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Contra Celsum
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Alexandrian Christianity: Origen > Against Celsus Bk. I-IV

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message 1: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Origen's great apologetical work was the treatise undertaken at the special request of his friend Ambrosius, in answer to the attack of the heathen philosopher Celsus on the Christian religion in a work which he entitled A True Discourse. It consists of eight books, and belongs to the latest years of his life.


message 2: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Origen writes in the preface that he is reluctant to respond to Celsus because it is unnecessary to defend Christianity using arguments/words, the facts of the lives of Christians themselves should suffice, just as the life of Jesus is His best defence against detractors. (The implication is that if facts can't convince people, arguments won't either.)

This and other statements later in Book I prove to my mind that the author was in his mature old age when he wrote this.


message 3: by Nemo (last edited Jun 04, 2017 01:05PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Bk. I Ch. XII

Celsus challenged Christians, “If they would answer me, not as if I were asking for information, for I am acquainted with all their opinions, but because I take an equal interest in them all, it would be well."

One has to wonder, why does Celsus keep pressing Christians with questions, if he already knows all their opinions? What answer can you give to someone who claims to know everything?

Origen's three part reply is a zinger.

This is a boastful and daring assertion; for if he had read the prophets in particular, which are full of acknowledged difficulties, ... the Gospels, and the other writings of the law and of the Jewish history, and the utterances of the apostles, and had read them candidly, with a desire to enter into their meaning, he would not have expressed himself with such boldness.

Not one of us will assert, “I know all the doctrines of Epicurus,” or will be confident that he knows all those of Plato, in the knowledge of the fact that so many differences of opinion exist among the expositors of these systems. For who is so daring as to say that he knows all the opinions of the Stoics or of the Peripatetics?

A serious student of philosophy would agree with Origen on the complex nature of any philosophical school of thought, and treat the know-it-all as either an ignorant braggart, or worse, a liar.
Unless, indeed, it should be the case that he has heard this boast, “I know them all,” from some ignorant and senseless individuals, who do not perceive their own ignorance, and should thus imagine, from having had such persons as his teachers, that he was acquainted with them all.

Origen next acknowledges that many other religious beliefs are also complex and not without rational basis. I think this is a sincere and fair statement, which would resonate with devotees of those religions.
Such an one appears to me to act very much as a person would do who had visited Egypt ..., and who should imagine that he is acquainted with the whole circle of Egyptian knowledge, after having been a disciple of the ignorant alone, and without having associated with any of the priests, or having learned the mysteries of the Egyptians from any other source. And what I have said regarding the learned and ignorant among the Egyptians, I might have said also of the Persians; ... the Syrians, and Indians, and to all those who have a literature and a mythology.



message 4: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments Ok here I go first post... Guys please be gentle...

This refutation of Celsus is very interesting and I think points to some of the more obvious yet complex issues that surrounded the development of early Christian doctrine. Origen says

'And yet the mystery of the resurrection, not being understood, is made a subject of ridicule among unbelievers.  In these circumstances, to speak of the Christian doctrine as a secret system, is altogether absurd.  But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are (revealed) after the exoteric ones have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and others esoteric'.

This is the rub ; a religion that promises everlasting life as 'yourself' resurrected and perfect - as opposed to some vague promise of spirit. But Origen also hints at a deeper form of faith when his works are considered in totality. In some way I think he alludes to a type of orthodox gnosis.
Origen contended that the divinely inspired messages
of the scriptures were layered in what he terms a
‘threefold’ meaning. A surface or literal reading of
the text will give the ‘flesh of the scripture’, which
will satisfy the needs of those followers in need of an
‘obvious interpretation’. A deeper reading will give
meaning to an individual’s soul, and a still deeper
reading of the text will result in the gaining of
‘wisdom among the perfect’


message 5: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Tony wrote: " ...In some way I think he alludes to a type of orthodox gnosis..."

Origen's predecessor, Clement of Alexandria, describes what true gnosis or gnostic is in his works as well.


