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January 30, 2006

Comments

Vince C

Fascinating stuff indeed! Screwtape would be proud.

Seems like it might make sense. In fact, it tends to make hell are the more terrifying, in that, in undergoing an "anti-purgation," one loses his last shred of pretense of not really being all that bad and deserving hell at all.

John G

Tim Powers reads Jimmy Akin's blog? Far freakin' out!

Realist

Jimmy,

Here is an added review of Purgatory and Hell from a good friend who teaches theology at a major Catholic university:

"The Roman Catholic Church teaches that after death, those guilty of sins that are not serious (venial rather than mortal) and of mortal sins for which persons have repented, must spend time being purified through "temporal punishment" or are given the opportunity to repent. The justice
of God requires some punishment for the sins we have committed, due to the harm they have caused. The Biblical basis for this teaching is 1 Cor 3:15.
"If any person's work is burned up, he/she will suffer loss, though the
person will be saved, but only as through fire." Purgatory is envisioned to
be a purification, as gold is purified "as through fire," so is the soul of
the person who has committed sin. 2 Maccabees 12: 38-46 is also associated
with belief in purgatory, because it refers to praying for those who have died.

Some scholars trace purgatory as a teaching to the practice of third century Christians of praying for the dead. In the late 12th century
speculation emerged that depicted purgatory as a separate "place" or state of being existing somewhere between heaven and hell. At the Second Council of Lyons (1274) teaching about purgatory became an official doctrine of the
Catholic Church. It became fixed in the Catholic imagination due to Dante's
Divine Comedy. During the Middle Ages (time of Crusades and Plagues,Purgatory became an important element in Christian ascetical practices.

Through such practices it was believed that the punishment due to sin could
be paid here or in purgatory. In the Middle Ages speculation about Purgatory
heightened and the practice of offering masses for deceased loved ones began
along with the system of indulgences. Offering prayers and Masses for the
dead was seen as a way to be spiritually connected (in communion) with loved
ones.

Protestants because of Luther's "sola Scriptura" do not accept Purgatory as
a valid doctrine of Christianity. Luther argued that the term "Purgatory"
is not explicitly found in the Bible. Many scholars believe that he rejected
the notion because of its ties to the selling of writs of indulgence. People
viewed indulgences as a means for lessening the time of temporal punishment
in purgatory. Protestants also argue that Purgatory negates the satisfaction
of sin by Jesus' death. God's grace through the merits of Christ is the
only thing that saves. Religious services / prayers by loved ones and the
good works of repentance for deceased persons can do nothing to help a
person earn heaven. The rejection of purgatory, is part of a bigger tendency
in Protestantism toward individual relationship with God and away from a
sense of participation in a bigger "communion" of the faithful.

For Catholics the doctrine of Purgatory is closely connected with belief
in the Communion of Saints. This doctrine expresses the conviction that
there is a communion between life after death (Saints in heaven and people
making reparation for their sins in purgatory) and earthly life. Emphasis
on the community of all persons living and dead is stronger in the Roman
Catholic Church than in Protestant Churches. Because of the belief in the
Communion of Saints, Catholics pray for loved ones who have died, and pray
not only to God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - but also to Mary and the
Saints, witnesses to and models of the Christian life. [Orthodox Christians
also have the practice of honoring and praying to the Saints.] Devotion to
the saints is viewed as an expression of love for those who have faithfully
loved the God who is love itself."

( Hell does not exist as per Schillebeeckx and persons who die in mortal sin simply no longer exist since God would not tolerate such an eternal spirit state of uncleanliness- from his book "Church, the Human Story of God", p.137, paperback edition-

The professor's answer to this statement:

"Theologians do not have a consensus about this one; many speak of hell as
the state of being deprived of relationship with God, which could be total non-existence."

Satan and devils do not exist (based on the above) -The professor's answer:

"Devils, including Satan, are wed to a pre-scientific interpretation of
reality and may simply symbolize temptation to commit sin; however the "rite
of exorcism" is still found in Catholic Church prayers and is part of the rite of Baptism."

Anonymous

This reminded me of a Chesterton quote:

"The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason."

I bring it up because it would seem to me that your image of putrefactory (my vote for a name) would essentially have a similar effect on the sinful man passing through: Once all good 'impediments to hell' had been removed, would such a person be capable of experiencing the poena damni, or simply suffer poena sensus and no longer understand (or possibly care) why?

Frankly, I could see how this might simultaneously be a final act of love by God and a final punishment. The peona sensus that I suffer here on earth is always tempered when I understand how I brought it upon myself; in such cases, the pain of loss is usually greater than the suffering itself.

This is also why I have a little trouble with this theory: Like Chesterton's madman, if one had no trouble with wrong actions, the consequences are merely necesary and therefore acceptable. I am a divorced Catholic whose life is in most ways better for the divorce; yet the pain of loss and separation I feel is often excruciating. If I knew Hell freed me from the desire for what is right, I would be sorely tempted to go there now. (So far, I've resisted the temtation of Job's wife: 'Curse God and die!')

PS: I certainly would appreciate any prayers anyone could send my way, but must point out that I don't always despair like this. My own pain of loss was really aggravated this weekend & I haven't quite recovered from that.

Tim J.

I see Realist is back, and up to his old cut-and-paste heresy.

The one-note symphony plays on...

Inocencio

Hello Realist,

You need to understand theologians have no authority whatsoever. So your friend can think what he wants but Catholics must hold to the teachings of the Church. Which can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

I. THE ANGELS

The existence of angels - a truth of faith

328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.

414 Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.

Take care and God bless.

J+M+J

Inocencio

Anonymous,

You are in my prayers.

Take care and God bless.

J+M+J

Maureen

Mine, too! May God console you and dry your tears.

martin

Ok. Let me dive into the deep end of the pool without my life vest: If evil is the absence of good and things like intelligence and substance are inherently good then how can these things exist in Hell, a place were nothing good can exist?

this anti-purgatory talk (my vote is for putrefactorium, btw) will give me some things to think about during my mindless work today.

fascinating, jimmy.

Tim J.

Man, what is with the cut-and-paste weirdness today?

Mr. Granger-

If you want to include some thoughts about heaven, hell and purgatory here, fine. Please have the grace to boil it down and put it in your own words.

This is a Catholic blog. Pasting large amounts of text into the combox is rude, particularly when this material is contradictory to the Catholic tradition.

Realist

Tim J et al,

My professor friend, I thought, was very Orthodox IMHO so what are you complaining about? The comments about Hell not existing and its "corollary" are from Schillebeeckx and not the professor in case my reply was not clear. Commentary from professors of Catholic theology, I assumed, would be of interest. Maybe not.

DJ

My thoughts (all two of them:)

Purgatory is the removal of the stain of sin (correct me if I'm using the wrong term here.) What about viewing the stain as something that blocks the light of God? Therefore, anti-purgatory (I have no vote, though I like the shortness of 'perditory') could be an encasing and protection of the soul instead of the removal of good things, which would simply disappear at that point.

The soul could be covered so as to protect it. I remember reading somewhere about the pains of Hell not being infinite, and that being a sign of Gods mercy, maybe the dressing up of anti-purgatory aids in that. Instead of taking a bath before going into heaven, you're getting into really hot and claustrophobic body armor.

Kevin Jones

Didn't CS Lewis sometimes tend towards the Anglican view of hell as the complete destruction of the soul? There's something unorthodox taught about hell in the 39 Articles.

Tim J.

Realist-

Again, if you have comments to make, go ahead. But don't start pasting in large amounts of text. Please put things into your own words.

If you have anything worth considering, this should not be too difficult.

The first large chunk was orthodox enough, but I don't see what it added to the discussion. The remainder was mere wild (and hopeful) speculation, justified by some foggy notion that Science has proved that there is no hell, which I find funny.

I thought you were in self-imposed exile.

Couldn't stay away, eh?

Puzzled

I'm hoping that city means polis means political order, not the asphalt wastes.

That there will be no mountains, means no struggles, not no hikes or skiing, that no more sea, means no more need for ceremonial washings (the big baptismal tank for the cohanism at the Tent of Meeting was called a 'sea', not that there will be no sailing.

derringdo

Wow. Having that long discussion about Tim Powers's books a few months back certainly paid off, huh? :D

On the subject of the main question: The Great Divorce basically implies that Hell and Purgatory are metaphysically the same place-the difference is in the souls themselves-if you visit the Good Country and find/are given the courage to stay, the Grey Town has been Purgatory. If not, it's Hell. Maybe this concept that Jimmy and Tim speculating about is both Purgatory *and* anti-purgatory: the presence of Supernatural Goods that cannot be burned out of your soul is what makes it Purgatory.

PS: Read Drawing of the Dark and Stress of Her Regard since the last Powers thread we had here. Drawing is a great romp, which gave me some neat ideas for insinuating monotheism into Fantasy Universes Where It Ought Not To Belong :). Stress of Her Regard is a great book-I had been reluctant to read it after all the hype from goth/vampire/Byron-Shelley fetishists, but it is a very fun and creepy read. Declare's older and less austere brother in many regards.

Realist

Tim J.,

I went to lurking with respect to the historical approach to evaluating the NT. Purgatory and Hell via the thinking of my professor friend is outside this box. In case you missed it, I also made recent commentary about scorpion paperweights.

Please note that there is no science in Schillebeeckx conclusion about there being no Hell. His rationale comes from his conclusion that God would not tolerate any unclean spirit state. You might want to read Schillebeeck's book, "Church, the Human Story of God". Ceasing to exist or destruction of the soul, IMHO, would definitely be a good definition of Hell.

Is not copying paragraphs from the CC a violation of this blog's rules?

Inocencio

haha Realist you crack me up.

Take care and God bless.

J+M+J

bill912

Evil is not the absence of good; evil is the perversion of good.

"You might want to read Schillebeeck's book, "Church, the Human Story of God".".

Then again, I might not.

"I went to lurking with respect to the historical approach to evaluating the NT. Purgatory and Hell via the thinking of my professor friend is outside this box.".

