Monday, October 14, 2013

Is there a God, Hell, or Afterlife? What is the meaning of life? A response to Jim Paredes

Philippine Music CD: Ako Lang by Jim Paredes
Philippine Music CD: Ako Lang by Jim Paredes
Jim Paredes wrote an article in Philippine Star: Is there a God? An afterlife? A hell? Why are we here?  From this article, we can see that Jim Paredes conception of God is an immanence, a Modernist heresy; his afterlife is Buddhist; he does not believe in Hell but in the restoration of all things as in Origen's apocatastasis; and his meaning of life is too vague compared to the definite statements of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Principle and Foundation of his Spiritual Exercises.

1.  Is there a God?

Paredes described his belief on God as follows:
I have had two kinds of experiences with God — a personal one and a transpersonal one. This personal God I know and understand is Someone who helps me get what I want and need. It gives me the support I need to tide me over. It gives me my “daily bread.” My personal God is a salvific God.
My transpersonal experience of God, however, is something else. This God appears when “no one is home,” meaning, my ego or “self” is not trying to run the show that is my life. I slip into a state where an experience of total presence of God happens. I am “lost” yet “found” in the Oneness, in the ever-present scheme of things that plays out in life.
Everything is sacred, including what seems profane. God’s hand is everywhere. A common thread that runs between my two types of experiences of God is that in both the personal and transpersonal, God is expansive and loving.
Encyclical: Quanta Cura & The Syllabus of Errors
Encyclical: Quanta Cura & The Syllabus of Errors by Pope Pius IX
This is a Modernist heresy condemned by Pope Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors:
1. There exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Divine Being, distinct from the universe, and God is identical with the nature of things, and is, therefore, subject to changes. In effect, God is produced in man and in the world, and all things are God and have the very substance of God, and God is one and the same thing with the world, and, therefore, spirit with matter, necessity with liberty, good with evil, justice with injustice. -- Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862.
Unlike the vague God of Paredes, the Christian God created the world and the first man and woman.  After the Fall of Man, God promised a redeemer.  He chose Abraham to be the father of the promised son, Isaac.  From Isaac came the 12 Tribes of Israel.  From the Tribe of Judah came King David.  From the line of King David came St. Joseph, who became the foster father of Jesus whose mother is Mary.  Jesus chose the 12 Apostles during the time of the Roman occupation of Israel.  After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the 12 cowardly apostles who hid in fear of the Jews after the death of Christ became fearless preachers of the Good News of the salvation through Christ.  And from the 12 Apostles came the Catholic Church which is the Body of Christ on earth.  Outside the Church there is no salvation.

Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism
Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism
2.  Is there an Afterlife?

Paredes describes his belief on the Afterlife as follows:

Religion will tell us there is, but some scientists will argue that there is no proof of life after death at the moment. But I have had glimpses of timelessness and eternity, ironically within the field of time and space called the here and now which is ever fleeting. And each time I do, I sense a consciousness that has no beginning and no end. I feel quite strongly that my own consciousness is a mere satellite of something infinitely bigger that has always been there and always will. I am certain it will overcome death, and my own consciousness will return and fuse with the Source, like a drop of water returning to the ocean.
His descriptions appear similar to that of Nirvana in Buddhism:
In general terms nirvāṇa is a state of transcendence (Pali: lokuttara) involving the subjective experience of release from a prior state of bondage. This is the result of a natural re-ordering of the mind and body via means of yogic discipline or sadhana. According to the particular tradition, with the experience of nirvāṇa the mind (Buddhism) or soul (Jainism) or spirit (Hinduism) has ended its identity with material phenomena and experiences a sense of great peace and a unique form of awareness or intelligence that is called bodhi in Buddhism, Kevala Jnana in Jainism, kaivalya (Asamprajnata Samadhi) in Yoga.
The concept of a drop of water returning to the ocean is also that of Buddhism:
The Buddha said that when we dedicate merit, it is like adding a drop of water to the ocean. Just as a drop of water added to the ocean will not dry up but will exist as long as the ocean itself exists, so, too, if we dedicate the merit of any virtuous deed, it merges with the vast ocean of merit that endures until enlightenment.
Purgatory Explained (with Supplemental Reading: What Will Hell Be Like?) [Illustrated] by Fr. Schouppe, SJ
The Catholic Teaching on the Afterlife is summed up in the doctrines of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory as described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1023 Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see him as he is," face to face. (Heaven)
1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. 1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire. (Purgatory)
1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." (Hell)

The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
3.  Is there a Hell?

Paredes describes his ideas on Hell as follows:
I cannot believe there is a hell, at least not one where our souls will go to rot as punishment for being bad. If there is a heaven, I believe we will all end up there due to God’s unconditional love. “Unconditional” means without conditions. What is unconditional love if it means you have to be good or believe certain things or be subscribed to a certain religion to get to God? It’s a contradiction.
God is Love. That’s what I understand. And yes, we choose love mostly, or try to choose it because it is our nature to do so. We are impelled towards it. When we choose otherwise, we act contrary to our nature, brought about by self-will.
But yes, I believe there is a hell, and we create it here on earth with our choices, both conscious and unconscious. These choices are the fear-based ones that do not open us to greater love but constrict us for fear of being rejected.
This hell on earth ends when we die.

