Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the diminishing relevance of “the Great Apostasy”: part 1 - introduction


In the combox of the previous AF thread, certain reflections posted by TOm provided impetus, on my part, for the deeper exploration of two inextricably linked LDS concepts: “the Great Apostasy” and “there are save two churches only”—i.e. “the church of the Lamb of God" and “the church of the devil". Note the following:

Finally, my point is not to be an apologist for Padre Pio who I believe was a good Christian. My point is that if one approaches Padre Pio and Joseph Smith with the same degree of skepticism they can either declare both are frauds (probably because they believe in a Christian cessationism OR an Atheistic rejection of all supernatural) or they can declare both experienced the supernatural. The Catholic who believes both experienced the supernatural in my opinion MUST conclude the devil was involved in the supernatural interaction Joseph Smith experienced. The LDS in my opinion could consistently declare that the devil was involved in the supernatural interaction with Padre Pio, BUT INSTEAD could consistently declare that God interacted with Padre Pio where Padre Pio was. That God’s purposes are served by enhancing the faith of Padre Pio AND Catholics who become more faithful because of his witness. [Link]

The notion that the supernatural events which pervaded the life of Padre Pio were actuated via the Holy Ghost of God the Father, brought to mind a trend I have discerned amongst many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—i.e. “the Great Apostasy" was not as ‘great’ as earlier generations of Latter-day Saints had thought.

This ‘trend' has emerged in varying forms, which include: an emphasis on doctrines and practices held by various Christian denominations and sects that have similarities with those held by the CoJCoLDS; an acknowledgement that there are many ‘good Christians' in those non-LDS denominations and sects—even though those folk have not accepted the saving ordinances that can be performed ONLY by LDS priesthood holders; and further, while maintaining that an apostasy had occurred in the church that Jesus and His apostles had founded which required a “restoration”, there is reticence on the part of current missionaries and lay members to affirm that those ‘good Christians' of non-LDS denominations and sects are ‘apostates’ and members of “the church of the Devil”. In addition to the above examples, I have even heard some LDS folk state that Latter-day Saints and Muslims ‘worship the same God’.

In 2014 a collection of scholarly essays de-emphasizing the extent of “the Great Apostasy" were published in the book Standing Apart (Google preview here).

Though valuable historical information was provided in some of those essays, for the most part, I found much of content bordering on sophistic attempts to support the unfolding paradigm shift in the LDS understanding of “the Great Apostasy”.

[Three of the essays in the book are available online: first, Blumell’s Rereading the Council of Nicaea and its Creed (link); second, Givens’ Epilogue: “We have only the Old Thing”: Rethinking Mormon Restoration (link); and in a slightly different form, Dursteler’s Historical Periodization in the LDS Great Apostasy Narrative [Inheriting the ‘Great Apostasy’] (link).

This ‘trend’ to diminish the relevance of “the Great Apostasy” amongst many Latter-day Saints, stands in stark contrast to the importance portrayed in the unique LDS scriptures and the writings of a consensus of LDS authors who have written on the subject throughout the 19th and 20th centuries—e.g. Joseph Smith Jr., Orson Pratt, Parley Pratt, John Taylor, Joseph F. Smith, James Talmage, B.H. Roberts, and Bruce R. McConkie.

In part 2 of this series, I will delve into what Joseph Smith Jr. had to say about “the Great Apostasy”, including the scriptures brought forth by his hand.


Grace and peace,

David

20 comments:

leeseykay said...

Hi Dave.

For any who haven't seen previous threads, the context of these remarks are about one who is widely believed to be a 20th Century Catholic wonderworker, Padre Pio, and one who is widely believed to be a 19th Century LDS wonderworker, Joseph Smith.

David
The Catholic who believes both experienced the supernatural in my opinion MUST conclude the devil was involved in the supernatural interaction Joseph Smith experienced.

