Can Hell Be Empty?

I stumbled across a response to an article I wrote back on January 19, 2014, The Matter of Hell. A person who normally opposes my articles (goes by the nickname of TurretinFan, I have no idea of his true identity) actually came out in support of what I said! Now, of course, he still found a way to spin that into an attack on me and/or the Catholic Church - which is why I write this response today. It's nearly 5 years later, but that is mostly because I was not aware of "TurretinFan's" posting. A simple comment stating he responded, preferably with a link, would have been nice and would have likely drawn a more prompt response from me. That being said, let us get into what he said and my responses....

Scott Windsor has a post, "The Matter of Hell," in which he sides with unordained Michael Voris against ordained priest Robert Barron. By contrast, Mark Shea has a post, "Michael Voris Again Smears an Innocent Catholic," in which he sides with Barron against Voris.

Well, let's take TurretinFan's statements in order. First he makes a point of the "unordained" Michael Voris, and that I sided with him in opposing (then) Fr. Barron (he is now a bishop), as if lay people must remain silent with regard to ordained priests. I truly hope that is not TurretinFan's position because often it is precisely the un-ordained who draw back in the ordained. We even have a responsibility to stand up for the traditions we have been taught if we believe any Catholic, ordained or otherwise, is publicly stating something contrary to consistent Catholic teaching. 

TurretinFan also mentions an article by Mark Shea, calling out Michael Voris. I must say, until reading TurretinFan's response to me, I was not aware of Mark Shea's article. Shea wrote, 
Michael Voris sets about the task of ginning up a mob against none other than Fr. Robert Barron as a heretic for his views on hell... 
Well, let us be clear here - Michael Voris - in the short video he posted about Fr. Barron's statements on Hell - NEVER stated Fr. Barron was a heretic. Yes, he clearly stated Fr. Barron was wrong - but not once did he state Fr. Barron was a heretic.

Shea argues that Barron is saying almost exactly what Pope Benedict XVI said on the topic, whereas Windsor argues that Barron's position comes close to falling under the condemnation of the Second Council of Constantinople. Per Windsor, Barron's view is "scandalous at best and perhaps even heretical" whereas Shea thinks "Barron is guilty of no heresy, has said nothing “wrong” and is perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation."

Interesting how TurretinFan is pitting all these Catholics against each other, as if Catholics can never disagree with each other - even though throughout history we often do and until something is defined as dogma, prior to such a definition, we could even be opposed to the doctrine and still remain a faithful Catholic.

Shea goes on to say: 
You will note that what he has to say is basically identical to what Pope Benedict has to say in Spe Salvi. It is, as it is with Benedict, a speculation, not a forecast or a doctrine. Voris, to his credit cannot bring himself to declare Benedict “wrong” but does not hesitate to bring up Barron on heresy charges for his audience. The problem is, Barron is guilty of no heresy, has said nothing “wrong” and is perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation.

Let us note, Voris didn't mention Pope Benedict at all, much less make any implication that he was "wrong." Shea submits that Bp. (then Fr.) Barron "is guilty of no heresy..." but as my original article points out, the 2nd Council of Constantinople, the 5th Ecumenical Council, states in the Anathemas Against Origen:
I  If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it:  let him be anathema.
XIV - If anyone shall say that all reasonable beings will one day be united in one, when the hypostases as well as the numbers and the bodies shall have disappeared, and that the knowledge of the world to come will carry with it the ruin of the worlds, and the rejection of bodies as also the abolition of [all] names, and that there shall be finally an identity of the gnosis and of the hypostasis; moreover, that in this pretended apocatastasis, spirits only will continue to exist, as it was in the feigned pre-existence:  let him be anathema.
The "monstrous restoration" and the statement that "all reasonable beings will one day be united..." are both statements nearly identical to what Bp. (then Fr.) Barron asserted - and are flatly condemned with the penalty of anathema from the 5th Ecumenical Council. So to assert there is "no heresy" and "nothing wrong" - is wrong. My initial article, as well as this one, does not go so far as to condemn Bp. Barron as a heretic - but I did, and still do, call for him to publicly retract those statements on Hell - and I would add he should remove that video from YouTube.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: 
The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs (CCC 1035).
Catholic Answers posts a whole article on The Hell There Is!  Their article also references many of the Early Church Fathers, demonstrating the consistent teaching of the Church throughout the ages.

