehensive gnosis of everything, both good and bad, and therefore never again will it be possible to “choose wrongly.” Once we have experienced that full gnosis, never again will we ever sin. Finally we will be free in the same manner that God is free. We will always choose God, the highest good, and no lie of satan will ever again be able to interfere with that freedom. Just as jesus always and everywhere had full gnosis, and therefore it was logically impossible for him to fall for the lies of the devil, so too – in Mary (the church) – we will have also acquired that same full gnosis. Jesus – being God – always had the gnosis, whereas Mary – being merely human – had to acquire the gnosis. But she did, and in her, so shall we all. Our freedom is something that we grow into, through mary and into Christ.

So in summary, all of us are on a journey of becoming and none of us has ever really experienced “true” freedom yet. We are all on a journey, starting with the spontaneous and deliberative freedom of adam and eve, fighting forth into the victorious human freedom of Mary, and destined to finally emerge into the divine freedom of loving necessity and necessary love that we see in Christ. Every saint and every bodhisattva ate from the forbidden tree before the right time, out of compassion, so as to rescue humanity, but only Christ and Mary ate from the tree at the right time, once they had fully completed their training in gnosis. Mary and Jesus know enough to experience sin, death, evil and suffering to the full without being overcome by it, and for that reason, when we cling to them we are enabled to do the same. Eventually, apokatastasis will be achieved and it will be glorious.

As for the salvation of the ultimate liar and slanderer himself: who knows what he will do once there is no one left to fall for his lies. I think it’s fair to assume that at that point he will have gone through his own journey of gnosis, and discovered the utter pointlessness of evil and rebellion. At that point, perhaps the only person left to lie to will be he himself, and perhaps that will be the first time he has ever looked within himself and encountered the beautiful soul that he has been running from this entire time. Perhaps at that point, he too will have to concede defeat, and join us all singing hosannas and glorias and mahamantras to the loving God who created him.

Prophecy Fragment #11 – Divine Promises

On the seventeenth day, of the fourth month, of the 2019th year since the incarnation of our Lord, God spoke to me, saying:

O sinner! Repent from your sins, believe my promises, and love me, yourself and your neighbour; for when you repent, believe and love, you will experience the heavenly bliss and joy of eschatological salvation; but until you repent, believe and love, you will experience the eternal damnation of the outer darkness and lake of fire; yet I infallibly and unconditionally promise you that eventually you will repent, believe, and love; because I love you and have chosen you as my eternally beloved spouse, and I will therefore never stop pursuing you until you return my affection, even if I have to wait an eternity for it to happen.

Catholic Sacrament Validity Under the Lutheran Sola Fide and According to the Gospel Promise

The Singular Divine Sacrament

promise[1].jpgIn this post I will examine what makes a Catholic sacrament “valid”, under the assumptions of the Lutheran Sola Fide.

Firstly, according to the Lutheran Sola Fide, there is in actual fact only one single sacrament: The preaching of the Gospel promise. This sacramental promise is effective ex opere operato in the sense that the promise is unconditional, and therefore God himself guarantees the fulfilment of the promise, and our response to that promise in the meantime cannot thwart his sovereign will in doing so. However in order for the promise to take effect at the present time and be successfully applied, it needs to be fully trusted by the person to whom the promise is spoken.

But what is the promise? The promise is God himself, the final glorious moment of history, the eschaton. From a Christian perspective, the promise is the resurrected Jesus Christ himself, revealed to the world as a pledge of things to come, and as the gateway through which we may access those good things right now in this present moment. When someone speaks the promise to another, they are bestowing God himself through their speaking, and it depends on the freedom of the listener as to whether or not the divine promise (God himself) will penetrate into their mind, heart and soul.

The Islamic principle of Tahwid and it’s manifestation as the classical theistic principle of divine simplicity apply to the promise just as much as they apply to God, due to this equivalence between the promise and God himself. So in a certain mystical sense, God is the promiser, God is the one to whom the promise is spoken, and God is the promise itself, and these three are all equivalent. Whenever one person proclaims the promise to another person, God is promising God to God. This is in fact a way of framing the Trinitarian relationship: The Father is the one who promises, The son is the promise itself, and the Spirit is the sacramental act of proclaiming the promise. (Notice the similarities to the classical/Nicaean “Father, Word/λογος, divine generation” Trinitarian construal). According to divine simplicity, God speaks his promise corporately to the entire creation, however he personalises this promise for individuals through the preaching and proclamation of the Gospel promise by those individuals.

But what IS the Gospel promise?

54c1321e40688_150124PreachingCAB.jpgThis is all very mystical however. So what does this singular sacrament look like in day to day preaching and evangelism? Well, it is different every time, but essentially always looks something like this:

“I am really with you, I love you, I will never leave you, I will always forgive you, I will save you, I will help you to forever escape the darkness and enter into the light, I will not be saved without you.”

