Why Sola Scriptura Still Matters, Part One

32

If you are not the sort of person who celebrates divorce anniversaries or sends congratulatory notes to pals for holding onto grudges, it may not have occurred to you that 2017 is going to be a big party year for some of our friends.

The Banner of the “Reformation” Still Flies

That year, October 31 to be precise, marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his ninety-five theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg Germany, the spark that lit the fire of what many Protestants still proudly call the “Reformation.”

What can we Catholics expect, given the climate of cooperation and dialogue that has thawed relations between ourselves and our Protestant brethren during the past 50 years? I believe we can expect a renewed emphasis on the oldest Reformation issues and a strong reassertion of Protestant polemics. Not because the thaw has not been real, but because it has led to so many Protestants recognizing Catholics as fellow Christians and opening themselves to our witness, that it worries many Protestant leaders and teachers.

The banner of the Reformation is sola scriptura (scripture alone). There are several other Reformation slogans: “Christ alone,” “faith alone,” and “grace alone.” But sola scriptura is the key to the rest. Cutting as it does, straight to the heart of the real issue between ourselves and our separated brethren — authority — it remains the key subject that we have to know how to talk about with Protestants.

Oh, Please, Let’s Talk!

This is a subject we should welcome. Catholics have the advantage here, because we already agree with so much of what Protestants bring forth. This might not feel like much an advantage in a debate scenario — like we are giving a great deal ground to our opponents at the outset — but the purpose of our argument with them is not the winning of debates, it is the winning of hearts. To that end we should never lose a chance to say to a Protestant, “Look how very wide a swath of common ground we have here; let’s see if we can expand it.”

It is all to the good then, that Protestants often begin to approach this subject with us by discussing the authority and power of Scripture. To much of what they assert, a Catholic can respond, “Amen. Agreed!” If you as a Catholic are not clear on what the Church teaches about the authority and power of Scripture, a good place to begin is with Dei Verbum, the document on Scripture from the fathers of the Second Vatican Counsel. Its full title is Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.

What specific use do I have in mind for these documents when you are talking to a Protestant? It is important for you to be able to express what the Catholic view of Scripture is. Many of our separated brethren consider Catholics to have a diminished view of Scripture, discounting the Bible. If we express ourselves regarding Scripture according to the words of this document, the high view that the Church has of Scripture will be evident in our conversation.

Are You Credible?

“Scripture alone” Protestants want to know that you love the Bible, believe in the Bible, and accept the inspiration of the Bible. Remember, they do not have all of the Sacraments that we have to bring us close to Christ. They rely much more heavily on Bible reading to sustain them spiritually. They will not consider you credible unless you demonstrate love for and familiarity with the Scriptures. Studying Dei Verbum will not only give you the correct language for expressing the Catholic view of Scripture, it will also convince you of your need to be a student of Scripture.

If then, the Catholic Church has a “high view” of Scripture, how do we differ from Protestants? What we Catholics deny is the Protestant view that the Scripture is the only infallible authority in the Christian life, the only deposit of “God’s Word” and that it must be so because Church councils and Traditions are not infallible. (This is what is known as the formal sufficiency of Scripture as a rule of faith.) We do believe however, that every true Christian doctrine is found in Scripture, either implicitly or explicitly. (This is called the material sufficiency of Scripture).

In the final analysis it does not matter whether we call a particular view of Scripture the “high view” or the “low view,” what matters is that our view of Scripture be the scriptural view! If sola scriptura is the key Reformation doctrine, then the key question is whether the doctrine of sola scriptura is in the Bible. This is what has to be answered because the very issue is framed so that the argument for it has to come from the Bible itself and from the Bible alone. To put it in a nutshell our apologetical task is to demonstrate that sola scriptura fails logically as a principle drawn from Scripture. And since it makes (and can make) no appeal other than to Scripture, it therefore fails completely.

Tomorrow we will consider the key Bible text that Protestants use to make a “scriptural” defense of sola scriptura.

Share.

About Author

Mary Kochan, former Senior Editor of CatholicExchange, is one of the founders and Editor-at-large of CatholicLane.com. Raised as a third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Mary worked her way backwards through the Protestant Reformation to enter the Catholic Church on Trinity Sunday, 1996. Mary has spoken in many settings, to groups large and small, on the topic of destructive cultism and has been a guest on both local and national radio programs. To arrange for Mary to speak at your event, you may contact her at kochanmar@gmail.com.