David Huff | 0 comments A simple observation, but one that encouraged me: seeing Origen so regularly refer to Scripture passages in his writing. No surprise that he would have the wisdom to do so; but it reminded me how, through all the twists and turns of histories and cultures, God's Word stands sure. And here, we in the body of Christ today, are reading, applying and living out those same passages as our brother Origen did so long ago.


message 7: by Fariba (new)

Fariba (fariba33) Hello everyone. I just joined the group, so I don't know how much of Against Celsus we will be reading. I just borrowed the Henry Chadwick translation from the research library. Are we only reading Book 1? Thanks.


message 8: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Fariba wrote: "Hello everyone. I just joined the group, so I don't know how much of Against Celsus we will be reading. I just borrowed the Henry Chadwick translation from the research library. Are we only reading..."

Welcome, Fariba! We're reading the entire work.


message 9: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments David wrote: "A simple observation, but one that encouraged me: seeing Origen so regularly refer to Scripture passages in his writing. No surprise that he would have the wisdom to do so; ..."

Reading the early Church Fathers has been an upbuilding experience for me too.


message 10: by Nemo (last edited Jun 04, 2017 05:33PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Celsus seems to have some pre-conceived notion about divinity, and asserts that a god would not do this or that, would not have certain body or eat certain food, etc. My question for him would be: how do you know what a god would do?

Having said that, the literary form he used to attack Christianity is interesting in itself. It reminds me of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor in Brothers Karamazov. Celsus introduced a character of a Jew to interrogate Jesus:
What need, moreover, was there that you, while still an infant, should be conveyed into Egypt? Was it to escape being murdered? But then it was not likely that a God should be afraid of death;

The old mythological fables, which attributed a divine origin to Perseus, and Amphion, and Æacus, and Minos, ... represented the deeds of these personages as great and wonderful, and truly beyond the power of man; but what hast thou done that is noble or wonderful either in deed or in word?

Bk. I. Ch. LXVI - LXVII

If you had a chance to meet Jesus face to face, what challenging questions would you put forward?


message 11: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments As I delve deeper into the text it Celsus appears to become increasingly antagonistic to the Jews and the narrative of the old testament.

To answer your question; Given the context of this thread and the amount of reading , I would ask Jesus - Why did he inspire Origen to write such a long book ? : )


message 12: by Rex (new) - added it

Rex | 15 comments 1.1

"It is not irrational, then, to form associations in opposition to existing laws, if done for the sake of the truth. For as those persons would do well who should enter into a secret association in order to put to death a tyrant who had seized upon the liberties of a state, so Christians also, when tyrannized over by him who is called the devil, and by falsehood, form leagues contrary to the laws of the devil, against his power, and for the safety of those others whom they may succeed in persuading to revolt from a government."

This quote struck me both because it offers a clear answer to the long-debated question within Christianity about offering resistance to tyrannical governments, and as a stark illustration of the early Christian worldview of Christ against the powers of the world. We see this again in subsequent chapters.

1.5

"Ideas were implanted in the minds of men like the principles of morality, from which not only Heraclitus, but any other Greek or barbarian, might by reflection have deduced the same conclusion."

1.7

"Moreover, since he frequently calls the Christian doctrine a secret system (of belief), we must confute him on this point also, since almost the entire world is better acquainted with what Christians preach than with the favourite opinions of philosophers. For who is ignorant of the statement that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that He was crucified, and that His resurrection is an article of faith among many, and that a general judgment is announced to come, in which the wicked are to be punished according to their deserts, and the righteous to be duly rewarded?"

I find this rebuttal humorous and incisive. Origen, while acknowledging that Christianity does contain esoteric depths, makes a brilliant point about how the religion in its fundamentals is more understandable to the masses than the proud philosophies of Hellenism.


message 13: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Rex wrote: "... it offers a clear answer to the long-debated question within Christianity about offering resistance to tyrannical governments..."

It seems to me Origen is speaking of spiritual warfare and non-violence resistance to government. Is that your understanding?

Someone once said to the effect that the genius of Mozart is that there is something for everyone in his music. In contrast to the esoteric doctrines of philosophy, I think the genius of the Christian religion is that it benefits people of all walks of life, great and small, noble and base.

