Sunday, July 29, 2018

Indulgences Debate Commentary Part 2

OK, we've heard from James White, now at about the 34 minute mark it's Peter Williams' turn. 

Williams opens by thanking everyone for being there and having him there to discuss what he says are crucial topics. Right here I'd like to, respectfully, correct Williams. This is NOT a crucial topic! White is trying to MAKE it a crucial topic by equivocating indulgences to the Gospel - but as we have seen in Part 1 of my response - and as every Catholic who knows his/her Faith should know, if the topic is indulgences it is NOT about salvation and therefore is NOT about the Gospel at all. Williams can win the debate on this point alone.
Williams begins his actual opening statement in explaining what White has defined:
Let's note the nature of the proposition before us... My opponent has proposed this evening that indulgences are a fundamental denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To see why he is completely wrong, I think we have to answer two fundamental questions: 1) What are indulgences? and much more basically... 2) What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I propose to answer both and comparing one to the other we'll show why indulgences are fundamentally an affirmation and an application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here I will interject - Williams is leaving room for White to continue diverting this debate into something it is not. While indulgences are indeed an affirmation and application of God's love and compassion for us - it is fundamentally NOT the Gospel message and again, I believe Williams could win this debate on THIS fact, alone. He continues...
What is the Gospel, let's start with that. I think that is the most fundamental. (From Greek) euangelion - evangelion those are the fundamental words underneath it, reducible to "good" and "news" - eu meaning "good" and angelion meaning "messenger" from the Old English, Godspell, Good News. Very arguably this is deeply unhelpful however as a translation of euangelion. That we've had lovely weather recently, that was good news. If someone buys me a pint after this debate, that would be good news, certainly. But to describe however, the cosmic, awesome, life changing, Earth shattering, wonderful news of Jesus Christ, to describe that as "good news" is damning by faint praise, a pathetic translation. Rather, "Gospel" is an announcement of victory. In the closer context of the 1st centuries BC and AD... using the documents we have (both secular and religious) it is using the documents we have to denote a specific form of good tiding, it is the announcement of a great victory.  So here's the situation... your city is about to be invaded by an army from a surrounding nation, and your army has gone out to meet them on the battlefield - and you're terrified because if the enemy reaches the city they'll torch everything, the men will be killed, women raped, the children enslaved - it will be disaster - an existential threat to your very existence. And then, a corus, a herald comes along and declares, "The battle is won!" There is no more threat, the invading army has been destroyed... "we're safe."  THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a euangelion. THAT is the kind of thing we're talking about... 37:15... Christians took this word from the surrounding culture and they used it, invested it with new meaning. The Gospel then, the Christian euangelion is the proclamation of a fact. The fact is the victory of Christ is accomplished and the establishment of His Messianic Kingdom. The use of the term "Gospel" then evolved in way it is employed in the early modern period, to not just be the basic announcement of a fact of Christ's redemption - but also whole New Covenant Law, the whole New Covenant itself established by Him and in His Church. But initially, scripturally, it is the announcement of that event of the coming of the kingdom through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
38:30 - Peter goes into a short discussion of the nature of God Himself the ipse esse subsistence, the Subsistant Being, Himself, the Ground of All Being. God is not "a being" like "a bloke" or a superman, like Thor, God is the Source of All Being, All Goodness, All Perfection. All perfection comes from Him because He IS goodness, He IS perfection. They flow from His nature as God. He is Holy. Since He is the perfect source of goodness all sin is an offense against Him, the Transcendent Creator, and it creates an inequality of justice a debt which has to be satisfied in order for the sinner to enter into communion with Him. If that does not happen, then justice has to be applied...
45:36 - Applying concept to Justification...