At issue is Barron's apparent view (which he says agrees with Balthazar's view) we should believe that Hell is at least possible (as a metaphor for loneliness from divine love, not actually a place) but that we can reasonably hope that Hell is empty based on God's universal salvific desire. Barron concedes to the big tent nature of Roman Catholicism, pointing out that folks like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas would disagree with him.

Shea likewise balances his comment by pointing out:
Now those, such as Ralph Martin who speculate that few will be saved are also (obviously) also within the pale of orthodoxy and share their opinion with not a few Fathers and theologians. But at the end of the day, that’s all you have: two schools of opinion–both of which are allowed by the Church.

When the consistent Church teaching from the Early Church Fathers, to the Fifth Ecumenical Council to the current Catechism of the Catholic Church all affirm the existence of Hell and even anathamatize those who "speculate" on an "empty Hell" or some form of universal salvation, it is extremely difficult for anyone to claim it is "within the pale of orthodoxy" to even hope for an empty hell. It is just wrong, and to claim the "two schools of opinion" are "allowed by the Church" is false.

But it's not just Windsor and Voris vs. Shea and Barron. We could add that we have previously pointed out contemporary cardinals holding that hell may be empty (Cardinal George Pell and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor).

So, what's the big deal? Well, on the one hand - the Scriptures are clear that there will be men in hell. For example:
Matthew 7:23
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.
1 Corinthians 1:26
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
Matthew 26:28
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Mark 14:24
And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
Romans 9:22
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
Matthew 8:12
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And we could on and on.  Although the great Origen erred in hoping for the eventual restoration of all creation, such a view is not consistent with Scripture's teachings both that hell is real and that the punishment of hell is eternal punishment.

So, on the one hand, Windsor is right that people like Barron and a couple of Windsor's cardinals are wrong. 

TurrentinFan acknowledges, "Windsor is right..." and that others IN the Church are "wrong." 
On the other hand, such a problem is not resolvable on Roman Catholic grounds for basically the reasons that Shea and Barron enunciate: there has been no "official teaching" that anathematizes one or the other position, and consequently both contradictory positions are acceptable, even though both cannot be right.

Well, as I have pointed out - there really ARE teachings which put the statements of Bp. (then Fr.) Barron at odds with orthodox Catholic teaching.  Yes, some have claimed there is no definitive teaching from the Church - but clearly, there IS.

Worse yet for Windsor and Voris, the evidence is that the current hierarchy supports and teaches the erroneous view.  I have not confirmed whether Shea is accurate in characterizing the teachings of Benedict XVI, but it clearly extends at least up to the cardinals.

The encyclical from Pope Benedict, Spe Salvi, which has been alluded to as evidence of Benedict denying Hell barely mentions Hell - and never denies it. There was a bit of a controversy earlier in 2018 when Pope Francis gave an interview to an atheist "friend" of his - but that turned out to be a bit of a farce. Scalfari has a reputation of putting words into the mouth of Pope Francis and in his story recapping the interview he did not use quotes and it certainly appears this was another incident of him inserting his own words for the Pope's.  See my article Pope Francis on Hell from April 1, 2018. Again, I will not be surprised if you can trot out others IN the Church who believe as then Fr. Barron presented in the YouTube Vlog - but that doesn't change the Church's consistent teaching on this matter.
The most remarkably thing is that Windsor and Voris continue to trust in this church (which teaches and promotes errors that they themselves are able to identify) rather than trusting in God alone and His Word. They may be able to convince themselves that these same hierarchs would never commit their erroneous doctrines to an allegedly infallible document, but such thinking seems wishful indeed in view of the highly compromised documents of Vatican II, not to mention the victory of the ultramontanists in Vatican I.