A believer has the power to speak this fundamental sacramental promise with authority and conviction, on behalf of God, to someone who remains wandering in the outer darkness. As already mentioned, the promise is unconditional, guaranteed, and ex opere operato. However in order for the promise to actually bear fruit in the life of the person who hears it, that person must respond in faith. And so we come to the “Requirements for validity” with respect to the sacrament.

In order for the sacrament to be administered with validity, all that is required is

  1. The minister must actively intend to proclaim the divine promise to a sinner.
  2. The sinner must understand the promise and it’s full implications with their mind and intellect.
  3. The recipient must freely trust the promise with their heart and will.

These three points together are the absolute minimum that is required for the sacrament to be valid and efficacious.

Relevant questions may be raised at this point: Who is a valid minister of the sacrament? The minimum answer is “Anyone”. Literally anyone can proclaim the promise to anyone else. However it is “more perfect” (Or sunnah, as Muslims would say) firstly for the minister himself to be a believer in the promise (although this is not strictly necessary), and also for the sacrament to be administered by whoever possesses the highest degree of ordination in any given situation. So for example, in an emergency where a Hindu and Muslim are stuck in a desert and by some miracle both of them come to believe the promise, they have permission and power to speak the promise to each other with divine authority. In another situation, where there are many bishops available, the bishops should perform the sacrament. If there are no bishops, priests will suffice, and so on.

Roughly speaking, the preferential hierarchy which should be followed in the administration of the sacrament is

  1. Pope
  2. Archbishop
  3. Bishop
  4. Priest
  5. Deacon
  6. Subdeacon
  7. One who is confirmed
  8. One who is baptised
  9. One who himself believes the promise
  10. Anyone else

A Gospel Fiqr

keep-calm-and-follow-the-sunnah-2[1].pngIn Islamic terminology, what has been described so far falls under the category of Fard (ie. Obligatory). However there is also the category of Sunnah (ie. Preferred but not essential), which represents conditions which make the sacrament “more perfect”. Sunnah requirements should always be followed if possible. They are not optional, in the sense that you cannot just dispense with them at your whim and pleasure, however they are not strictly necessary, in the sense that during an emergency they may be dispensed with.

This is the point where the traditional seven sacraments come into play, as well as other unique sacramental economies such as the Later Day Saint system of ordinances. Each of these “traditional” sacraments and ordinances are in actual fact merely concrete manifestations of the one single sacrament already described. I will elaborate on how this is the case shortly.

The Sunnah requirements for all of these sacraments and ordinances are described in the various apostolic Christian traditions that are to be found throughout the world: Coptic, Byzantine, Latin, West Syrian, East Syrian, Armenian, Mormon, Lutheran, Anglican etc. And even within these apostolic traditions there are variations in the rulings and laws that are followed, for example in the Byzantine churches there are many major and minor variations in how the sacraments are performed. A broad example would be how Western Christians consider it Sunnah to use unleavened bread during the Eucharist, whereas Eastern Christians consider it Sunnah to use leavened bread. Another example would be how Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran Christians consider it to be Sunnah to baptise by merely sprinkling water on the head of the catechumen or baby in the shape of a cross, whereas many other Christians consider it to be Sunnah and essential to baptise by full immersion. The Latter Day Saints, in their interpretation of Christian law, take this particular requirement so seriously that they actually consider a baptism to be invalid if even a single hair remains above the water.

Let’s examine how the singular sacramental promise manifests under the form of the traditional seven sacraments

The Catholic Sacraments

The Catholic Sacrament of Baptism

502016177_univ_lsr_xl[1].jpgBaptism manifests the promise and intends to convey “Spiritual cleanliness”, “Justification”, “Forgiveness”, “Entry into the New Creation (Eschaton)”. The symbolism is that of dying as one goes under the water, and resurrecting as they come out of the water. (Clearly the symbolism gets a bit muddied in the Christian traditions which don’t practice baptism by immersion)

Requirements for this Catholic Sacrament to be valid:

As long as the minister intends to convey the promise (ie, to forgive, clean and justify), it doesn’t actually matter whether you use water or the Trinitarian formula (“I baptise you in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit”). So baptisms which don’t involve water and don’t use the correct formula are in actual fact still valid. However remember the Sunnah requirements. If you want to perform the sacrament in accord with the rules of sacramental perfection, you should follow an apostolic tradition, and use water and the Trinitarian formula. However in a pinch, any liquid or substance that can be sprinkled will do; the exact words used don’t matter, and the only requirements for validity are those that were spelt out earlier in this article for the singular sacrament of promise.