The Council of Trent, which is the great council which dealt with Justification and Salvation, more broadly, uses this schema: The Efficient Cause, the Principle Efficient Cause, of our Justification of our Salvation, is the Merciful Blessed Trinity. The Secondary Efficient Cause is grace merited by Christ on the Cross, because it is the propensitory Sacrifice of the Cross which makes satisfaction for us unto the Father and merited Justification. Christ is the SOLE, MERITORIOUS CAUSE. There are instrumental causes, however, that communicate the grace that was bought for us by His Sacrifice. What are those?  Baptism, Confession, our ongoing works as well, these are all INSTRUMENTAL causes. What do I mean by that?  They are means by which we access that which Christ has merited for us. It's a bit like this... I'm a child and I want a shower - who pays the bill for that?  It's my dad. The father has paid the bill for the shower to take place. The efficient cause of my being cleansed would be the water flowing released in the secondary sense, but I have to turn the faucet on. The turning of the faucet on doesn't earn me anything, the turning of the faucet doesn't merit in a strict sense, my shower, but I have to do it otherwise I won't gain the benefits of it. Do you see the difference? Meritorious cause is who pays for it, who merits it; instrumental cause is how you gain the benefits of it.
47:10 - So what are Indulgences?
How is all this relevant?  We've answered what the Gospel is and we've answered what the meritorious cause is. The announcement of Christ's Victory especially for the perfect propitiatory Sacrifice of His Cross, the offering of His Precious Blood. So, how does this affect indulgences? Well, let's just define what they are. We had a decent, faithful definition from Dr. White, now let's see more into it.  Well, indulgences are the remission before God the temporal punishment, temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed going into the certain prescribed conditions for the acts of the Church when as the minister of redemption she dispenses and supplies from the treasury of the merits of Christ and the Saints and note those three things I've emphasized. 1) The temporal punishment; 2) The minister of redemption; 3) The treasury of merit. We're going to go into those.
Temporal punishment v. eternal punishment. The eternal punishment due unto our sins is avoided by our access to the instrumental cause of our justification. The grace merited by the Cross which we gain through Baptism through Faith, in other words through all the Sacraments. Nonetheless, we still suffer temporal punishments for sin, and we see this - there are penalties that we go through, through our lives as part of God's organization of cosmic justice throughout the world. Regardless of our eternal punishment, which thankfully we have avoided, by the Cross in a direct sense, there are still temporal punishments we have to go through, one of which are the penal consequences, the penalties, of Original Sin. Women suffering in childbirth; man working by the sweat of his brow; suffering and death itself. Now, those of you who believe yourself to be forgiven of Original Sin, I imagine it most of you here - certainly everyone who has been baptized. Okay, which of the men who think so do not expect to work by the sweat of their brow? Which of the women who think so, don't expect to, if you haven't already, suffer through childbirth? Who here never expects to experience suffering or physical death? Yeah, I thought so. No one here is a fantacist, that's good. So who here has never suffered any temporal consequences for their sin as well (personal sin)? That's the next bed. We have penal consequences and punishments of personal sin. If I go out and sleep with a prostitute and get an STD, well that's a penal consequence of my sin. If I lie and suffer humiliation when I'm found out, that is a penal consequence of my sin, a temporal consequence of my sin. And we see this, don't we, in Holy Scripture itself. Look for example at Samuel 12, the incidence of King David after King David has killed Uriah the Hittite, and he has stolen his wide, effectively - he has slept with Bathsheba and made her pregnant, committed adultery in other words. He is sorry for his sin, he has repents of his sin, very, very powerfully in fact he's weeping, fasting, he's laying prostrate on the ground for seven days. He is forgiven by God and yet despite his forgiveness he suffers temporal punishment. His temporal punishment is what? The death of the child he has conceived with Bathsheba and rape of his wives, which in a sense is a payback for he did. He killed, so a life for a life. He violates his sexual integrity so his sexual integrity, via his wives, is thereby dealt with as well. This was a redress. That is temporal punishment and we see this collectively as well. The fact that the Israelites did not trust that He would be there ultimately and bring them to the Promised Land, and what does this mean to the Israelites who did this? They had to go round and round in the desert and never see the Promised Land, ultimately. Their lack of patience meant that their impatience that their patience later would never be rewarded.