  • goral

    Thank you Editor-in-chief for that very early alert. That date may still be celebrated once we make it past May 21st. I just got my lawn green so I’m praying that we slide by.
    I’m sure spin-offs from sola scriptura will come up with other dates before that anniversary. Just because the exact day is not Scriptural nothing in the Bible says that the reformers can’t do reformed math to come up with numbers that produce dollars.

    Ultimately it’s not about the sola of the Scripture, it’s about the sola and persona of the reformer.

    I like your approach of respectfully seeking more common ground than winning a debate. After all it’s not much of a challenge to love our neighbor who already loves the same Book we do.

  • Tarheel

    I like the approach of debating or discussing with our Protestant brothers and sisters the use of scripture. As a convert and a CCD teacher, I’ve learned that many Catholics feel that they don’t know scripture that well, But, once they are engaged in a conversation about scripture you can tell they do know scripture just don’t know what or where that scripture passage is. I attribute a lot of this the readings at Mass.

    As Catholics we all need to become intimate with the Holy Scriptures. We need not be a biblical scholar but a sound foundational knowledge of the scriptures will enhance one’s love of God and the Church.

  • Thomas Colyandro, MA, MDiv

    Your words and thoughts about facing Protestants will become increasingly important as we approach the anniversary. Nicely done, Mary, thank you.

  • Is Martin Luther out of Purgatory yet?

  • Agape

    So, a common ground is sought here. People are looking for things in common; common creeds,common beliefs that unites them. Perhaps, in time, a union will take place. Today’s trend points to that.
    And then what?

    • Mary Kochan

      Right, Agape. We look for common ground with everyone, though in some cases it is hard to find. With a secular atheist it can be hard, but we appeal to the natural law — to those things that human beings know in their hearts are wrong (like harming the innocent) and right (like keeping promises).

      With fellow believers in Christ our common ground is, of course, much wider. Many Protestants (I know you don’t consider yourself one) have been told that Catholics don’t know the Bible (of course some don’t and some Protestants don’t either!) or don’t regard the Bible as an authority, or are told not to read the Bible (several passages are read at every Mass!). So for those people we need to help them recognize the reverence with which we view the Sacred Scriptures. A lot of what appear to be differences end up being instead misunderstandings. It is important to clear those up first, so that we can both discuss real differences but also rejoice in those things that do unite us.

      • Agape

        I am just trying to understand what is the goal here? Is it just to be united? Against what?
        I think that Catholics know the Bible, some more, some less. I think that Protestants also know the Bible some more, some less. However the interpretation like in all cases come from higher echalons. Will the interpretation of Scripture be given to them after a common understanding between the leaders, or will they be allowed to think for themselves, comment differently than their leaders.If somehow a group will decide to understand differently certain passages, will they be brought in line? If yes, how?
        Scriptures are read every Sunday at Mass. Suppose this passage is read Ezek 16:55 and someone wants to be explained better, in detail, what would the explanation be? If I want to become a Roman Catholic, I visit this church and I hear this text read Sunday, at mass for example.

        • Mary Kochan

          If someone wants to know in detail the meaning of any passage of scripture, there is a “Catholic” way to gain an understanding. It is called the four senses of scripture. Anyone can make use of it. Of course they can think for themselves. There are really only a few points of scripture where there is any dogmatic interpretation anyway. Catholics are free to let the Spirit speak to them in Scripture.

          Everything in the creed is settled doctrine— like the Virgin birth for example. Someone who denies it is no longer Catholic. And if they claim the Holy Spirit led them to that conclusion we KNOW the Spirit did not. It has nothing to do with “higher echelons” — like CS Lewis said: “mere Christianity” is “what has been believed everywhere, always, and by ALL,” — he was here quoting the words of St. Vincent of Lerins (d. 445). Some people call these the “essentials” of the faith. They are things believed by all Christians because anyone who denies them ceases to be a Christian. Kind of like how someone who denies that 3 5s are 15 ceases to be a mathematician. He can’t go whining that his freedom of thought is being oppressed by the “higher echelons” of mathematicians.