The fact that some men IN the Church have embraced errors doesn't mean we should abandon THE Church which Jesus Christ Himself promised to build. During the time of St. Athanasius MOST of the hierarchy in the Church, including the pope for a while, embraced the heresy of Arianism, leaving St. Athanasius virtually alone in opposing the heresy (which got him exiled from the Church for a time too!). Eventually, however, the pope and the Church returned to orthodoxy and St. Athanasius was returned to the fold. So this sort of argument from TurretinFan does not really carry any weight. Trusting in His Word alone (sola scriptura, which is no where taught in Scripture) has led to literally thousands of "Bible-believing" sects which disagree with each other on many points - and many condemn other "Bible-believing" sects for not believing as THEY do on given topics (baptismal regeneration, to name one). The point is, just because some IN the Church may be venturing into scandal and even heretical territory - that doesn't make the Church wrong.

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A Matter of Character

Listening to The Lutheran Hour (a half hour program on the radio presented every Sunday by one of our local Lutheran churches) on September 30, 2018 to a sermon entitled Cut Off -- For Us - I am compelled again to respond, and my theme (comparing to other Lutheran Hour responses) remains the same - while the underlying message is true - there is a fundamental flaw which could, in fact, lead to "losing our reward," as this sermon refers to.

I will quote portions of the sermon so you can see the context. It is also found in whole here:

Text: Mark 9:38-50
Have you ever seen a post on Facebook and said to yourself, "Oh, that's not smart"?

One of the challenges that can confront people today as they enter the job market is their digital footprint. Posts on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites follow people into the application process and even into personal interviews. Folks are sometimes surprised to find that prospective employers have searched their online postings as a part of the hiring process. What was posted in fun can have serious effects on a person's employment!

Why would a prospective employer go to the trouble of investigating materials that have nothing directly to do with the potential employee? Plain and simple--it's about character.

sw: I must say, I am often struck with how "right on" the speakers on The Lutheran Hour are much of the time - and this is no exception. What we say or post on the Internet can have an effect on potential employment.

What is more, He uses the occasion to teach the disciples once again what the kingdom of God is really about. While they argue among themselves about who is going to be first in Christ's kingdom, He steers them back to the focus of work in His kingdom: "And He sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, 'If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all'" (Mark 9:35). Then Jesus takes a child into His arms and says that whoever receives this child receives Him, and whoever receives Him receives His Father, the One who had sent Jesus. Then Jesus goes on to say: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea" (Mark 9:42). This is serious stuff for the Twelve!

sw: And this is case in point where "the message" is really right on the mark, this is "this is serious stuff" for ALL of us - as Dr. Rast goes on to say...

And it is also serious for you and for me. Have you ever caused one of Christ's little ones--youthful or otherwise--to sin? Indeed, you have, whether you realize it or not--and I have, too. Thus, if you really take Jesus' words seriously, you and I are next in line for a pair of cement shoes and an all-too-brief swim in the harbor.

Let's be honest with one another--and with God: how seriously do we really take our caring for others? Do we really put others first, or do we serve ourselves, just like the power-hungry disciples?

sw: I don't know where this "power-hungry" comment comes from - but the statement about "causing one of Christ's little ones - youthful or otherwise--to sin" rings absolutely true. From a certain perspective, ALL Christians can be considered "Christ's little ones" as we are all considered children of God.

But in all honesty, while the first two are pretty straightforward: that is, communicate the faith of the church as taught by the Bible and confessed by the Lutheran Confessions; and share that with people who do not know Jesus both here in the United States and throughout the world, it is the latter where we find the challenge. Where we--where I-- struggle, is in caring for all. This is a basic human challenge--and often it degenerates into sin. For either we fail to care for those in need or, worse, actually harm them by our words and deeds. In so doing we show we disregard God's commands for us, refusing to share even "a cup of water to drink" with those in need and, as a result, we should "lose (our) reward."