So, how do we deal with this?  How does this temporal punishment get dealt with? Well, we deal with it through our experience, we deal with it through our everyday sanctification. We also deal with it through what is called Purgatory. Purgatory is a state after death where those who are justified go through any remaining temporal punishment for their sins as part of a final purification. This process is called "satispatsio" as we've seen. "Satis-" meaning enough, satiated in other words and "-patsio" suffering. We know nothing unclean shall enter Heaven. We know that without holiness, no one will see God. Yet, we all die in a state where we're not completely sanctified. No one dies morally perfect. We all have sanctification to go through by the time we go (through death). So Purgatory satisfies the lesser cosmic justice of temporal punishment, but also frees us as well from last remaining impurities and imperfections finishing our sanctification. We see this in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 which describes an eschatological fire which a person, through their works, is tried and rewarded in the good and suffering in the bad when it talks about suffering loss... So it also describes a financial penalty, and punishment elsewhere, other forms of punishment elsewhere in the Septuagint. In the New Testament it is actually used to actually denote eternal punishment. So this is a phrase used not to describe "oh, I've lost out on something," no, it means a penalty you suffer because of the works that are burnt up.
If you want to see the context of this idea of the fire that burns up the wood, the hay and the straw or purifies the good silver and precious stones, look at all the other references that are there within the Holy Scriptures to this idea of the purifying fire. "The crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold... and the Lord tries hearts," that's Proverbs 17:3. "Purify themselves and be refined," Daniel 12:10. "And I will put this third into the fire and refine them as one refines silver and test them as gold is tested," Zachariah 13:9. "But He is like a refiners fire and like full of soap, He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver until they present right sacrifices to the Lord," (Malachi 3:2-3) and so on and so forth. All of these references to gold and silver, sound familiar? That is exactly the wording used in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. 
53:40 - Williams makes a reference to C.S. Lewis (an Anglican), and also asserts "Even if you're not Catholic, you almost intuit(ively), by virtue of the facts, you realize the way that sanctification works, that sanctification involves suffering..."
."..As Dr. White rightly said when we heard that we have this false dichotomy between temporal punishment and fatherly chastening; there is no distinction between them, they are the same thing. The same God who is Holiness and Justice is the same God who is Love and Mercy. They both happen at the same time.
We see prayers for the dead as an illustration this, 2 Maccabees 12:41-45, but I don't have much time to go into this too much, but the idea there is Judas Maccabees is effectively trying to pray for and offer sacrifice on behalf of Jews who have died. Now, all this really proves is prayers for the dead, it doesn't prove Purgatory and I'm not saying it does, all I'm saying is the idea of praying for the dead, the idea of making sacrifices for the dead was something which was very much believed at the time and to this day all Orthodox Jews pray for the dead. The Mourner's Kaddish is something you pray, as an Orthodox Jew, a year after the death of your loved one, as all ancient Christian churches indeed do. Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Catholic Church all pray for the dead. You don't need to pray for those in Heaven; there's no point in praying for those in Hell; so what does that indicate?  It indicates a tertium quid, a third thing, a state whereby our prayers can help those in that state.
Spiritual Solidarity...
55:55 - We don't just help the dead by prayers, but also by spiritual solidarity. We see this in the third century practice of libelli. Libelli was certificates of indulgence which were issued to people in the third century generally in North Africa and Asia Minor in which confessors or martyrs interceded for "the lapsi" - those who had effectively apostacized under the Roman persecution but had come back to repentance. Confessors, that is to say the pastors of these souls, were understood to be petitioning that their own merits should be applied to the lapsi to procure for them the remission of the temporal punishment due to their defection. This was not simply the remission of canonical penance, which is effectively what the Church says as a discipline against you, rather it was believed that it availed before God and remitted the temporal punishment that would otherwise be required after death. If you want to see a discussion of this, go to St. Cyprian's On The Lapsed
Beware of Linguistic Anachronism...