The Catholic Sacrament of Confession

Confession3-258x258[1].jpgConfession is a sacramental reminder of the promise that was spoken during baptism. It is referred to as the promise of absolution, because in this sacrament the promise is applied specifically to wash away guilt. When we confess our sins and receive the promise of absolution, it is a reminder of the one, single promise that we are loved by God, and he will never abandon us, and generally speaking trusting in this promise leads to an absolution of guilt. After confession, you simply don’t feel guilty any more, you feel free, because you trust the promise that was spoken. Unfortunately many scrupulous Catholics don’t realise that this promise is eternal, and they end up sinning the moment they leave the confessional, forgetting the promise, and thus returning to the state of feeling horrible, soul crushing guilt.

Requirements for this Catholic Sacrament to be valid:

Traditionally, Catholics and Orthodox have understood this sacrament to require a validly ordained priest. However according to the generic rules of validity outlined earlier, this is not strictly necessary, and anyone can validly absolve anyone else in an emergency. However, when striving to follow the Christian tradition perfectly and observe the Sunnah, it is important to leave the administration of this sacrament up to the highest ranked ordained ministers who are present. So if there are priests available, leave this sacrament to them.

As long as the minister intends to speak the promise of absolution and forgiveness, it doesn’t actually matter what formula is used. But if striving to follow Sunnah, it is appropriate to use the Trinitarian formula (“I absolve you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”)

The Catholic Sacrament of Confirmation

index.jpegConfirmation is the sacrament where election and predestination are promised, via the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Someone who is confirmed has received the promise that God will never abandon them until they successfully arrive in the eschaton.

Requirements for this Catholic Sacrament to be valid:

As with Confession, as long as the minister intends to promise election and predestination, the sacrament is valid; and so long as the one being confirmed trusts the promise, the sacrament is efficacious. There is no specified minimum form and matter. So it doesn’t matter what substance is used (traditionally holy chrism) and it doesn’t matter what sacramental words are spoken, so long as the promise is conveyed and understood correctly. However again, it is more appropriate to use an apostolic verbal formula and holy oil during the administration of this sacrament. In accordance with the apostolic Christian Sunnah.

Again, it does not ultimately matter who performs this sacrament. A Hindu can confirm a Muslim. However it is more appropriate for the highest ranking cleric present to do it. So in the absence of a bishop, leave it to a priest. In the absence of a priest, leave it to a deacon, and so on.

The Catholic Sacrament of Last Rites and Extreme Unction

index (1).jpegLast rites serves as a reminder of the promise at the most crucial moment of a persons life: right before they are about to die. The process of dying is a final battle, where Satan and all his demons swoop in and do battle with Michael and all his angels. The Devil accuses the person who is dying of all of their sins, and so it is helpful for a person to have the gospel promise fresh in their memory as armour and a weapon against this onslaught of evil and temptation.

Requirements for this Catholic Sacrament to be valid:

So long as the minister intends to remind the dying sinner of the gospel promise, the general rules of validity outlined earlier are all that matter: There must be intent, understanding, and faith. And anyone is a valid minister. But to perform the sacrament perfectly it should be done according to the rubrics of a valid apostolic tradition.

The Catholic Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass

eucharist[1].jpgThe Eucharist manifests the promise for the purpose of giving us a tangible direction of worship, and symbolising our unity with the divine via eating. The particular aspect of the promise that is emphasised is “I am truly with you. And I am uniting myself to you”.

Whenever a consecrated host is eaten by a believer, the heavenly sacrifice and heavenly liturgy are made present. However this sacrifice and liturgy is made more perfectly present by the observation of a rich and symbolic liturgical rite. Such liturgical rites can indeed be invented out of thin air (As Vatican II demonstrated), but respect for tradition is key, and it is preferable to observe a traditional liturgy.

Requirements for this Catholic Sacrament to be valid:

As long as the minister intends to really, truly, tangibly make God present under a manifest/mundane form, this sacrament is valid. Importantly, there is no necessary prescription for form and matter: so it is possible to consecrate literally any object. Rice, wine, bread, whiskey, icecream. Even a rock or a painting could be validly consecrated. However if the consecration is occurring in the context of the mass, the matter should be something edible. Of course there are prudential considerations, such as choosing a substance that doesn’t crumble and won’t be abused. So even though it is possible to consecrate icecream, this is a bad idea as it will lead to Eucharistic desecration as the icecream melts. As before, the exact minister of the sacrament does not matter: it could be a priest or a lay person. Ordination is not necessary. And the words of institution are not necessary either, just so long as the promise and message is accurately conveyed. (There is actually already an apostolic precedent for this view in the Assyrian Church of the East. They do not include the words of institution in their liturgy, and yet it is still recognised as valid by the Catholic magisterium)

These flexible requirements allow a more permanent object to be consecrated for the purpose of extended adoration, such as a crystal or golden statue. At the same time they allow for a wide variety of edible substances to be consecrated, to cater to different allergies and dietary restrictions that recipients of the sacrament may be subject to.