"Losing our reward" is a terrifying prospect. Much more than a foolish social media post, your sinfulness and mine cuts us off from God by destroying our relationship with Him. Further, it disrupts all our relationships with family and friends. And it threatens to leave us eternally separated from God. This is indeed serious, serious stuff!

sw: Yes! Indeed this is "serious stuff!" Now, consider that starting with Luther himself, the whole Lutheran movement is causal to literally millions falling from the grace which Jesus Christ Himself provided for His People - the Church. This is no small matter! Whereas the Lutheran Church has similar beliefs to Catholicism in many ways, there are serious flaws to the concept of the schism of Lutheranism. Most notable, we look to the "Four Marks" of the Catholic Church, which are, ironically, still professed in most - if not all - Lutheran churches throughout the world. Those "Four Marks" are, "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic."

sw: Lutheranism itself is not "One," as there are several "synods" of the Lutheran Church - which do not blanketly accept others - even other Lutherans. Anecdotally, when my family moved from one part of town to another, we went from a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS, same synod which produces The Lutheran Hour) to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and before they would allow our family to participate in Holy Communion, we had to meet with the pastor and be interrogated regarding our faith. We "passed" and were "accepted," but I felt very strange and even a bit offended that as "fellow Lutherans" we had to go through this.

sw: "Holy" is arguable. While I do believe there is a good measure of holiness in the Lutheran Church, can they really be considered "holy" if they are part of what broke apart the Christian Church in the 16th century and continue to be separated to this day? This could be argued as quite "unholy."

sw: Lutheranism is not "Catholic" nor even "catholic." The term meaning "universal," cannot be applied to Lutheranism for they, while being in many parts of the world, are not a universal church - nor do I believe they would literally claim this "mark." Now again, as a former Lutheran, I do concede they do claim this "mark" with the lower-case "c" - implying they belong to the universal belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, this watered down representation of the term cannot be what the writer(s) of the Nicene Creed had in mind because it specifically expresses belief in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic CHURCH. Another point I would add - of the major Lutheran synods, only the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) retains the word "catholic" - the others using a mistranslation here choosing to use the word "Christian."

sw: Lutheranism is not Apostolic - for in breaking with the Catholic Church they have lost their link to the line of bishops. Lutheran bishops (yes they do exist) do not have a valid consecration to the bishoprick - and thus have no valid claim to the "mark" of "apostolic."

God's Word challenges us to take sin seriously by showing us the grave consequences that it has. And it demands that we address it with absolute earnestness: "And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 'where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (Mark 9:43-48). If we really took these verses literally, every one of us would be affected. For our hands rarely help others; our feet move slowly for the Lord's service; and our eyes too often serve as an opening for all kinds of uncleanness to come into us.

Yes! We should take this seriously - and that is part of why I post this Missed it By That Much series. While I have deep rooted love and respect for Lutherans (having spent 20 years as one myself), I also have deep concern that they have missed the mark, "by that much." As Dr. Rast stated above, we need to "address it with absolute earnestness." Anything less than this and we may be judged as "lukewarm" because we got comfortable with the way someone preaches or the people in the congregation. 
Matthew 7:20-25
20 Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.24 Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock,25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.
Matthew 16:18
18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter (rock); and upon this rock I will build my church
Revelation 3:14-16
14 And to the angel of the church of Laodicea, write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot.16 But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.
sw: So ask yourself - are you seeking the ultimate truth with absolute earnestness, as even Dr. Rast encourages you to do? Do you believe Jesus waited 1500 years for Luther to come around before He built His Church? Dr. Rast next challenges his listeners (and readers) with the hyperbole of "What should we do--begin the amputations?" While that is a bit hyperbolic, it is true! If you have a cancer, you cut it out - why? Because the cancer can kill the rest of your body if you let it stay. Being content with a portion of the Truth is just as deadly, spiritually speaking, for the lukewarm Jesus will spit from His mouth and say to them, "Depart from Me for I never knew you." Pretty stern words, and keep in mind - the lukewarm are people who THINK they are following Jesus, they even claim to prophesied and cast out devils in His name - but they find themselves cast out!  Don't be satisfied just because you have found a pleasant pastor or made some good friends - what good will these do you when you are cast out of Heaven? What does a bit of good feeling do here in this temporal state we are in if it does not bring us to eternity with Him?

sw: Don't just take my word for it - study for yourself. Be open to hearing/reading the whole Truth, and do not be complacent with a comfortable niche - and remember, "Wise men still seek Him." Never stop seeking Him!