C'mon, Realist. Try thinking outside the box.

But, back on the topic...

An anti-purgatory strikes me as maybe a little redundant. Purgatory without the hope of Heaven would BE hell. With the hope of heaven, even the worst pains of purgatory would have a kind of sweetness.

Lewis' "Great Divorce" doesn't constitute his thoughts on what heaven and hell are really like (Lewis made it plain that he did not want people to think he was speculating about "the furniture of heaven"), but throws light on the spiritual choices that people make, and how some rebellious souls might rather choose hell on their own terms than enter heaven on God's terms.

Kind of an exploration of the different flavors of pride.

Tim J.

Realist-

You are correct that cutting and pasting any LARGE amount of text would be rude.

Managably brief passages from the CC or the Bible, or from any source, would be welcome I'm sure.

Hysterical Criticism aside, I don't find one brand of modernism superior to others. They are all inadequate.

Brent Brown

What a fascinating post!

I would imagine that those suffering in such a perditory might not have a very objective view of their suffering. Someone who was having their faith burned away might view themselves as being freed from superstition. Those having their hope destroyed might see themselves as finally becoming a realist. They could view their approaching damnation as a liberation from weakness and emotionalism.

I wonder then what how the poena damni suffering would come into play. Perhaps they would be filled with envy and lust for the saints. The damned may see the saints as foolish and illogical, yet inexplicably powerful. They would envy that power and feel that saints to be unworthy and wasteful of it. Thus the burning sense of loss.

Graham Darling

(As also posted in the mailist of Christian Fandom, that has been discussing the above)

The speculation in question is that there's a state of "anti-Purgatory" (by analogy - or rather, contrast - to the traditionally postulated Doorstep of Heaven; also "Perditory"), where all of good that's left in a person is progressively lost (presumably starting with Hope, as Dante famously illustrates in his own poetic vision of the Inferno) as that person enters into full and final damnation.

C.S. Lewis, in the chapter on Hell in his "Problem of Pain", writes that what is finally thrown into Hell is no longer human, but ashes.

Jesus, Who can be very scary at times, warns us "but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath" (Matt 25:29).

In his novel "Descent Into Hell" y1937 and short story "Et in Sempiternum Pereant" ("... and may they perish forever"? source?) y1935, Charles Williams (not a Catholic) speaks of progression to deeper and deeper Hell, as C.S. Lewis (also not a Catholic) in "The Last Battle" y1956 does of a Deeper Heaven.

I think we can all agree that any Purgatory/anti-Purgatory would be, like This World, only a temporary state of affairs, and that in the Utter End there will only be (as far as we're concerned) either the New Jerusalem, or the Lake of Fire.

And that perfect justice, as well as the completion of God's creation of each of us as a free creature (if our actions did not have ultimate consequences, then would they be meaningful?), demand that we each have a real and effective choice between the two - between God, and nothing.

-GD

Inocencio

Those having their hope destroyed might see themselves as finally becoming a realist.

A perfect definition...

Jonathan Prejean

I think this line of reasoning follows an extraordinarily dangerous road.

First, it seems to misconceive evil as a thing rather than a no-thing. To become more evil is to become less of what you are, not more of it. The entire reason that evil can be "burnt off" is that the substrate is purified and strengthened; it is a positive augmentation of an already-good thing. DJ's image of being somehow "encased" in a good-blocking armor (some sort of positive evil substance created around the person) illustrates exactly the problem in this sort of thinking; the person is shielded from the glory of God because the person's own glory is covered up. There is no such thing as good-blocking armor; that would be a positive existence of evil, which has no existence except as a parasite on something else.

Second, if any mutable good can be annihilated, so can being itself, making the idea that good can be removed nothing other than annihilationism.

Third, and this seems to be the worst of it, the two-tier system regarding mutable goods seems to treat lesser goods as not good or not divine in origin. That type of distinction between nature and supernature seems quite close to dualism. I'd bear in mind Trent's canon VII on justification as a guideline: "If any one saith, that all works done before Justification, in whatsoever way they be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; or that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins: let him be anathema." It is important to affirm that even goods directed to a wrong end are nonetheless goods, and good cannot be opposed to itself. God would no more consent to the destruction of these moral goods that He would to the destruction of His own creation; in both instances, it would be God repudiating God's own act of mercy.

ISTM that the far better answer to the question of why good must be preserved in the damned is that, far from serving as a source of pain for the damned, the good in those souls provides some consolation that they were not as bad as they could have been, which eases their torment to some degree. Unlike those in Purgatory, the pride of the damned is too great to allow them to see the ultimate lesson in this (else they would themselves be saved), but they have the small gift of knowing that their futile quest for self-sufficiency apart from God did not entirely foreclose them from having accomplished good things. It is a small consolation for a life of failure, and the saints, having something better, would spurn it because of a self-abnegating view to the higher Good. But it is, nonetheless, something.

John

I don't see the point of an anti-purgatory.

God doesn't will evil, but merely permits it, so the evil-enriching or good-lessening effects of a hypothetical anti-purgatory would have to be due to our will. If separation from God in Hell causes us pain or angst, it doesn't seem like we'd will ourselves more and more pain by progressively withdrawing from God's goodness of our own accord.

Perhaps I'm not seeing the incentive a damned soul would have for this.

Nihil

Fascinating post indeed. I remember some mythologies where the souls of the departed actually have to be trained after death, in order to become proper servants of their respective otherworldly powers. Perfect symmetries are always appealing to our taste for elegance, it seems. I guess that's where Manichaeism came from.

I would imagine that those suffering in such a perditory might not have a very objective view of their suffering. Someone who was having their faith burned away might view themselves as being freed from superstition. Those having their hope destroyed might see themselves as finally becoming a realist. They could view their approaching damnation as a liberation from weakness and emotionalism.

That was one of the funniest paragraphs I've read on this blog! Though of course, you have to share my point of view to find it ironic...

Inocencio

Interesting thought from St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica:

[Pope] "Gregory says [The quotation is from St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei i, 8)]: "Even as in the same fire gold glistens and straw smokes, so in the same fire the sinner burns and the elect is cleansed." Therefore the fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of hell: and hence they are in the same place."

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/700102.htm

Tim Powers

Well, John, I wouldn't see it as "of their own accord"! Just as no unclean thing can enter Heaven, though, this idea would be that no clean thing can enter Hell. So as a damned soul falls, gaining momentum, the bits of good still attached to him are yanked off as their mooring-lines-to-Heaven come taut. He chose damnation, but doesn't choose every iindividual consequence of it. Adam and Eve didn't knowingly choose all the consequences of the Fall.

The bit in _The Great Divorce_ that I was thinking of is when Lewis's guide shows him a tiny crack in the ground and tells him that this crack, or one like it, is where the Gray City is; he says something like, "The trouble with discussing Hell is that you're discussing so nearly nothing." And most of the souls in the Gray City have deteriorated to consisting of one complaint, endlessly repeated. The average person who dies consists of vastly more, and so I wondered if damned souls must lose all that extra, on the way to Hell.

And Jonathan, evil is a non-thing, I agree! It makes us less-than-before. A soul with all the good bits pried off would be "full of" lacks, as a thing might be said to be "full of" holes. And this idea doesn't say the good stuff is annihilated, just yanked off of the damned soul. Maybe th good stuff is reeled back in and becomes part of the account we can tap in indulgences!

But I doubt the damned have any consolations. Whatever consolation precisely is, it would probably be one of the things tethered to God, and would have got yanked off in the fall.

Brent, I love your speculations! Right, the damned would see their state as realism, purged of emotional blurring. The characters Frost and Wither felt that way, in Lewis's _That Hideous Strenth._

One of the scariest lines I ever read was in Lewis's _The Problem of Pain,_ where he said that the gates of Hell are bolted from the inside.

Jonathan Prejean

"And this idea doesn't say the good stuff is annihilated, just yanked off of the damned soul."

I daresay that from the perspective of the soul having its objective being reduced or destroyed, it looks a lot like annihilation. Or to put it another way, a thing that is literally "full of holes" is no thing at all! If one wants to "recycle" a soul in this way, I'd see no sense in leaving anything (and indeed, if all of the good were taken, that is precisely what would happen).

I think if one is to preserve personal integrity, then it makes sense for the exercise of virtue in suffering evil (e.g., offering up suffering for those in purgatory) to be a net good, while the reverse case would simply be subjecting the soul to evil (destruction of its personal being). Don't mean to be too hard on what seems like a pretty cool idea, but I worry quite a bit about the implications re: the goodness of creation and what good (and its converse evil) really are.

John Granger

My apologies for violating weblog courtesies and posting too much text from another authority rather than putting it into my own words. That you find the Orthodox position that heaven and hell are the same non-local place (God's Glory) to be contrary to the Catholic tradition (sic) - and then another post below it where the same thing is said via Thomas D'Aquino citing St. Benedict is cause for your reflection.

Again, I am not schooled in the courtesies here and won't bother you again. Please overlook my bringing the Orthodox position into the conversation without injecting my own spin on such things (which would be laughable in comparison). That Orthodoxy is contrary to Catholicism is my position, too, Jimmy, but I'm surprised that you have taken the Vatican I stance rather than the Pole star's.

John, bemused

Sean S.

Hey, Mr. Powers! Great to see you here. You might recall meeting me at OddCon 2005...I was the young guy.

See, this is why I like Jimmy's blog. He's willing to go in for this sort of interesting speculation while remaining completely orthodox.

Jimmy Akin

Again, I am not schooled in the courtesies here and won't bother you again. Please overlook my bringing the Orthodox position into the conversation without injecting my own spin on such things (which would be laughable in comparison).

You're welcome to participate here. The rule is just don't write excessively long comments, such as by pasting large amounts of info from another source. The comment I removed filled five screens in length. That kind of super-lengthy comment drags down the combox experience for everyone.

That Orthodoxy is contrary to Catholicism is my position, too, Jimmy, but I'm surprised that you have taken the Vatican I stance rather than the Pole star's.

I'm sorry, but I don't know what you're referring to here.

