Emotions

329a-90c1-4fd3-abcc-5c8b2a5bb2e6[1]I’ve experienced emotions
beyond simple joy and fear;
emotions that I believed
were only found in Shakespeare.

Indescribable emotions;
the sort that send you mad,
the rage that brings tear to eye
and makes you seem very sad.

And then there comes the happiness;
it overwhelms the blue.
Yet I find this emotion
is a foreign one too.

Full of scorpions is my mind.
I must express my thoughts.
Yet I find no sympathy,
none who provide support.

For I always scoffed at complaints
concerning broken hearts,
and now that I’m in their place
I regret I ever laughed.

With that in mind I laugh again,
no one would ever have thought,
That butterflies in the chest
were so easily caught.

Now I recall false confidence,
belief in my success.
Which made it all the worse
when I failed to impress.

We can’t choose who we love in life
I believe and as such,
Know that anyone is fair game,
No one can stop your lust.

And thus I wait for jealousy,
that deadly sin of envy.
I fear I must be on guard;
For hell isn’t very friendly.

So I will convey feelings while
poker-faces hide my hand.
Love is a very tricky game
which no one understands.

I come full circle as of now,
away from sorrow and fear,
To discuss the simple feelings;
the ones you want to hear.

I’ve gone through many more emotions
then plain old joy and cheer;
emotions that I now know
weren’t made up by Shakespeare.

Alex Herlihy – 2008

Bright, Beautiful, Deadly

Sunrise

SCIENCE-Meteors-070198zz66[1]Every morning is the same; wake up before the sun, skip breakfast, race the rays of sunlight down from the highest point in Sydney to the lowest lane for the bus stop. Board the bus, watch the people, watch the window, see past the glass to the wonderful world. Repress the thought that there’s yet another English assessment task that is worth no marks begging to be done. One hour later arrive at the train station. Hop on a train, take another hour, and arrive at school. Rinse and repeat!

Today was different. There were no new faces on the bus, the sky was grey but without any rain to keep things interesting, and there was a thick fog obfuscating what would have been a glorious view outside. I found myself longing for a new face to pick to pieces, but not just any face; I had a very particular sort of person in mind. Someone who radiates magic; a person who overwhelms both man and woman with infinite beauty; the one who can redefine osmosis with a meaning that is more fitting of a word that sounds so good.

This train of thought was interrupted by a loud expletive from the driver as the bus suddenly came screeching to a halt. It was as if someone had hailed the bus right as it would run them over in order to save their own life. The doors opened, and I could see nothing through the fog seeping into the bus between the cold metal doors. Excitement filled my mind as I wondered who it could be. As the silhouette of this newcomer drew closer towards my seat, my electrified anticipation flew higher than I thought possible in this temperature. Out of the fog, appeared none other than that amazing person that had occupied my minds eye ten seconds before; the most beautiful, the most wonderful, the most graceful, glorious and gentle person on this planet; The absolute zenith of humanity; An angel trapped in mortal clothing; The light that can start and end all wars; The greatest of gods people; a sublimated form of god himself! The very reason life exists at all; the meaning of life!

Out of the fog stepped none other than a Redhead.

The doors closed and the bus lurched as it prepared to attack the steep hill with its’ wheels once again. The sudden jerk caused the beautiful angel before me to stumble slightly, and yet even in this imperfection was there embodied a sort of cosmic correctness that brushed aside any thought of corruption. Her beautiful eyes swept the seats, searching for a place to sit herself. There were hundreds, thousands of seats she could have picked, and yet by some strange stroke of fate she chose the seat, opposite and facing, me. Blood rushed through my whole body as I blushed a blush that could not be blushed for anyone else; a blush that set my whole face red, extended itself to my neck, and didn’t stop there. Soon my arms and fingertips had turned a bright bright red and begun to melt the ice which was coating the window on which they lay. My toes began to burn and steam quite visibly began to rise from my feet. The blush continued consuming my body, and finding that it could do no more there, begun to seep out onto the floor of the bus; creeping up to the other passengers and setting them in a hot flush as well. Suddenly my whole body burst into flames, the bus flew off the edge of a cliff, the other passengers on the bus melted into a void, and right as a mushroom cloud was beginning to appear on the hyperbolic horizon; the redheaded Goddess sat down.
The other passengers were still sleeping, despite the bus blowing its’ horn at some slow cyclists who were getting in the way more than the fog, and despite the presence in the bus of the very reason they walk in this world. I frowned at them all; stereotyping themselves and the whole world with no shame. It is a sad thing indeed when the entrance of a redhead is not met with immediate awe, respect and praise. But unfortunately, this is how the world stands. The world rejects their true kings and queens, labelling them gingers. Outcasts. Outsiders… How horrible, that the most godlike, angelic figures in all time and space must meet with such mad manners. Even now; in shops all around the globe, Dominant pants are being chosen over red denim, those most recessive of jeans. The red gene is reason for respect not racism! But no, society would call it a curse to be blessed with such beauty. They give the gift many names; Gingeritis; “You Fucking Ranga”; The curse of the outsider. How could this picture of pure beauty before me be treated so? What could this visual elegy of elegance have done wrong to deserve it? How could she do wrong at all! What a piece of work is a Redhead; how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty; in form and moving, how express and admirable; in action how like an angel; in apprehension… How like a God!