Scott Windsor<<<

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Feast of Corpus Christi - A Response

Someone who goes by the name "Malakye" posted a response to my earlier article on the Feast of Corpus Christi. The response is getting a bit long for a combox posting and by responding with a new article, responses for the next 2 weeks do not go into moderation (like Malakye's did initially).  So below I am quoting Malakye's entire response with my responses interjected (and the original is linked above).

You quote: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. (1 Cor. 11:29).
Then you comment: "It has long puzzled me as to WHY most Protestants don't get this! This is not the use of symbolism...."
RESPONSE: Stop right there. Apparently, you fail to realize that "eating and drinking judgment" in the very verse you wish to prove Transubstantiation, is SYMBOLIC! Oh my, now wasn't THAT a kick in the pants!

sw: Malakye, just because you assert something does not make it so. The fact of the matter is this verse is entirely literal. When you eat and drink the eucharistic hosts - IF - you do so unworthily THEN you are eating and drinking judgment upon yourself. That is not symbolic, that is FACT. Why is it fact? Well, we will discuss that next...

You continue: "It is stating that the eating and drinking of THAT bread and drink (that which was just consecrated by the words a few verses earlier: 1 Cor. 11:23-25) in an unworthy manner brings judgment upon that person for what? For not discerning the body of the Lord! It doesn't get much clearer, my friends!"

RESPONSE: To begin with, you simply READ INTO the Text that the bread and wine were "consecrated" by a priest and by some magic trick, Transubstantiation occurred. Where is the army of Bible scholars who will suppo(rt) sneaking that little notion through the back door?

sw: Well, rather than just rely on the citation, let's look at those words from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 11:
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.
24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.
25 In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.
26 For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.
Do the words St. Paul used here sound familiar?  They should!  They are straight from the Gospels:

Matthew 26:
26 And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body.

27 And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this.

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.

Mark 14:
22 And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body.
23 And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it.
24 And he said to them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many.

Luke 22:
19 And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.
20 In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you.

sw: And even Martin Luther's Small Catechism uses the same verbage:
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when he was betrayed, took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said: Take; eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way he also took the cup after the supper, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them saying, Drink of it, all of you. This cup is the New Testament in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
sw: So clearly, St. Paul was passing on the very wording that Jesus Christ used and was recorded by the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke. I quoted Luther too, using the same words, and virtually all Christian communities which celebrate "Holy Communion" or "Eucharist" use these same words. Yes, most believe these words to be symbolic but my point here is that Jesus intended we "DO THIS" and we do it THAT WAY every time we participate in Eucharist - and for the most part, we DO exactly THAT and it is for this reason that St. Paul's wording is so familiar.

sw: Now, to answer your question of "where is the army of Bible scholars who will support this concept of Transubstantiation? To quote the U.S. Army slogan, we only need "An army of One," and that is Jesus Christ Himself! When HE said, "This IS my body" and "This IS my blood," true followers of Christ don't doubt His words here! We BELIEVE what Jesus Christ said IS TRUE!  That bread and wine no longer is bread and wine, it IS the body and blood of Christ! When Jesus Christ Himself says it, why would you feel the need for an "army of Bible scholars" to support the statement? That being said, throughout the ages this has been the consistent teaching and this notion of symbolism is the novel (new) idea which gained in popularity only in the last 500 years and only in groups in schism from the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. If you really want a list, I'll provide one - just ask again, and be prepared to be overwhelmed.

sw: You accuse me of reading into the text the concept of Transubstantiation - but I say to you, it is YOU who reads into the text a concept of symbolism - for again, when Jesus says "This IS my body," TRUE believers accept Him at His word - it IS His body, it is no longer bread. It may still appear to be bread - St. Thomas Aquinas did an excellent job of explaining the concept of the appearance is the "accidents" and the "accidents" don't change - however the "substance" - that which it REALLY IS - does change. That is where we get the word Transubstantiation -
trans = change
substantia = substance
tion = an act
sw: There is a REAL change in the substance of that which still has the appearance of bread and wine. To say anything LESS happens, like a mere statement of symbolism, is to actually READ OUT OF the text something which is literally part of the text.

sw: In John 6 when Jesus COMMANDS (several times!) that we MUST eat His flesh and drink His blood or we have NO LIFE in us - He doesn't explain it away as a figurative parable. No, in fact when many of His own disciples "turned and walked with Him no more" over that very statement, He doesn't go chasing after them and explain, "Wait guys!  I was only speaking figuratively here" - no!  Instead He turns to The Twelve and challenges, "Will you also leave?" And of course, they don't.