The differences between Christianity and Greek philosophy are noteworthy. Origen attributes them to the divinity of Jesus, His divine power to reform/renew/regenerate human lives.


message 14: by Rex (new) - added it

Rex | 15 comments Origen seems to be speaking mainly of spiritual resistance (cf. St Paul's principalities and powers of Eph. 6:12), but I do find it illuminating that he uses the analogy of rebelling against barbaric Scythian laws. It's a vivid image of the place of Christians within a hostile world-order.


message 15: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Tony wrote: ".. , I would ask Jesus - Why did he inspire Origen to write such a long book ? : ..."

The early Church Fathers did not have "the gift of brevity". Or as Blaise Pascal put it, "I made this letter long, because I had not the time to make it short".

Assuming Origen's work is inspired, the longer it is, the more inspirations it has, doesn't it? :)


message 16: by Nemo (last edited Jun 05, 2017 05:06PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments On the Crucifixion:
Celsus: What god, or spirit, or prudent man would not, on foreseeing that such events were to befall him, avoid them if he could; whereas he threw himself headlong into those things which he knew beforehand were to happen?

Origen: And yet Socrates knew that he would die after drinking the hemlock, and it was in his power, if he had allowed himself to be persuaded by Crito, by escaping from prison, to avoid these calamities; but nevertheless he decided, as it appeared to him consistent with right reason, that it was better for him to die as became a philosopher, than to retain his life in a manner unbecoming one. Leonidas also, the Lacedæmonian general, knowing that he was on the point of dying with his followers at Thermopylæ, did not make any effort to preserve his life by disgraceful means but said to his companions, “Let us go to breakfast, as we shall sup in Hades.” ... Now, where is the wonder if Jesus, knowing all things that were to happen, did not avoid them, but encountered what He foreknew;
bk. II. ch. XVII

The three most significant events in the history of Western civilization in one paragraph. Noble sentiments indeed!


message 17: by A (new)

A | 225 comments Nemo wrote: "The three most significant events in the history of Western civilization in one paragraph. Noble sentiments indeed! "

In the psyche no less.


message 18: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments From chapter 22...

" Or is it not more in conformity with reason, that every soul, for certain mysterious reasons (I speak now according to the opinion of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Empedocles, whom Celsus frequently names), is introduced into a body, and introduced according to its deserts and former actions? It is probable, therefore, that this soul also, which conferred more benefit by its residence in the flesh than that of many men (to avoid prejudice, I do not say "all"), stood in need of a body not only superior to others, but invested with all excellent qualities."

Is Origen proposing the pre-existence and reincarnation of souls here ? Like Plato's realm of forgetfulness in The Republic ? I think this is what labelled Origen a heretic .


message 19: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Tony wrote: "From chapter 22...

" Or is it not more in conformity with reason, that every soul, for certain mysterious reasons (I speak now according to the opinion of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Empedocles, wh..."


Because Celsus was using Greek philosophy as a bludgeon over the head of Christians, Origen took the position of Pythagoras and Plato, for the sake of argument, and, to give Celsus a dose of his own medicine, not that he necessarily agreed with all their doctrines.

The Platonic premise is that the qualities of soul and body should correspond with one another, a virtuous soul would have a superior human body, and a wicked soul an inferior, even animal, body. If this is true, it is more reasonable to believe that Jesus was of a miraculous birth, not an immoral one, because of his excellent qualities.


message 20: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments Thanks for the deeper clarification Nero. Agree....onwards into the adventure !


message 21: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Tony wrote: "Thanks for the deeper clarification Nero. "

I'm not the Roman actor-emperor, at least, I hope not. :)


message 22: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments OOPS Sorry for the slip Nemo... The worst emperor for the Christians !
By the way do you agree with the premise that some scholars put foreword that the beast of revelation '666' is code for Nero.


message 23: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Tony wrote: "By the way do you agree with the premise that some scholars put foreword that the beast of revelation '666' is code for Nero."

I haven't studied the subject enough to be convinced either way. Here is an article on that topic for those interested:

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/e...


message 24: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Book. II in the Hendrickson edition (available online at CCEL) is missing chapter L. It jumps from Chap. XLIX to Chap. LI at page 451, without giving any reason.