          • Agape

            Okay, so they are allowed to think for themselves as long as they don’t deviate from what has been established as: settled doctrine.
            Math is an exact science. It deals with numbers, as far as I know, nobody was burned at stake for denying the fact that 2+2=4.Unless both the denier and the executioner were crazy.
            How does one make Ezek 16:55 an exact, explicit, doctrine so that the mere Christian can’t err and find himself/herself in trouble?

          • Mary Kochan

            The point is not what kind of ‘science” math vs theology is — but that there is truth in both (as well as in other things) and if one denies the truth of something that is true, one ceases to function within the community built upon that truth. It could have been the illustration of a carpenter who wanted to deny that oak wood is harder than pine. Or a zoologist who wants to deny that tigers are in the cat family. Or a physicist who denies that air has mass.

            Or are we supposed to deny that there is settled truth in anything? Or do we deny that only in religion? And if you want to make religion the one discipline or science with no settled truth, then upon what basis do you decide to make religion the exception?

            Ezek 16:55 should be studied using the four senses of scripture:

            Traditionally, there are four senses of Scripture, which are outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 115-119:

            1. Literal Sense: “[T]he meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture” , the actual event, person, thing described in the biblical text. The literal sense gives rise to the following three “spiritual senses.”

            2. Allegorical Sense: How those things, events, or persons in the literal sense point to Christ and the Paschal Mystery.

            3. Moral Sense: How the literal sense points to the Christian life in the Church.

            4. Anagogical Sense: How the literal sense points to the Christian’s heavenly destiny and the last things.

            Understanding the four senses of Scripture provides an interpretive key for unlocking many spiritual treasures in the Word of God. They can help one make vital connections between the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Catholic Faith, and individual spiritual life. With this approach, we see more clearly that the events and people mentioned in the Bible are intimately linked to our own Christian lives and serve as models for us to follow.(read more here: http://www.cuf.org/faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=129)

            Having said that, I will note that the idea that there is some “exact, explicit, doctrine so that the mere Christian can’t err and find himself/herself in trouble” over the interpretation of Ezek 16:55 is just the kind of thing that one expects to hear from one of those Chinese groups who have the Bible but are cut off from the Church. Unless you figure out how to interpret Ezek 16:55 so as to lead you into mortal sin, it won’t get you into trouble. Relax! Really, you can go your entire Christian life and never even crack the book of Ezekiel except for the passages read now and then in Mass and you will be just fine.

            But if one wanted to study the book of Ezekiel — or any other part o the Bible in depth, over the centuries of the Church many great scholars have poured intensely over ever verse and written copiously on every part. So have at it. Just as long as you don’t think that knowing a lot of fine points about esoteric bits of the Old Testament are vital for salvation or make you a better servant of God.

        • United against really no one, except the forces of evil in the world that oppose God. It was Jesus’ will that His Church should be one; just before He went to His death, He prayed to His Father in the presence of the Apostles, “that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:21, NAB).

          Jesus wants us united so that the whole human race may be one with Him in the glory of the Trinity forever – there’s no sinister agenda. It’s God’s unfathomable love.

  • Agape

    I guess it’s somewhat different from what I learned namely that you need to study in conjuncture with other Scriptures so it will give you a broader image. If I was to be asked what is the meaning here, I would bring more texts from Scripture to relate with this:(Ps.98:3)(Ps.72:8) (Ps.22:27) etc.
    You see, the way I understand Scripture at this point in time, brings an image in front of my eyes. I see from these texts the day when the whole world will be judged. I learned that a day with the Lord is 1000 years therefore the judgement of the world will last 1000 years. I would explain that these texts reffers to this day when the world is judged (as opposed to Church which is now)
    I guess somebody who learned differently will explain them differently.

    • Mary Kochan

      But the Bible also says that a thousand years for God is a “watch in the night” — that would be four hours. That would make his day 8000 years long. St. Paul said that “now” (he was writing in the mid 1st century) is the “day of salvation.” So why doesn’t that mean that at the end of the first thousand years of the Church, all chance of salvation was over? You see, you can’t consistently apply the “rule” that you think you have, i.e. day=thousand years. So you don’t apply it consistently, instead, you allow some authority to determine for you when you should and should not apply the rule and WHICH rule to apply e.g. the 1 day rule or the 4 hour rule.