istockphoto-642266374-612x612[1].jpgThe only thing “Outsider” about the praeclarus girl facing me was that she had been outside too long, in the cold cold icy cold air, and was shivering. Shivering and shaking. Shaking her hair; Her long, silky smooth, burning hair running down past her neck and wrapping her body in a waterfall of warmth, casting off the shivering shell and kicking it to the side so that she could sit still, safe, and content; wrapped in the warmth of her own magic. I could not draw my eyes away from her, no, and neither could I restrain my ears! She sighed a sigh that sent shivers down my spine with such intensity that I could hear it cracking under the stress, the sound almost interrupting this ethereal music washing over my senses. It was as if she could simply pluck music out of the air without aid of pipe or wind, and with a mere breath set the elements to movements of chromatic harmony. Oh her breathing! The perfect, regular, waves of warmth carried with them a tale of a body that knows no sickness and is immune to all injury. So overwhelmingly powerful was her influence on my sense of sound that even my nose and tongue could detect her perfection in the air. My olfactory system exploded with sensation; she was the thirteenth essence! You would have to distil all the roses in the world to even come close to imitating how wonderfully this was received in my nose. Her scent was more precious than the most expensive perfume; with it came memories of all the most wonderful, happy, exciting, sad, victorious and unfortunate events in my life. All these moments came back to me and played out again, as if I were looking into the past, looking into the very crux of my identity, peering through a window to my immortal soul. I was reminded of what it meant to be human. The images dissolved into fireworks and stars, and glittering, shimmering, glowing red hair as my eyes opened and returned to the present. Reflected in her eyes was absolute infinity, those beautiful blue orbs; the two blue planets beneath the red curtain that align on the truth – but I could have sworn they were green not two seconds ago, and now they are a grand Hazel! Magical eyes of innocence, infinity, intelligence… and ignorance; From the eyes of everything, I wanted nothing. I only needed a single image, and it was sitting before me already.

Her long, slender legs were unbruised and smooth; showing no sign of being spoilt by worldly action. Her arms glowing with the power held within, her lips wearing a smile that could melt the hearts of a whole nation. Her perfectly rounded thighs put to shame the most well-crafted sculpture; an artist could spend his whole life trying to emulate those thighs and never come close. Her breasts needed no support, they were as light as air, unfreckled, smooth, bright, beautiful! Oh, what would I give to run a finger across those sacred domes, down to her luscious legs, up to stroke her gentle face, and then to engulf my hand, my arm, my whole body in that hair! Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful! Bright. Beautiful. Deadly. Bright, Beautiful, Deadly. Bright Beautiful Deadly. BrightBeautifulDeadly. BrightBeautifulDeadlyBrightBeautifulDeadlyBrightBeautifulDeadly…..

I sat there, under the full effect of this redheads magic; this angels enchantment; this outsiders curse. My freedom lost to beauty. Fair tresses man’s imperial race ensnare, and beauty draws us with a single red hair.

6383085293_49e1ea99f9_b[1].jpgThe bus stopped again. My redhead rose, and with hair shining brighter than a thousand stars, did exit and return to the outside world, the fog parting before her and joining behind her with every step. The three word poem “Bright. Beautiful. Deadly.” repeated over and over in my head. As she moved further away the spell she had cast over me grew weaker and weaker until finally… I woke up. Suddenly I felt cold again. The bus was still covered in frost, the passengers were still sleeping, there was still no light. I yawned and peered outside the window, my eyes winking away tiredness. I searched for the redhead, hoping that I could fill myself with warmth for a second longer. I searched and searched; stretching my sight to the heavens, but I couldn’t find her. Over the water I could see the sun rising, a semicircle of orange beauty. Bright, Beautiful, Deadly indeed. Some of the other passengers opened half an eyelid and briefly joined me in lending their gaze to the horizon. The soul of our solar system sparkled bright, but not so bright that it would force a wince of pain and my turning away; Dawn is the hour to appreciate our majestic sun. I heard a snore behind me and turned around. Everyone had returned to sleep but me. I sighed and for the final time glanced out the window at nature’s light show, smiling as I noticed a familiar face on the horizon.

Alex Herlihy – 2010

Notes on a Mitch Pacwa Debate Concerning Justification

Initial Thoughts

I’m uncomfortable with the way he frames the catholic position. The way he talks, it sounds as if God does 99% of the work of our salvation and then leaves the final 1% up to us. He says something like “we have to say ‘yes’ to God”, as if the saying yes is spontaneously produced by an individual and God just steps back and has nothing to do with it. This can’t be right. The understanding that I’ve inherited over the years is articulated by British Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop Kalistos Ware as “The work of our salvation is completely and entirely an act of Grace, but in that act of grace we remain completely and entirely free”.

This would probably sit will with Aquinas, who had a strong and robust doctrine of efficacious grace. A summary of my understanding of efficacious grace is “God can guarantee that a sinner will be saved without in anyway violating that sinners freedom”. Compare this with the current popular catholic understanding of “sufficient” grace, which I understand to be something more like “God gives us everything we need to be saved, but then steps back and leaves it up to us”. In my opinion this popular understanding has fatal implications for Christian Hope, Faith and Joy; it turns the work of salvation back on the sinners own efforts, which of course will never be enough. This leads to despair and angst of the sort that Luther experienced.

What makes most sense to me is that all of the following propositions are true, even if at face value they may appear to some to be irreconcilable:

Salvation is an offer that we may or may not accept: We have free will and no one can coerce us to do anything – not even God. (The standard Catholic understanding)
Salvation is also an unconditional promise: God is able to guarantee that we will be saved (ie, that we will at some point accept his offer), without in any way violating our freedom (The Catholic doctrine of predestination and election and the Thomistic doctrine of efficacious grace)

The idea of unconditional promise is interesting, because it raises the question “To whom is the promise spoken and how/when/where?” According to Lutheran sacramental theology, the promise is primarily spoken via the seven sacraments, with particular emphasis on Baptism and Confession. At the moment when you are baptised, God has sacramentally spoken his promise of salvation to you and you are counted among the elect; you have passed from death to life and there is no possibility of going back. The sacrament of Confession and words of absolution are simply a reminder of this new reality and basically are a shorthand way of saying “Remember that you have been baptised and are not guilty, so stop feeling like it and stop acting like it!”