Rory
Certainly. But I don't think every Catholic is obliged to have an opinion on the subject of whether Joseph Smith was naturally gifted or aided preternaturally by the devil. There is not in my opinion, an objective reason for a Catholic to worry about whether his Church is apostate. Out of a concern for LDS, or Muslims, or their offshoots, it can be a worthy apologetics exercise to evaluate their relative truth claims. I would suggest that neither Muhammed, nor Joseph Smith were as familiar with the teachings and claims of the Catholic Church as they needed to be if they would propose a new religion to take its place. Nor am I familiar with prodigious claims regarding miracles, except for the Scriptures that they offer.

David
The LDS in my opinion could consistently declare that the devil was involved in the supernatural interaction with Padre Pio, BUT INSTEAD could consistently declare that God interacted with Padre Pio where Padre Pio was. That God’s purposes are served by enhancing the faith of Padre Pio AND Catholics who become more faithful because of his witness.

Rory

What would you say about the Muslim? It serves the LDS God's purpose that Catholics become more faithful to an apostasy. I guess the Muslim could "consistently" take the same position? What makes Catholics so "special" that Allah or the LDS God would "benevolently" deceive Catholics so emphatically that we wouldn't consider becoming LDS or Muslim?

But it isn't just the miracles that are performed by Allah or Heavenly Father that leads the Catholic astray. The very devil cooperates with Allah and Heavenly Father in the benevolent deception too! We saw vivid evidence from the life of Padre Pio that Satan often buffets apostate Catholic wonderworkers and tempts them with the severest rage and violence. Earning the hatred of hell makes the lives of Catholics saints seem to be even more impressive. The Catholic would say that this is to the chagrin of the devil. What would be the Muslim/Mormon position on what the devil is doing? Or maybe it wasn't even the devil? Maybe it was Allah or Heavenly Father knocking Padre Pio around his cell so that Catholics would stay faithfully Catholic?

Some final questions

I tried to make a case that it was the biblical norm, with few exceptions, for miracles to be a sign for the truth claims of the wonder worker. Do you think a good case can be made that the biblical norm for people who have believed in Catholic miracles, is to suspend their judgment until they have prayed about the Koran and/or the Book of Mormon? Do you think it is reasonable to believe that Allah or Heavenly Father works miracles through Catholics who preach and believe in a false god which Muslims and Mormons hold to be absurd?

Rory

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Thanks much for taking the time to comment on my new post.

The quotes that you provided under my name were actually penned by TOm.

For the larger context of Tom’s remarks, click on the link I provided after the quote I provided in RED.

Now, with the said, I would like to respond to the two questions posed at the end of your post (even though they are ultimately directed to TOm). You asked:

==Do you think a strong case can be made that the biblical norm for people who have believed in Catholic miracles, is to suspend their judgment until they have prayed about the Koran and the Book of Mormon?==

No. IMO, to do so would raise serious doubt concerning the origin of such miracles.

==Do you think it is reasonable to believe that Allah or Heavenly Father works miracles through Catholics who preach and believe in a false god which Muslims and Mormons hold to be absurd?==

IMO, reason strongly suggests that the God of Muslim belief—who is Unitarian in an absolute sense—would not do so.

As for Mormons, given the doctrinal diversity amongst Latter-day Saints concerning God/Gods, I suspect you would receive both yeses and nos.


Grace and peace,

David

Dennis said...

Hi Guys,

I think the change in attitude may be that Mormons are grappling with more realism in a secular age vs the religious emotionalism of the Great Revival period.

I wasnt aware of the ambiguity of Smiths first vision: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Vision

It seems that he added stuff to his experience upon reflection in the light of Mormon Development of Doctrine.

An example from myself is that age 15 I read John 3 said a prayer of repentance & became born again in the evangelical sense (even though I was baptised Catholic & had some belief in God). After reading the Church Fathers & reflecting on baptism, I believe I was born again at baptism but came to a living faith at 15.

But I remember everything clearly.

Last year I almost lost my job and was going thru monthly performance reviews & was praying for help. I was at a Catholic charismatic meeting, a woman who didnt know my situation had a "word of knowledge" about someone who was facing trouble at work, God knew what I was going thru & how insecure it was making me feel.

I then asked someone to pray with me in the carpark & he reassured me that I was going to get thru this and all would come good.