Of course, to follow the requirements of Sunnah, the classical sacramental words of institution should be employed (“This is my body, this is my blood”), and bread and wine should be chosen for the elements. And as per usual, the highest ranking ordained minister should perform the rite. Furthermore, the rubrics of the liturgical rite should be followed as closely as possible, with the correct vestments, hymns, readings and so on chosen. But none of this is necessary, merely preferred.

The Catholic Sacrament of Marriage

married-by-mom-and-dad-arranged-marriage.jpegMarriage is when two spouses speak the promise to each other as individuals. Firstly the groom acts as God in promising salvation and fidelity to his wife, and then the bride acts as God in doing the same back to her new husband. Mystically speaking, this sacrament is the most perfect manifestation of the fact that “God promises salvation to God”.

Requirements for this Catholic Sacrament to be valid:

The husband must intend to promise “I love you and will never leave you until you are saved” to his wife, and vice versa. Gay marriage becomes possible, as well as polygamy and polyamory. No special words are mandated, just so long as the promise is accurately conveyed and trusted by both partners.

Of course to perform the sacrament according to the Sunnah of apostolic Christianity, the groom and bride should both use the “I marry you” sacramental formula and follow whatever other rules are specified by the Christian tradition in question. For example, according to most traditional strands of Christianity, marriage is Sunnah when it is between a man and a woman, but not when it is between two people of the same sex.

Note that under these flexible requirements, it is technically possible for children to validly get married. But obviously there are Sunnah restrictions on this practice, as there are lots of ethical concerns and issues.

The Catholic Sacrament of Holy orders

ordination[1].jpgHoly Orders is actually very similar to the Eucharist, however instead of an inanimate object being consecrated and transubstantiated, a human person becomes consecrated and transubstantiated, in such a way that they manifest God and divine authority for the benefit of some community.

Requirements for this Catholic Sacrament to be valid:

The minister performing the ordination must intend to promise to some third party that they possess the divine authority, and the community must trust that promise. This bestowal of authority more perfectly makes present God to a community. The promise in this case is similar to the Eucharistic promise: “This is (or represents) God; trust him!”

Again, it doesn’t matter who ordains who for validity. So an isolated community can validly raise up an ordained leader from amongst themselves in an emergency. However to follow the Sunnah of the apostolic traditions, the person performing the ordination should be in the line of apostolic succession and higher in authority than the person being ordained.

Interestingly, the validity of the ordination depends on the recognition of that authority by a community. If a priest were to travel to a foreign country and try to exercise his priestly authority in a community other than the one in which he was ordained, he may very well be laughed at. Authority demands recognition, or it is no authority at all.

Interestingly, it becomes possible for someone to be ordained directly by God, apart from apostolic succession. Allegedly this happened in the case of Saint Paul and Joseph Smith. And it becomes possible for an isolated community to raise up a bishop (or perhaps even a pope) ex nihilo.

This principle lends validity to religious hierarchies that naturally develop all around the world. Muslims tend to raise up imams and sheiks from amongst their own ranks, and this is a form of sacramental ordination apart from the Christian traditions. It is the same with Hinduism and Buddhism. Wherever strong, religious leadership emerges, there is usually a valid expression of sacramental ordination in play. Mormon Apostles and Prophets are therefore just as validly ordained as Catholic bishops and priests, and there can technically be more than one Pope, as the authority of the Pope depends on the recognition of the people. However at the top of every hierarchy, whether religious or secular, there is only one God. So above the Pope, and above the Ayatollah, and above the Queen, and above the American President, there is God. Democracy is a form of secular ordination that may or may not have a certain sacramental character, as leaders are chosen by the people and raised up from the people.

How Does Forgiveness Work Anyway? – Accusation, Confession, Contrition, Absolution, Penance, Repentance and Reconciliation

Gods-forgiveness[1]Evangelicals like to simplify the whole “forgiveness” equation. “Just believe in Jesus and all of your sins will be forgiven” they say. Whereas for Catholics it’s a bit of a tangled mess, involving penance, absolution, reconciliation, contrition and so on. So how does forgiveness actually work? There are a couple of key terms to consider:

  1. Forgiveness
  2. Confession
  3. Contrition
  4. Absolution
  5. Penance
  6. Repentance
  7. Reconciliation

Generally speaking, forgiveness follows that sequence. Lets see if we can shed some light on the “forgiveness equation” simply by clearly defining the terms involved.

An Interpersonal Forgiveness Ordo Salutis

Forgiveness

Firstly, with regards to God’s attitude to us, forgiveness is unconditional and always and everywhere given. We should also strive to adopt such an attitude of being always and everywhere forgiving towards those who hurt us.