Kosh

Tim Powers wrote "Anubis Gates" sooo...I'm not surprised that HE came up with this. Good idea tho'.

Realist...........

I have no words for you.

derringdo

Hi, Tim! Like the books, glad to have you with us :)

Ed Peters

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Jimmy, how could you? 2,900 words on a blog entry. 2,900! You should be ashamed of yourself. For a penance, re-write this in 1,400 words. Have it on my desk by the end of the day.

Shoeless Mark

I have a question to pose: the main blog entry mentions the story of Lazarus and the rich man, commenting that the rich man, while damned, still experiences a "natural love" for his realtives. I don't disagree with this interpretation, as it could be that the motives for his plea are selfish. My question is, is it selfish to pray for the salvation of others, prompted by the disturbance at the thought of their damnation? I understand that the most noble thing to do is to pray for another's salvation for their own sake, but is praying that someone be saved so that they don't suffer the pains of hell in the same vein, or is it to be understood as simply a "natural love?" Any help out there? Thank you much.

Anonymous

RE: "... is it selfish to pray for the salvation of others, prompted by the disturbance at the thought of their damnation?"

I'm not the most qualified to answer this; but since the thread is going cold, I may be the last one to stop by. So, I'll leave my 2 cents.

I would suggest that the very fact that you find the damnation of another disturbing is a logical extension of 'natural love.' If one of my children falls & gets a concussion, on top of my concern for their well-being, I have all kinds of selfish reasons to be concerned: trip to emergency room, medical bills, etc. But, the absence of those selfish concerns doesn't mean I'm not troubled when I witness someone else's child fall on the playground. In the same way, I'd suggest that the damnation of anyone other than yourself troubles you mainly to the extent that you have a natural love for your fellow man.

The only selfish way I can think to parse this would be if you were so convinced that you could only be saved from damnation by the prayers of others that you needed to pray for others to convince yourself that someone was praying for your salvation. In that case, I'd say your selfishness is a smaller personal crisis than your lack of faith & hope.

Hope that's all correct.

Mary

I'd see no sense in leaving anything (and indeed, if all of the good were taken, that is precisely what would happen).

Everything that exists is good, but virtues are not the only good thing. Intelligence is good, strength is good, health is good, but none of them make their possessor morally good.

Karl Rahner, at least by analogy, compares reincarnation to Purgatory. What is fascinating and could challenge many "orthodox" Christian presumtions is that Judaism has a widespread belief in reincarnation. If Judaism accept(s)(ed) reincarnation than the New Testament verses must take on new perspective and meaning such as "was he born this way because of sin he committed" how could one commit sin before birth (or his parents sin they go on) also it seems implicit the belief in reincarnation when Jesus asks "Who do you say that I am?" and Simon Peter responds "Some say....Elijah" and there are ways to literally read these verses and interpret John the Baptist as the reincarnation of Elijah.
The justification of Jesus and Mary as perpetual virgins as cited to the Essenes as being celibate (to disprove that celibate Jews would of been unknown) would or at least could also create an assumption that there was an influence of reincarnation with the Essenes and possibly with Jesus. Most Orthodox Jews (although not all) but especially Sefardim and Hassidim believe explicitly in reincarnation. If Christianity is the fruit from the foundation of Judaism, than the foundational religion has a fundamental difference in eschatology.

The greatest allegory on Hell with all sorts of spiritual, psychological and sociological implications is DANTE's Inferno. The best in the Romance/Latin based languges, but perhaps one of the best in the world.

The Orthodox, Oriental Christian (Nicean but not Chalcedon alleged Monoshpytes mostly Copts, Ethiopians, Assyrians, Armenians), and Eastern Catholic(s) can be very informative to Heaven and Hell. Eastern Orthodox (specifically but not limited to Greek and Serbians) state that Jesus descended into Hell. It seems to be to liberate souls from Hell. Also, even the creeds have a He descended into (or to) the dead clause.
Human Nature, Heaven, Hell--from the Eastern perspective can be very instructive even to/from a Orthodox "conservative" Catholic.

bill912

1)The apostles didn't see John the Baptist on the Mount of Tranfiguration; they saw Elijah.

2)Elijah didn't die. Therefore, he could not have reincarnated.

3) As Jimmy has pointed out on Catholic Answers Live, the Greek word usually translated as Hell is "Hades", which means "The Place of the Dead"; it does not mean "The Place of the Damned."

4)I fail to see how a false perspective can be "instructive".

Alex

The Eastern Christian perspective is not a false perspective.

Arizal

An interesting part of history and theological history that I did not know until recently is the fact that most Orthodox Jews today believe in reincarnation and believe it is integral to Jewish teaching. They would contend that reincarnation has always been part of Jewish teaching (although it is certainly not explicit in the Torah nor mentioned in the Talmud). This is certainly true for the high profile Chabad organization, and those who practice real and traditional Kabbalah (that some argue is a Babylonian and/or Gnostic and/or neo-Platonist corruption). The Essenes and some gnostics certainly believed in reincarnation. There are profound implications because the beliefs in heaven and hell and life after death in Christianity are predicated on Judaism and certain theological assumptions.

The Kabbalah seems to not have been mentioned until the 10th or 13th century first in Spain. The Ladino and Sephardic Jews practice Kabbalah and the Chabad Lubavictcher but all Hassidic Jews seem to have it as an integral part of their belief. The Ashkenazi folk belief has many examples of reincarnation and Kabbalah is integral and not just esoteric or reserved as in other branches of Orthodox Judaism. The Book of Zohar (illumination?) in Aramaic is dated to the 13th Century although some try to date it to the 1st Century and the tradition by it's internal belief was given from either Abraham or Moses.
Rabbi Yitzak Loria (the founder of Lurianiac Kabbalah) wrote the book (in Hebrew I believe but I have read the difficult English translation with appropriate approbation(s) similiar to Catholic nihil obstat and imprimatur)called the Shaar Hagigilgulum (the Gateways of Reincarnation in Hebrew) with complicated formulas of Nefesh and Ruach. Rabbi Oved the chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel made a public statement that Jews killed in the Holocaust were being punished for sins in their past life(s). The surprising part of this was not for me the insenstitivity to Holocaust victims but to the notion that Jews had reincarnation in their belief system. It is not part of the 13 lists of Maimomonedes. Certainly also the Bal Shem Tov, Zalman, the Alter Rebbe and all of the Jewish thought (primarily Hassidic but not exclusively)from Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine all support intrinsic Kabbalah as part of Judaism and belief in reincarnation.

Saad

There is also Jewish opposition to reincarnation. However, I will agree that if Jews at the time of Jesus or Jews generally if there is a truth to their religion and an objective claim of belief, if they do believe in reincarnation that it radically affects Christian belief and the underlying presumptions and assumptions about the afterlife and the interpretations of the words of Jesus. Again, not from a New Age point nor some Hindu reinterpration of texts taken out of context but from a Judeo Christian or more specifically Jewish point of view.

Certainly, on Hassidic/Chabad official teachings and from a google search or from their websites there is a belief, perhaps intrinsic and important of reincarnation. One only needs to go to:
www.chabad.org
www.inner.org
www.meaningfullife.com
www.askmoses.com
www.kabbalahonline.org

Some in Orthodox Judaism who do not reject reincarnation (but do not believe it is essential and allow diversity of opinion on the topic) and recognize Kabbalah but study it more discretely and do not believe it is for the masses and do not believe that reincarnation is essential to Kabbalah study. There is an esoteric and mystical side to Judaism. Ostensibly Orthodox Judaism would be more authentic than Reform or even Conservative Judaism. Certainly a more literal reading of the Torah, a belief in a Creator who is involved in his creation and created the world ex nilhio etc. Also a moral code, and a traditional in both religions and literal interpretation of Moses and the 10 Commandments. However, clearly Hassidic thought has some panetheisitic if not pantheistic (a difference of an e), believe in reincarnation and have some heterodox views from the rest of Judaism at least vis a vis how Christianity has interpreted them. Certainly Chabad also some issues of Messianism, and even incarnational theology or "self nullification" and concepts that seem very Eastern and certainly different that do not use Hellenic syllogism to explain spiritual concepts the way Catholicism uses Aristotles concepts to explain Christian spirituality.

There is some opposition to reincarnation in Judaism (outside the Reform and Conservative shame of Kabbalah or a modernistic more secular approach and actual lack of knowledge) specifically:

Rabbis who rejected the idea of reincarnation include Saadia Gaon, Hasdai Crescas, Yedayah Bedershi (early 14th century), Joseph Albo, Abraham ibn Daud and Leon de Modena. Saddia, in Emunoth ve-Deoth, concludes Section vi with a refutation of the doctrine of metempsychosis. Crescas writes that if reincarnation was real, people should remember details of their previous lives. Bedershi offers three reasons why the entire concept is dangerous: (a) There is no reason for people to try and do good in this life, if they fear that they will nonetheless be punished for some unknown sin committed in a past life. (b) Some people may assume that they did not sin in their past life, and so can coast on their success; thus there is no need to try hard to live a good life. In Bedershi's view, the only psychologically tenable worldview for a healthy life is to deal with the here-and-now. (c) The idea presents a conundrum for those who believe that at the end of days, God will resurrect the souls and physical bodies of the dead. If a person has lived multiple lives, which body will God resurrect? Joseph Albo writes that in theory the idea of gilgulim is compatible with Jewish theology. However, Albo argues that there is a purpose for a soul to enter the body, creating a being with free will. However, a return of the soul to another body, again and again, has no point. Leon De Moden thinks that the idea of reincarnation make a mockery of God's plans for humans; why does God need to send the soul back over and over? If God requires an individual to achieve some perfection or atone for some sin, then God can just extend that person's life until they have time to do what is necessary. de Modena's second argument against reincarnation is that the entire concept is absent from the entire Bible and corpus of classical rabbinic literature.