The Works of Origen: De Principiis, Letters of Origen, Origen Against Celsus (3 Books With Active Table of Contents)
The Works of Origen: De Principiis, Letters of Origen, Origen Against Celsus (3 Books With Active Table of Contents)
The Unconditional Love of God that Paredes believes in is the same as that of Origen's Apocastasis:
Origen teaches the apokatastasis, the final restoration of all intelligent creatures to friendship with God. Tixeront writes thus concerning the matter: "Not all shall enjoy the same happiness, for in the Father's house there are many mansions, but all shall attain to it. If Scripture sometimes seems to speak of the punishment of the wicked as eternal, this is in order to terrify sinners, to lead them back into the right way, and it is always possible, with attention, to discover the true meaning of these texts. It must, however, always be accepted as a principle that God does not chasten except to amend, and that the sole end of His greatest anger is the amelioration of the guilty. As the doctor uses fire and steel in certain deep-seated diseases, so God does but use the fire of hell to heal the impenitent sinner. All souls, all impenitent beings that have gone astray, shall, therefore, be restored sooner or later to God's friendship. The evolution will be long, incalculably long in some cases, but a time will come when God shall be all in all. Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed, the body shall be made spiritual, the world of matter shall be transformed, and there shall be, in the universe, only peace and unity" [Tixeront, Histoire des dogmes, (Paris, 1905), I, 304, 305].
The Acts of the Council of Constantinople of 553 - 2 vol set: With Related Texts on the Three Chapters Controversy (Liverpool University Press - Translated Texts for Historians)
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, this doctrine was condemned St. Augustine and by the Council of Constantinople in 543:
From the moment, however, that anti-Origenism prevailed, the doctrine of the apokatastasis was definitely abandoned. St. Augustine protests more strongly than any other writer against an error so contrary to the doctrine of the necessity of grace. See, especially, his "De gestis Pelagii", I: "In Origene dignissime detestatur Ecclesia, quod et iam illi quos Dominus dicit æterno supplicio puniendos, et ipse diabolus et angeli eius, post tempus licet prolixum purgati liberabuntur a poenis, et sanctis cum Deo regnantibus societate beatitudinis adhærebunt." Augustine here alludes to the sentence pronounced against Pelagius by the Council of Diospolis, in 415 (P.L., XLIV, col. 325). He moreover recurs to the subject in many passages of his writings, and in City of God XXI sets himself earnestly to prove the eternity of punishment as against the Platonist and Origenist error concerning its intrinsically purgatorial character. We note, further, that the doctrine of the apokatastasis was held in the East, not only by St. Gregory of Nyssa, but also by St. Gregory of Nazianzus as well; "De seipso", 566 (P.G., XXXVII, col. 1010), but the latter, though he asks the question, finally decides neither for nor against it, but rather leaves the answer to God. Köstlin, in the "Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie" (Leipzig, 1896), I, 617, art. "Apokatastasis", names Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia as having also held the doctrine of apokatastasis, but cites no passage in support of his statement. In any case, the doctrine was formally condemned in the first of the famous anathemas pronounced at the Council of Constantinople in 543: Ei tis ten teratode apokatastasis presbeuei anathema esto [See, also, Justinian, Liber adversus Originem, anathemas 7 and 9.] The doctrine was thenceforth looked on as heterodox by the Church.
Emperor's New Clothes (Illustrated)
Emperor's New Clothes (Illustrated) by Hans Chrstian Andersen
D.  What is the meaning of life?

Paredes describes what for him is the meaning of life:
These days, I think the meaning of life can be found in awakening to the “is-ness” of things, and grasping the truth of the world without the confusing artifice of intellectualism or any imposed standard of correctness, but simply opening up to it with fresh intuition and senses, as simply as one can. It’s like the way the little boy in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” saw through the clutter of hypocrisy. Only a “beginner’s mind” (to borrow Roshi Suzuki’s term) can be as fresh and as direct as that.
This tells me that we should probably cut through the B.S. and get to the creative power we all have, the original blessing we were all born with.
Therein, methinks, lies the mother lode of meanings.
So why are we here? It is simply to experience and be One with the great wonder, love and power of the Spirit behind all of life, and carry it with us in our every waking moment.
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Because Paredes has a vague Modernist conception of God, the meaning that he proposes for life is also vague as well.  Contrast Paredes's view with that of Principle and Foundation of St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises:
Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls.The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the end for which they were created. From this it follows that we ought to use these things to the extent that they help us toward our end, and free ourselves from them to the extent that they hinder us from it.To attain this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, in regard to everything which is left to our free will and is not forbidden.  Consequently, on our own part we ought not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one, and so on in all other matters. Rather, we ought to desire and choose only that which is more conducive to the end for which we are created. 

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