This is incidentally where the idea of “Sola Fide” actually makes sense. It’s not possible to respond to an unconditional promise with works, but only with either trust or apathy. If salvation is an unconditional promise, you either trust that promise or you don’t, but regardless of whether you trust it or not it’s going to come true because God is the one making the promise and God’s promises do not fail. However if you do trust the promise, life comes alive in ways that you never thought possible before, and the lyrics of the popular protestant hymn “Amazing Grace” cease to seem so heretical. “I once was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see”.

Most Catholics in my experience tend to disagree with this whole understanding by completely denying that salvation is a promise and doubling down on it’s nature as an offer instead, thus rendering the “unconditional” dimension of salvation null. Such people tend to be hyper-attached to a particular understanding of libertarian human free will and get triggered by anything that even slightly appears to contradict it. The fact that we humans have the power and right to deny God becomes the most crucial issue of our day and if anyone dares to question this they are dismissed and ignored as a heretic. And so “Freedom” becomes the central and decisive dogma of the faith, rather than the love of Christ for sinners and his glorious and total defeat of sin, suffering, Hell and death. I don’t find the supposed fact that I have the ‘freedom’ to damn myself inspires much faith, hope and love in my life; instead it tends to just produce scrupulosity and a judgemental pharisee/tribal attitude in which I’m trying super hard to save myself but it’s never enough and I look down on others who aren’t trying as hard as me. Whereas the idea that Christ has already saved me and everyone who I love, and that I need not fear being ultimately lost, is incredibly inspiring. Rather than being crippled with fear of hell and focusing on saving myself, I’m empowered to carry the light of christ out into the world and focus on saving everyone else.

This is arguably why Justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. A church that sees salvation as a mere offer, to be responded to primarily with effort, is going to be completely crippled as it’s members turn inwards and focus on trying to save themselves. Whereas a church that sees salvation as the unconditional promise which can only be responded to with faith (which is exactly what it is), has been liberated to get out there and announce to the world its own salvation, which is the original meaning of evangelism: to announce the good news of Christ’s victory over all the pains and problems that confront us in our lives.

Around the 10 Minute Mark

Pacwa gives a great and passionate description of the catholic position on assurance and perseverance. He seems to be saying that you can be sure that you are in the state of grace in any given moment, but you cannot be sure that you will persevere in this state of grace all the way until the end of your life.

I think it really depends whether you take “state of Grace” and “justification” in a subjective or objective sense (which is another popular Lutheran distinction). In an objective sense, the entire world was justified by the cross and resurrection. The job is done; The entire world is objectively saved and in the state of grace and will be forever. However subjectively speaking not all of us experience this salvation that has been won for us. In a subjective sense, many of us remain in our sins and feel guilty and scrupulous. So in the subjective sense, Pacwa is completely correct to follow Trent and say that no one can know that they will persevere to the end of their life in the (subjective) state of grace. However in an objective sense (which is what most protestants are more concerned with), you can definitely be assured of your ultimate salvation: this is the essence of the gospel and exactly what makes it “good news” for me, for you, and for all of our relatives who are currently dying from coronavirus. “Christ died for you: You have been saved” is the kerygma that we must announce. Mitch Pacwa and the council of Trent didn’t get any of it’s theology wrong, but it simply is missing the evangelical point of the whole affair.

“Declaration of Righteousness” and “Reality of Righteousness”.

Justification is indeed a declaration, as per Luther, but this does not make it a “legal fiction”, as Catholics commonly caricature the protestant understanding.

Consider: If I look at a desk and see a book, but Jesus looks at the same desk and doesn’t see the book, Then is the book really there? Are you delusional or is Jesus delusional? Who’s perspective has epistemological primacy in this situation? Who should you trust?

In case the answer isn’t obvious: God’s perspective always trumps the sinners perspective.

With this in mind, consider what it means for God to “declare” that a certain state of affairs holds. If God declares that I am righteous, then despite all evidence to the contrary I am righteous. Because if that is how God sees me then that is how it is, even if I can’t understand how this may be.

The idea is somewhat platonic. God has a perspective of reality “with all the lights on” as it were, whereas we are wandering through reality as a child wanders in the dark. In other words, we are not omniscient and don’t have access to all the data, whereas God is omniscient and therefore his perspective is fully informed in a way that ours isn’t. The implication of this is that when God declares you to be righteous, you are really righteous, even despite all evidence to the contrary.

This is again where faith comes in. Do you trust your own perspective, under which you are condemned as a dirty filthy sinner? Or do you trust God’s perspective, which he reveals to you via his unconditional promise and declaration that in the reality which he is perceiving, you are ok and he accepts you? It’s a question of where you place your faith: in yourself or in God? In your own perspective, or in the divine perspective of God which he reveals to you through the announcing of the gospel and the proclamation of the promise in word and sacrament?

Faith and Works

The inevitable faith versus works debate pops up in the video towards the end. The conflict isn’t so hard to resolve in my view. The protestant fella is insistent that the fact of our election (which he refers to as “salvation”) does not depend in any way on the works and efforts that we perform, and he is completely correct to insist on this. Whereas Pacwa is insisting that works of love and a purified, perfected soul are necessary components of salvation, not optional, and he is also correct to dig his heels in and insist on this.