S

There is also support for reincarnation in Judaism cited above and more below. However, I cannot find explicit Torah mentions nor can I find any mention (possibly outside Gnostics who were Jews or possibly the Essenes) before the 12th Century. Certainly from the 12 Century on there are a lot and reincarnation has become part of Jewish thought. Maimonodes did not believe in it and it is not part of his 13 principles. Most reform and conservative Jews before this recent Kabbalah boom did not believe in it either and most were not even aware of it but that could be from an ignorance of history and an attempt to distance themselves from the Hassidic Jews and to assimiliate into American and modern life. The focus certainly is from the Kabbalah and Hassidic thought. Some other Orthodox Jews believe that reincarnation is possible but don't teach it as dogma. Aish.com a popular Jewish (non Hassidic) website has answers that support the possibility of reincarnation but also mention in archived answers that reincarnation is not part of or at least not essential to Judaism and the 10th Century Goan Saad rejected it as heretical and it is not one of the principles of Maimonodes which has taken a creedal type form.

However there is also a lot of support for reincarnation in Judaism. It seems to not want to face reality that this does not radically challenge the assumed Judeo Christian belief system. How can one explain the questions that are asked to Jesus about sin BEFORE the disabled are born. NOT just the sins of the parents are asked BUT before birth. There is an assumption of a belief of at least possible reincarnation in asking about the identity of Jesus and John the Baptist among others.

The support is but not limited to:

Classic works of the Kabbalah, Shaar ha Gilgulim ("Gate of Reincarnations") of Arizal or Isaac Luria, describes complex laws of reincarnation gilgul and impregnation ibbur of 5 different parts of the soul. It shows many references of reincarnation in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanach).

The notion of reincarnation is not openly mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The classical rabbinic works (midrash, Mishna and Talmud) also are silent on this topic.

The concept was elucidated in an influential mystical work called the Bahir (Illumination) (one of the most ancient books of Jewish mysticism) which was composed by the first century mystic Nehunia ben haKana, and gained widespread recognition around 1150. After the publication of the Zohar in the late 13th century, the idea of reincarnation spread to most of the general Jewish community.

While ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Socrates attempted to prove the existence of reincarnation through philosophical proofs, Jewish mystics who accepted this idea did not. Rather, they offered explanations of why reincarnation would solve otherwise intractable problems of theodicy (how to reconcile the existence of evil with the premise of a good God.)

Rabbis who accepted the idea of reincarnation include the founder of Chassidism, the Baal Shem Tov, Levi ibn Habib (the Ralbah), Nahmanides (the Ramban), Rabbenu Bahya ben Asher, Rabbi Shelomoh Alkabez and Rabbi Hayyim Vital. The argument made was that even the most righteous of Jews sometimes would suffer or be murdered unjustly. Further, children would sometimes suffer or be murdered, yet they were obviously too young for them to have committed sins that God would presumably punish them for. Jewish supporters of reincarnation said that this idea would remove the theodicy: Good people were not suffering; rather, they were reincarnations of people who had sinned in previous lifetimes. Therefore any suffering which was observed could be assumed to be from a just God. Yitzchak Blua writes "Unlike some other areas of philosophy where the philosophic battleground revolves around the truth or falsehood of a given assertion, the gilgul debate at points focuses on the psychological needs of the people." (p.6)

Martin Buber's collection of Legend of the Baal-Shem (Die Chassidischen Bücher) includes several of the Baal Shem Tov's stories that explicitly discuss concrete cases of reincarnating souls.

Rick

While it is intersting to note what the Jewish belief on the afterlife is, the implications can be debated.

Reincarnation does not seem to be a possibility in traditional or so called "orthodox" (not in the Eastern sense) Christianity. It is certainly rejected in the Catholic Catechism, by most Protestant sects, and Eastern Orthodox or other Eastern Oriental Christian bodies in their formal declarations, their subscribing to the Councils (in all or part), and their internal Catechisms.

There is some discussion, I think erroneous, that Origen, Tertullian, St. Jerome all believed in reincarnation. Not an expert in the Early Church fathers nor Augustine nor Jerome, I do not see any textual, explicit or literal acceptance of reincarnation even if there is some implications in the writings of pre-existence of souls (so do your Mormon friends) and knowledge of the concept of reincarnation probably through Plato's transmigration of souls concepts (although not as expansive as a Hindu or Buddhist interpretation of this) although is seems Aristotle rejects reincarnation. Certainly intelligent and even good men like Plato and Pythagoras believed in reincarnation. One intelligent albeit emotionally disturbed Jesuit told me Plato only meant it allegorically, I do not read the text that way.

There is some talk in New Age circles, that also seems false that St. Francis of Assisi believed in reincarnation. Leslie Weatherhead in his book the Agnostic Christian had some interesting points about reincarnation and reconciling with Christianity. Karl Rahner was noted earlier as linking purgatory and/to reincarnation. However, Rahner only does this by conceptual analogy for Western Christians to understand it in a different way or for these Eastern non Christian religions to understand purgatory from their own historical and theological language.
There was a Fordham Professor (not sure if a Jesuit) who wrote a book called the Psychic and the Sacred, that was from certainly a heterodox perspective but not necessarily modernist as it allowed for the supernatural. The Catholic modernists in so many High Schools and Universities seem to push people to the East and the New Age in their rejection of the Supernatural and other explanations for what people seem to intrinsically see as something mystical or beyond themselves. There are two other good books on the Occult (and some links to life after death and reincarnation) and Spiritism that provide a different Catholic perspective beyond just reiterated doctrine and allegations of hucksterism or secular materialistic claims. The books are available at Traditional Roman Catholic Books the one associated with the Latin Mass Magazine. I think the one on Spiritualism was by a good Orthodox Jesuit (all appropriate nihil obstats and imprimaturs) and a Cisterian on the Occult. The Catholic Faith magazine produced by CUF also had an article some time ago on the dead and the West (Protestant influenced)obsession with death in popular culture and a lack of continuity. Because many Catholics including conservatives have the materialist secular assumptions on the supernatural (consciously or uncousciously) there is a lack of unity of thought and a disconnect and a lack of ability to explain in a deeper way (even through Aristotle/Aquinas especially Aquinas specifically) phenomena or possibilities including the after life.

Here is an interesting synopsis (certainly challengeable and debatable) on reincarnation in the Christian tradition (not dealing fully with the Gnostic issue or those implications) The heretic Marcion believed in reincarnation and at least some Manicheans, Albigensians, Cathars (although not all and that was not all dogmatized as in the way the Catholic magisterium does):

Almost all present official Christian denominations reject reincarnation: exceptions include the Liberal Catholic Church and the Rosicrucian Fellowship. Doctrines of reincarnation were known to the early Church (before the 6th century A.D.), and believers in reincarnation claim that these doctrines were embraced or at least tolerated within the Church at that time. Two Church Fathers, Origen and Clement of Alexandria are frequently cited as supporting this. However, this cannot be confirmed from the existent writings of Origen. He was cognizant of the concept of reincarnation (metensomatosis "re-embodiment" in his words) from Greek philosophy, but he repeatedly states that this concept is no part of the Christian teaching or scripture. He writes in his Comment on the Gospel of Matthew: "In this place [when Jesus said Elijah was come and referred to John the Baptist] it does not appear to me that by Elijah the soul is spoken of, lest I fall into the doctrine of transmigration, which is foreign to the Church of God, and not handed down by the apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the scriptures" (ibid., 13:1:46–53).

Some reincarnation followers state that Origen's writings have only come down to us heavily edited 'to conform to Church doctrine', and some Origen's writings were later declared heretical by the Church (though Origen himself was not). However, Gregory of Nyssa cites Origen: By some inclination toward evil, certain souls ... come into bodies, first of men; then through their association with the irrational passions, after the allotted span of human life, they are changed into beasts, from which they sink to the level of plants. From this condition they rise again through the same stages and are restored to their heavenly place. (B.W. Butterworth, On First Principles, Book I, Chapter VIII (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), p. 73).

They also state that before the Church expurged what it considered his heretical ideas from editions of his works, other quotes of Origen were also recorded by early Church fathers that make it clear that he did indeed teach reincarnation. A discussion of Origen's relationship to reincarnation, including many more quotes, can be found at Kevin Williams' Near Death Experiences website.

Kurt Eggenstein claims that "Jerome wrote in a letter to Demetrius that among the early Christians, the doctrine of reincarnation had been passed on to the elect, as an occult tradition." He also gives a quote from Gregory of Nyssa, saying "It is a necessity of nature that the soul becomes purified in repeated lives", though the source and the translation are uncited. His book claims many more Christian authorities supported a belief in reincarnation.

In the New Testament, there are several passages that some people demonstrate that a belief in reincarnation was prevalent amongst those of Jesus' inner circle. He is asked if he is Elias, for example, in John 1:21; in ‹The template Bibleref has been proposed for deletion here.› Matthew 16:13-14 Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ And they said, ‘Some say that you are John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the other prophets.’ Such statements are only comprehensible if Jesus' disciples believed in reincarnation. Finally, in ‹The template Bibleref has been proposed for deletion here.› Matthew 11:13-14, Jesus says: For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. This can be understood in the light of the traditional Jewish prophecy that Elijah (Elias) would return one day, bringing on the Messianic age. However, Elijah was transfigured and taken up into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). Since he did not die, he would have no need of reincarnation to return again as prophesied by Malachi.

‹The template Bibleref has been proposed for deletion here.› Matthew 19:28 states: "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration (Greek -- pale-genesia literally, rebirth) when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." A more well-known passage from John 3:3 reads, "...Except a man be born again (Greek -- ano-then), he cannot see the Kingdom of God." The quote from John is sometimes translated as "born from above", and is the inspiration for the modern evangelical movement. Some readers interpret these passages to indicate reincarnation; however, Christian churches read them to refer to baptism or conversion.

In John 9:1, the discples put the question to Jesus, regarding a man who was blind from birth, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" The disciples appear to be citing two of the most plausible theories of the time: reincarnation, and sins of the parents (or, effects of parenting). This suggests that reincarnation was known to the disciples. Jesus's answer, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" is open to interpretation, but it is apparent that he did not rebuke the disciples for suggesting the idea of reincarnation itself. In fact, one could interpret that he tacitly affirmed both hypotheses, while pointing to a third explanation in this particular case.