      Interestingly, some people did think that the world would end and Christ would return at the end of the first millennium for that very reason. But the Catholic Church was never confused on this. She has always held to Christ’s words that tell us it will be a surprise when he returns.

      Yes, it is true that we have to read in CONTEXT — that is the entire point of the literal sense of scripture. Finding what the text says in its most basic meaning. That involves also understanding the kind of literary genre to which a given text belongs, such a narrative, poetry, etc. Every text also has a cultural context — it is written to or for a particular person or group for a certain reason by someone and during certain events. Then there is the larger textual context: the entire passage that surrounds a scripture, the book it is in, which collection of writings it is grouped with, which Testament it is in.

      All of these things go into just discovering the literal sense. It just doesn’t work the way you have been taught which is to pull scriptures from here and there and cobble together a kind of coded message about the future.

      • Agape

        At least I learn something everyday. I guess I can agree with the 4 points of interpreting a text.
        Mary, you said:
        “It just doesn’t work the way you have been taught which is to pull scriptures from here and there and cobble together a kind of coded message about the future.”
        I think it can work. Unless it brings non-sense of course. Taking verses occuring here and there and just picking them randomly, of course it would not work, but searching for verses that support logical flow of an ideea, works. When you have a text such as the entire Bible having so many purposes it would make sense to search and pull out those relevant to the subject discussed. The Bible talks about the Law but also about love. If the subject discussed it’s Law it would not make sense to look in the book of Psalms for example even though it’s just a rule of thumb really. But it would make sense to look in the books discussing this subject, pull them out and show a logical flow to support the subject presented.

        • Mary Kochan

          But you did come up with nonsense. Not you, really, but the people about 100 years ago who made all this Adventist and millennial stuff up. Or I guess really going back about 150 years to the Great Disappointment.

          The idea that Jesus will come back and all the dead will be raised to life on earth for a kind of “second chance” for a thousand years is nonsense. it is unbiblical because the Bible says it is “appointed unto man to die ONCE and then the judgement.” It contradicts everything that Christians believed for the previous 19 centuries and required its teachers to come up with the theory of “The Great Apostasy” which contradicts Jesus words that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, that the Petrine office would stand and be able to strengthen all the brethren in faith, that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church into all truth. It further required the lying distortion of history to attempt to erase the simple fact that every time a Protestant picks up a bible and says “This is the inspired word of God” he is assenting to the authority of the Catholic Church that decided, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, what constitutes scripture. It is nonsense because that kind of so-called resurrection is not a resurrection at all; it is the creation of a copy of a person, since the original person has ceased to exist during his first death according to this theory.

          It doesn’t matter that you can string scriptures together into a logical flow. It is like the man who asked God to tell him what to do and opened his Bible and read “Judas went and hanged himself,” then closed the Bible and opened it a second time and read, “Go thou and do likewise” and figured he had his instructions. Very logical flow, but complete nonsense.

          • Agape

            Mary you said: it is unbiblical because the Bible says it is “appointed unto man to die ONCE and then the judgement.”
            Then why the term: second death in Revelation?
            What is complete nonsense to you it makes perfect sense to me.
            It makes perfect sense to me that a man must be informed before is condemned. All the people living in parts of the world that were even unknown to Europeans, those who lived before Jesus were not informed about what God expects of them. Throughout history I only know of one nation who was informed at Mt. Sinai about what God expects of them. They were given 10 commandments and were told to keep each one of them without making one mistake and he/she who does that will live and not die. To no other nation was given, no other nation knew what they had to do in order to reverse the curse of Eden.
            So how can anyone be charged with breaking the Law if the Law was not given in the first place?
            Yet we are told that there is no other name in this Universe which can save, except through Jesus. And you only had one shot at it because it’s ONCE only.
            It makes perfect sense to me that these people will be resurrected back to life, to be informed about this first and then judged during this “Day of Judgment”. Remember the 4 major attributes of God? Condemning someone without informing is unjust.
            And how about torture? Which judicial system in this world condemns someone (even the lowliest of low) to torture? Please tell me on one country that has this officially written Law, or county, or …community. And why? Because it’s inhumane. Even us, depraved humans know that much. Yet, we claim that God does that. How logical and common sense is this?
            Love and torture can’t coexist. Another attribute that is trampled.

