Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why are we Christians and not Jews?

Question Today someone asked me a question and I didn't really know how to answer. Jesus was the King of the Jews, so why do we believe in Catholicism rather being Jewish? I know it has something to do with how the Jews forsoke the Lord, but do you have any more in depth knowledge about this?

Answer The Jews were the original chosen people. God made a covenant with them. A covenant is like a contract, except instead of an exchange of goods it's an exchange of persons. Marriage is an example of a covenant. So God said to them "I'll be your God, you be my people. I will do the following, and you can do the following" (10 commandmants). But the Jews did not live up to their side of the bargain. Again and again God sent them prophets to say "Listen, guys, get on board. Stop worshiping idols. Stop supporting unjust economic policies." So by analogy, it's like God was married to them, but they were being an unfaithful spouse. Over and over God used that kind of marriage language, notobly in Ezekiel, and he even told Hosea to marry a prostitute to show an example of someone being faithful to an unfaithful spouse like God was doing.

Well, part of the deal with the Jews was that one day God would send them a king, and he would be in the line of David (their greatest king ever) and he would rule forever. This was the culmination of the covenant. But rather than accept it, the Jews rejected and killed their Messiah! This is why Jesus always said things like "The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." When they rejected him, they basically rejected their covenant with God! But God still remained faithful- he made the covenant binding, and said "Alright, if the Jews don't want it, we'll fling open the doors to everyone, including the Gentiles." (Notice the analogies Jesus makes to a wedding feast and those who were invited don't attend?)

So basically, the old covenant was broken, but God made a new one. Jesus sealed the deal by dying for us. That's why he said "This is my blood, the blood of the new covenant." And on the cross he said "It is finnished" or better translated "It is consumated". When we recieve the Eucharist, we recieve Gods gift of himself, and we become the new covenant people.

So... the short answer is that we are not Jewish because when Jesus came he was a total game changer. The covenant with the Jews was destroyed, and a new covenant was made, and we are part of the new covenant. (That's also what is meant by "Old Testament, New Testament"- like last will and testament. We are the inheritors now of Gods offer because the Jews wouldn't take it.)

It's interesting too, because the Jews no longer can fulfill their part of the deal. They had to offer sacrifices in the Temple, but the temple was destroyed shortly after Christ, marking the end of the whole deal. This got described in the book of Revelation as the destruction of the "Whore of Babylon", because 'she' had been Gods unfaithful spouse.

You should know that alot of people don't like to address this stuff, in case it sounds like anti-semitism, but once you get this it makes sense out of all kinds of Bible passages!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why can't women be priests? (2)

I was doing some more thinking about this subject, and thought it'd be intesting to put it into a 'platonic dialogue'- so called because Plato used this technique to make his points. It allows you to better express the two opinions.

Rob Why can't women be priests? Isn't that sexist?

Ben The Catholic Church does not have the authority to ordain women. Jesus only ordained men, not women, as apostles. He has never told us to do otherwise.

Rob Jesus only ordained men because in his day only men were credible as leaders and speakers- no one would have listened to a woman.

Ben So, then, if I could argue that men are more credible today than women, would that make it OK to only ordain men? Because it does seem when you consider who the best paid actors are, or musicians, or the most powerful politicians, notably in N America, that despite the fact that these things should dirrectly reflect peoples choice, men come out on top.

Rob That's because our culture remains sexist. As Christians we need to take a stand against sexism, and change our culture.

Ben Would you say that sexism is a 'social sin', and that participating in it or reinforcing that culture is a 'personal sin'?

Rob Uh, yeah, I think so....

Ben Well, by your argument, Jesus only ordained Men to go along with the sinful culture of his day. That means he participated in sin. Is taht what you are saying?

Rob No, of course not.

Ben Then it follows that Jesus must have had some other reason to ordain only men.

Rob Then why did he?

Ben I don't know. Maybe because men and women are inherently different. Maybe because men better represent Christ, who was a man. Maybe the roles actually compliment the genders, but illustrating their differences.

Rob It still seems like a sexist policy to me.

Ben Maybe so, but Jesus himself started it, and has not given us the authority to change it. We may not fully know or understand his reasons, but he is God, and the Church does cannot change what God instituted.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Will people who commit suicide go to Hell?

Question I have a question that I've been holding onto for a while. I remember a while back at camp, when it was the 'question' part of mass, someone asked if suicide was wrong, and Father Paul said that yes, it was the worst sin you could ever commit. I'm not suicidal (not even close!), but I've had a couple thoughts about that. Like, if someone had lived a good christian life, but they struggled with depression or something, and couldn't see any way out other than suicide, would God send them to hell just because they weren't thinking clearly? To me, it doesn't seem to make sense. I've had some issues with depression, and I know how it can really cloud your mind and twist everything around, and I don't think God would do something that horrible to someone who just wanted an escape. what do you think?


Suicide is what is called a 'grave sin'- this means that it is a very serious sin, that if other conditions are in place, would make it a mortal sin. A mortal sin is a sin so serious that it cuts off your relationship from God. If you die in a state of mortal sin, you go to Hell. Of course suicide is not just a grave sin, but one that kills you as well, so it may be one that sends you straight to Hell.

In order for something to be a mortal sin, though, 3 conditions must be met. 1. It must be grave matter. 2. The person sinning has to have full knowledge of what they are doing. 3. The person sinning must have full control over what they are doing. (Full consent)

So if someone is intoxicated, or depressed, or something, they may not have full knowledge and full consent. Like you said, depression can 'cloud your mind and twist everything around', so while suicide would still be a grave sin no matter what, it may not be mortal sin. So probably not everyone who commits suicide goes to Hell. What we have to remember is that God is merciful, way more merciful than any of us would be, and that He sees all the details of the situation. So what we have to do is entrust people to his mercy.

Incidentally if you or anyone you know is ever considering suicide, the right thing to do in that case is to get help, even if it means compromising your friendship with the individual!