The Gnostic gospels include clear references to reincarnation, and it is clear that this early Christian (heretical) sect believed in this (see above). In the Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi documents, passage #109 (Thomas O. Lambdin translation), we read: "The kingdom is like a man who had a hidden treasure in his field without knowing it. And after he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know (about the treasure). He inherited the field and sold it. And the one who bought it went plowing and found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished." The "field" can be interpreted as our phenomenal world of sense experience; the "treasure" the essential Self; "inheriting" as reincarnating; and "plowing" as spiritual search and spiritual discipline.

A number of Evangelical and (in the USA) Fundamentalist Christian groups denounce any belief in reincarnation as heretical, and explain any phenomena suggestive of it as deceptions of the devil.

There are various contemporary attempts to reconcile Christianity and reincarnation. See:

Geddes Macgregor, Reincarnation in Christianity : A New Vision of Rebirth in Christian Thought
Rudolf Steiner, Christianity and Mystical Fact.
These books are not traditional, orthodox, nor certainly not Catholic books.

Tim J.

Not to be rude or anything, but this is a Catholic blog, and the presence or absence of a debate within Judaism concerning reincarnation is not really relevant.

At all.

I'm not doubting what you say, but... so what?

A lot of Christians make the mistake of believing in horoscopes and similar nonsense, but that doesn't make it part of the Christian faith.

The fact that a number of religious Jews (historic or modern) have a belief in reincarnation does not make it part of the Jewish faith. Still less does it obligate Christians to give reincarnation any credence at all.

I think the only relevant fact you stated is that "The notion of reincarnation is not openly mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The classical rabbinic works (midrash, Mishna and Talmud) also are silent on this topic.".

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

bill912

My bad above. I took Eastern perspective to mean Hindu/Buddhist, probably due to the mention of reincarnation.

This is a Catholic Blog, and Judaism is the foundational religion of Catholicism. To not explore or understand the roots of Judaism is to not fully understand Catholic Christianity. Pope John Paul II said that the Jews were are Elder Spiritual cousins. And Pope Benedict the XVI said that we are Spiritual semites.

This is a thread on eschatology, and especially in light of the Davinci code (which is ridiculous and fradualent however certain aspects of it are worth discussing). Moreover there are threads on Non Chrisitan religions, Mormons, Islam etc. So a discussion on Christian afterlife which includes Jewish belief and how it affects Catholicism and the implications are very profound. So this is right on point for a Catholic website. Moreover, this Catholic website has a lot of non Catholic posters, discussions and explicit blog parts dedicated to Non Catholic themes (Buddhism, Islam, Mormonism, Non Catholic religions etc.)

The afterlife is a Mystery and something very confusing and the faithful are mislead and there are a lot of seemingly contradicting information out there.

If Judaism, at the time of Jesus, believed in reincarnation it does give us a different interpretation of certain biblical passages. It would be interesting, if this were true, why Jesus did not explicitly condemn or discuss such a belief. Certainly, reincarnation or the more limited transmigration of souls (a la Plato) would of been present in Jewish thought through the Greeks.

Tim J.

"If Judaism, at the time of Jesus, believed in reincarnation it does give us a different interpretation of certain biblical passages."

Not really. It might give YOU a different interpretation, but Christianity is not in the least obligated to endorse such poorly attested beliefs, even if they were present among our spiritual forebears to some degree.

If certain first century Jews interpreted Jesus teachings in the light of reincarnation (and I am not nearly convinced that they did), they were simply mistaken.

"It would be interesting, if this were true, why Jesus did not explicitly condemn or discuss such a belief."

You can't hope to offer any kind of evidence for reincarnation based on what Jesus (or anyone else) DIDN'T say about it.

That's DaVinci Code thinkin'.

Maybe Jesus (along with the Hebrew Bible and the classical rabbinic works) never once mentioned it because it was of absolutely no importance.

Robert

Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote in a book on the Tarot who was a convert to Catholicism who practiced the occult. This is an exert from a blog. There is a blog solely dedicated to Hans Urs von Balthasar regarding this topic. 2 different blogs. This book was given to Pope John Paul II, photos confirm this, Balthasar wrote the foreword or afterword. Is there a legitimate esoteric tradition in Catholicism?

What is exactly wrong with a deck of cards? Sure, the Tarot has been abused by people for divinational purposes, but that is not what it was meant for. It's like getting worked up over tea leaves because some people have used them for divination. The normal 52 deck of cards is really a modified Tarot deck without the greater trumps.

If you study its history, the reason why it was originally condemned was not for divination (because, again, it wasn't used for divination) but because people used them for gambling. That's right, the problem with Tarot cards was the fact people gambled too much with them -- and that problem continues today with poker decks.

However, the trumps were indeed inspired by spiritual images. They can still be used for good spiritual meditations. I would highly suggest a read-through of "Meditations on the Tarot." If you do not know it, it is an incredible work, Hans Urs Von Balthasar not only found it to be inspirational (and an edition has his notes on it in the back), but he gave a copy to his friend, Pope John Paul II.

Arizal

While there is not explicit teaching of reincarnation in the Torah, there are verses that could be interpreted that way. Moreover, there is an oral tradition, similiar to how Catholics can extrapolate dogma that are not explicitly in New Testament text(s) but can be legitmately taught if you can have a perspective beyond a strict sola scriptura and you can interpret certain scripture, which the Catholic and other churches do. To with; the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (never mentioned in the Bible)but can be interpreted in Revelation and mentions to the physical ressurrection, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary (although not a dogma declared infallible) which can be interpreted in the beautiful Magnificat, the Immaculate Conception NEVER mentioned in the Gospel stories and disagreed with by Thomas Aquinas (in contrast to Scotus) and even some supposed mystics, even the Trinity and divinity of the Holy Spirit are done by interpretation.
The point being that just because the Old Testament, Torah and extra scriptural traditions such as the Talmud etc do not have explicit mentions of reincarnation and other topics does not mean they are not legitimately Jewish. There are plenty of Old and New Testament passages that could infer reincarnation.

There is an oral tradition in Judaism, and an appeal to tradition--which by the way would support a Catholic interpretation of sola scriptura/korban etc---that there are interpretations and legitimate extrapolations of doctrine, ethics and practices. The Protestants which have an over-emphasis on the Old Testament at least vis a vis Eastern Orthodox Christian or Roman Catholic perspectives, actually do not really have true Jewish traditions (which do vary) Jews honor saints and go to graves (at least some for example in the town of Safed in Israel) pray for the dead (read Maccabees and the story of Hannakauh), and have concepts (not discussing reincarnation) which may be the equivalent of purgatory (which can only be explained by allegory or analogy) Jews also have oral tradition and do not just have the explicit text of the Old Testament. The Puritanical approach to Protestantism is not a true Jewish approach even though that is their appeal. Luther and Calvinists did not truly understand the Old Testament or Judaism. Luther may have even been an anti-semite (there was some interesting Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox dialogue contemporaneously with Luther although not by Luther)

This oral tradition in Judaism definitely includes reincarnation as at least a possibility.
Some orthodox believe that not everyone should believe in or "practice" (to remember past lives or to meditate on the importance) because it has not impact and that people cannot handle that information. There is opposition also but the Reform and Conservative opposition to both Kabbalah and reincarnation are from a secular and materialistic point of view that is far removed from a theistic supernatural Judeo Christian point of view. Maimonodes did not believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is not part of any of the creeds or points of Judaism. Some of the great Torah scholars rejected it.
However, there is an incredible corpus of support for reincarnation in Judaism. The strongest is with the Hassidic sect(s) but also with the Sephardic groups.

If Jews believed in reincarnation, either as essential or possible, did Jesus believe in reincarnation? Was he taught reincarnation? Did the Essenes believe in reincarnation (which may or may not have had influence on Jesus or early Christians)?
The normal assumption, especially in Protestantism, is our philosophical beliefs and assumptions in Christianity come from Judaism, our thoughts on the afterlife are "new" but are also a continuation of Jewish belief (Sheol, Gehenna, Greek Hades--death land not hell necessarily as pointed out above) If Judaism can have reincarnation, and New Testament biblical verses demonstrate an implicit possible belief in reincarnation than it affects the current belief in the afterlife, has implications and can affect current belief.

I agree that Dante's inferno is a beautiful and scary allegory (if allegory is the word) of Hell and Purgatory. It is profound sociologically, historically, literature wise--and from all reading and commentary that is still orthodox Catholicsm. It really deals with the issues of lust, greed, punishment, perspective, and integration of Greek philosophy with Christianity.

Perhaps Karl Rahner in linking reincarnation with purgatory is not talking about analogy but something more actual, real and profound.

Are you claiming that Hans urs von Baltasar is an occultist or practicing the Tarot? I think not.

Von Baltasar may be too generous and forgiving and wrong on who is in Hell (and that is sometimes perceived as wrong interpretation)but he is Orthodox. He along with Father Hardon has some profound discussions of analogia entis (the analogy of being) From Mozart, to the Early Church Fathers--Hans urs von Baltasar is an expert and a true Christian. Although, he was critical of the Way by Escriva, his approach to the laity and his secular institute of St. John along with Adrienne von Speyr is very similiar to universal sainthood and sanctity of ordinary life. Baltasar is a great man.

Tim J.

"...especially in light of the Davinci code (which is ridiculous and fradualent however certain aspects of it are worth discussing)..."

Really? Which ones?

I can't think of ANY aspect of the DVC that is worthy of entertaining even for the time it takes to brush ones teeth. The idea that it is worth discussing is the biggest lie of all. It is 100%, unadulterated brain rot.

Tim J.

Arizal -

Here's the problem; what's to keep me from saying,

"While there is not explicit teaching of ALIEN ABDUCTION in the Torah, there are verses that could be interpreted that way... There are plenty of Old and New Testament passages that could infer ALIEN ABDUCTION."

Substitute any wacked-out belief you like.