          • Mary Kochan

            It doesn’t matter if it “makes perfect sense” to you that all the human beings who ever lived will be brought back to life on earth to get an education and be witnessed to about Jesus, while the world is ruled by some humans who become spirit creatures. it makes perfect sense to me that it should only rain at night like in Camelot because the nighttime is cooler and more conducive to precipitation and besides it would be more convenient. It is still nonsense because it is a fantasy that is not going to happen.

            No Christians anywhere believed this until about a hundred years ago. No one ever heard of it. It is a completely novel and made up doctrine. The second death has always been understood to refer to the death of the soul — the cutting off of the soul from the life of God and grace by the soul’s choice, not the dying again of a resurrected human body (although as I explained before the thing you imagine is not resurrection at all; it is copying).

            This is what happens when people exist for several generations cut off from the Church, from liturgy and Sacraments — these odd and novel interpretations start. The Bible talks about this age and the age to come (eternal life). Not some other age in between. What is in between is the last day or day of the Lord, when Jesus returns, there is a general resurrection (in which all receive glorified bodies that cannot die, see 1Cor 15th), and there is the final judgment where all are judged according to their deeds. You are mistaken to think that men cannot be judged because they did not know about Jesus. Romans 1st makes it clear that there is no excuse. Ignorance of the law is no excuse because it is written on men’s hearts.

            The 1000 years is not literal — when the psalmist says that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills he just means all the cattle. The thousand years of Christ’s reign just mean all the years there are before the end of the world. We are in the kingdom now. The church is the kingdom. Christ is reigning now. Satan is bound now. Jesus said Satan was bound already when He was on earth.

            Again, your ideas about common sense and hell are not common at all. To sin against God, an infinite being, is an infinite offense. It deserves an infinite punishment, which can only be atoned for by an infinite sacrifice — another reason why we needed the God-Man and not just an angel or perfect man on the Cross. No one “likes” the doctrine of hell. Jesus didn’t like that some people could end up there either! He does everything he can to prevent it — except coerce our wills.

            You will never be able to experience the genuine and great joy of Christian salvation until you understand WHAT you are saved from. When you are saved from hell it is amazing.

          • Mary Kochan

            Regarding things that make/don’t make sense:

            Consider for moment that your group of people who all believe what you do are having a meeting and you get a letter from one of your leaders in another city. Or a letter from your own leader who is traveling. Except that the letter to your great surprise is full of references to doctrine you never heard of before: he calls communion God’s blood and a sacrifice, he calls Jesus God, he mentions hell fire and eternal separation from God, he talks about the bishop standing in the place of God and the primacy of the Church at Rome. Would your group a. throw the letter in the garbage and conclude he had lost his mind or b. burn it as possibly demonic, or c. treasure it and make sure you put it in the rotation of scripture to be read at all your meetings and make copies of it so all the other groups affiliated with you could do the same.

            What you want us to believe about the apostolic church is that they all believed as you did and yet did c with the letters of the apostolic fathers.

  • Agape

    “You will never be able to experience the genuine and great joy of Christian salvation until you understand WHAT you are saved from.”

    You have no idea of the joy I experience now when I finally understand the plan of God.

    “When you are saved from hell it is amazing”

    What’s more amazing is that all will be saved from hell. Because it doesn’t exist.
    If it would, God would not be worthy of worship, because even us people, are not capable of such thing.

    “No Christians anywhere believed this until about a hundred years ago. No one ever heard of it. It is a completely novel and made up doctrine.”

    It was not the time. 7 churches, 7 messages. It is only 7 that means complete.
    This is where true followers are tested now, as before were other methods, such as the one applied to Michael Servetus. Or Michael Sattler which by the way you once you said there is no group “who have not ever persecuted others, who are always peaceful, bla, bla, bla” guess what? They didn’t. Read the declaration of Schleitheim Brethren and see that they have renounced all form of violence.

    • Mary Kochan

      I shouldn’t have written anything about experience. that is not fair. I apologize.

      • Agape

        Mary, you have experienced a transformation in your life that brought you joy. Cherish that. I knew about your religius pilgrimage.
        I can relate, as a similar thing happened to me.
        We both have joy and that is what matter most.
        Before this encounter I was unhappy, having too many unanswared questions, feeling lost and without a chart, roaming through this life aimlessly.
        I had to experience that, in order to appreciate what I have now. The fear is gone now due to a better understanding, and peace and joy have replaced that. I gather you have joy and gladness of heart too.
        Let us continue in this joy, even though we see differently

        • Mary Kochan

          No, the point is that my experience is not evidence of anything for you. And I wasn’t trying to make it so; besides the experince might not even be transferable or appropriate to another person. So I should not have mentioned it.

