Friday, 29 January 2016

Mark Shea tries to explain Indulgences to Protestants

What is the Story with Indulgences?
by Mark Shea 01/15/2016

Most Catholics live and die blissfully unaware that the Church even offers indulgences anymore. (A Catholic friend to whom I mentioned I was writing this article said, "They went out with Vatican II, didn't they?") Practically no Catholic gives much thought to them.

That is your "middle of the road US Vatican II accepting Catholic". It is not you "middle of the road Catholic". My Polish priest who received me told me of indulgences, and was satirical about Paul VI abolishing the non-plenary ones "perhaps the treasury of the Church is lessened, or sth?" - and he was obedient to John Paul II, accepting Vatican II, accepting New Liturgy. One Norway resident Spaniard or Latin American told me there was a plenary indulgence attached to the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Catholic theology has an incorrigible knack for obscuring marvelous insights in confusing terminology. Thus, for instance, she speaks of "temporal punishment for sin" which sounds to Protestants as though Jesus didn't do enough and you still have to endure extra torture so you'll be fully "punished" in addition to the 80% or 90% of the punishment He took for you. In reality, "temporal punishment" is just Catholicese for what Protestants call "chastisement." That is, it is pain unto life such as Scripture refers to when it tells us God punishes all those he loves as his children. (Hebrews 12:5-6).

In German "punishment" and "chastisement" are both Strafe, alternatively, chastisement can be Bestrafung. In Swedish they are both straff, alternatively chastisement can be bestraffning. Luther who spoke German cannot have mistaken "Zeitliche Sündenstrafe" for the punishment of Hell any more or less because it was involving Strafe, since chastisement is anyway Strafe. Even paying a fine involves that word in German. And especially, "zeitlich" should have tipped him off it didn't mean "eternal". Zeitlich means "temporal". Actually, the idea of chastisement, as now (on Mark Shea's words, at least) accepted by Evangelicals, was not extremely popular with Reformers, as far as I can see.

What is "merit"? Well, it isn't "extra righteousness earned by particularly nice people who pitched in to help our well-meaning but inadequate Savior's effort at redemption" (which is what many people think "merit" means). Rather "merit" is an old-fashioned term whose modern equivalent (according to theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar) is "fruitfulness." ... Christians, as all Protestants know, are graced to bear fruit by the work of Christ (John 15 and all that). We are commanded by God to bear grace to the world and to each other. For as C.S. Lewis observes, God "seems to do nothing of himself which he can possibly delegate to his creatures." We are thus to bear fruit by acting as agents of grace, doing the will of God and generally "wielding our little tridents."

Fruitfulness of this kind was not extremely popular with Reformers either. OK, one more thing : they DID deny that difference of fruit/merit in this sense involves different degrees of bliss in Heaven. We do affirm it. CSL seems to have been here quoted from Letters to Malcolm, unless my memory fails me. And Letters of Malcolm is miles from Luther and a few arms lengths from the Catholics of Luther's time. It helped me become Catholic, nearly as much as Tolkien and Chesterton.

An example: I, a man with a bad temper, get baptized, calling on the Lord to be saved. What does that make me? Usually it makes me a Christian man with a bad temper since the gift of new life is grace, not magic. Baptism is not an instant cure-all. It is a gate into the transforming grace of God which, with our cooperation, can eventually heal our brains, hearts and bones.

So then, I come home from baptism full of transforming grace and, finding you did not give me the chocolate Easter bunny I wanted, break your window in a rage. I repent. I am forgiven by God and you. All my guilt is taken away by the blood of Christ the instant I repent. But I still must pay for the window and I still, by grace, have to do something about my temper. Moreover, I am strapped for cash (since I have several broken window lawsuits pending which did not magically disappear when I was baptized). But (asking for God's help) I do what I can to pay you back. You (a Christian with the gift of mercy) forgive the remainder of the debt and even give me a little something so I can afford anger management counseling and legal fees.

Let me highlight:

// so I can afford anger management counseling and legal fees. //

Some Protestants have said that Catholic Church (the one back then) was "buying and selling souls" by indulgences. False, of course. But the Vatican II Sect and at least some Trads seem to be way closer to that horrible state by simply cooperating with things like anger management counseling. Anger Management with Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson is a horrible film, say I only based on reading the idea.

Quote from wiki:
After a series of annoyances from the flight attendant and a sky marshal cause Dave, who repeatedly wanted a headset to watch an in-flight movie suggested by Buddy, to lose his temper, the sky marshal, who also mistakes Dave for a racist, tasers him, and Dave is arrested for assaulting the flight attendant, and sentenced to anger management therapy. The therapist happens to be Buddy. Buddy's unorthodox techniques cause Dave to lose his temper, and Buddy tells Dave he recognizes his problem as passive-aggressive anger. After Dave gets into a bar fight caused by another of Buddy's patients, Chuck, Dave is sent back to court and Buddy intervenes on his behalf, choosing to move in with Dave and shadow him in his life as part of more intensive therapy. Failure to comply will result in a year of jail time for Dave.

I can relate to a black man mistaking someone for a racist*, but shouldn't he have taken one year of gaol instead**?

I was sentenced to 42 months, officially by court. I went out supposedly a free man 2000, after doing two thirds. Someone seems to have inofficially sentenced me to anger management therapy as well, and I am still being provoked after more than 210 months. Now read:

Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Council of Meaux vs. Slave Trade (from a book I've been reading some hours by now)

Quote within my essay:
In the words of a Lombard monk of Monte Cassino, the combination of civil war and Arab marauding were devastating southern Italy even as the shipment of Italian slaves had the opposite effect on the enemies of Christendom: "the places across the sea are bolstered by the male and female captivi of our race."

Quote from my own essay:
Is there an application for us, today? Well, if psychiatry is a place where your young ones may have to confront witches, both discrete ones in parts of personnel and stupid ones among fellow patients, and lots of other doctrinally aberrant people, the loss of Christendom may not be to "transmarina loca" but to something alien to Christendom being bolstered in our very midst - by the wrath of people having a hard time forgetting they were betrayed there by fellow Christians. Indeed, often enough by their family or parish, meaning only well as the phrase goes.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Francis of Sales

* The sky marshal mistaking Dave for one. ** Shouldn't DAVE have taken prison instead. The sky marshal seems not to have been blamed in court at all.

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