I remember it all. BUT, the word of knowledge & prayer, not in fine detail as it was an emotional time. Now I could embellish this story to make it "water tight", but that would be adding to it.

So I think some Mormons are starting to see the light of reason. A young teenager having a vision will translate it in a way that is emotionally satisfying.

Cheers
Dennis

David Waltz said...

Hi Dennis,

Thanks much for taking the time to comment. Hope all is well we you and yours during the current covid19 crisis.

You wrote:

==I think the change in attitude may be that Mormons are grappling with more realism in a secular age vs the religious emotionalism of the Great Revival period.==

I am inclined to believe that it is the relativism which has permeated the educational system in the USA for decades that is the major culprit, along with a sprinkling of ‘political correctness’ (a subset of relativism).

With that said, I am quite pleased that you brought up the issue of the “First Vision". In upcoming posts, I hope to demonstrate that the FV is a foundational component of the ‘Great Apostasy'/Restoration motif. Until then, would like to say that the Wiki link you provided is outstanding—IMO, it is one of the most comprehensive Wiki contributions I have read.

Concerning the FV, you said:

==It seems that he added stuff to his experience upon reflection in the light of Mormon Development of Doctrine.==

That is certainly possible, but it may be that JS was so focused on Moroni and the BoM plates/translation process, that he did not elaborate on the FV until after the publication of the BoM.

In my own personal, decades long study of Mormonism, the issue of the FV came quite early. The Tanners were quite critical of the FV, but I soon learned that LDS apologists had more than adequately addressed the thorny issues concerning the FV.

In the late 80s, I had obtained and read Milton Backman’s comprehensive book, Joseph Smith's First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts (2nd edition – 1980—Amazon).

This book brought to my attention a 1969 BYU Studies volume which contained a number of excellent essays on the issue of the FV—free download HERE.

If you have the time, and interest, I would like to recommend the following lengthy online treatment by Jeff Lindsay:

Joseph Smith and His Accounts of the First Vision-Fatal Contradictions?

Anyway, thanks again for your post. Back to work on part 2 of my current series…


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Dennis,

A quick couple of items: first, want to correct a typo.

"Hope all is well we you and yours during the current covid19 crisis."

Should read:

Hope all is well with you and yours during the current covid19 crisis.

Second, I forgot to mention 2020 is the 200th anniversary of the FV, and have heard that the upcoming CoJCoLDS General Conference will be placing emphasis on it.


Grace and peace,

David

Dennis said...

Thanks David. I hope you and your family & everyone else who reads this blog is fairing well with the Corona chaos.

I had a brief look at one of your links but I still think this is a case of Mormon "dod".

A parallel would be the OT theophany of Abraham. Jecs 2015 genesis 2018.pdf from duqs.edu shows that Patristics at first identified the 3 as Jesus & 2 angels and then later a typology developed in the Fathers giving this a Trinitarian reading.

Another example say Fatima. There seem to be a few contradictions in the stories and memories of what happened, & clergy were obviously eager to push a "water-tight" affirmation of some of the Marian dogma https://crc-internet.org/our-doctrine/catholic-counter-reformation/whole-truth-fatima/13-the-rationalist-solution-of-gerard-de-sede.html

Given that visions are subservient to Scripture & Tradition, they cannot be used to evolve theology but simply to back it up.

Young JS was in an environment of revivalism, he might have had a vision of 2 persons, one being the Son. But to identify the other as God is to innovate. None of the Church Fathers identified God as a Person in the Abrahamic theophany AFAIK. On reflection the Church identified this theophany Trinitarian but that in a typological way.

There is a gap in the JS story where he lives "in the world" & then comes back to God, back to a Mormon framework I would think. Maybe in this interval he really did go astray & came back with a different spirituality.

On top of this, to identify God with "flesh & bones" is making him the highest order of creation & that goes against classical theology which sees God as transcendent. You've read Bentley Hart & I think he does a great job of expounding classical theism.

Cheers
Dennis

leeseykay said...

Hey Dennis.