The resolution comes by recognising that salvation is both an event and a journey: The entire cosmos and everyone and everything in it was justified/elected/saved/predestined at the cross and resurrection. For this reason we as Christians should sing praises and rejoice. However there’s also a journey involved: we still remain here in this life, and our mission is to be little Christs and announce the Gospel to the world, as well as stamp out any sins and imperfections that appear to remain in the world. We’re all on this journey together and until we are all fully saved and made perfect, none of us are.

In this way you do justice to the Catholic insistence that works of love are essential to the process towards and state of salvation, but you also do justice to the deep protestant conviction that there is literally nothing we can do to secure our election.

A helpful thing to remember is that when a protestant says “I am saved”, often what they really mean (even if they don’t realise it) is “I am elect and chosen”. They are fully confident that in the end, they are going to make it, because they know that Jesus died for their sins and rose again for their salvation.

In this way, works are an essential part of salvation, but they have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with predestination or election.

A helpful point to drive this home is the fact that under both a lutheran and calvinist analysis, not even faith contributes anything to our election. We are chosen because God loves us, not because we have faith or try really hard to fulfill the commandment to love; not even if we succeed at fufilling the commandment to love (but who does?). The reason for this is that this simply turns faith into a work. If election depends on our faith, then no one can be saved, because no one has perfect faith, no matter how hard they try. Whereas if election depends on God’s love and what he did for us on the cross, then it doesn’t depend on us at all, not even on our faith, and therefore we can have peace and assurance knowing that everything is going to be ok, which frees our wills and liberates us to go and do the good works that are necessary to make the journey to heaven. But without this faith and assurance, we will be utterly paralyzed,

In summary, the cross unconditionally secured election for the whole world and everyone in it, but our love and good works are how we “make the journey” to heaven both individually and as a church community.

Pacwa also raises the issue of mortal sin, and how it is possible to lose justification. Again, understanding the difference between election/predestination and salvation/justification is helpful. Of course it is possible to lose your salvation and justification by apostasy and mortal sin, however your election is still secure and there is nothing you can do to escape your election; ultimately no matter how far the lost sheep runs into the outer darkness, Christ the good shepherd will leave his Church, descend to Hell and rescue that sinner.

In other words, not even Hell and everlasting damnation can or will prevent Christ from saving us, which is incidentally what the whole point of Holy Saturday and the harrowing of Hades is about.

So yes, you can compromise your current salvation by mortal sin, but there is nothing you can do to jeopardize your election

Beautiful Heresy 101 – Religious Pluralism: “A Deductive Proof of the Incarnation”

Proof

0. A. Only God is uncreated and everything that is not God is created by God (Assumption)
0. B. God is not logic (Assumption)

1. A. God created logic and determines how it operates (Implication of 0A and 0B)
1. B. God is prior to logic and not bound by it (Implication of 1A)
1. C. God is not required to conform to the law of non contradiction (Implication of 1B)
1. D. God is able to actualise contradictions and impossibilities (Implication of 1C)

2. Anything which is subject to logic must necessarily have a nature which consists of created attributes. (Assumption)

Many theologians (especially Muslims of the Ash’ari school) insist that: 3. A. God is bound by logic (Assumption)
3. B. God has actualised his nature in such a way that it includes created attributes (Implication of 1D, 2 and 3A. Proof of incarnation complete. Note that as our Muslim friends never tire of telling us, this point is a contradiction)

4. A. God is subject to logic and in particular the law of non contradiction (Implication of 3A or 3B)
4. B. Everything God has done must in actual fact not be contradictory (Implication of 4A)

5. A. God is the source of all things, whether contradictory or non-contradictory (Assumption)
5. B. But God does not actualise contradictions even if he is able to (Implication of 4B)
5. C. We have established that God has actualised at least one contradiction (restatement of 3B)

6. A. All actual contradictions are merely apparent and not real (Implication of 5A and 5B)
6. B. all contradictions are logically reconcilable via semantic distinction and elaboration (Implication of 6A)
6. C. There are no actual contradictions between religious traditions, only apparent ones. (Implication of 6B)

7. A. The incarnation is only an apparent contradiction, not a real one (Implication of 6A and 5C)
7. B. All religions are Simultaneously True (Implication of 6C. Proof of Pluralism Complete)

Tl;dr:

1. If God is subject to logic, then he necessarily has a human (created) nature alongside (or in a perichoretic miaphysis with) his divine nature.
2. When you jettison the law of non contradiction, everything follows, including the law of non contradiction! also religious pluralism.

Beautiful Heresy 101 – The Great Apostasy: “Bride of Christ and Whore of Babylon. Infallible Church and Harlot of Adultery”

220px-Burgkmair_whore_babylon_color[1].jpgI don’t think Jesus ever said the church will never fail. (In fact he said just the opposite in a couple of parts of the bible). What he did say is that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.

So the church is the army of God, and the image is not one of defence, it is one of offence. Christ’s army is attacking the prison/stronghold/gates of hell. The prophecy of God is good news! Hell will be (has been) conquered. There is a victory to both rejoice at right now and also work towards in the future. But there’s nothing to ultimately worry about. There might be a hell, but not in any way or sense which contradicts Gods sovereignty, power, love or goodness. Hell is a prison, and Jesus has just orchestrated the ultimate jailbreak. Not one soul remains left in the grave. All things, all people, become saved and glorified. O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?