But what exactly is forgiveness? A good working definition would be “adopting an attitude of willingness to reconcile towards someone who has wronged you”. Now, it’s possible to adopt such an attitude towards someone without that someone even realising that they’ve wronged you, and without that person apologising or asking for forgiveness. According to this definition, forgiveness is compatible with anger. You can forgive someone and still be angry at them. This is how God feels towards us: he is constantly forgiving us and he never withdraws his forgiveness, even if we don’t seek it or express contrition. However he also feels angry that we do not come to him in sorrow and repentance.

So forgiveness is what you have to do as the person who has been wronged, but in order for the situation between two people to be fully repaired, the person who wronged you has responsibilities to attend to as well. Namely, they must experience and express contrition.

Confession

Confession goes hand in hand with contrition. You have to actually know what it is that you’ve done wrong, and then verbalise this to your victim. This way everyone is on the same page; everyone acknowledges that what happened was a problem.

Once you’ve named what you’ve done wrong, felt and expressed contrition, and received absolution of your guilt, you can get on with trying to actually fix the situation and return the relationship to a better state.

Contrition

If forgiveness is when the person who has been wronged seeks reconciliation and begs for their oppressor to be contrite, then Contrition is when the person who commit the crime seeks reconciliation and begs for their victim to be forgiving.

Contrition is where someone fully understands the wrong that they have done and feels the pain of sorrow and regret as they consider the sinful/harmful action. Such contrition needs to be felt, but also verbalised. This is why during the sacrament of confession, prior to the formula of absolution the penitent is required to say some prayer of contrition.

When someone has wronged you, the shortest act of contrition they could deliver would simply be the word “Sorry”. Other variations are possible too, such as “I apologise”, or “Please forgive me”. When someone comes up to you and says these words, they are expressing contrition, seeking your forgiveness.

Absolution

Absolution pertains to the sensation of guilt. Absolution is a promise. When God says (through the priest), “I absolve you of your sins”, this is a sacramental promise which is a shorthand way of saying something like “Don’t worry, remember that I forgive you, remember that I always forgive you. You don’t need to feel guilty about anything, so stop feeling guilty!” It’s not so much the sins that are absolved, it’s the guilt that is associated with those sins in our mind. Absolution washes away whatever guilt we might be feeling.

We can absolve each other of sin. Whenever someone feels guilty, a supreme act of mercy on the part of the victim is to say “I absolve you of your guilt, go and sin no more” to their oppressor. God delights in saying this to us, and we should delight in saying the same to each other.

Absolution rides on the back of forgiveness. It is a manifestation of forgiveness. As mentioned, it’s possible to have an attitude of forgiveness towards someone without ever telling them about it. However absolution is when you express your attitude of forgiveness to the person in question. It is only appropriate to do this after they have expressed contrition however. Forgiveness and contrition may go unexpressed, but it is only once these attitudes are verbalised and communicated that reconciliation can occur.

Penance

Penance is the third element of Reconciliation. After both contrition and forgiveness have been expressed by the criminal and the victim, there remains the fact that the actual situation has not yet been rectified. For example if the criminal stole a large sum of money from a victim, then it would make sense for the criminal to give that money back to the victim.

However discernment is necessary. Perhaps the criminal is not able to repay the debt to his victim. For example if the criminal is stealing bread to feed their children from some massive faceless corporation. In this case, it depends entirely on the mercy of the victim. If the victim is charitable enough, they might completely waive the requirement of penance, or reduce it to some token action. This often happens in Catholic penances, where a couple of prayers are proscribed, rather than some massive action.

So penance is essentially optional and depends on the mood of the victim. The victim may have already forgiven the criminal, but may still demand some sort of show of penance in order to rectify the situation as best as is possible. Then again, they may just let it go; forgive and forget.

Repentance

Also known as “A firm purpose of amendment”. This is where you sincerely adopt the attitude and disposition that you will do your best not to repeat whatever fault it was that you had commit. It’s where you “turn away” and “renounce” your crimes, whatever they may be, and vow never to do them again.

This is crucial in the whole forgiveness equation, because it would be somewhat silly if you went to all the trouble of expressing contrition, seeking forgiveness, doing penance, and then immediately repeating the crime with no qualms.

Reconciliation

The final step. The return to the original blissful state of relationship that existed prior to the fault. Once the victim and penitent have both gone through the previous 6 steps successfully, reconciliation has been achieved and all is well again. The friendship is restored.

Summary

forgive-fight-anger-stubborn-1598x900[1].jpg

This “sequence of forgiveness” applies both with regards to our relationship with God and our relationships with each other.

Basically, in order for reconciliation to occur,

  1. The victim has to adopt an attitude of forgiveness while the criminal has to simultaneously adopt an attitude of contrition.
  2. The criminal has to verbally confess what they’ve done and the contrition they feel.
  3. The victim has to verbally express their attitude of forgiveness, and thus absolve the criminal of their guilt.
  4. Depending on the situation, some sort of penance may be expected of the criminal by the victim. For example returning stolen goods. This may not always be possible however and therefore the victim should adopt a stance of mercy and waive this requirement as appropriate.
  5. The criminal makes a solemn vow of repentance, sincerely promising not to repeat the crime.
  6. Viola! Reconciliation has been achieved. The relationship has been restored.