Is it the same in other editions?


message 25: by Kerstin (last edited Jun 06, 2017 02:07PM) (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "Book. II in the Hendrickson edition (available online at CCEL) is missing chapter L. It jumps from Chap. XLIX to Chap. LI at page 451, without giving any reason.

Is it the same in other editions?"


Yes. Mine skips the chapter as well
The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection: 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words


message 26: by Fariba (new)

Fariba (fariba33) Initial thoughts about Book 1: Origen is a refreshingly open-minded theologian who hardly ever insults Celsus. Celsus, on the other hand, is arrogant enough to think he knows everything about Christianity. I also like how Origen allows the facts about Jesus' life to speak for themselves. Some of Celsus' objections are quite strong, but Origen points out that Christianity is not the only religion that accepts miracles or prophecies. Origen is probably the most readable Church Father I've read so far. He's definitely more readable than Augustine. I'm currently at the part where Origen reminds Celsus that some stories need to be read allegorically rather than literally. Discernment is necessary.


message 27: by Nemo (last edited Jun 06, 2017 07:45PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Origen suspects that Celsus is an Epicurean, which would explain why the latter doesn't believe in miracles and prophecies. But the serious flaw in Celsus is that he makes those objections in the character of a Jew.

I can't help thinking that Origen had a field day schooling Celsus.


David Huff | 0 comments So far in my reading, he's done a methodical, thorough, and energetic job of that schooling ...


message 29: by Nemo (last edited Jun 07, 2017 01:15PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Most, if not all, of Celsus' objections have been rehashed in modern debates about Christianity. For example, that the disciples were having hallucinations of the resurrected Jesus, or that the believers in general were low-class, ill-educated, credulous folks, etc. ... "There is nothing new under the Sun."

Acknowledging the depths and difficulties in the Scripture, Origen doesn't claim that his answer is the correct answer, but offers it as one of many possible answers that a philosophic mind might find more reasonable than the alternatives. In other words, this work could be titled, "Why am I a Christian". I personally find this open-mindedness and civility appealing. It might be useful to abridge and adapt this work into a Q&A, for those who really want to understand Christianity, but can't get over some intellectual hurdles.

On the Resurrection (Bk. II. Ch. LXIII)
Celsus: “if Jesus desired to show that his power was really divine, he ought to have appeared to those who had ill-treated him, and to him who had condemned him, and to all men universally.”

This is an interesting, though presumptuous, question (It presumes that people would recognize God when they see Him). If Jesus had appeared to them, would they have believed? It seems more likely that they too would have thought they were having hallucinations, or that the person in front of them was an imposter or sorcerer.


message 30: by David (last edited Jun 07, 2017 01:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Huff | 0 comments I like his open-mindedness and civility also; and as Fariba pointed out, Origen doesn't appear to insult Celsus ad hominem -- but he can often comment quite pointedly, even sharply, about Celcus' views and positions (Book II, Ch. XXI):

"Observe also the superficiality and manifest falsity of such a
statement of Celsus..."

and also (Book II, Ch. XVII) ;
"Extremely foolish also is his (Celsus") remark ...."

Would that I could be more consistent in poking holes in the errors of the message and not the character of the messenger.


message 31: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments David wrote: "I like his open-mindedness and civility also; and as Fariba pointed out, Origen doesn't appear to insult Celsus ad hominem -- but he can often comment quite pointedly, even sharply, about Celcus' v..."

Origen does challenge the motive of Celsus. If a person is intent on knowing the truth, he would not take things out of context repeatedly, or omit things that contradict his own position, or make vague accusations without clear and concrete evidence. But Celsus does all that in his work, says Origen.
Whether Celsus omitted this from intentional
malignity, or from ignorance, I do not know. (Bk.I Ch. VI)
...
And that it was from intentional malice that Celsus did not quote this prophecy, is clear to me from this (Bk. I Ch. XXXIV)

I think we sometimes speak from ignorance, prejudice, and malice without realizing it ourselves, and it takes someone like Origen to show our character in a mirror.