I am glad to see you back. You made a comment with which I must make some remarks. It is about Fatima, and I don't want to distract us from the current topic. But it relates to what we have been talking about with our LDS friend, Tom, regarding Catholic apostasy, in the past and today.

Here is what you said:

Another example say Fatima. There seem to be a few contradictions in the stories and memories of what happened, & clergy were obviously eager to push a "water-tight" affirmation of some of the Marian dogma https://crc-internet.org/our-doctrine/catholic-counter-reformation/whole-truth-fatima/13-the-rationalist-solution-of-gerard-de-sede.html

I have to object to your understandable assumption that "clergy were obviously eager to push a 'water-tight' affirmation of some of the Marian dogma". I can work some more on this later. But think about the message of Fatima. "The clergy" in this case, are hearing prophecies about how the Church is going to apostatize. There was always vigorous opposition to the message of Our Lady of Fatima within the Catholic Church. Continued suppression of the message continues to this day.

Since Padre Pio is fresh in our memories here at Articuli Fidei, I thought this might be of interest:

https://veritas-vincit-international.org/2017/07/05/third-secret-of-fatima-false-church-end-times/

Dennis said...

Thanks Rory,

Overall I believe that is right but this may just refer to the "public face" of the Catholic church. The antichrists appeared before the last apostle died and have been infiltrating the church ever since (although your view of church is narrower than mine ).

Just like Israel which was an outward visible nation, but usually corrupt except for a publically hidden remnant, the church followed the same path.

The paedofile trials keep uncovering the devil's hoard here in Australia and new accusations come out against Cardinal Pell. I also just found out that Jean Varnier was also involved in a giant coverup !

I just wish the Donatists didnt excommunicate the rest of the church in their time because Im thinking they had a point that got bulldozed by Augustine due to their mishandling of a real issue. The lesson of dealing with clerical sin could have set a precedent 1000s of years ago.

Cheers
Dennis

Dennis said...

I must add a disclaimer to my comment on Pell. The Australian High Court has found the accusations against Pell improbable and his conviction has been quashed.

This may have relevance to this post. If for a good childhood experience eg a vision, the mind remembers with clarity, for a bad experience the mind may blot out details and only remember portions. This could explain Pell's accusers if Pell is innocent.

Regarding J Smith's vision, apart from the development of doctrine i mentioned, his mental state may have been affected by intense anxiety wanting to know the true church. Were things he was hearing at the revival meetings and his yearning producing a "picture in his mind" which he laters recalls as a vision and that explains the ambiguity ?

Cheers
Dennis

David Waltz said...

Hi Dennis,

Thanks much for the update on Cardinal Pell—it should give all of us pause for reflection. Sexual abuse—in all its forms—is a heinous sin; but, almost equally as heinous are those who perpetrate false claims of sexual abuse for selfish motives.

You also wrote:

== Regarding J Smith's vision, apart from the development of doctrine i mentioned, his mental state may have been affected by intense anxiety wanting to know the true church. Were things he was hearing at the revival meetings and his yearning producing a "picture in his mind" which he laters recalls as a vision and that explains the ambiguity ?==

Interesting assessment; one that cannot be ruled out. But then, I don’t think we can rule out Joseph Smith's version of the FV as it is now recorded in the Pearl of Great Price.


Grace and peace,

David

The Potato Philosopher said...

Hello all,

I wont get coronavirus from posting here will I?
Here is a relevant comment by Brigham (now not so) Young: "As death left him, so judgment will find him, trying to worship God in the best manner he was acquainted with. John Wesley and his true followers will receive a glory far surpassing what they ever thought or dreamed of while under the influence of their greatest inspirations, and they will be saved. Are they also damned? Yes, because they have not attained the victory over the enemy of all righteousness. It is the holy Priesthood of God that gives man the victory in this world, and he begins to reign over the power of the enemy here. The keys of the kingdom of the Son of God outreach and circumscribe the power of the Enemy."

https://jod.mrm.org/7/282

Now, as a member of the Church of the Nazarene, which is Wesleyan, I would like to endorse the first part. (Sorry modern Methodists, most of you aren't going to make it by that standard.) First. Jesus was neither Catholic nor Mormon, but he is a Nazarene. Therefore it follows that the Church of the Nazarene is the only true church. I mention this terrible joke both because I think it is mildly funny but also to say something serious. First, there are some Nazarenes who actually hold that (few in the circles I'm in). Which is interesting, since Nazarenes are Evangelical and Evangelicals are typically not exclusivists amongst professing Christians (exceptions of course for Witnesses and Mormons, but increasingly I find lots of people just don't know much about these groups or view them as only a bit weird, kind of like Adventists).