          The important point is not how any of this makes us feel. The point is that Jesus established a Church to show us the way to salvation. There is abundant evidence that the Catholic Church is established by Jesus and it is folly to decide on the basis of feelings, or personal likes or dislikes, that we can reject the truths taught by that Church.

          • Agape

            Right now I am rejecting the teachings of the Catholic Church. Openly, willingly,knowingly, etc. as anyone can see who reads these threads.
            Why do you think it is folly to do so?

          • Mary Kochan

            LOL. I am glad you are here (maybe) because now I see that I will have to write anotehr article just to anwer that! You do ask very good questions.

            Hey Agape, meanwhile tell me what you think of these sola scriptura points.

  • Agape

    The Sola Scriptura. Anyway my point are the examples in the Bible:
    What apostle Paul was preaching, was checked by the Bereans with the Scripture. They were checking the Old Testament to see if it fits with what Paul was saying. Where was the New Testament? Not needed at that time as the apostles were living epistles. But as soon as they died it was need it.
    I can see the question coming: What about the spoken words?
    Answer: Not reliable. And why? We are living proofs why. Whenever we do a transaction we put it in writing even if the transaction takes place between good brothers in faith.
    Jeremiah also did put in writing a transaction to show an example of how important this is (Jer. 32)

    One more thing to say. You claim that the merit of compiling the Bible goes to the Catholic Church. If this is the case why didn’t the Catholic Church found in it’s own field the treasure with the Plan of God for mankind? Others were able to do that, and they sold everything else and bought the field with the treasure buried in it. (Matt. 13)
    Kudos to the buyers, no kudos to the owners.
    Also you said that it’s okay to burn heretical books. It’s good that the view has changed over the history as centuries ago people are also burned along with their “heretical” ideas and books.
    The problem I see is that these “heresies” were taken from the Bible. Therefore the source of these “heresies” keep showing up.

    You didn’t answer why is folly to reject the Catholic Church teachings?

    • The suggestion that it is “folly” is a little unfair if you haven’t accepted the Catholic Church’s teachings. But think about it like this – these are the possibilities:
      1) Jesus was a liar or insane, and nothing He taught was true;
      2) Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God (“I AM”, cf. John 8:28), but His coming accomplished nothing;
      3) Jesus was the Son of God come to found a Church (“Peter, you are rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” cf. Matthew 16:18)

      If you believe some of the teachings of Jesus, then you don’t believe He was a liar. The alternatives are to believe (1) that He was God but his coming was ineffectual (which seems highly unlikely) or (2) that He was God and He founded the Catholic Church.

      If Jesus founded the Catholic Church and guarantees it, then it speaks for Him. In that case, yes, rejecting the Church’s teachings is folly, plain and simple. Me, you, and the guy next door are all capable of folly – so what? When you’ve seen the truth, embrace it. There is nothing to fear. Blessings!

      • Agape

        Thanks for reply PrairieHawk,
        The way I see it it’s like this.
        1) Jesus was not a liar,nor insane and everything He taught is true. There are people out there who claim otherwise but we know better, don’t we? But let’s not worry about them, their veil is not lifted yet.
        2)Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God.(Not God the Son)If you think that the “I am” there reffers to the fact that He is YHWH himself it’s not the case. The words uttered in OT belongs to YHWH not Jesus. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father.
        His coming accomplished something: the redeeming of entire human race.
        3) Jesus the Son of God did founded His Church.
        We can agree thus far, I think. But whereas some think that His Church was set-up to save a handful from hell, I believe that the task of the Church is to be prepared in adverse and harsh conditions just like her Head. They are to be tried in all kind of adeverse conditions in kilns heated 7 times more than the usual, prepared for them to clean them of all impurities as Mal. 3 shows
        And why? To go to Heaven and play harps to cover the screams of pain coming from Hell right next to them? I think not. I think that these priest and kings are prepared for a task shown to prophet Daniel, even though he didn’t understood it’s meaning (just like the vast majority).You know the part of some leading other to righteousnes (Dan 12)

        • Everyone trips up over Hell – nobody likes it. But what do you make of all the places where Jesus speaks of people going to Gehenna (a burning trash dump on the edge of town), the Outer Darkness, or Sheol? Clearly He was using symbolic language, but symbolic of what? He very much seems to be warning us of something. And these are Jesus’ own words, not the later additions/interpretations of the Church. I think simple honesty has to allow for at least the possibility of a place of punishment, and if that is possible – even remotely – it really needs to be taken seriously, given the stakes.

