Originally posted by lucifershammer
If the Crucifixion was responsible for the reconciliation of mankind to God, then this reconciliation could not have happened in Time - because there are people who died before Christ who were saved (e.g. Abraham).
If this were the case, then we would see St Paul saying something
like: When Christ was on the Cross, we had been saved from our sins,
or some other weird verbal construction. But we don't see that. We
see a clear causal link: Because Christ was...therefore we are....
The Church teaches that Christ descended into Hell. According to the
teaching of the Church in the Catechism (#633 in my version, which is
the third item under Article 5 in the discussion of the Creed):
Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went
down, 'hell' -- 'Sheol' in Hebrew or 'Hades' in Greek -- because those
who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case
for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the
Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus
shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received
into 'Abraham's Bosom': ' It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited
their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when
he descended into hell.' Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver
the damned, nor to destory the hell of damnation, but to free the
just who had gone before him.
(end quote from the Catechism)
So, according to the infallibile teaching of the RCC, there is a definitive
chronological sequence of salvation: Abraham was in hell with the
damned, awaiting the Savior to come which, by necessity, could not
happen until the first Good Friday in 30/33 CE. The following items in
that article elaborate on this point.
So, there is a definitive causal link between the Crucifixion and
Abraham's (et alia) salvation and ascent into heaven. Your example
is, consequently, not relevant.
The problem is that verbs require tense, so we cannot speak of events taking place outside Time without using tense; but, of course, the usage of tense in this case does not imply that the event takes place in Time.
Of course. And a good way to indicate that something is not taking
place in time is to use multiple tenses, such as in Hebrews when it
says that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. However,
the verb usage in the contexts I mentioned are very specific and
very unusual. They connote a clear relationship between
the disciple (priest) and the Forgiver (God). Basically, what it says is
if a disciple forgives a sin, it will have already been forgiven in heaven.
To suggest that the latter is somehow out of time is illogical and
textually absurd when other, more clear language is available, e.g.:
when a disciple forgives a sin, it has been forgiven, is forgiven, and
will be forgiven for ever, or something.
edit: That is, the very unusual verb form draws one's attention. Why
would they choose a most bizarre format to indicate something (e.g.,
timelessness) which could easily be expressed a multiplicity of other
ways (and, indeed, is used in other passages in the Christian
Scripture)? The logical answer is: because these passages were trying
to express something different, something clear (as the unusual
verb form indicates).
You're right that, if a baptised Christian has committed a mortal sin, then the sacrament of Reconciliation is not necessary for entry into heaven - a perfect contrition will also do. But how many humans are capable of that?
Please don't misunderstand me, Lucifershammer. I deeply value the
ritual of Reconcilliation and, texts nonewithstanding, the experience of
the Sacrament can bring a person to a deeper understanding of the
nature of sin, and its impact. And, if a person approaches his/her
confession without a spirit of true contrition, the Absolution doesn't
take place either, as far as I know.
However, the Church asserts a causal link between a priest's
forgiveness (through his office and the ministry of the Church) and
God's. This is utterly unsupported by any reasonable reading of the
original text (both St Matthew's and St John's disparate accounts).
You can always play the 'Church's infallible teaching' card, where if the
Church says it, it must be true. And I can't argue with an institution
which states theological truths axiomatically. However, what I can do
is argue that their use of the aforementioned Scriptures justifies their
position. They most evidently and conclusively do not. There were
many ways to phrase those two passages to signify casuality or
timelessness. However, the extremely peculiar turns of phrase
common to two Gospel traditions which have very little else in common
speaks with a certain authority (and you said it above): the sins are
forgiven by the Father in heaven, and that forgiveness is affirmed by
the disciple. Because no casual link is established, necessity is not
Also, what you said isn't quite true. Perfect contrition can absolve
a person of their moral sins if they fully intend to go to
Confession as soon as possible. Such a circumstance is considered to
be extraordinary, such as 'grave' situations where a person wants to
receive the Eucharist, is not in a state of Grace, and is mortally ill.