Tim J.

"Perhaps Karl Rahner in linking reincarnation with purgatory is not talking about analogy but something more actual, real and profound."

And perhaps not.

Discussions of life after death, and legitimate issues (even if false) like reincarnation that are accepted by Jews (the basis of Christianity) as well as Plato (who has had a lot of influence on Judaism and Christianity and all of Western civilization)
Alien abduction is an interesting topic does not seem to have a lot of support. Alien life generally is interesting and is on some of the posts on this website. But to discuss, when many people believe it, topics such as if Jesus had brothers and sisters (inside or outside the Davinci context) or what happens after death (the most mysterious question of all human existence) are essential.
To a priori dismiss these questions when they have been discussed in Catholicism and in Western thought (let alone Eastern non Christian thought)is to not engage legitimate questions and discussions.
Jimmy Akin and the people on this discussion board (at least some) can engage Christians, agnostics, and non Christians in discussion of what this post and topic are about Eschatology and Purgatory.
The Davinci code, if Catholicism is right and true, can be a blessing in disguise because it can serve to reveal the truth and have discussions about Christology (WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?) and history.
These discussions are not only legitimate they are important. Engage them and discuss, distill your own beliefs, and make conversions.

Arizal

The discussion between ALIEN ABDUCTION and LIFE AFTER DEATH and specifically reincarnation is that
1. Reincarnation can be specifically implied while alien abduction cannot. One cannot put alien abduction in an interpretation one John 9 of why one was born with illness. Alien abduction cannot be used to explain any of the verses nor can they be replaced reincarnation/alien abduction.
2. Reincarnation is specifically believed in historic and modern Judaism especially certain Orthodox parts such as Hassidim, Sephardim, and those who practice Kabbalah. Alien abduction is not part of any Jewish belief.
3. Reincarnation is specifically dealing with life after death and alien abduction does not.
4. Alien abduction was not a belief of Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras (among others but apparently not Aristotle) in Western Heritage but reincarnation is.
THERE IS NO COMPARISON LOGICAL NOR REASONABLE WITH ALIEN ABDUCTION AND REINCARNATION ESPECIALLY NOT WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THIS DISCUSSION.

Is Karl Rahner considered an Orthodox theologian?

What does Karl Rahner say about reincarnation? I am not understanding how reincarnation and purgatory are the same or what the comparison is.

Jerry

The problem with Catholicism is that they were corrupted by Greek philosophy. Many Protestants recognize that they carry a more pure approach through their primary reliance on the Bible. The Aquinas approach of relying on "logic" and borrowing and folded into Christianity concepts borrowed from Greek philosophy. This is one of the reasons that Catholics are so confused about evolution and recent Vatican pronouncements on evolution even if through a media prism. Modern Catholicism has given in to modern concepts, terms and philosophy of secular science and social science. So the debate between whether or not reincarnation should be in a Catholic website is because the Catholics borrow so much from Greek philosophy and Roman law.

Some ancient Greek philosophers believed in reincarnation; see for example Plato's Phaedo and The Republic. Pythagoras was probably the first Greek philosopher to advance the idea. Catholics study these ideas with reverence even if they don't understand the bottom line conclusions. Socrates is even called a saint by some and Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft writes books on Socrates in Heaven with adulterer John F. Kennedy.

We do not know exactly how the doctrine of metempsychosis arose in Greece; most scholars do not believe it was borrowed from Egypt or that it somehow was transmitted from ancient Hindu thinkers of India. It is easiest to assume that earlier ideas which had never been extinguished were utilized for religious and philosophic purposes. The Orphic religion, which held it, first appeared in Thrace upon the semi-barbarous north-eastern frontier. Orpheus, its legendary founder, is said to have taught that soul and body are united by a compact unequally binding on either; the soul is divine, immortal and aspires to freedom, while the body holds it in fetters as a prisoner. Death dissolves this compact, but only to re-imprison the liberated soul after a short time: for the wheel of birth revolves inexorably. Thus the soul continues its journey, alternating between a separate unrestrained existence and fresh reincarnation, round the wide circle of necessity, as the companion of many bodies of men and animals." To these unfortunate prisoners Orpheus proclaims the message of liberation, that they stand in need of the grace of redeeming gods and of Dionysus in particular, and calls them to turn to God by ascetic piety of life and self-purification: the purer their lives the higher will be their next reincarnation, until the soul has completed the spiral ascent of destiny to live for ever as God from whom it comes. Such was the teaching of Orphism which appeared in Greece about the 6th century BC, organized itself into private and public mysteries at Eleusis and elsewhere, and produced a copious literature.

The earliest Greek thinker with whom metempsychosis is connected is Pherecydes; but Pythagoras, who is said to have been his pupil, is its first famous philosophic exponent. Pythagoras probably neither invented the doctrine nor imported it from Egypt, but made his reputation by bringing Orphic doctrine from North-Eastern Hellas to Magna Graecia and by instituting societies for its diffusion.

The real weight and importance of metempsychosis in Western tradition is due to its adoption by Plato. Had he not embodied it in some of his greatest works it would be merely a matter of curious investigation for the Western anthropologist and student of folk-lore. In the eschatological myth which closes the Republic he tells the story how Er, the son of Armenius, miraculously returned to life on the twelfth day after death and recounted the secrets of the other world. After death, he said, he went with others to the place of Judgment and saw the souls returning from heaven and from purgatory, and proceeded with them to a place where they chose new lives, human and animal. He saw the soul of Orpheus changing into a swan, Thamyras becoming a nightingale, musical birds choosing to be men, the soul of Atalanta choosing the honours of an athlete. Men were seen passing into animals and wild and tame animals changing into each other. After their choice the souls drank of Lethe and then shot away like stars to their birth. There are myths and theories to the same effect in other dialogues, the Phaedrus, Meno, Phaedo, Timaeus and Laws. In Plato's view the number of souls was fixed; birth therefore is never the creation of a soul, but only a transmigration from one body to another. Plato's acceptance of the doctrine is characteristic of his sympathy with popular beliefs and desire to incorporate them in a purified form into his system. Aristotle, a far less emotional and sympathetic mind, has a doctrine of immortality totally inconsistent with it.

In later Greek literature the doctrine appears from time to time; it is mentioned in a fragment of Menander (the Inspired Woman) and satirized by Lucian (Gallus 18 seq.). In Roman literature it is found as early as Ennius, who in his Calabrian home must have been familiar with the Greek teachings which had descended to his times from the cities of Magna Graecia. In a lost passage of his Annals, a Roman history in verse, Ennius told how he had seen Homer in a dream, who had assured him that the same soul which had animated both the poets had once belonged to a peacock. Persius in one of his satires (vi. 9) laughs at Ennius for this: it is referred to also by Lucretius (i. 124) and by Horace (Epist. II. i. 52). Virgil works the idea into his account of, the Underworld in the sixth book of the Aeneid (vv. 724 sqq.). It persists in antiquity down to the latest classic thinkers, Plotinus and the other Neoplatonists.

bill912

The Bible says that Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot (2Kings 2:11). Some could look upon that as an alien abduction.

bill912

"Protestants recognize that they carry a more pure approach through their primary reliance on the Bible."

1) Do you believe that the Bible is Divinely inspired? If so, why?

2) Do you believe that all the books which are in the Bible--and no others--belong in the Bible? If so, why?

While being taken up in a fiery chariot could be viewed as alien abduction, and books have been written on it including the famous (although fairly disproven) book CHARIOT OF THE GODS by Erich von Daniken, no Jewish group believes in it and it cannot be taken as an implicit interpretation if the scripture is true or divinely inspired. However with reincarnation, Jewish groups DO believe in it (and not alien abduction) Reincarnation can be used as an explantion of these scripture while still retaining their truth and divine inspiration while alien abduction cannot.

The Divine inspiration of the Bible does not necessarily mean that other books or traditions are not similiarly or even less so divinely inspired. The Bible being inspired does not mean that other texts are not inspired although it could mean some are not and some are incorrect.

The canon of the Bible was created by the Church although were accepted by most for some time, and that Church at that time was a unifed church Latin West and Greek East (along with other Oriental bodies).

If the Old Testament canon is correct than similiarly there should be a method to interpret and an oral tradition and some type of "magisterium"--by analogy. If the Jews interpret the scripture as to allow reincarnation as at least a possibility there are implications to the New Testament verses at least John 9 and also some credence to the Gnostic scriptures.

bill912

Paragraph 1) No Jewish group believes it, therefore it cannot be a valid interpretation of scripture? I'd like to see your evidence for that.

Paragraph 2) Other books, not in the Bible, may be inspired? How could one ever know, and on what basis would one judge?

Paragraph 4) "The Jews" do not interpret scripture so as to allow for the possibility of reincarnation. Some Jews may. That weakens your argument as to the implications to John 9. As for the gnostics books, what authority can you cite as to what is inspired scripture and what is not?

Steve

Bill your number 1 is not logical. You use the claim to see evidence in an innacurate way. I have seen you do that on other posts. What evidence do you want to see? That Jewish groups believe in reincarnation? There is plenty of evidence in the above posts. That Jewish groups do not believe that the fiery chariot (Merkebah) is a alien abduction? There is also plenty of commentary on the chariot and Elijah that preclude an alien abduction.

Your paragraph 2 is interesting. That is the problem with belief in anything it becomes circular if not from a specific point. Certainly in Catholic circles, certain books are inspired and given an imprimatur or nihil obstat. In Judaism there is approbation and approval of groups and specific rabbis although perhaps not the specific group of let's say the Curia or the Magisterium.

On point 4, Most Orthodox Jews do interpret scripture that way. Jewish interpretation of scripture IS important for Catholics as they are called the Elder Spiritual cousins by Pope John Paul the II and Pope Benedict has called Catholics spiritual semites. The proof of purgatory comes from appeal from Jewish sources as is prayer from the dead to intellectually combat Protestant critiques and beliefs (specifically from Maccabbees). So Jewish belief in the afterlife at the time of Jesus and generally is important. Jews do seem to believe in reincarnation more often than not.