That message sounds so much better and so much more “gospel” and so much more “good news” than anything anyone in the catholic church ever told me. Then again no one from any church told me that, I had to work it out myself through prayer and direct mystical insight. The messages of the churches are constantly mixed with this great lie that God isn’t good enough, or god isn’t powerful enough, or even if he IS good and powerful enough we simply don’t know whether he will act on his power and goodness, and therefore some/many/most people would burn in hell forever and ever and the ending of the story would be complete tragedy. No church ever explicitly says any of this, because if they were to do that they would be instantly recognised for the satanic hoax that they are. However pay attention to what they’re telling you and you should be able to discern this fundamental nihilism that permeates it.

Surely we all know on some level that can’t be right. But out of fear and obligation to “the church”(aka the priests, bishops, and other Pharisaical figures), we find ourselves defending this narrative again and again against those who are in the worst and most dire circumstances. Which do you reckon will energise them to fight the most? The idea that they, their friends and family will all probably be damned forever? The idea that God gives them the “opportunity” to be saved and now it’s up to them and their freedom to do the rest (hah! Good luck!)? Or the revolutionary “gospel” idea that because of the cross and resurrection, their eternal future is secure and there is ultimately nothing to be afraid of.

Maybe all of these “churches” are actually the whore of Babylon. The catholic church, the Mormon church, whatever. They are flirting with Satan and misleading people to hell. They keep mixing the “good news” of the gospel with this toxic pessimism and then wrongly invoking the authority of God over the false teaching in order to keep the people in fear and subservient to the prince of darkness himself. People end up blindly defending and serving the very thing that they thought they were fighting against.

Perhaps the solution is to be always listening. Look out for an individual who has a new, energising perspective. A prophet with fresh revelation. For example a Muhammad, or a Joseph Smith. God speaks to individuals well before he speaks to institutions. Listen out for the voice of the living prophets in our age: they may very well be prophesying your own doom and warning you to repent.

Can anything these prophets say actually contradict the truth? Of course not. The “mystical” church is the holy and infallible bride of Christ. But the “institutional” church is the harlot, drunk with the wine of adultery. Regardless of whether your church is called Mormon, Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Reformed, Adventist or whatever; your church has fundamentally betrayed you. And to go on insisting otherwise is to simply be an agent of evil and to do the devils work for him.

The solution is throw off institutional shackles and human authorities: to pray harder and to seek guidance from God directly into your soul. I’m sure that if you pray about it, God will verify the essence of his Gospel: he sent his son in love, we murdered him in rejection, his son descended to the worst possible depths of hell and damnation, in order to rise again to resurrection and new life, and that this grand gospel narrative is a reassurance of the promise that our final future (heaven) is secure and there’s nothing we need to worry about. If only we would just trust that promise, the joys of heaven would be ours right at this very moment.

The surrounding details are optional: we can come to an agreement on whether the pope is the head of the church or Joseph Smith was a prophet later. What is essential for us to agree on right now is that the gospel really is “good news”: Jesus really has conquered evil, death, hell, sin and the powers of darkness. And until someone hears that message and believes it, they are just yet another soul thrashing about in hell while being under the illusion that they are devoutly serving God.

Praise God that the gates of hell wont prevail against the assault of his church. Praise God that eventually everyone will hear the message and respond to it with faith and true repentance. Praise God that in the eschaton, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, and neither principalities nor powers, hell; freedom or rebellion can prevent God from fulfilling his loving plans for us all.

Beautiful Heresy 101 – Ecumenism: “The Complete and Entire Doctrine of God”

God

I recently came to a syncretic and synthetic understanding of how all the various disparate religious doctrines concerning God can be reconciled. With the aid of two diagrams lets walk through them.

Heresy: To the Nestorian controversy

Nestorianism is correct
All of us (including Jesus) are distinct from the divine logos by identity.
Orthodoxy is correct
However Jesus IS the logos “via incarnation” and all of us BECOME the logos via sacramental theosis.

Heresy: To the Christological controversy

Dyophysitism is correct
The created attributes (nature) of the logos are distinct from it’s divine attributes (nature) by identity.
Miaphysitism is correct
However the created attributes/nature of the logos are inseparable from the divine attributes/nature by hypostatic union.
Monophysitism is correct
Furthermore the negative/evil/imperfect created attributes are swallowed up by the positive/good/perfect attributes by substitutionary atonement.

Heresy: To the Arian crisis

Arianism is correct
Formally prior to being generated by the essence, the logos has the attribute of “non existence”, but formally subsequent to generation it has the attribute of “existence”. Therefore “There was a time when the word was not” on account of the distinctions of formal priority.
Catholicism is correct
However the logos transcends existence and non-existence, and in it’s unity with the ineffable essence it is both and neither simultaneously by divine simplicity.

Heresy: To the Filioque

Orthodoxy is correct
The spirit proceeds from the father alone according to the strict distinctions between the hypostases.
Catholicism is correct
However the spirit also proceeds from all of the hypostases simultaneously as God begets God and God proceeds from God according to divine simplicity.

Heresy: To the essence-energies/created Grace controversy

Orthodoxy is correct
The essence is distinct from the energies according to the strict distinctions between the hypostases.
Catholicism is correct
However the essence and energies are also identical by divine simplicity and perichoresis.

Heresy: To the Controversy over the identity of the one God

Islam and Judaism are correct
Jesus is the one “Lord” and the Father is the one “God”. The son is not the father, therefore the the Lord is not God, therefore Jesus is not God and only the father can be referred to as the one God by strict identity.
Christianity is correct
However Jesus can also be correctly referred to as God due to the divine simplicity and miaphysis

Heresy: To the Muʿtazila and Ash’ari dispute over the essence and attributes of Allah

Ash’ari is correct
The Essence of God is distinct from the attributes of God according to strict distinction.
Muʿtazila is correct
However the essence of God is also identical with the attributes of God and the attributes are identical to each other by the Tawhid of divine simplicity.

