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4 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A most absurd book by a very important person, 3 Sept. 2009
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This review is from: Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life (Paperback)
If you are seeking a book which seeks to prove that there is truth behind a long held figment of the imagination, this is definitely worth reading. 'Eschatology', the study of the 'Last Things' i.e. Death, Judgement, Resurrection, Heaven and Hell is based not on evidence, hypotheses subjected to experiment or, indeed, any research whatever. The notions stem purely from selections of Biblical verses, written down often as a result of prophetic visions and trances.

When these 'sources' prove inadequate as they sometimes do for this writer - 'Pure Biblicism does not get us very far'- he writes at one stage, Joseph Ratzinger makes up suitable things on the spot. What would any reasonable person make of the following 'conclusions'? - a. Human beings live on 'with the Lord' even before the resurrection - b. This living is not yet identical with the Resurrection which comes only at ''at the end of days'' which will be the full breaking in of God's Lordship over the world'

These ramblings of a deranged mind, no matter how correct and 'educated' the language, would not matter were the author not the Pope - he who proclaims himself to be Jesus' own unique earthly rep.

So long as such peculiar works are venerated, there will continue to be a strong case for a new 'Age of Enlightenment'. Religious obscurantism is wreaking enough global havoc with its current, (hopefully temporary) revival.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Sep 2009 16:04:42 BDT
Aquinas says:
I was a little puzzled by your review as it seemed kind of angry and I had just read the book myself for the second time and thought it really was a wonderful attempt to explain that Catholics take reason seriously - we have seen this particularly in the last 70 years following the Catholic Church's acceptance of the historical critical method developed by protestants in the main. Taking the biblical texts seriously as operating in human history is the best anti-dote to funamentalism - note this is precisely the position muslims won't accept - for them, the Koran might as well have fallen out of the sky. But, I see you were a Jehovah Witness - and this is precisely the issue - for the JWs the bible appeared before us - full stop - no history - lets start interpreting it precisely accepting this premise - that it was written by a bunch of americans in the 19th century (updated to reflect the 21th century views) buts that a nonsense. There is a middle ground however and that is to accept that faith and reason can work together. Ratzinger shows the way in my view.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Sep 2009 19:31:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Sep 2009 20:20:42 BDT
Aquinas -you seem to share the Pope's attitudes. This 'faith and reason' mix is a fine catch all for believing what we like, and dismissing what we don't. Reason tells us that the 6 day creation, Jonah in the Whale and Elijah's Fiery chariot could not have been literal events. It also tells us that Virgins cannot give birth, the dead cannot be raised and fleshly phantoms (like the Risen Christ) can neither exist nor ascend into Heaven. Reason tells us too that the Pope's claim to be Peter's successor as Christ's earthly rep. is delusional.

'Faith' coupled with reason seems no more than a means whereby we can take from sacred works what we choose and when. A faith in a Virgin Birth or the Healing of the Blind may be relatively harmless. A faith in Jesus' literal return to Jerusalem has led to weird and dangerous behaviour, and it did not finish with the mediaeval Crusades. A faith in the Divine command, and Islamic pillar, to carry out violent Jihad is a huge problem for us all. This 'Faith and Reason' thing is an absurdity. 'Nice' folks will have faith in the nice bits. The problem with the Bible and Koran is that they also contain obscenities.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Oct 2009 23:21:42 BDT
I presume, Aquinas, that you think my post adds nothing. A further comment from you on the nature of 'faith', might, however, be helpful. The Pope's comments about life after death in his Eschatology book contained no reason whatever. Why should anyone share his 'faith' in 'living in Christ' and 'The End of Time'? Why not a faith in the return of the Mahdi? Or the notion that only JWs know the TRUTH? If we forsake reason we have the option to place faith in anything, be it harmless, damgerous, cruel, or, in the Pope's (and presumably your) case - plain ridiculous.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Oct 2009 15:25:23 BDT
Aquinas says:
Rowland, "Faith" for a christian is always bound up with the person of Christ and what strikes us about Christ is his mode of living, namely: "My will is to do the will of the One who sent me and to complete his work" (John's gospel, I don't remember verse numbers).