David Huff | 0 comments Very good point. I know it's all too easy for me to cross the line, and not just question someone's motives ... but also label them an idiot ... which I haven't seen Origen stoop to yet ... this is a good, thought - provoking thread.


message 33: by Rex (new) - added it

Rex | 15 comments 1.25

I'm enjoying his sophisticated discussion on the philosophical dispute about names. It culminates in a defense of the meaningfulness of language: "And a similar philosophy of names applies also to our Jesus, whose name has already been seen, in an unmistakeable manner, to have expelled myriads of evil spirits from the souls and bodies (of men), so great was the power which it exerted upon those from whom the spirits were driven out.... We defend the conduct of the Christians, when they struggle even to death to avoid calling God by the name of Zeus, or to give Him a name from any other language. For they either use the common name—God—indefinitely, or with some such addition as that of the 'Maker of all things,' 'the Creator of heaven and earth'.... And much more besides might be said on the subject of names, against those who think that we ought to be indifferent as to our use of them.... Shall we not rather approve the piety of the Christians, who apply none of the names used in the mythologies to the Creator of the world?"

1.27

"Although, among the multitude of converts to Christianity, the simple and ignorant necessarily outnumbered the more intelligent, as the former class always does the latter, yet Celsus, unwilling to take note of this, thinks that this philanthropic doctrine, which reaches to every soul under the sun, is vulgar."


message 34: by Nemo (last edited Jun 07, 2017 10:34PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments I like the way Origen answers Celsus challenges in a progressive, or multi-layered, manner. This also ties into Tony's observation that Origen's interpretation of the Scripture is layered. He first defends Christianity in the language of philosophy, or common sense, and then explains the spiritual significance of the thing in question, Like the answer quoted in part by Rex immediately above, he first answers that it is a fact that intelligence is rare among men (which explains why few intelligent men are found among believers), and then, he goes on to say that the excellence of the Christian religion is that Christ makes men both wise and pure, so that they are no longer in ignorance or sin.

To use an analogy, the Church is like a hospital, where people who are sick in soul and mind, that is, sinners and fools, come to be healed. From the fact that sick people are concentrated in this hospital, it doesn't follow that the hospital itself is not reputable. On the contrary, it is often the case that people come to seek help because of the good reputation of the hospital.


message 35: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Rex wrote: "1.25

I'm enjoying his sophisticated discussion on the philosophical dispute about names. It culminates in a defense of the meaningfulness of language: .."


It's not clear to me what Origen thinks is the difference between incantation and calling on the name of the Lord. He seems to think that there is some sort of power in both.


message 36: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments From book 3 chapter 32...

""No one taketh my life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." For as He had power to lay it down, He laid it down when He said, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken Me? And when He had cried with a loud voice, He gave up the ghost," anticipating the public executioners of the crucified, who break the legs of the victims, and who do so in order that their punishment may not be further prolonged. And He "took His life," when He manifested Himself to His disciples, having in their presence foretold to the unbelieving Jews, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again," and "He spake this of the temple of His body; "the prophets, moreover, having predicted such a result in many other passages of their writings, and in this, "My flesh also shall rest in hope: for Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption."

Is Origen saying here; that it is by the choice of the saviour to both exit his soul from his body and the ability to re-enter it , that provides real evidence of his divinity as superior to other incarnations? If so this could be one of the first representations of a 'theology of the body' as expressed by Pope John Paul ll.


message 37: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Tony wrote: "..Is Origen saying here that it is by the choice of the saviour to both exit his soul from his body and the ability to re-enter it , that provides real evidence of his divinity as superior to other incarnations? If so this could be one of the first representations of a 'theology of the body' as expressed by Pope John Paul ll. .."

I'm not familiar with Pope John Paul II's 'theology of the body', perhaps the Catholics in our group can explain it?

I think Christ did/does not so much 're-enter' as re-construct his body in the Resurrection. He has complete power over the form, structure, function and duration of his body. The other incarnations don't have that power, for they are like renters who only have use of their bodies for the duration of their leases, so to speak.


message 38: by Fariba (new)

Fariba (fariba33) Tony wrote: "If so this could be one of the first representations of a 'theology of the body' as expressed by Pope John Paul ll."

