Friday, 20 April 2018

Adzel And Axor Revisited

A few strands of thought have come together. I keep contemplating Poul Anderson's Adzel and Axor, two Wodenites perpetuating Terrestrial religions in Technic civilization. Meanwhile, Michael Portillo has returned to British television with a Hidden History. Portillo reveals that, in the nineteenth century, it was popularly believed that those whose corpses were dissected for medical research would not be resurrected on the Day of Judgment! This could only be done to criminals. CS Lewis argues in Letters To Malcolm that St Paul's teaching about a spiritual body does not imply the reconstitution or reanimation of the scattered bodily atoms. Lewis instead argues for what sounds like a purely mental, or philosophically idealist, "resurrection" of our memories of physical existence - although the Gospels describe a tangible bodily Resurrection.

 Will Adzel's Mahayana Buddhism or Axor's Jerusalem Catholicism seem more credible in Technic civilization? Materialists think that the Buddha's consciousness ceased when he died. Buddhists believe that he has neither survived as a soul nor been reborn. We can meditate and even join the Buddhist Sangha without believing that there is a literal Lord who still exists somewhere and will someday return. Spiritual practice need not be attached to this belief in a Second Coming which was expected two millennia ago but which continues not to happen.

11 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

The Second Coming of Christ has not yet occurred? To me, the mere timing is a matter of indifference because Our Lord warned his disciples that no one knows the hour of his return. A thousand years, a million, or even a trillion, what difference does it make in the eyes of God?

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
The exact timing was unknown but it was meant to happen while some of the people who heard the message were still alive.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But that was only what some people thought. But Christ himself never gave us a specific date.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Matthew 24:24; Luke 9:27; Luke 21:32.
Not a specific date but it should have happened in the 1st century.
Paul.

Paul Shackley said...

Not Matthew 24:24. Matthew 24: 34.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But I'm a Catholic, not an extremist sectarian like many Jehovah's Witnesses, who have committed themselves many times to exact dates on which they claimed Christ would return. The Catholic Church does not believe in impatiently trying to jog God's elbow and FORCE the second coming.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
But how do you interpret the texts that I cited? In those five passages, Jesus explicitly says that the kingdom will come while some of his audience are still alive.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Today is going to be busy for me. When I have more time I will look up what Catholic commentators have said about the texts you listed.

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

You cited Matthew 16-28: "Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." I quoted from the New American Bible because it is so carefully and thoroughly annotated. The commentator who discussed 16.24-28 wrote: "A readiness to follow Jesus even to giving up one's life for him is the condition for true discipleship; this will be repaid by him at the Final Judgement."

So, I think you forgot to keep in mind the CONTEXT of Matthew 16.28, the earlier verses beginning with 24 said a true disciple would be willing to die for Christ, even before His return. So verse 28 is best understood as referring to what happens after the second coming.

Matthew 24.34 says: "Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place." The annotator wrote: "The difficulty raised by this verse cannot be satisfactorily removed by the supposition that 'this generation' means the Jewish people throughout their history, much less the entire human race. Perhaps for Matthew it means the 'generation' to which he and his community belonged."

I admit the difficulty and concede not all of Scripture is perfectly clear and understandable. Which is one reason why I don't believe in sola scriptura and insist only the Catholic Church can rightly and authoritatively interpret Scripture in a binding way.

Mark 9.1 says: "Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power." The glossator wrote: "understood by some to refer to the establishment of God's power of his kingdom on earth in and through the church; more likely, as understood by others, a reference to the imminent parousia."

However, I think this text is better understood by what another glossator said about Matthew 16.28. Esp. if, as I believe was the case, Mark drew heavily on Matthew for his Gospel (the neo-Griesbachchian hypothesis).

Luke 9.27 says: "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God." Again, I think this is most simply explained by Luke drawing on Matthew's gospel in 16.28. And thus both the glossator's comment on that text and my own remarks apply here.

Luke 21.32 says: "Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place." Yet again, as I believe, we see Luke drawing on Matthew 16.28, which means the comments made about that verse applies as well to this text from Luke. The text here was marked with a "t" which cited Luke 9.27 and Matthew 16.28.

To sum up, I really don't think the texts you cited pose any difficulty to Christians who keep in mind both the admitted difficulty some texts pose AND the need to keep the greater context in mind. Again, I refer to the need to keep Matthew 16.24-27 in mind and the commentator's remarks.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Thank you for this exposition. This time, we have focused on the issue. Sometimes we seem to circle around it!
I think that any informed Biblical scholar (which certainly does not include me) can interpret scripture - although never with definitive authority. The Catholic Bishops can only assess the texts like anyone else although, of course, their interpretation is informed by their beliefs.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I kinda agree with you, up to a point. I would have said that the Church seldom invokes infallibility to bindingly interpret a part of Scripture. Most times, we are content to interpret the Bible according to the Tradition of the Church (what you called "beliefs").

Of course I agree any competent scholar or layman can interpret Scripture, I merely insist their unofficial views are non binding on anyone else. And if they glaringly contradict defined doctrine, thereby becomes erroneous as well.

Sean