Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interesting Observations from Benedict XVI

I am no fan of Benedict XVI. I pray for his salvation, but I fully agree with the Westminster divines about the nature of his office. That said, he made an interesting observation, according to the Vatican Information Service, in his remarks on April 11, 2012, during the morning general audience.

VIS reports:
Benedict XVI explained how on the evening of the day of the Resurrection the disciples were at home behind locked doors, full of fear and doubt at the recollection of the passion of their Lord. "This situation of anguish changed radically when Jesus arrived. He entered through the closed doors, was among them and brought them peace", peace which "for the community became source of joy, certainty of victory, trusting reliance on God".
Slightly later on comes the interesting twist:
"Today too the Risen One enters our homes and hearts, although sometimes the doors are closed", the Pope said, "He enters bringing joy and peace, life and hope, gifts we need for our human and spiritual rebirth". Only He can put an end to division, enmity, rancour, envy, mistrust and indifference. Only He can give meaning to the lives of those who are weary, sad and without hope.
Here's the good point, intentional or not. Sometimes - no always - the doors of men's hearts are closed to the gospel. By nature, we are all children of wrath and haters of God. Yet God is not blocked by closed doors. If He wishes, he can pass through the doors, bringing regeneration.
VIS also describes Benedict XVI as saying:
However, the Lord knew that His followers were still afraid. "For this reason He breathed upon them and regenerated them in His Spirit. This gesture was the sign of the new creation. With the gift of the Holy Spirit which came from the Risen Christ, a new world began".
There is no indication in the report that Benedict XVI put together the pieces in this way, but it is interesting how the observations he provided so fittingly describe a monergistic description of conversion.

Also interesting are his comments about regeneration occurring in the breathing upon them. One should be careful about reading too much into the English language report of a general audience comment that likely is original in another language, but it is interesting nonetheless. Were the disciples not previously regenerated by baptism? Was their original baptism not sacramental? If not, why not?

The teachings of Benedict XVI during these general audience are "official" teachings in some sense, and are even characterized as "catechesis." But Roman theology does not - to my knowledge - consider them "infallible" teachings.



Natamllc said...

TF, hmmmmm. There is this tension between those who are imputed His Righteousness and those who work for it.

Your questions: Were the disciples not previously regenerated by baptism? Was their original baptism not sacramental?

That is an interesting side note, for me, at least, these questions. Lately I have found my mind going back to something that seems to contradict the narrative of the Book of Acts. In the Gospel we read about Jesus breathing on the Disciples to receive the Holy Spirit. Then we see Acts 1 and 2 where in chapter one Jesus is promising them the Holy Spirit and then in chapter two, receiving Him. Hmmmmm?

I have to say, I believe regeneration began before their baptism. I see there is a process of maturity with Him and His Work in transforming the disciple, then and now doors closed or not. Faith comes by hearing, does it not, then and now?

Something that opens this up for me is found later in the Book of Acts with the work of the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Agabus. In one instance coming to Antioch he rises up and tells of a hard economic time coming upon the whole world. Apparently hard times is localized and individual seeing there wasn't much of a hard time for those Saints who heard his words in gathering up resources for Barnabas and Paul to take them to Jerusalem to relieve those disciples of those hard economic times? Then later on in the Book of Acts we see this same Prophet, Agabus, in Caesarea, take a belt that belonged to Paul and use it as an object lesson telling everyone and Paul what was going to happen to him if he went to Jerusalem. What I find interesting is what Agabus said who was saying what was going to happen to Paul if he indeed went back to Jerusalem.

Act_21:10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Act 21:11 And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"

So, what of it? Well, it's what Paul responds with that and sets the stage for me to see the working of Christ in "beginning" the regeneration of the believer marking out his predetermined course, baptism being a part of this course and the working of the Holy Spirit in testifying to the Truth that establishes, for me at least, that God "predetermined" our course and plans by His foreknowledge of things to happen, to Paul or to each of us who find ourselves wearing the same cloth as he:

Act 21:12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Act 21:13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."

As we saw with the high priest Caiaphas giving prophesy and Jesus Himself instructing all disciples to take heed to what those who sit in the seat of Moses say or Gamaliel or even Gallio, men holding some place of authority among men, so we see this same phenomenon with the pope and his place as you made reference the Westminster divines make about "the nature of his office. " there seems to be something for us to understand about upholding some of what those in authority have to say?

The difference is, obviously, to the ones who know the Truth and then only speak it and to those who are called to live the Truth, to both speak it and live it, those who have imputed His Righteousness by no work of theirs as Jesus pointed out, here:

Joh_15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Joh_15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

MBd said...