Bill, your not claiming that any Jewish group claims that the Fiery Chariot that took Elijah away is an alien abduction????? That would be absurd. The evidence you are looking for is what?---That Jewish groups explicitly condemn the possibility that the fiery Chariot is a alien spaceship?????

Frank

If you are from Chicago, I would highly recommend the commentary on Dante from a Fransiscan priest in the newsletter from St. Peters Church in Downtown Chicago.

CS Lewis (although not Catholic) in Screwtape Letters has good insight into the Devil, demons, evil and hell.

Purgatory sounds like a very logical, reasonable, and merciful concept.

Reincarnation does not seem compatible with Orthodox Christianity Catholic, Eastern or Protestant. The reincarnation concept in Judaism is new to us. The implications are not clear. What is clear is that eternal life is through Jesus and there is a physical ressurrection of the body in Chrisitanity. Jesus would of made the need for reincarnation not necessary. The Physical resurrection seems to obviously refute reincarnation as the physical body is intimately and inherently interconnected with the soul. The body and soul are one.

Tim J.

For the sake of argument, let's say that half of all first century Jews believed in reincarnation (though in reality, I do not accept this).

Again, so what? What's to keep them from being WRONG on that?

Jews can interpret their scriptures any way they like and it need not have any bearing at all on how the Catholic Church AUTHORITATIVELY interprets the same scripture. The Old Testament can not be wholly understood except through the lens of Christ, the Messiah come in the flesh.

We are simply not bound in any way to look at the Old Testament in the same way as first century Jews, regardless of how many believed what.

Rick

Tim,
While there is disagreement between Jews and you are right that what they believed is not "authoritative"--that is true only to an extent. The Sanhedrin was authoritative. There is an oral tradition that Jews had and tradition.
There was a consensus on many aspects of Torah and other scripture. There is a large body of commentary Talmud, Midrash etc. on the Old Testament and there is a lot of agreement.

To say that Jews can interpret their scripture anyway they like and it doesn't affect the Catholic Church is not correct. The Catholic Church does not interpret Scripture especially the Old Testament in a vacuum but of course looks to what was meant at the time (by the Jews) and how it was interpreted over time (by the Jews) Christ may complete the Scripture but he does not interpret every aspect of it independent from what Jews believed as Jews.
The Catholic Church can teach authoritatively but it does not contradict what Jews believe (vis a vis the New Testament obviously there is a contradiction as to how Jews currently define who Jesus is) We may not be bound to believe what Jews believed in the 1st Century but to better understand scripture and the context and assumptions these statements were made, it is importance to understand the Old Testament and Jews, so understanding what Jews believed about their own Scripture(s) is important if not essential to understanding our own faith.

bill912

"What evidence do you want to see?" The premise that, because no Jewish group believes it, it cannot be a valid interpretation of scripture. If that were the case, any Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah could not apply to Jesus because no Jewish group accepts Jesus as the Messiah.

bill912

Anonymous, you are right: to claim that a Jewish group believed that the taking of Elijah to Heaven in a fiery chariot could be a valid interpretation is absurd. I was "demonstating absurdity by being absurd."

Bill,
Modern Jews may not believe that Jesus is the Messiah BUT they do believe in the concept of the Mosiach. In fact the Lubavitchers believe that Schneerson is the Mosiach at least some.
Many Jews at the time of Jesus believed he was the Messiah that is why Christianity started.
But there was a Messiah concept.

It is absurd to compare reincarnation to alien abduction. Many if not most Jews believe in reincarnation. No Jews (as a group) believe in alien abduction (in fact it would be a transgression because it would say that the stories are not about God) Alien abduction is absurd (while speculation about alien life is not necessarily) Reincarnation is not absurd and is believed by many intelligent people and is even if wrong it is logical.

Bill needs to take some logic courses.

bill912

The above was bravely and anonymously posted by someone who either did not read my post directly above his, or has trouble with reading comprehension.

I read your posts and do not have a problem with reading comprehension. You need to take logic courses.
To Bill

Steve

I would like/request a Jimmy Akin commentary intervention. All this Jewish stuff is new to me. Purgatory is a fascinating topic.

Nick

Bill666 will probably be in purgatory because of IGNORANCE.

Mr. Bill

1. Is a belief in reincarnation incompatible with Christianity?

2. If reincarnation were true, provable, or probable (like Ian Stevensons studies), what does that mean for Christianity?

3. What does Karl Rahner mean by comparing purgatory and Christianity?

4. Could someone, has someone, write/written a comparable allegory to Hell and Purgatory as Dante did? Did Peter Kreeft do something similiar (did not read but somewhow remeber from this life not a past one)

Hans

I think Karl Rahner is making an analogy/comparison/contrast NOT a literal belief. (to purgatory)
Only for CONCEPTUAL reasons of the eastern thought NOT support or agreement.

Dante

Is it worth going to Purgatory to get a little extra earthly pleasure in?

Is it worth exploring Hans Urs Von Balthasar possibility that no one is in hell?

Cordoba

The concept of reincarnation in Judaism is fascinating. It certainly has implications for Christianity.

The Catholic (and Orthodox?) concept of purgatory seems merciful and logical. It also seems to be a continuation of Jewish belief from the time of the Syrian/Greek occupation.

I don't understand the connection between purgatory and reincarnation.

Tim J.

"The concept of reincarnation in Judaism is fascinating. It certainly has implications for Christianity."

Not really.

Peter

Tim J,

Why do you not say "not really"?

The above discussion is interesting and unique. If for nothing else it is interesting from a comparative religion stand point. There are certainly things I did not know about.
Moreover, they are things that make a thinking man (or woman I guess) speculate about.

Unless you are saying their are no implications for Christianity. To me the implications are potential but not actual until I learn more about this topic.

Saul

The implications of Jewish belief are very powerful to Catholicism, in the book APOLOGETICS (very Aristotlean) by Prof Peter Kreeft and Fr Tacelli SJ--there is a strong appeal to Judaism (Orthodox) without understanding it as proof that Jesus is G-D, and regardin the Afterlife including refutations of reincarnation AND "proof" of the permanancy of Hell (one of the proofs of the permanancy of Hell by Kreeft et. al. is Orthodox Jewish belief--which he cites erroneously)

The Apologetics book is an excellent book, well written, logical, true to Catholic form of Aristotle and Aquinas. HOWEVER, the above posters who do not see the implication and impact of Jewish thought are wrong. They are wrong because the Catholic worldview, assumptions and in the case of this book APOLOGETICS (in the orthodox Catholic traditional sense) are contingent on Orthodox Judaism.

Maimonodes

OF COURSE, Jewish belief at the time of Jesus has implications on how to interpret scripture and "define" Jesus and his words. The best support against Protestant demagogues on the issue of Purgatory is from Maccabees and prayer for the dead, as well as obviously the issue of praying for the dead. Most Protestants a priori reject a) praying for the dead and b) Purgatory even though the idea of "saints" (tzadiks), visiting gravesites, prayer for and even "to" the dead and a purgatory or purgatory like concept is common in Judaism at the time of Jesus and now. It is integral to so called apologetics and can bring us closer to the truth.

Maimonodes

OF COURSE, Jewish belief at the time of Jesus has implications on how to interpret scripture and "define" Jesus and his words. The best support against Protestant demagogues on the issue of Purgatory is from Maccabees and prayer for the dead, as well as obviously the issue of praying for the dead. Most Protestants a priori reject a) praying for the dead and b) Purgatory even though the idea of "saints" (tzadiks), visiting gravesites, prayer for and even "to" the dead and a purgatory or purgatory like concept is common in Judaism at the time of Jesus and now. It is integral to so called apologetics and can bring us closer to the truth.

There has been no real knowledge of Judaism on the Catholic side, no real logic nor any engaging of any of the information and wisdom of the above 20 posts or so. I thought Jimmy Akin knew Hebrew and history.

Ian Stevenson has some fascinating "scientific study" into the afterlife.

Saad

The purgatory discussion here should be cross referenced to the current purgatory discussion.

Cyril

To read more about Purgatory from a CATHOLIC (Eastern NOT ROMan) and it being looked at positively, as has Mother Angelica on EWTN
check out:
www.east2west.org

Fisheater

Reincarnation in Judaism is ONLY in POST TEMPLE BABYLONIAN TALMUD Judaism and the Kabbalah influenced by the same.

1. Reincarnation is not explicitly in the TORAH.
2. Reincarnation is not explicitly even in the TALMUD.
3. Reincarnation is not implicitly in the TORAH and it is a far stretch to say it is.
4. Reincarnation is not in the 13 principles of Maimonodes.
5. Maimonodes explicitly denies reincarnation in Judaism and did not practice Kabbalah.
5. Reincarnation contradicts the pre-Christian belief in the Ressurrection of the Body.
6. Many post 10th Century Rabbi's deny reincarnation and before the 10th Century there is a denial or no discussion:
Rabbis who rejected the idea of reincarnation include Saadia Gaon, Hasdai Crescas, Yedayah Bedershi (early 14th century), Joseph Albo, Abraham ibn Daud and Leon de Modena. Saddia, in Emunoth ve-Deoth, concludes Section vi with a refutation of the doctrine of metempsychosis. Crescas writes that if reincarnation was real, people should remember details of their previous lives. Bedershi offers three reasons why the entire concept is dangerous: (a) There is no reason for people to try and do good in this life, if they fear that they will nonetheless be punished for some unknown sin committed in a past life. (b) Some people may assume that they did not sin in their past life, and so can coast on their success; thus there is no need to try hard to live a good life. In Bedershi's view, the only psychologically tenable worldview for a healthy life is to deal with the here-and-now. (c) The idea presents a conundrum for those who believe that at the end of days, God will resurrect the souls and physical bodies of the dead. If a person has lived multiple lives, which body will God resurrect? Joseph Albo writes that in theory the idea of gilgulim is compatible with Jewish theology. However, Albo argues that there is a purpose for a soul to enter the body, creating a being with free will. However, a return of the soul to another body, again and again, has no point. Leon De Moden thinks that the idea of reincarnation make a mockery of God's plans for humans; why does God need to send the soul back over and over? If God requires an individual to achieve some perfection or atone for some sin, then God can just extend that person's life until they have time to do what is necessary. de Modena's second argument against reincarnation is that the entire concept is absent from the entire Bible and corpus of classical rabbinic literature.
7. Even modern Jewish websites sympathetic to Kabbala but not Haredi like aish.com have contradictory information and if queried will say NO that Judaism does not believe in reincarnation it is not a principle of Maimonodes and is certainly not required.
8. Karl Rahner (who I do not personally care for as very dense and prolific but warmed over Kant but he is cited by some Orthodox theologians positively, cites German Eucharistic devotion mystically and positively, and certainly has never been censored) only talks about reincarnation (I believe in Theological Investigations or is it Speculations) as an analogy as a way to explain a concept to people in an Eastern religious philosophical mindset. Reincarnation is not at all possible in an Orthodox Christian setting and Karl Rahner does not believe or support reincarnation. He mentions reincarnation only as a way to explain and analogize purgatory.
9. Beyond Rahner and a brief mention/analogy which has been misconstrued, Orthodox Christianity does not and cannot allow for reincarnation belief, Origen, heretics, heterodox, Jerome, Augustine may all cite to pre-existence and belief in reincarnation by some and the great Plato did believe in it (although some Jesuits argue it was an allegory, this does not seem to be the case) they reject it, all of them including Origen. Moreover, they were clearly educated and aware of mystical and Greek beliefs like reincarnation but clearly condemned them. Aristotle did not believe in reincarnation.
HOWEVER,