Second, there is a strong trend in Christian higher education (though, like the Holy Roman Empire it may be none of those things) that promotes inclusivism of other religions. Obviously this is manifest in Barth and Vatican II for Catholics, but it the default position for American Nazarene academics (theology department types anyway). I make this generalization because (1) there are not many Nazarene schools and they are either about the same or more liberal than NNU, where I go. Also (2) I read a lot of their stuff.

This manifests itself toward pretty much all religions. The focus is always on similarities and not differences. Heck, I had a professor who said that it was possible that some baal worshippers got saved. I asked him his opinion on that and was not surprised by his answer. He taught Christian missions - well that was the class title anyway.

May God's Coronavirus Wrath cease, Amen
Sean

The Potato Philosopher said...

Also relevant
https://rsc.byu.edu/vol-9-no-3-2008/john-wesley-methodist-foundation-restoration

"Woodruff set apart three of the individuals—Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin, and John Wesley—as high priests without explaining why in his journals."

leeseykay said...

Thanks for the post Potasopher.

I am home today for the virus (family member being tested). I will be sure not to tell him to read your post if you are concerned. Heh.

For Catholics, today is Maundy, or Holy Thursday. In it we recall the events immediately previous to our Lord's Passion which begins in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Church tries to help her children to recall throughout the year, the events of Holy Week. For instance Ash Wednesday is appropriate for beginning the penitential season of Lent because it was on Wednesday of Holy Week that Judas conspired with His enemies to betray Jesus. This also explains the propriety of having the seasonal Ember Days always begin with a Wednesday.

Today is the day we commemorate the Last Supper, and the holy priesthood. Because the Holy Eucharist was instituted on Holy Thursday, the Church, appropriately celebrates the Feast of Corpus on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Likewise, there is a votive Mass which can be celebrated on Thursday called the Mass of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme and Eternal Priest. There is a public devotion given to support and prayer for priests which takes place on the first Thursday of the month.

My next post will relate another lesson we can learn from Holy Thursday about why the Catholic Church, while affirming that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, would necessarily agree with your professor about the hope (not a good hope) a Catholic must reserve for individual Baal worshippers, or anyone else who ever lived. We will also be speaking of Judas Iscariot and whether we should have any hope for him.

To be continued...

leeseykay said...

Hmmm.

I realize that I did not show why the Church teaches that it was on Thursday that our Lord instituted the sacerdotal priesthood. Very simply, we believe that the apostles became ordained priests, with the permission and authority to consecrate the Holy Eucharist when Christ said to them, "Do this in commemoration of me."

PP, you remarked about the tendencies among modern Christians to minimize differences and maximize similarities to a point of what I would call "indifference to doctrinal differences": "Heck, I had a professor who said that it was possible that some baal worshippers got saved."

I deplore the modern practice of ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and any naked, feather wearing, idol worshipper on equal terms. The so-called Amazon Synod recently involved flying these people from Amazonian jungles to Rome so that all the Cardinals and the pope could sit around and show respect for their worship of the Pachamama. At best this had to be bewildering to these poor, illiterate, uncivilized souls, who seem to worship God's creation but not God. How could these savages possibly want to become Catholic after that? Why would they. The "Catholics" with whom they had contact wanted them to enlighten Catholics, not the other way around.

Ecumenism is not missionary work. It is anti-missionary to make people feel comfortable in a false religion as the pope and princes of the Church did just recently.

---to be continued

leeseykay said...