          • Agape

            Yes, PrairieHawk everyone trips over Hell. And why? For a good reason: It seems so out of place, so out of harmony with what we know about God that even the most devout Christian has questions like: How can God do such thing, I wouldn’t be able to torture someone, I would succumb to the screams of pain and suffering after a while. Almost all sincere Christians when I ask the question: “How long could you torture someone, before stopping?” answer they would not do that in the first place anyway. Some don’t answer just bow their head. I know there are sick people out there who find pleasure in doing this, but thank God I haven’t met one of them yet to answer positively. But I think we can both agree that people like Pol-Pot or Idi Amin must have been sick.
            What the Lord was describing there was something that you understand partially at least. Our Lord was passing by Geheena, the garbage dump of Jerusalem. A garbage dump in the past contained all garbage possible including dead animals or some historians believe that even dead people were thrown in this dump, because the Jews refused to bury the usual way pedophiles, or similar criminals. Instead they were dumped here in disgrace. Of course, the worm dies not there, as this dump is continuously supplied with dead bodies. And the fire never dies either, as any garbage dump in the past was set on fire and kept going by the continuous dumping. I had a chance to see that every year in summer vacations from school when I visited my grandparents in a remote country side village in Eastern Europe. They didn’t have modern facilities and the village garbage dump was just on the outskirts and it was exactly as described here: dead animals, all kind of refuse. The fire was also present not burning with big flames but burning slowly and locally in piles. People set piled garbage on fire to rid the stench and to “sanitize” the place. Take a trip to a third world country and you will see Geheena just as described in New Testament. But whereas the worm doesn’t die, the body is dead and you can be rest assured, it doesn’t feel the fire or the worm eating at it.

          • Mary Kochan

            Agape, the teaching of hell is not that God tortures people, just like the teaching of the Trinity is not that the Father is the Son.

            When we Catholics read this, we consider either that we are reading the words of someone who is intentionally trying to distort what Catholics beleive in order to make a point, or we are reading the words of someone who has been taught by people who intentionally distort Catholic teaching to make a point. So which is it with you? Are you intentionally distorting Catholic teaching, or have you simply been taught these distortions by others?

            This is exactly why, when you first came on here talking against the Trinity doctrine, I asked you to give your explanation of it. I wanted to know if you had even the slightest conception of what the teaching is while you were going on and on against it.

          • How do you account for a verse like this one: “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42), or this one: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels'” (Matthew 25:41).

            I don’t know about you, but it’s stuff like this that scares me straight. Clearly Jesus is talking about a place of genuine punishment and suffering, and it is eternal. And the fact that the person, body and soul, is suffering amid “wailing and grinding of teeth” is clear.

            Is the existence of a place of eternal suffering (that is not empty) compatible with the love of God? What could a person do in this life that is so bad that could merit such punishment? I say it is compatible, and there are crimes that merit such punishment. Think of it this way:

            God wants each of us to love Him freely. Love is not free if it is coerced in any way. Therefore, God allows us the alternative of not loving Him. If we don’t love God, then we have rejected Him. If we reject God, we have cut ourselves off from Him and His goodness. And since God is the source of all goodness, we have chosen for ourselves an existence deprived of any good whatsoever. It is this state of self-exclusion from God’s goodness that we call “Hell.”

            The terrifying images in Scripture about fire, demons, wailing and grinding of teeth (physical suffering) and so forth are images of what this kind of suffering – a being cut off from his own Source – looks like. Does God torture people? No, we have done Hell to ourselves. God ardently desires Hell to be empty, he wants each of his children to be safe with him forever – but he will not coerce us. In the end, the choice is ours.

    • Mary Kochan

      What I am looking for is for you to deal with the arguments presented in the articles.