Heresy: To the Bhaktic and Vedantic divide over the relationship between Atman and Brahman

Bhakti is correct
The Atman is distinct from Brahman according to strict distinction.
Vedanta is correct
However the Atman is identical with Brahman by divine simplicity.
God2

Beautiful Heresy 101 – Catholic Idolatry: “Venerate by your Hands; Worship in your Heart”

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Idolatry

Catholics cop a lot of crap from fundamentalists for having statues in their churches. According to these fundamentalists, Catholics are committing the grave sin of idolatry by doing this. Even more damnable in the eyes of these heathen Protestants is the fact that Catholics bow down to the statues and some Catholics even go so far as kissing them. This seems like clear and undeniable evidence that Catholics disregard and stand in contradiction to the scriptures; our good God’s infallible words:

Exodus 20:1-6 RSV-CE

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.“You shall have no other gods before me.You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The basic moral principle that both Catholics and Protestants (and Jews and Muslims) agree on is that it is inappropriate to worship anyone but God alone. To worship something that is not God as God is the grave sin of Idolatry.

So, why do Catholics do this? Why do Catholics bow down to statues? There are lots of things to consider.

Veneration versus Worship: Which one is related to Idolatry?

A very helpful distinction to keep in mind is that between veneration and worship. Simply stated, veneration is a physical action that someone performs with their body towards some other physical object, whereas worship is an attitude in the heart of a person towards an object that may or may not be physical. In this way, it becomes possible to venerate an object without worshipping it, as well as to worship something without venerating it, and finally to both venerate and worship an object simultaneously. To worship anything other than God is Idolatry, however it is permissible to venerate almost anything without any Idolatry being committed.

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Idolatry

Some examples may be helpful. If you were ever to meet someone of royalty, for example a Saudi Arabian prince or the Queen of England, etiquette would require that you make some sign of deep respect towards the monarch, for example by genuflecting or kissing a ring. Now, some fundamentalist Muslims and Christians would get uncomfortable about this and their overclocked idolatry detectors would be pinging deep in the red end of the scale. However the vast majority of both Protestants and Catholics would consider this to be a socially acceptable expression of respect towards the Monarch. Reasonable people would not consider these actions of veneration to be idolatrous, because it is understood that we are not worshipping the monarch, we are merely venerating them.

It is the same with Catholics and their statues. When Catholics kiss, genuflect before and bow down to statues of Saints, Mary or Jesus, they are simply Venerating the depicted figures, but they are definitely not Worshipping them. There is therefore no idolatry occuring.

Another example may help. When a mystic sits completely still for an extended period and focuses his mind on union with God, his heart may very easily slip into a state of extremely intense and ecstatic worship of the good God on high. In this case, he is sitting completely still and so is not demonstrating any evidence of veneration, however within himself there is occurring extremely strong and delightful waves of love and worship towards God. It is appropriate that there be no act of veneration in this case because acts of veneration always have to be directed towards some physical object or location, however God does not have a physical location; he is simultaneously omnipresent and located nowhere. For this reason even if the mystic wanted to venerate God, he wouldn’t be able to. Instead he must direct his worship towards God in an abstract sense. So in this case, there is worship without veneration.

An interesting example for Muslims is the fact that during their five daily prayers they prostrate towards the Kaabaah in Mecca. Prostration is an extremely profound movement of veneration, so it is rather telling that Muslims pray towards a physical location, despite their intense aversion to idolatry. The explanation in this case is that their action of veneration – the Salat prostrations – are directed towards Mecca, however their attitude of worship is directed towards God alone, who has no physical location.

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Idolatry

A final example is appropriate. When Catholics engage in adoration of the Eucharist, this is an example of a simultaneous veneration and worship, because the Catholic belief is that the bread they are staring at has literally been transubstantiated into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ himself. The Catholics believe they are literally staring at God, and so they may bow down towards the Eucharist as an act of veneration whilst simultaneously confessing the divinity of that towards which they bow in their hearts as an attitude of worship. In this case, there is both veneration and worship. Whether you believe that this is idolatry depends on your view of the Eucharist.

The crucial point is that veneration and worship are distinct. It is permissible to venerate pretty much anything, but it is only appropriate to worship God. In summary, veneration is an action of the hands, whereas worship is an attitude of the heart. Idolatry is the worship of anything other than God, but veneration of pretty much anything is always permissible.

Dulia, Hyperdulia and Latria

The doctrine of theosis declares that God became man so that man might become God. According to theosis, the saints all participate in divinity to different degrees, and therefore it is appropriate to “worship” the saint to the exact degree that they participate in divinity. Of course, Mary participates in Divinity to the maximal possible extent, so it is appropriate to direct maximal worship towards her. However, it is an established principle that worship is to be directed to God alone, and while Mary and all the saints have been truly “divinized”, when push comes to shove they are fundamentally human and not divine. The water is muddied: should we or should we not worship these saints who have attained to a combination of created and divine natures?

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Idolatry

It is helpful to introduce a helpful historical distinction at this point. There are three different kinds of worship: Dulia, Hyperdulia and Latria.