56:45 - Now beware of, I've just used the word "merit" and we heard it discussed somewhat in Dr. White's presentation, beware of linguistic anachronism and ambiguity. When we use the term "merit" we don't mean it is earning something. We don't mean, I've already made it very clear, the sole meritorious cause of our salvation is what? Christ and His Precious Blood, it is not us. Strictly speaking, only Christ strictly merits anything, all we do is receive rewards, due rewards. We see this in Romans 2:6, that He will render unto everyone according to his works. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 who plants and he who waters is equal and each one shall receive his wages according to his labor. This isn't trying to say that you earn salvation or you earn grace, you can't possibly earn grace, by definition. What it is saying is that our good works are rewarded by a loving Father with further grace, not sanctification.
Analogy of Father and Child...
57:35 - The analogy I'll use is of a father and a child. If a father says to a child, "You know if you do your chores, if you mow the lawn, let's say, I'll take you out to the cinema, or I'll buy you an ice cream or buy you a present or something like that." Now that is the commercial quid pro quo. You don't say, "Alright, I've earned that now, Dad," no Dad could just say, "Do your chores" without any reward whatsoever. But, because of his loving condescension and kindness to his child he gives him a reward. That is what we're talking about. The whole way that Christianity works, the whole way the Church works, the whole way our salvation works - is not as a law culture, is not as a quid pro quo relationship, it's as a loving Father to His children. That's what we're talking about. That's when we talk about merit, when the Church talks about merits, that is what its talking about. In fact, St. Augustine of Hippo, in fact all our works enabled by grace, this is why St. Augustine can say, because all our works that we do are enabled by God's actual graces themselves, the supernatural life that He pours into us to enable us to do this, he says "If then your merits are God's gifts, God does not crown your merits as your merits but as His own gifts." So this is not a matter of earning salvation or trusting on something other than Christ or trusting in something other than God, it's about appealing through Christ. That's why St. Philip Neri says, "Never say what great things the Saints do, but what great things God does in His Saints." Again, what are we? We are instrumental causes. We're not meritorious causes; the only meritorious cause is Christ alone.
The Thesaurus Meritorium...
59:10 - There is also the concept we have heard, the thesaurus meritorium is the idea that all the merits that Christ has, all the merits of His Precious Blood, and all the merits that He causes through us are all in this treasury of merit. Now that's absolutely true! Note the difference, however, between the Efficient Cause of it, God, the true strict meritorious cause, this is God the Son, and again the instrumental causes which contribute to it, which is simply us. Simply God pouring His grace through us and meriting His own merits thereby. So a mixture of Christ's merits and those of the Saints, like Mary, because the merits of the Saints are not alien to those of Christ - they ARE the merits of Christ poured into us! You can't merit anything on your own, only in the grace of God can you. The merits of the Saints are the merits of Christ applied in the lives of His Saints. The reason why you can believe in the idea of indulgences is, the application of those merits is because of the power of the keys.
The Power of the Keys...
1:00:05 - The power of the keys is this, in Matthew 16:18-19, St. Peter is promised by Christ the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. Now, He says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Jesus answers him, "Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven has and I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church and the powers of death (the gates of Hell) shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom and whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven." Now this is an allusion back. Anyone who heard these words of our Lord would have known what He was saying. It goes back to Isaiah 22:15-23 where the Lord replaces Shebna as the asher al habayit, that is to say the chap who is over the house, the chief steward of the Davidic Kingdom who is given the key of the House of David (Isaiah 22:22).
This is Hugely Important...