Our Lord made His triumphal entry in to Jerusalem, last Sunday, Palm Sunday. More than ever, the people are hailing the Nazarene with Hosannas, to the prophesied, Son of David as being the promised One, who would be he deliverer of Israel. The chief priests and elders find themselves in a difficult position. By any kind of public conflict with Christ, they risk incurring the anger of the crowds, including the pilgrims who are arriving for the Paschal feast. If a riot would result they would not relish explaining themselves to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. They prudently decide against any kind of violent confrontation with Jesus until the Passover ceremonies have been completed.

On Wednesday, however, a root of bitterness has made its way in to the tiny community of disciples gathered around Jesus. When at Simon the leper's house a woman, who tradition says was St. Mary Magdalene, anointed Jesus with an entire alabaster box of costly spikenard, Judas Iscariot is particularly perturbed. While the others accepted our Lord's admonition to not be offended at this, Judas, who perhaps would have liked the money for himself, cannot accept Jesus's instruction.

While the chief priests and elders have deliberated, and been vexed as to how they might bring about the downfall of the "trouble maker from Nazareth", a "gift" is given them which they had probably not considered. Treachery!

"Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memorial of her. And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him."

---Mark 14:9-11

Thursday, the next day, the first day of the unleavened bread, would present such a convenience. All is arranged, including thirty pieces of silver in exchange for this single most infamous act of betrayal in all of history. Jesus would be in Jerusalem tomorrow, eating the Pasch with his disciples, before repairing as was His custom, to the garden on the Mount of Olives. But how would the magistrates, sent there to apprehend Jesus, be sure to recognize Him among the Apostles? Judas would kiss the One who they were intended to capture.

---to be continued

David Waltz said...

Hi Sean,

An interesting post; much to address. First, the quote from Brigham Young. Though BY was probably the best choice as the leader who would facilitate the massive migration of the Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley—and subsequent building up the LDS 'kingdom—he was certainly not a systematic theologian. With that said, your quote has its basis in D&C 76. Note the following:

>>Terrestrial Kingdom

Those who inherit terrestrial glory will “receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father. Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:77–78). Generally speaking, individuals in the terrestrial kingdom will be honorable people “who were blinded by the craftiness of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:75). This group will include members of the Church who were “not valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:79). To learn more about those who will inherit terrestrial glory, see Doctrine and Covenants 76:71–80, 91, 97.>>[ Link]

Concerning the issue of “the Great Apostasy”, BY taught:

"Soon after the ascension of Jesus, through mobocracy, martyrdom and apostasy, the church of Christ became extinct from the earth, the Man Child—the Holy Priesthood, was received up into Heaven whence it came, and we hear no more of it on the earth, until the Angels restored it to Joseph Smith, by whose ministry the Church of Jesus Christ was restored…" [Link]

Second, the issue of “inclusivism of other religions”. I suspect a large tome could be written on the rise and evolution of this topic, which seems to have its origins in the 19th century, and has emerged in my lifetime as a powerful force amongst the majority of ‘Christian’ denominations and sects. Yet with that said, I find virtually no basis for this now prominent understanding within the pages of Scripture. The same can be said for Catholic tradition until Vatican II.

Anyway, shall end here for now, leaving the issue of “what about those who have never heard the Gospel” for another time.


Grace and peace,

David

leeseykay said...

What follows these events is a remarkable record of the love, patient longsuffering, and mercy of God towards the one who had conspired with the enemies of Christ. In the end, the actual graces which were directed towards Judas after his first betrayal, cannot permit us to have hope for the salvation of Judas Iscariot.

Judas is not yet irretrievably lost. Let us examine the opportunities he has for repentance. None of the disciples know, but Jesus knows of Judas's treachery. All of them are reclined, as was the custom for the feast, when our Lord revealed to all of them that they were now divided. The deeply troubling, unthinkable news comes when Jesus says:

"Amen I say to you that one of you is about to betray me:-he that dippeth is hand with Me in the dish."