In many ways, the person of Christ is the antithesis of what being a "person" means for us contemporaries, "person" being bound up with the question of rights and individualism. Thus, for christians, being a "person" is bound up with how "person" operates within the context of the communion of the Trinity, where the three person live in a community of love, but yet are "One". (I know this is not what you were thought as a JW)

The very first question here is: whether it is rational to beleive in God? I beleive it is, indeed it seems to be the best hypothesis. The idea that something comes out of nothing or that the Universe exists eternally as Plato thought seems less likely to be true than that the Universe was the subject of creation. Interestingly, it was the catholic priest, Le Maitre, who is credited with the first espousal of the big bang theory (So, I understand). Aquinas' proofs are still good and the proof of conscious i.e. the innate voice that something is good or evil

The second question on the level of reason is: Did Christ exist? Belief in Christ without evidence of his existence would be plainly absurd. It is beyond the scope of this email to go into this but I would refer you to the 4 volume work by JP Meier: "The Marginal Jew" which in Volume 1 covers the evidence of Josephus and the Roman writers of the time. His conclusion is that it is rational to believe he existed.

The second question is: is the message of Christ as relayed to us rational or irrational? It is undoubtedly the case that at first sight the message is counterintutive i.e. it is only in losing our life that we gain our life, that in giving we receive. Reason does come in though, when we subject his message to experiment i.e. what happens if we live that kind of life. Its eminently rational to subject any message or ideology to testing (empirical or otherwise). I have tested the message and believe it to be true: I am "living in Christ" and it tastes sweet and yet I am dying.

If I may so, I think your time as a JW has coloured your view of the end times. St Paul in his letter to the Romans talks about the Universe groaning in longing. What the end times appears to be about is that the whole of creation including Man will become divinised at the end of time: the Church proclaims loudly that matter is good: not only will we be resurrected but the whole of matter will share in the glory of the divinisation of man. Now, it is true that justice does indeed come in: but, if we reflect on the last 100 years, the horrors of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and many other regimes, should we be surprised that there is a judgement or do you think that the life judgements we make simply do not count? Have you read Spe Salvi by Benedict XVI - its on the Vatican webste.

I should say here that the references to Gehenna and weeping and grinding of teeth are far less numerous (the possibility of hell is not to be denied however) in the gospel than the comparator sections in the Koran where there seems to be considerable delight at the torture of the damned. None of this can be detected in the New Testament.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Oct 2009 11:29:09 BDT
Thanks Aquinas,

Yes, of course my JW childhood left a huge imprint, as indeed did yours and the Pope's Catholic childhoods. (I presume you were reared in the faith - even if you were not, early years determine so much of our future, whatever their flavour).

I do not doubt the existence of Jesus. He seems to have been one of many itinerant freelance rabbis of the first century. I acknowledge that some of the teachings attributed to him are still relevant today. His story becomes embroidered with every account. 40 years after his death St. Mark wrote a gospel which finishes with Jesus' death and an empty tomb three days later. The final verses about his resurection, are, apparently, a later addition. Luke and Matthew, 15 years later, give Jesus a Davidic lineage and a Virgin Birth. John, towards the end of the century transforms him yet further into the Divine Logos whose role was mapped out from the beginning of time.

The Apostle Paul could have read none of the gospels as he died before they were written. Further, he never met the living Jesus. His entire authority rests on the Damascus road visionary experience. There is nothing rational whatever, in taking seriously as predictions for the future, his copious letters, for all that they may contain some wisdom. There is no reason to believe that we will be 'divinised' (whatever that means) at the end of time.

Of course the judgements that we make 'count'. The religious do not have a monopoly on morality. Hitler, in 'Mein Kampf' refers to his divine mission many times. He is portrayed, sometimes, as an atheist. Indeed, Pope Pius XII seemed to think otherwise. Hitler was never excommunicated.

Stalin's initial training was as a priest. No doubt this coloured his subsequent philosophical development. Biblical studies reveal a world where history is predetermined, where evil will be purged, finally, at the End of Time. Incidentally the Book of Revelation gloats in the destruction of the wicked, with at least as much relish as the Koran.

Marxism, likewise, presumes mankind's history is predetermined. The wicked are no longer the unbelievers, but the bourgeoisie. WIth no God around to purge the world of the wicked, commies decided to be judge, jury and executioner themselves. Marxism is very much the godless Abrahamic faith.

Of course the judgements we make in life are important. We do not need the notion of divine punishment or reward to make us moral beings. Without the notion that divine justice will triumph at the end of time, we are impelled, I believe, to act more, not less, responsibly. I'll check out Spe Salvi - I hope (though doubt) that it will be enlightening.


Posted on 23 Mar 2011 18:01:37 GMT
J. D. Brophy says:
worsed review i have ever read, by someone who has clearly missed the point.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Apr 2011 19:00:30 BDT
What, J D Brophy, is the point that I havee missed?
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