1:00:56 -This is hugely important when we understand why our Lord is making reference to this, Christ as the Messiah, as Mashiac, is also the Davidic King. He has come to fulfill the Davidic prophecies that the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom would happen again. By promising to give to St. Peter the keys to the kingdom our Lord is investing him with a station analogous to that of Eliakim and others who were the al hiakim (sp?), especially of the Messianic significance of the king who was king at the time. King Hezekiah, remember King Hezekiah? Just before he died, he's on his deathbed and he asks God for mercy, and God says, "I've heard thy prayer, I've seen thy tears and behold I've healed thee - ON THE THIRD DAY thou shall go to the Temple of the Lord." Anyone hearing Christ allude to this is going to realize He is making a Messianic reference and he's going to associate Jesus and Peter with Hezekiah and Eliakim. The keys indicate a spiritual authority. Not just the kingdom of Heaven includes the earthly Church as we see from the use of phrase, kingdom of Heaven, by our Lord in parables in Matthew 13 for example, but because the keys referred to in the Book of the Apocalypse refer to keys of death and of Hell and the bottomless pit. That's why the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church - because the Church has the keys to these places. Dr. White might want to say that verses disprove Petrine authority, Christ holds these keys in the book of the Apocalypse and the key to the House of David in Apocalypse 3:7 is said to be held by Him in particularly - but this tells us absolutely nothing. Christ is delegating His authority to St. Peter as the Davidic kings did to their chief stewards. They don't relinquish the keys, they delegate them, besides which the Book of the Apocalypse is eschatological and thereby based on future events when Earth is passing away.
The Nuptial Covenant...
1:02:36 - This is all about the nuptial covenant because the Church is in that nuptial covenant. We heard earlier about the Lamb... "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" because the idea of the covenant is a nuptial image. Holy Scripture, especially St. Paul, shows the diatheke, the covenant is not a purely passive inheritance, it's a transactional relationship. It's not unilateral, it's bilateral. It is a relationship, in other words and we see that use in that simile in Ephesians 5.
In the nuptial framework of St. Paul's day the covenant between husband and wife was confirmed. The bride's authority extended to that of a full partnership with the husband in a mutual and all important enterprise of bearing and raising their children and governing the marital household. If the Church is the Bride of Christ she is therefore the Steward of His Merits. The Church is the fully endowed spouse of Christ who has by virtue of her ongoing covenant with Him has the authority to distribute the contents of the marital treasury for the sake of her children, i.e. faithful Christians.
Indulgences are an Imputation of Christ's Merits...
1:03:33 - Indulgences therefore are an imputation of Christ's merits. This is what is so ironic about this, this is the one part Catholic soteriology which actually applies in a Protestant sense, that actually does use the idea of imputation. The imputation of Christ's merits on the basis of concessionis, they are attached to your works. It's not that have value that the works earn God's grace, but rather that God through His grace, through the action of His Church is granting you this imputation. This is to encourage the Christian faithful into holiness. It includes reading the Scriptures for at least a half an hour each day; participating during the week in Christian unity and other such things.
Indulgences Do Not Deny the Gospel, They Are an Application of the Gospel!
1:04:22 - So, this is not as James White states, Grace doled out, it is the (on-tick?) power of supernatural life of God, it is the faithful application of the merits of Christ by Christ's Bride to remit temporal punishments and enables communication of spiritual solidarity between Christians so as to foster holiness and purification of the members of His Body. This is NOT contrary to the Gospel, this is an APPLICATION of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I commend it to you tonight.  Thank you.
As you can see, Part 2 of this debate has Peter D. Williams presenting the Catholic case for indulgences. As one might expect - I believe Peter did an excellent job in this presentation so I have little to add in the way of comments. I would take a moment here though to point out a point I wish Peter had made (maybe he makes it later?) and that is that White has focused so much of his argument on "salvation" and "justification" - and this debate is NOT on those topics! As I pointed out in my responses to Part 1 (James' Opening Statement) indulgences can only be applied to those who ARE saved - those who ARE justified. White is simply barking up a wrong tree when he argues THOSE points in THIS debate.

On to Part 3...

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