Interestingly, God is never really a “victim” in the sense that he is invincible and nothing we do can really harm or offend him. For this reason, sacramental penances are more for our benefit than for his benefit, because our sins primarily harm our own souls: we are simultaneously the criminal and the victim; the one harming and the one being harmed. As such we need to be able to reconcile with our selves, we need to express contrition to our selves, and we need to forgive ourselves.

Applying this, perhaps you have commit the sin of gluttony and found yourself drastically overweight. In this case you are both the victim and the criminal. What you need to do is forgive yourself, express contrition and confess all the bad choices that led you to your obesity, and then give yourself the penance of hard exercise, to be continued until you are back in shape. Then vow never to repeat these bad decisions, and there you go: you have reconciled with yourself and restored yourself to the more perfect state from which you fell.

Here’s a summary matrix of reconciliation:

ReconciliationMatrix.PNG

 

Beautiful Heresy 101 – Adoptionism: “Jesus was not born God, he ‘became’ God”

20091210_thisissue_600-kindle-cover_w[1]The Muslims are right: Jesus was just a man. He wasn’t God. He was just a dude. He had a single nature and that nature was human. In fact, Jesus was peccable, which is to say he was able to sin. Adds a whole new dimension to the temptation in the wilderness story doesn’t it? Our saviour really could have failed, he really could have given in to the temptations!

However, at no point did he actually sin. If we conceive of sins as the bricks in a wall that stands between us and God and separate us from him, then consider what it means for Jesus to not have to contend with such a barrier. At all times, Jesus the man had full and direct access to God. There was no sin that stood in his way. In other words, from the moment of his conception all the way through his life and ministry, and even up to his death; Jesus experienced a profound unity with God and a full theosis.

Now, Jesus was fully man, which means that he inherited a fallen, imperfect human nature just like the rest of us. And this was why he needed to be baptised! Baptism removes the curse of original sin, which Jesus suffered from just like all of us, even if he never commit any actual moral fault.

But Jesus experienced full theosis, which is to say that even though he was merely a man by nature, it would be accurate to call him “fully God” by participation. And this would hold true for the duration of his entire life. So there is a sort of dyophysis at play: Jesus is fully man by nature, and fully God by participation, and there is a strict separation between the two natures. If at any time he had slipped up and sinned, he would have lost his full participation in divinity, as the bricks in the wall between him and God would have begun to stack up.

But no, Jesus was fully united to the divine λογος for his entire life. Never did he slip up. There have been many saints, Christian and otherwise who have also achieved a full unity with the λογος, for example Muhammad and Buddha, but what separates these saints and mystics from Jesus is that they begun their journey behind the wall of sin, and had to dismantle it brick by brick, whereas Jesus experienced theosis for the entire duration of his life.

Now, Jesus died. For the purposes of this discussion the details are not relevant, whether it was by murder or by old age does not matter. The crucial point is that this innocent man died; the only man who had ever lived his entire life without sinning once. But the wages of sin is death, so how could a man who had never sinned be subject to the penalty of death? And so the Justice of God becomes manifest as God raises Jesus from death to new life; a new life from which he will never die again.

But something funny happened as Jesus passed from death to new life. His nature changed. He took on an eschatalogical existence. No longer was he a dyophysis of created nature and divine participation. Instead he takes on the divine simplicity of a miaphysis; he becomes God! My thesis is therefore that the full incarnation did not occur at Christmas, but at Easter. Jesus was not born as God, he became God. Yes there was a sense in which he was fully God for his entire life and ministry, but this was merely by “participation”, not by “nature”. However the game changed after the resurrection. Jesus truly could be referred to as fully God in every respect. In fact, all of the imperfections and limitations of his human nature were swallowed up in the divine nature, like a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless he retained his created attributes.

This is why it is now appropriate to worship Jesus as the one true God. He has attained the divine perfections and exists already at the end of history, in the eschaton. This is why he says “no one comes to the father except through me”. God is eternally hidden, unmanifest, and there is valid no way to worship him, despite his being the only valid object of worship. But Jesus changes all that. He has broken the curtain that separates us from God in half and taken on a tangible form. Now we direct our worship towards this man Jesus, in the Eucharist, in the flesh. He became God, but by being God, he always was God. And so it will be with us. All of us will achieve theosis, and then all of us will achieve resurrection, and finally all of us will become the λογος incarnate. But while we are pilgrims here, on this side of the eschaton, waiting for that glorious resurrection, only Jesus is God, and only him do we worship.