"Yet God is not blocked by closed doors. If He wishes, he can pass through the doors, bringing regeneration"

Yes, but that must first be allowed by man. God is a gentleman, he's never gonna make a decision for you. It's your choice whether you wanna follow Him or not, whether you wanna have a relationship with Him & be regenerated or not. He never imposes but proposes.

turretinfan said...

I don't recall Jesus getting permission before passing through the locked doors.

MBd said...

did Jesus force you to convert? because he didn't force me. I chose to convert.

turretinfan said...

The Holy Spirit converted me. If you converted yourself, your conversion was empty and you are still in your sins.

MBd said...

He converted you, but there was still a choice you had to make. It's no wonder that God says in Deuteronomy 30:19-20 "This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him". God leaves those choices up to us. While he ministers to us & opens our hearts to the Gospel, he indeed leaves us the choice to follow him or go astray. Otherwise it wouldn't be a conversion, it would be an imposition. It is a conversion because the Holy Spirit called you to repentance & put your trust in Jesus and you said "yes", while others said "no", thus not converting to Jesus. Jesus tells us "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me". Never does he impose himself on someone's life. He ministers, but never forces.

turretinfan said...

I make lots of choices all the time. Surely you don't think that choosing to obey the law of God is the gospel. Yet that is what Deuteronomy 30:19-20 is talking about. My choices come from my heart. In conversion, my heart was transformed by God. Now, I freely choose things I never would have freely chosen otherwise.

It's not about God "forcing" but about God transforming.

MBd said...

& wer're back to the beginning. Of course God transforms you, but still there is a choice that only you made. Otherwise it would not be a conversion. The fact that you're denying such a logical fact is almost laughable.
& btw, I know the Gospel isn't about choosing to obey the law of God, thank you very much.

turretinfan said...

Did Lazarus have to make a choice in his conversion from death to life?

Pete Holter said...

My punctuation for the Bernard quote was off in several places. Sorry about that. Here it is again:

‘What I cannot obtain by myself,’—writes Saint Bernard—‘I appropriate (literally, I usurp!) with confidence from the pierced side of the Lord, because he is full of mercy. […] Hence my merit is the mercy of God. I am certainly not poor in merits, as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are many (Psalm 119:156), I will also abound in merits. […] And what about my own righteousness? “O Lord, I will remember only your righteousness.” In fact, it is also mine, because you are righteousness for me on behalf of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30)’ (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Canticle, 61, 4-5).

And here are some thoughts from Pope Benedict that I thought you also might appreciate. This is also from last week. Referring to what’s happening in the Garden of Gethsemane:

“Jesus struggles with the Father. He struggles with himself. And he struggles for us. He experiences anguish before the power of death. First and foremost this is simply the dread natural to every living creature in the face of death. In Jesus, however, something more is at work. His gaze peers deeper, into the nights of evil. He sees the filthy flood of all the lies and all the disgrace which he will encounter in that chalice from which he must drink. His is the dread of one who is completely pure and holy as he sees the entire flood of this world’s evil bursting upon him. He also sees me, and he prays for me. This moment of Jesus’ mortal anguish is thus an essential part of the process of redemption. Consequently, the Letter to the Hebrews describes the struggle of Jesus on the Mount of Olives as a priestly event. In this prayer of Jesus, pervaded by mortal anguish, the Lord performs the office of a priest: he takes upon himself the sins of humanity, of us all, and he brings us before the Father.

“Lastly, we must also pay attention to the content of Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives. Jesus says: ‘Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet not what I want, but what you want’ (Mk 14:36). The natural will of the man Jesus recoils in fear before the enormity of the matter. He asks to be spared. Yet as the Son, he places this human will into the Father’s will: not I, but you. In this way he transformed the stance of Adam, the primordial human sin, and thus heals humanity. The stance of Adam was: not what you, O God, have desired; rather, I myself want to be a god. This pride is the real essence of sin. We think we are free and truly ourselves only if we follow our own will. God appears as the opposite of our freedom. We need to be free of him—so we think—and only then will we be free. This is the fundamental rebellion present throughout history and the fundamental lie which perverts life. When human beings set themselves against God, they set themselves against the truth of their own being and consequently do not become free, but alienated from themselves. We are free only if we stand in the truth of our being, if we are united to God. Then we become truly ‘like God’—not by resisting God, eliminating him, or denying him. In his anguished prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus resolved the false opposition between obedience and freedom, and opened the path to freedom. Let us ask the Lord to draw us into this ‘yes’ to God’s will, and in this way to make us truly free. Amen.”

With love in Christ,