I'm Roman Catholic but unfortunately I'm not too knowledgeable about JP2's theology. By Theology of the Body are you referring to Christian anthropology? Are you asking whether Origen's discussion about Christ's body tells us something about the role of the body in salvation?


message 39: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Tony wrote: "..Is Origen saying here that it is by the choice of the saviour to both exit his soul from his body and the ability to re-enter it , that provides real evidence of his divinity as supe..."

Could you expound on what you were saying about the resurrected body because that kind of gets back to my last post in the Eucharist thread. Are you able to explain further what you are saying? I was under the impression that our resurrected bodies are our own real bodies, just glorified. Catholic teaching I thought emphasized strongly how we are created body and soul. It is a very unnatural state to be separated at death, and that they will be reunited, our very same bodies with our souls at the end of time. But maybe I am wrong.


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Tony wrote: "..Is Origen saying here that it is by the choice of the saviour to both exit his soul from his body and the ability to re-enter it , that provides real evidence of his divinity as supe..."

Christopher West has two books explaining John Paul IIs revolutionary teaching on the body and sexual love. "Theology of the Body Explained" and "Theology of the Body for Beginners". The latter is the book I have. Chapter one 'What Is The Theology Of The Body' has parts like, God, Sex and the Meaning of Life, Christianity Does Not Reject the Body, The Sacramentality Of The Body, Reclaiming The Truth About Sex...Chapter two 'Before the Fig Leaves: God's Original Plan For The Body and Sex'. Three 'The Entrance Of The Fig Leaves: The Effects Of Sin And The Redemption of Sexuality'. Four 'Beyond The Fig Leaves: The Resurrection Of The Body' (I should re-read this! Haha). Five 'Christian Celibacy: A Marriage Made In Heaven'. Six 'Christian Marriage: Imaging Christ's Union With The Church'. Seven 'Theology In The Bedroom: A Liberating Sexual Morality'. Eight 'Sharing The Theology Of The Body In A New Evangelization'. Hope that gives you an idea...


message 41: by Tony (last edited Jun 08, 2017 03:04PM) (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments Here goes my take on it.... Yes it is our 'perfected' risen body that is immortal


For the Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations,
a belief that the human body and the
personal soul were interdependent and ultimately inseparable
has led to the development of a very complex
form of theology that can broadly be termed as the
‘theology of the body’. These relatively contemporary
teachings are highly influenced by the open messages
of Pope John Paul II in the early 1980s. The pope
absolutely reinforced the body as a sacred creation
in the image of God. The first humans, Adam and
Eve, were in a perfect loving relationship with God
and each other. Pure love can only be experienced
in total giving within a relationship with the other.
This kind of love is not based on desire. Sexual love,
from this perspective, is a bodily expression that each
person can give another as a complete act of giving.

Original sin occurred through the rejection of God’s
love and the emergence of mistrust in the relationship
between the self and the other. Mistrust led to desire,
alienation and shame. The body, through original sin,
became a vessel of desire and the previous loving relationship
with God was broken. It is only through the
bodily representation and sacrifice of the human Jesus
that this turning away from God is redeemed and the
possibility of a new covenant based on love is created.

The Catholic Church has always maintained the
sacredness of the human body to the extent that it
sees human life as the supreme creation of God. This
is reflected in the Church’s rejection of abortion and
contraception. For the Church, the act of sex in a
pure loving relationship bounded by marriage is an
extension of the pure love of God for his creations.
However, the ultimate loving relationship is that of
an individual with God. A person’s physical body can
act as a conduit of love with others and with God. As
Pope John Paul expressed it in his General Audience
in February 1980, ‘The body, in fact, and it alone,
is capable of making visible what is invisible: the
spiritual and the divine’.


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan Tony wrote: "Here goes my take on it.... Yes it is our 'perfected' risen body that is immortal


For the Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations,
a belief that the human body and the
personal soul we..."