O What a Wonderful Woman

11188301_992465680764810_852338263089643008_n.jpgMy heart is on fire,
for the first time in years.
But no rollercoasters
Nor butterflies this time

Just a warm armchair
Pulled up by a fire
Where we can sit, cuddle
and stare into the flames.

I am so happy and content with you;
The most beautiful girl
To ever have caught my attention.
Peaceful, Gentle, Quiet, Lovely.

Your virtues fly past the moon
Your loveliness singing between the stars
I am deeply attracted to you
So joyous that you have fallen into my life

I’m not worried this time around.
Not scared that you will abandon me
Not terrified that you will abuse me
Not horrified that you will betray me.

And I know that you are afraid,
So rest in my confidence
I have enough for us both
It will carry us onwards in hope.

I adore you and I trust you,
and I pray that you’ll trust me
As together we catch the little foxes
Frolicking in the vineyard of our love

Be my salvation and I’ll be yours
As we reflect Christ and church
The marriage of good and evil
An epektasis of light and dark.

Let us hold hands and ascend to the eschaton
Our souls dancing and spirits mingling
Rising, rushing through the empyrean
with kisses and smiles, hugs and cuddles.

May God bless us with consonance and grace
Showering us with blessings.
May he lead us to the divine joy,
and a laughter that never ends

Alex Roberts – 2019

Prophecy Fragment #10 – Epektasis, Eschaton, and the Ineffable Mystery of Evil

During my 26th year, during the vigil of the day of my birth, the word of the LORD came to me:

Do I truly want to understand evil? Is it not vanity? Is it not foolishness? Isn’t my worldview so blissfully foolproof, so perfectly paradisical, and such a plethora of ineffable delights?

So what is this principle of discord, that always seems to creep in and corrupt heaven, right as heaven is at it’s strongest? What is this principle of evil, which enters in as silent subterfuge to the eternal moment which is the uttermost paragon of goodness. What is this whisper of disharmony, introduced into a pinnacle of ecstatic harmonies? What is this hint of dissonance, stealthily sabotaging paradise’s fortress of consonance?

It’s not as if it is able to compromise my plans. It’s not as if it is able to shatter my defences. And yet there is this persistent, inalienable reality to it; like the sound of a screaming infant, whose cries echo and reverberate into the halls of eternity. And THAT is my eternal question. How wonderful it is that evil is swallowed up in good, like a tear is swallowed up in a lake. And yet how terrifying that even from paradise there can be a fall, and even complete impeccability cannot prevent a descent into total degeneracy.

Don’t I already understand evil? And yet to say so would be presumption. Don’t I always do good? But of course my silence is my children’s despair.

The purpose of sex is children. But these children need not necessarily be biological.

O Son of man, you have hundreds of adoptive spiritual fathers sending you artefacts, wisdom, art, music, and literature from the past and future. So whether you are a husband or whether you remain celibate; you too will pass my wisdom on to children.

Both past and future are speaking to the present. And the present is an everlasting movement forward; a rolling and galloping epektasis towards God. Perfectly sink into the present moment, and let the peace of death carry you away into nirvana, and the other heavenly realms.

Beautiful Heresy 101 – Antinomianism: “All Things Are Lawful”

free[1].jpg

1 Corinthians 6:12,10:23 DBHNT:

All things are lawful to me – but not all are beneficial. All things are lawful to me – but I will not be overpowered by any of them.

All things are lawful – but not all are expedient; all things are lawful – but not all edify.

According to these quotes from St Paul, no action is inherently evil and nothing is to be considered a sin in and of itself. “Where there is no law, there is no sin”. And yet the Christian traditions are insistent on the reality of objectively sinful actions that are never permissible. How do we reconcile this?

Answer: Whether or not an action is evil is determined by the context surrounding the action. So for example, Sex, Killing, Theft, Lying, Self-Pleasure, Abstinence, and using contraceptive products are not inherently evil actions. The context surrounding the action determines whether or not these things are grave. When does killing become murder? When does sex become rape? Killing and murder are the same action, but with different contexts. Sex and rape are the same action, but with different contexts. Sex and killing are always lawful, but murder and rape are always unlawful. But the unlawfulness of murder and rape does not flow from the actions involved, it flows from the context surrounding those actions

Sex is not Inherently Sinful

Definition: Intercourse between two or more people
Rape is sinful = Sex + anyone involved does not consent
Adultery is sinful = Sex + everyone involved is consenting to the act + three conditions must hold:

  1. It’s with someone you’re not married to
  2. There is the possibility of pregnancy
  3. You don’t intend to marry them in the event of pregnancy.

If any of those three conditions aren’t met, the sex is lawful.