1. There is a strong Jewish tradition of reincarnation in Sephardic Kabbala, Kabbala generally, and Hassidic (from the time of the Baal Shem Tov on) in Ashkenazi folklore.
This is not from the Torah and does not date back very early. It does date back to the time of the Babylonian captivity (the 2nd one) and also interaction with the Persian court high society Sassenian empire and corrupted Zoarastian religion (Orthodox Zoarastiansim also rejects reincarnation but is dualist but had many heterodox strains to their own orthodoxy through Hinduism, Buddhsim, Mithraic, and mystery religions from the area including Christian gnosticism and pre Sassenian Babylonian thought)

2. Kabbala and Hassidic thought are not Torah Judaism but post Temple Temple and Qabbalah oral tradition that is corrupted with Babylonian, Gnostic, etc.

During the Babylonian Captivity, the Old Testament religion became further corrupted by pagan Babylonian-Chaldean practices -- by magic, astrology, numerology, ideas of reincarnation, and ritual designed to draw on preternatural forces (commonly, but mistakenly, referred to as "supernatural forces"). I say "further corrupted" because the Old Testament religion was constantly tested by apostasy -- even by Solomon who built temples to pagan gods. These corruptions gave rise to Pharisaism and its oral Talmud (Mishnah) and oral Kabbalah, which were written down ca A.D. 450 and the 14th c. respectively 3. Luke, in Acts 7:43 writes:

Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
These occultic dabblings were spoken of as far back as Amos, too, who wrote of the apostasy in verse 5:26:

But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. [Remphan = Rephan or Raephan in the LLX = Moloch = Saturn]

3. Hassidic practices include numerology that they through sophistry justify as something different (Gematria), sorcerory, prophecy, divinination (all without the Red Heifer), amulets, altered states of consciousness, new age hypnotic memories of past lives etc.
Even the rabbis at the time of the Baal Shem Tov and Alter Rebbe considered them heretical and not real jews and dabbling in magic. Reincarnation came through this corruption.

4. There are purgatory like beliefs in the diversity of Jewish afterlife, which does include Heaven and Hell (Hell is not always permanent) in later 10, 13th and 17th century Kabbala and Hassidic belief in reincarnation, the Sheol and sleep concepts etc.

5. Even great leaders like David and Solomon of the Jewish nation fell into witchcraft and polytheism. Reincarnation is a foreign belief to true temple Judaism and the Torah. Reincarnation certainly is alien to Christianity.

Instead of looking, except for the purposes of comparative religious study, Kabbala and Hassidic afterlife concepts (Kabbala and less so Hassidim are pantheistic, if not panetheistic, and while Hassidic thought also has positive reliances on Divine Providence and sense of Presence of G-d(written that way in respect to the traditional concept of the Essential Tetragamatton) it is an impersonal "god", even on the Chabad/Lubavitcher website askmoses.com it calls God the Force from Star Wars as the best description, not the personal God of the Old Testament, also through specific exercises that assume knowledge of both Hebrew and somewhat advanced mathematics--one can learn the secrets of the Universe including changing reality--a la Madonna, Lohan etc.)
The god of Kabbala, while Jewish in exteriors, is Babylonian sorcerory with an impersonal god force, with many good stories, some very good psychology, and exterior Torah, some ethics, and Biblical readings (sometimes with much "deeper" alternative interpretations--some of them good some of them very bad)not the Personal G-d of the Old Testament, not a G-d who meets people through grace on H-s terms but a force that can be accessed through knowledge and exercises.

Modern Judaism, even under it's "Orthodox" forms is a corrupted religion. It is much distance from Torah Judaism or the Judaism of the 1st Century. This does not mean it is all bad or all wrong, but that there is a lot of corruption and error even absent knowledge or a belief in Jesus as the Messiah, or the possibility that the Essential Tetragammaton could become incarnate as man.

I don't want to speak for the late Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, and there are some websites explaining his thoughts (He does have some interesting thoughts on analogia entis)
He does mention reincarnation and purgaotry together but he does not equate them and he does not believe in reincarnation.

I always liked to believe the school nuns explanation (theology accuracy and debates aside) that Hell is locked from the inside, and that Purgatory is Gods mercy being slightly greater than his justice. From the above I LOVE Dante and CS Lewis the ScrewTape letters.
I think that I would be accurate (there is an EWTN Eastern Catholic website, I don't have the link) that the Eastern and "Orthodox" view of purgatory is not contradictory to "Catholicism" (I put in qoutes as Eastern Catholic is Catholic) and there are different interpretations of purgatory by East and West. There is a tradition of a positive view of purgatory and supposedly Mother Angelica cited that positively.
The Eastern Orthodox view of purgatory is not necessarily disallowed or contradicted by the "Roman" Catholic Latin Rite view--there is room for speculation and even disagreement.
Dante by allegory and possibility through beautiful clearly spiritual writing is what I prefer to imagine. Purgatory as a scholastic defined theological "concept", "location", etc is both logical, merciful and just. However, reincarnation, Karl Rahner and Jewish Kabbala notwithstanding, has nothing to do with it.

Some Day

Hell is full nice intentions.
See those "nice-guy" stuff is like when you smile at someone you don't like, cover-up.
There exists only two loves. Love of God and love of oneself. When you love your wife, mother, children, brother, whoever, it is either because you truly love God, and love the creature as something of God. Now if you lie to yourself and have some cheap sentimental attachment to another creature, because it satisfies me and my cheap passions, there is no love of God or anyone but yourself. A simple cover-up. So either you love God enough to deserve to go to Heaven directly, or go to a VERY LONG time in Purgatory. Or Hell. Purgatory is no waiting room. It Hell withour devils pretty much and you still love God. And to get an idea, two priests once promised they would celebrate a mass for who ever died first. One died and the other celebrated Mass later.
Later the dead one appeared to the other. And asked why did he wait a thousand years to celebrate the mass, but that he was saved.
The other responded he only took 10 minutes after he died to celebrate. In Fatima, Our Lady was asked if a TWELVE YEAR OLD COUNTRY GIRL WAS SAVED, SHE SAID YES,BUT SHE'LL BE IN PURGATORY TILL THE END OF THE WORLD. Uh, and in that time women dressed from the neck to the ankles. And she was 12. Meo Deus!
So no nice-guy ok. Saint guy only.

Ricardo

A consecrated lay friend of mine, in a friendly but chastizing way said that I should not expect purgatory as the fires were painful. That I should try to be a saint and go straight to heaven. I wandered a little and he was trying to get me right.

So is purgatory good or bad?

Jimmy Akin

If you go there, it's a good thing on balance.

It means you're going to heaven!

WOO-HOO!

Tim

Jimmy,
I need your intervention here.
OK, on balance that going to purgatory is CERTAINLY better than going to Hell.
It seems there is debate between Eastern (Catholic and Orthodox?) and Latin Rite/Roman Catholic about purgatory that Purgatory is real purgation and painful according Latin Rite Catholics but not necessarily so in Eastern interpretations.
Also, I am not an expert in Jewish theology nor history but do have an interest. This thread was of particular interest as it does (a la the more debauched D'Avinci code)
I know Jimmy you are a Hebrew reader can you shed some light on the Jewish views of the main topic Eschatology.

Jimmy, how do we know much about the afterlife.
The Church seems to give broad latitude for beliefs and not require specifics (eg purgatory, fire etc) There is room with parameters for diversity and a sense of arrogance regarding this.

J.R. Stoodley

This idea of an "anti-purgatory" makes sense and seems to square with sayings of Jesus like "to him who has, more shall be given, but to him who has not, even what he has shall be taken away" and all the times where the damned first plead with God to let them into heaven and are puzzled about why they are damned, and only subsequently are cast (an active, progressive thing) into the darkness.

On the other hand I thought I learned somewhere that more evil people would be suffer in hell more than less evil people. This "anti-purgatory" process would seem to make everyone in hell as evil as possible. Perhaps it is more complicated, with the soul degressing into worse and worse states while still there is an element of evil (maybe the sins commited in life) that remains constant and determines some of the suffering.

I'll also add that I can not see God actively taking good away from the soul, making it more evil. I think the anti-purgatory process would have to be initiated by the damned soul, by its cursing of God, self-loathing, etc., or by the activity of demons. One (like Jesus) would talk about the good being taken away in the sense that this is happening in God's Universe so ultimately everything that happens has its source in him, even evil in the sense of its being permitted.

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