Mt. 26:21-23

Great consternation certainly grips Judas who realizes he is discovered. But why doesn't Jesus reveal it to all? Why doesn't Jesus simply excuse Judas from their presence with justified scorn and contempt? Instead, the sadness with which Jesus expresses the news that one of their own was a traitor, melts the hearts and causes great consternation to the innocent eleven. Doubting their own fidelity, they ask one by one, "Is it I, Rabbi?" How could Judas not realize that this Good Master of love and mercy, who knows what Judas is planning, would forgive him if only he would confess his as yet, incompleted crime. Instead, like the eleven he asks the Master, "Is it I?" The answer is whispered, so as to conceal it from the brethren, "Thou hast said it!" But Judas yields not to the graces which are coming to him. He intends to remain, unrepentant in the presence of Christ and His disciples, until the very hour of betrayal.

---to be continued

leeseykay said...

After this community meal, which followed the ceremonial feast of unleavened bread, The disciples were quite obviously taken aback with this sobering news that one of them is false, and yet remains in their presence! One disciple will be in a position to learn more later, him who is leaning on the very breast of the God-Man is moved to ask Him further about this intolerable situation. For now though, he finds consolation in a manner that needs no words. I consider the embellishment, if you will, of the Gospel by Dom Gueranger to be almost necessarily accurate. I offer the following for your consideration:

"The second repast is a sorrowful one, in consequence of Jesus having told the guests that one of them is a traitor. The innocent and affectionate John is overwhelmed with grief, and seeks consolation on the Heart of his dear Lord, whom some one is about to deliver to His enemies."

---The Liturgical Year, by Dom Gueranger, Vol. 6, Passiontide and Holy Week, p. 368, St. Bonaventure Publications, (2000)

A couple of more surprises still await the disciples. There is to be a third supper which no one had reason to expect. But Jesus had been looking forward with great anticipated desire to this Feast of feasts. "With desire I have desired..." is how He describes what He is about to share, when He institutes the Holy Eucharist in their presence. It is now the time to fulfill the promise made not long before that He intended to give us His flesh and blood to eat. Many disciples went away because of this hard saying.

Jesus never called them back to explain that He was speaking figuratively. He asked the twelve if they would also go away. St. Peter seemed as baffled as those who went away about how we could eat the flesh and blood of Jesus. He did not explain how those who went away surely misunderstood our Lord when they understood this "hard saying". St. Peter accepted the mystery, and answered for them all:

"And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil? Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve."

---John 6:69-72

to be continued...

leeseykay said...

Dom Gueranger explains the Catholic view of why this was finally the appropriate moment to fulfill the promise of John 6:

"The time has come for the fulfillment of this His loving promise. But as it was both His Flesh and His Blood that He promised us, He waited till the time of His sacrifice. His Passion has begun; He is sold to His enemies; His life is already in their hands:-He may at once, therefore, offer Himself in sacrifice, and give to His disciples the very Flesh and Blood of the Victim."

---opus cited, p. 368

But before Communion on Holy Thursday, we have the ceremony of the "Washing of the Feet", in imitation of what Jesus did for His disciples during the First Mass. So that we might keep Judas in focus, we will see our Lord once again give opportunity for Judas to recognize the grave danger in which he is placing himself. Judas is not excepted from our Lord's condescending action of cleansing the feet, which is intended to effect a spiritual cleansing of the heart. But that would take cooperation from each individual. God wills the salvation of every man, but He wills that every man freely accept it. Judas sees that Jesus, who knows his treachery, is tenderly and affectionately washing his feet too. There are no bitter glances, anymore than there were angry words aimed at Judas. Jesus isn't rougher with his feet than with the others. Jesus cares for Judas as affectionately as before, except in a mournful way, knowing He has lost a son. He will love Judas unto the end. Judas knows that it is of him that Jesus rightly declares during this ceremonial action, "You are clean, but not all." (John 13:10)

His good God is by word and deed giving Judas opportunity after opportunity to reverse his tragic mistake before it is too late, prompted the previous day by becoming upset about the box of spikenard. Judas would have to be deliberately blind to not see that he could even now be truly forgiven. If Jesus treated a traitor as Judas was being treated, how would he not be warmly and lovingly received if only the traitor should ask forgiveness?