Next, the phrase, "not discerning the Lord's body" isn't symbolic in and of itself because obviously, to not discern something is to not discern something. It is WHAT is being discerned that is the question here...and we say the "WHAT" is definitely symbolic.
You simply assume that judgment was brought upon them because they had failed to discern Transubstantiation had taken place. NO! Judgment was brought upon them because of their callous disregard to what the elements REPRESENTED. Consequently, their's was an abuse offered to a SIGN. Such abuse reaches to that person which the sign signifies; thus, the Corinthian’s sacrilege of the Supper amounted to burning Christ in effigy. They were "insulting the Spirit of grace" (Heb 10:29) which whitewashed our crimson-stained redemption, resulting in some of their deaths (1 Cor 11:30). Therefore, the "Real Presence" of Christ is simply not required to be in the emblems of bread and wine for one to be "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord"....and happily, no need to ever celebrate "Corpus Christi" or name a church like that ever again.
Repeat: it was NOT that they were failing to discern Transubstantiation had occurred. They were failing yes, but failing to honor what the Lord's body REPRESENTED in the elements; namely, that it was given in order that our sins might be put away! By their cantankerous behavior, they were effectively treating the work of Christ in contempt. Instead of being cleansed by his blood, they end up being "guilty of his blood"; in the same sense as expressed in Hebrews 6:6; "crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh."

sw: First off, let me say that I certainly understand WHY you must interpret this as figurative or symbolic - but the reality is there is no figurative language being used here! Jesus does not say, "Take and eat, this bread REPRESENTS my body..." no!  He said "...this IS my body." There is no judgment for not recognizing a representation - the judgment is for not recognizing the body of Christ! 

sw: Ask yourself this - How can one be cleansed by His blood and/or guilty of not recognizing it as TRULY His blood, IF His blood isn't really and TRULY there?

HEBREWS 6:6 IS THE ANSWER, MR. WINDSOR, as to what being guilty of the body and blood means. ALL CATHOLIC APOLOGISTS WITHOUT EXCEPTION, MISS THIS. In other words, if the Corinthians continue to deliberately undermine the cross-work of Christ, they are no different than those who first crucified him; seeing his death as not for the sins of others, but as one who deserved execution.
I trust now you are no longer.... "puzzled"???

sw: In context, Hebrews 6:6 is referring not to someone partaking in the Eucharist unworthily, but to those who were once Christians and have fallen away.  These fallen away Christians, since they once knew the Truth now are making a mockery of their former faith and are crucifying Christ again. There is no mention of the Corinthians "continuing to deliberately undermine the cross-work of Christ, you have imported that into the text. The text says those who have fallen away, they are bringing forth thorns and briers - they are no longer Christians, their end is to be burnt (see verse 8). So Hebrews 6 is NOT talking about partaking in the Eucharist unworthily, but abandoning Christ altogether and sewing thorns and briers among His Church.

sw: Without knowing you, other than your appearance here and the fact that you are challenging me and the Church. I must say, I do appreciate your zeal but I would offer you a bit of caution. Hebrews 6 seems to apply more to a person such as yourself. You have had a taste of the truth, you know the saving power of Christ and the Cross, yet you are attacking the Church which He founded! You are attempting to sew thorns and briers here. He chose The Twelve, our first bishops, and The Twelve chose others to spread the Church and to CONTINUE the Church until He comes again. That Church is the Catholic Church which has been around for nearly 2000 years now - it is not some schismatic group which was formed sometime in the last 500 years.

sw: I pray for your repentance and conversion.


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