Making visible, what is invisible, gets to the 'sacramentality' of the body...well done Tony. Thank you!


message 43: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments 'Making visible, what is invisible'..... Totally agree Susan. But what happens when a society rejects the material world including the bodily senses. There has been a
diminishing of face-to-face modes of communication.
When in public, people often prefer to talk to their
mobile device rather than engage in conversation.
From a religious perspective, this new preference for
communication that is mediated by technology diminishes
the importance of communal materiality,
that is, the desire to engage with a community of
like-minded people in the real world. The celebration
of the Christian Mass in a congregation of believers
is foreign to most people, who might prefer to interact
with their peers in the global village. This poses an
enormous challenge to all forms of traditional Christianity,
which have always posited a community of
believers held within the arms of a physical and tangible
Church. The early church fathers did not face this challenge.


message 44: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Tony wrote: "this new preference for communication that is mediated by technology diminishes the importance of communal materiality, that is, the desire to engage with a community of like-minded people in the real world.."

I'm not sure what problem virtual reality poses for religion, but I don't think technology-mediated communication is any less efficacious than arm's length communication. They are both physical and real. For instance, when I type this message, I'm just as certain that you and others who read it are real people, as when I talk to someone face-to face. We gather in this forum because of a common interest in the early Church Fathers, and in that sense, we're a community of like-minded people.

This poses an enormous challenge to all forms of traditional Christianity, which have always posited a community of believers held within the arms of a physical and tangible Church. The early church fathers did not face this challenge.

As I see it, traditional Christianity embraces both the invisible and visible Church. Origen's multi-layered interpretation of the Scripture also expresses the importance of the invisible, that is, the depths of meaning beyond paper and ink.


message 45: by A (new)

A | 225 comments "For instance, when I type this message, I'm just as certain that you and others who read it are real people"

I suppose it's time to break the news...


message 46: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments "As I see it, traditional Christianity embraces both the invisible and visible Church. Origen's multi-layered interpretation of the Scripture also expresses the importance of the invisible, that is, the depths of meaning beyond paper and ink."

I agree Nemo. Do you think the 'invisible' as described by Origen points to personal illumination of the divine? Only obtainable by the 'perfect'.


message 47: by A (last edited Jun 08, 2017 07:30PM) (new)

A | 225 comments With anonymity and catfish on the Internet can you truly hold church without ever meeting? That's a cynical view, but not one of inexperience. I'd like to think you're all who you say you are, but in reality we get only a very small portion of the person online, at best a tailored personality, and a verifiable photo.


message 48: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1400 comments Aaron wrote: "With anonymity and catfish on the Internet can you truly hold church without ever meeting? That's a cynical view, but not one of inexperience. I'd like to think you're all who you say you are, but ..."

I understand what you're saying, but I don't think that's a problem with technology per se. I mean it is possible to share video clips of ourselves in a public forum. It's as good as meeting a person face-to-face, but it doesn't mean we will know who the other person really is beneath the surface. In a "real world" Church, unless we make the commitment and take the time to care about others, we'll never know them beyond their face either.


message 49: by Tony (last edited Jun 08, 2017 08:24PM) (new)

Tony Sunderland | 46 comments I think we should admit that mediation by the machine does put an additional barrier between the physical 'human' senses and how we experience the world around us . There is a disturbing paradox here.
While the power of opinion has grown and almost
anyone who wishes to voice anything can now do so
and be heard all over the globe, that opinion does,
however, mostly originate from the privacy of home.
An individual participates globally while within the
intimate confines of their bedroom or lounge room
and perhaps while in their pyjamas. There has been a
diminishing of face-to-face modes of communication.
When in public, people often prefer to talk to their
mobile device rather than engage in conversation.

This may encourage a more personal paradigm that only includes the other as filtered through technology.Pope Benedict defends the Church as a communal structure that endorses the true mission of Jesus Christ– universal salvation. He contends that an obsession with personal salvation is a warped interpretation of
the message of the New Testament. From this, he poses another difficult question:

'How could the idea have developed that Jesus’
message is narrowly individualistic and aimed only
at each person singly? How did we arrive at this interpretation
of the ‘salvation of the soul’ as a flight
from responsibility for the whole and how did we
come to conceive the Christian project as a selfish
search for salvation which rejects the idea of serving
others'?


message 50: by A (new)

A | 225 comments That's going Deep Tony, are you saying we have already transcended the body in life? We are essentially souls in commune via electric impulses of light? also glad you're keeping me up on my Popes too of which I'm pretty negligent. I'm not sure about a universal soul... is there any grounds for it anywhere in scripture otherwise?


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