Our Lord is not finished with His mercies towards Judas. As the disciples are receiving the cup of their First Holy Communions, Jesus again refers to the traitor: "The hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table." (Luke 22:21)

Undoubtedly all of the disciples, and especially Judas, are struck by how Jesus repeatedly makes reference to this as yet incomplete offense against the Son of God. St. Peter doesn't ask Jesus, but he signals to good St. John, who is nearest to Him to find out who it is. In a whisper, John asks, and Our Lord responds as quietly, "He to whom I shall reach the bread dipped." (John 13:26)

St. John adds that after receiving the morsel Satan entered in to Judas. Satan did not have possession of Judas before this? Judas certainly had the freedom before this to accept our Lord's kindnesses unto one who He knew was conspiring against Him. Jesus gives Judas communion. Judas is given a morsel of the leftover unleavened bread by Jesus's hand. Jesus is treating him in a way so that none of the disciples need ever know what Judas had planned. If Judas would only seek the forgiveness of His God, he could be received back in to His company, and our salvation would have to be achieved another way!

There is only one actual grace more yet to come to the obstinate Judas, but after this latest is refused, Our Lord shows that He will do nothing to prevent Judas's intended actions: "That which thou dost, do quickly." (John 13:27)

to be continued...

leeseykay said...

I cannot believe that Judas is saved. We have been given too much insight in to his obstinate rejection of grace. Further we have the sad words of Christ Himself:

"The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed: it were better for him, if that man had not been born."

---Mt. 26:24

How could Jesus say that of one who is ultimately saved? The last of the graces that Judas rejects is probably the tenderest and most poignant. You have probably already guessed. I do not think I need to paint the scene again. We can all see it clearly. Without pulling away, without any rancor in His voice Our Lord receives a kiss from this unfortunate man. And He says in a voice all free of malice, and in mournful thoughtfulness for the plight of the poor criminal, rather than for all of His own immediate sufferings:

"And he that betrayed him, gave them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he, hold him fast. And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: Hail, Rabbi. And he kissed him. And Jesus said to him: Friend, whereto art thou come? Then they came up, and laid hands on Jesus, and held him."

---Mt. 26:48-50

Was it too late? It is never too late so long as we live. All any of us needs to avoid damnation is to not refuse, as Judas did, the great graces that were heaped upon him. It is only because we have seen how this one tragic man, freely rejected every opportunity to be forgiven by Him, who still called him “friend” at the very moment of his betraying Jesus, that we seem to need to affirm that if only one soul is in Hell, it is he. St. Peter would deny Jesus that very same night. The other disciples, except for St. John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, were nowhere to be found during the rest of the Passion. They scattered in understandable fear and confusion.

Have we not played the traitor ourselves against God every time we sin? Judas did not wish to curb his own way. He knew that to gain forgiveness, he would have to not merely make a contrite confession; it would need to be accompanied by what is only reasonable, love and obedience, for if we love God, we will keep His commandments. Judas had heard those words that very night. Jesus willed to be the friend of the arch-traitor, the proto-traitor, if you will.

I wrote the preceding lines in the belief that the historical realities that took place on that Holy Thursday almost two thousand years ago, are as pertinent now as if we were at the scene in the Garden of Agony. Seeing Christ's tender mercies towards Judas, should help us to never doubt God’s love and tender mercy towards us, or towards Baal worshippers, or towards naked jungle dwellers. He in whom we “live and move and have our being” loves sinners with an unspeakable divine love, as well as a sacred and fervent human love.

This is why I agree with the professor cited by you, Potato Philosopher, who allows the possibility that those who have been adherents of idol worship, or done any manner of heinous deeds, are still sought by a loving God, who will call them “friends”, if they will only give God his rightful submission. As with Judas, any of us can do this right up until the end. The Great Judgment will show that only through deliberate self murder of the soul, can we be lost. One does not accidentally go to Hell. I propose that we must hold that God gives graces to all, according to His mysterious Wisdom and Providence, in such a manner, that we can blame Him for none who are damned, and praise Him for all who would be saved.

Forgive my long windedness, please.

A Blessed Holy Thursday to all, from one who is encouraged this day, by the love of Jesus for Judas.

Rory