Dulia is worship reserved for a divinized saint. To the extent that the saint is united to God and has divinity permeating his soul, it is appropriate to worship the saint. The reason why is that you are not actually worshipping the saint as a created being, but are instead worshipping the divinity that is united to that saint. To the extent that the saint is divine, we worship them, to the extent that the saint is created, we do not worship. The technical term for this mixture of worship and non-worship is the word Dulia.

Now, Mary has achieved maximum theosis. She is as closely united to God as it is possible to be. As such, it becomes appropriate to direct maximal worship towards her. However, the fact remains that Mary is essentially human before she is divine, and therefore it would be inappropriate to give her the fullness of worship reserved for God himself. In this way, the worship we give to Mary is also the worship of Dulia, just as with all the other saints. However on account of the fact that Mary has achieved maximum theosis, she also receives maximum Dulia. Theologians invented a new term for this maximal level of worship: Hyperdulia. In essence, it is still just the worship of Dulia, however due to it’s maximal nature, it is called hyperdulia.

Finally, there is the worship reserved for God himself. This is the worship of Latria. To give Latria to anything but God would be the deepest idolatry, for this is the form of worship reserved for him and him alone. Catholics direct their Latria towards the Eucharist during adoration, or towards God in the abstract during deep prayer. To direct Latria towards Mary or a Saint would be gravely sinful, because regardless of how deep their experience of divinity, they are fundamentally human before they are God. Whereas God himself is Divine before he is human, and it is therefore appropriate to give him the infinitely elevated worship of Latria, rather than the lower and lesser worship of Dulia.

In summary, it is appropriate to worship anything that is divine just to the extent that it is divine, however it is important to pay attention to the essential nature of the object you are worshipping: If the object is fundamentally created before it is divine, then we should only give it the worship of Dulia, whereas if the object if fundamentally divine before it is created (ie, God himself) then we should give it the worship of Latria.

But what about the commandments against statues, images and idolatry?

Someone might be reading this and think “That’s all well and good, but in scripture doesn’t God explicitly say that it is not permissible to make statues and bow down to them? All the arguments in the world can’t change that brute fact.”

This is true, so it is helpful to examine the status of the law in Christianity. The idea is that there is the Moral law and the Mosaic law. Jesus abolished the Mosaic law when he died and resurrected, however the Moral law is still in force. It can sometimes be hard to tell which commandment belongs to which law. However in this case the church has identified the commandment concerning statues as belonging to the Mosaic law, and as therefore having been abrogated by Christ along with the laws concerning ritual cleanliness, clean and unclean foods, sacrificial rituals and so on. Whereas the moral law against idolatry remains in force in the sense that it is inappropriate for Christians to worship anything that is not divine, and it is inappropriate to give the worship of Latria to anything but God himself.

Idolatry

Idolatry

It is interesting to revisit the arguments that were put forward at the seventh ecumenical council, which was primarily concerned with this very debate. The fathers of the council claimed that God abrogated the commandment against images when he became incarnate: When God took on the form and image of the man Jesus, he for all time made it permissible to make use of created images as an aid to worship. God represented himself with flesh, and in doing so made it lawful for Christians to represent the divine via other created images. If the commandment against representing God with images were still in effect, it would imply that God had broken his own commandment by becoming incarnate! This is clearly an impossibility, and the only possible conclusion is that God has abrogated the commandment in question by his incarnation.

One final consideration from the seventh ecumenical council is worthwhile touching upon. When a Christian venerates a statue and directs his worship of Dulia towards the depicted saint, they are not actually worshipping the statue; they are instead worshipping the saint whom the statue depicts. In the language of the council fathers, the worship directed towards a statue or image travels through the image to the “prototype”. In this way it is not the statue being worshipped, but the saint that the statue depicts.

Conclusion

An easy to remember way of expressing the principles outlined in this post is the following: Veneration is an action of the hands; Worship is an attitude of the heart. Also, we only worship an object to the extent that it is divine; Saints receive Dulia, Mary receives Hyperdulia, and only God himself receives Latria.

Will You Help Christ When He Stands In Need?

From: Alex Herlihy [mailto:alexander.herlihy@pm.me] Sent: Tuesday, 17 March 2020 1:52 PM
To: William Herlihy <wherlihy@bigpond.net.au>
Subject: Rent troubles

Hi Grandad,

 

I hope you and Grandma are well and haven’t been hit by the coronavirus! Stay away from social situations for a while

 

Assuming you’re ok and not dealing with massive crisis of your own, I’m reaching out to ask for help.

 

I’ve just transitioned from a bachelor of arts to a master of arts. Unfortunately when I “did the right thing” and notified centrelink, they cut my payments and forced me to apply for a different payment scheme (AUSTUDY rather than Youth Allowance). I’ve applied, but the estimated time for them to complete the claim is 28th of April. They might deal with it faster but knowing how incompetent government departments are I’m not hopeful. I’ve been living week to week off centrelink and I have no savings buffer and therefore no way to pay rent in the meantime. Would you be able to help me out with paying rent while i wait for centrelink to process my claim?

 

I’m not really sure what to do otherwise. My relationships with both Mum and Dad have completely broken down and I haven’t spoken to either of them for over a year. Last time I heard from them, they both individually told me that they “have their own problems” and that they are therefore completely unwilling to help. Mum has actually completely cut me off. I’ve never been in this situation so I’m not sure, but I might be running the risk of homelessness here. If you were able to help me out it would save my neck like nothing else.

 

Apparently when my payment gets approved, it comes with a $6000 startup scholarship, so I should be able to pay you back by tapping into that. I’m also applying for IT jobs again because the masters schedule is much more conducive to part time study and full time work (I’m almost completely free to work monday to friday 9-5, so I’m applying for jobs again and will study in the evenings).