(Commentary)

  • Having sex with someone you are not married to, whilst still being married to someone else, is not a sin under this schema, SO LONG AS there is no possibility of pregnancy.
  • However, having sex with someone you are not married to, whilst still being married to someone else, might lead to tensions and issues in the marriage such as jealousy and spurned emotions and it would therefore be unwise to engage in such behaviour if you are aiming to minimise pain for both yourself and your partner.
  • Homosexual sex comes up as lawful, because there is no possibility of pregnancy

Killing is not Inherently Sinful

Definition: To end a life
Manslaughter is not sinful = killing + it’s unintentional.
Execution/self-defence is not sinful = killing + it’s intentional + three conditions must hold:

  1. The victim himself is guilty of murder
  2. The victim must pose an ongoing, immanent mortal threat to someone
  3. All other possible options have been exhausted

If those conditions aren’t met, then the action of killing becomes the sin of murder

(Commentary)

  • This is why in modern, stable societies, which have the luxury of prison systems, the death penalty is never appropriate. It is always possible to lock the prisoner away and attempt to reform them.
  • Whereas in a post-apocalyptic/anarchic society which doesn’t have the resources to hold the guilty indefinitely, execution may be necessary to prevent further harm to the weak and innocent.
  • Abortion remains a form of murder under this scheme, because even though the foetus may pose a threat to the mental or physical health of the mother, the foetus has not commit any actual crime deserving of death and there are always other possible options.
  • Killing of animals is always murder (unless there is some sense in which an animal can be “guilty”. An area for further enquiry)

Theft is not Inherently Sinful

Definition: Taking something that doesn’t belong to you
Stealing is sinful = theft + you don’t intend to compensate
Borrowing is not sinful = theft + you intend to compensate

Lying is not Inherently Sinful

Definition: Speaking a statement that is factually false, or withholding a relevant truth.
Deception is sinful = Lying + the intent is personal gain at the expense of others
Protection is not sinful = Lying + the intent is to shield the weak and vulnerable from harm

Self-Pleasure is not Inherently Sinful

Definition: Wanking or schlicking. Sexual self-stimulation
Masturbation is sinful: Self-Pleasure + the arousal is connected to any other actually sinful act.
If that condition does not hold, self-pleasure is not sinful.

(Commentary)

  • Any mental sexual fantasy is permissible.
  • Pornography is permissible, so long as the acts depicted are not sinful. (For example, rape fantasies are permissible, but no ACTUAL rape or adultery should be involved. Everyone should be enthusiastically consenting and there should be no danger of pregnancy)

Condoms, the pill and abstinence are not Inherently Sinful

Definition: Self explanatory
Contraception is sinful: Using these things for selfish reasons such as “I don’t want to have kids”
Birth control is not sinful: Using these things for practical reasons and in a temporary capacity. Such as avoiding pregnancy with someone you’re not married to, or avoiding pregnancy at a certain period of time where it would be in-optimal.

Worship is not Inherently Sinful

Definition: Giving awe, respect, reverence (technically latria) to something
Idolatry is sinful: Worship + the object of worship is something other than God.
If what you worship is not other than God, the worship is lawful.

“Why Don’t You Have Facebook?”

Business-Does-Not-Need-Facebook-Page[1]Would you like to know the real reason why
I don’t have a smart phone,
I don’t use facebook,
I rarely send emails,
I avoid internet communication almost entirely?

It’s because everyone is talking to everyone else at once.
And no-one knows who anyone else is talking to.
And no-one knows what anyone else is talking about.

I can be having different, separate, deep, meaningful conversations with many people on many topics at the same time.
There is no commitment online: It is possible to jump from one chat to the next so easily.

If there is a pause in your typing… are you talking to someone else?
I have to tell myself “You’re just thinking” or “You’re just feeling overwhelmed”
But I have no way of knowing this to be true!
I can’t see your body language
I can’t read your facial expressions
I can’t connect with the soul reflected in your eyes.
This makes it harder for me to trust.
A digital wall between us
This plants seeds of suspicion and jealousy.
Thorns that grow up and choke my heart

But real life communication is not like this.
In the real world, when there is a pause in the conversation I can easily tell whether the other person is thinking carefully or if they are distracted by something else.
In the real world, if the person I’m talking to walks away to talk to someone else, I know, and I can walk away and talk to someone else too.
In the real world, it isn’t possible to become emotionally invested in a conversation which has already evaporated.

So now I go back and look over the whole Discussion.
Suddenly it looks very different.
Those moments where you weren’t saying anything begin to seem incredibly ambiguous:
What were you really doing while I poured my heart out into that chatbox?
Were you thinking about how to respond?
Were you struck down by emotion?
Or were you just talking to someone else,
and reading a random internet article…

I’m not saying give up technology for my sake.
The fact that I feel jealous and suspicious is not your fault.
My emotional responses are my own problem to deal with.
But I refuse to suck it up, desensitize, stop caring or push my feelings down.
So how do I deal with them?

Life is better offline

Alex Herlihy – 2014