 

Sorry to come to you asking for money, but it really is a desperate situation. The rent is $230 a week, $460 a fortnight. Again, if you feel iffy about just giving me cash for nothing, would you be more comfortable turning it into a loan? I should be able to repay you once the $6000 start up scholarship comes through.

 

Praying that you and Grandma are well and happy,

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐
On Friday, March 20, 2020 7:03 PM, William Herlihy <wherlihy@bigpond.net.au> wrote:

Dear Alexander,

We regret that we are unable to help you financially at present. I have fully retired and am receiving a pension. We have recently had some big expenses on household repairs, leaving little surplus from the pension.

I‘m sorry to hear your relationship with your parents has broken down. It appears that your own behaviour has contributed to that.  You have the qualifications to have a good paying job but have chosen to pursue your academic career with inadequate financial resources. Perhaps you should defer your present studies until you can afford it.

Regards

Grandad (Bill)

From: Alex Herlihy [mailto:alexander.herlihy@pm.me] Sent: Tuesday, 20 March 2020 8:02 PM
To: William Herlihy <wherlihy@bigpond.net.au>
Subject: Rent troubles

Have you actually read any of the emails i’ve sent you over the past 12 months? Just because I have a degree in IT doesn’t mean that I am actually able to work in IT. I have worked in Software from 2009-2017 and all it produced was depression and suicide attempts. Is that really what you think I need? I am attempting to carve out a future for myself in something that is actually sustainable, but in the meantime in order to get there I need help and support.
You could have sent the first paragraph of your email without sending the second. You are not aware of the sexual, psychological and emotional abuse that has gone on in my life. Blaming me for the breakdown in the relationship with my mother is a kick below the belt.
Also, I’m not convinced that you’re not able to help due to you being on a pension and household repairs and other nonsense bullshit excuses of the sort that an adulterous piece of shit like patrick would conjure up. I currently have negative $20 in my account: Surely you aren’t doing as bad as that? I’m not some random hobo just begging you for money, I am your grandson: Flesh of your flesh and bone of your bones. Furthermore as I spelt out in the previous email, if you aren’t comfortable just giving money away, you can make it a loan and I will repay you. It will cost you literally nothing to help me. Whereas if you don’t help me, it may cost you your soul. Be careful, your eternal fate hangs in the balance.

31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I don’t know if you give to charity (although judging by your response, i’m assuming not), but even if you do, don’t you dare think that that is enough. God tests you with the people he puts directly in front of you. You will not be judged based on how much you helped random people off in the distance; you will be judged based on how much you loved the people that God has put right in front of you. Perhaps you have no faith and have just been pretending to be a catholic for your whole life; patrick has often speculated that this is the case. I’m not particularly judgemental either way. But one thing is certain: you are approaching the end: The bell tolls for you now. You are about to cross the threshold of death and discover what lies on the other side. This idea that “it is all over” once you die is a lie from satan and I hope you don’t believe it, because in actuality your crimes will be revealed for all to see and your hypocrisy will be made manifest. If this is how you treat those closest to you when they are in need, then do not expect to die a peaceful death.
I am ambivalent whether you help me or not at this point. God always provides, and if the divine aid won’t come via you it will come from somewhere else, so don’t take this email as some last ditch effort to manipulate you into handing over money. Money is ultimately worthless to me. But for your sake I hope you do some soul searching in the little time you have left. It’s never too late to repent.
Love,
Alex Roberts(姚思道)
phone: 0411251140
studentid: 32029817

Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.

Beautiful Heresy 101 – Reverse Pelagianism: “No, you are not free to choose Hell”

foxtrot-free-will1[1].jpgJust as it is a heresy to believe that you can freely save yourself, so too is it a heresy to claim that you can damn yourself. By claiming that man is “free” to choose whether or not to accept God’s love, the catholic ministers of the gospel of perdition elevate themselves above God and deny his sovereignty; their condemnation will be swift and just. Do not be so foolish as to think you can climb the ladder to heaven apart from grace, and do not be so presumptuous as to think that you have the “freedom” to hide from God in Hell forever. God loves you and intends your salvation; do you really think you can defeat his sovereign will by a stubborn refusal to submit and a childish denial of worship?

Beautiful Heresy 101 – An Impotent and/or Evil God: “Is Damnation Merely Everlasting or Entirely Irrevocable?”

rescue-the-perishing[1].jpgI don’t deny everlasting damnation. I deny irrevocable damnation. The idea that God would not or could not save souls who find themselves in Hell is the most outrageous blasphemy and unholy heresy of our age, regardless of what reasons are invoked to justify it. All those who insist on the irrevocability of damnation are possessed by dark and Satanic powers, and have fallen victim to the great apostasy of the Church, worshipping the god of this world rather than the one true Lord and King of the cosmos.

I will not hear you tell me that God respects a person’s freedom more than he desires the salvation of that person, giving up on trying to save them once they pass the threshold of death; I will not tolerate talk of God torturing a soul forever just so that he can show off his glory and justice; And I will not accept the irrational notion that our sovereign God desires the salvation of all but ultimately fails to achieve it.

It would be such a magnificent failure of God, if he went to all that trouble of dying and descending to Hell for the salvation of us all, only to have some, many or all of us spit in his face and refuse the offer. No, our freedom is not that powerful. God is good, loving and powerful, and he cares about his children more than he cares about his glory. All have been redeemed and all will be saved. Not even the fate of everlasting damnation can ultimately prevent our omnipotent God from rescuing all souls from the darkness and fulfilling his universal salvific plan.