Rich Dialogue on original sin, Reconciliation, and souls

August 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Dialogues

 

My inquiry into Christian faith has been an interesting journey so far. I have a few questions that I have not gotten convincing answers. Can someone help?
1. Where does soul come from? How does it take birth and what is the final destination of soul?
2. When Adam and Eve fell, my soul was not there? Why does the entire humanity fall for the disobedience of two people? Why are we born with original sin?
3. If God is the source of everything, then did He create sin? If No, then who did? If Yes, then why subject humanity to hell for something that He created?
4. If God is just, then why does He accept substitute sacrifice as payment for our sins? In old testament, He accepted animal sacrifice- more specifically blood of a clean animal. It does not make sense that I should slaughter another living being to pay for my sins? The whole notion of propitiation defies the just nature of God.
5. How was human race getting saved prior to Jesus? Are they all burning in hell?
6. Only 20% of 6 Billion population claims to be Christian. That equates to 1.2billion… of the 1.2 Billion, only 10% or so are really committed and surrendered Christians.. that equates to 12 million. Does that mean roughly 5.9 billion are headed for hell? If yes, then how does this reconcile with God is love?
7. Do animals have soul? What is the scriptural reference to this answer?
8. God’s character does not change… then why did he initially allow humans to only eat plants; and then later on said never mind, go ahead eat animals too.
I have more, but for starters lets get some insight.

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  • New Apologetics Thank you for your question. Our response will be posted shortly. We ask that others abstain from commenting until we have had opportunity to answer.
  • Ankit Dhawan Thank you for your kind consideration. My previous attempts at another website were met with frustration of no response.
  • Ankit Dhawan Rohit: I have tried Dr. Naik, but found his knowledge very superficial and vulgar at times when he talks about other faiths. If I have questions about Christianity, I am not going to a Hindu or Islamic scholar. I would rather ask devout Christians like the ones who are running this group. To be seen…
  • New Apologetics Thank you for asking these excellent questions. We will start with short answers, and you can continue to question the answers until you are satisfied.

    You wrote: “1. Where does soul come from? How does it take birth and what is the final destination of soul?”

    We reply: The soul is created “ex nihilo” (out of no pre-existing substance) by God. It does not “take birth” as such, but is directly created by God without any mediating agent or substance. The final destination of the soul is union with God in the life of the Trinity. This “union” is not to be understood in terms of the annihilation of the individual person, but as the infinite glorification of the individual person. 

    You wrote: “2. When Adam and Eve fell, my soul was not there? Why does the entire humanity fall for the disobedience of two people? Why are we born with original sin?”

    We reply: When our first parents fell, your soul was not there. We are “born with” original sin because the sin of our first parents brought disorder into what God intended to be a well-ordered state of affairs. The introduction of disorder thereby diminished *all* states of affairs in human experience; an event that never should have happened necessarily causes all subsequent events under its causal influence to occur in the wake of “that which should not be.” Thus (because of just one disorder in the human sphere), a disparity between “ought” and “is” therefore obtains in all of human experience. God (in his justice) has willed only that which is highest and best for us, but our situation (having been diminished by the introduction of events contrary to God’s order) cannot now correspond to this perfectly just, well-ordered state which is the intent of the Creator. Because our human nature is made for this “original justice”, we (who inherit this same nature as our first parents, but now find ourselves in a world of disorder and pain) are *driven* to try to find that happiness of original justice which was lost. There are very many unfortunate consequences of this drivenness, and we can address them according to your interest.

    You wrote: “3. If God is the source of everything, then did He create sin? If No, then who did? If Yes, then why subject humanity to hell for something that He created?”

    We reply: God is the source of all being, but is not the source of all “states of affairs” or situations. Created persons have, as a necessary aspect of their essence, freedom of the will. Free will makes it possible to give and receive love, but this freedom can be abused. Sin originates in the abuse of freedom, and is not created by God. God does not subject humanity to hell. Rather, God wills that which is highest and best for every person. The prospect of hell arises from the “destiny destroying” power of original sin. Neither God nor man has to want it. It is a necessary consequence of a shattered destiny:

    After the original sin, all actions of human persons proceed from the context of an event that should never have happened. Given that the order of original justice entailed a perfect harmony, the introduction of disorder brings about a “cascading failure” which, in the life of every person, eventually results in the total frustration of the purpose for which he/she was created. Created to be immortal, if there were not an intervention of God to save it, the soul would continue on in a “living death” in which there is total opposition between desire and reality. This “fallen immortality” is hell. God attempts, by every legitimate means, to save us from eternal loss. [There are many potential questions to discuss here, but we will wait for you to raise them.]

    We’ll add separate comments for the remainder of the questions so as to avoid an excessively long reply.
  • Ankit Dhawan Happy New Year and please accept my deep gratitude for your response. I will study the reply and meditate upon it. I am sure I will have follow up questions that I will post as they come to mind. Please do not feel obligated to respond to my follow ups before answering my initial post completely. I have one request, if not too much of a burden, to include scriptural references to your reply where possible so that we can distinguish between scriptural supported reply versus personal (or congregational) deductions from something that is not explicitly stated in Bible. Thanks again!
  • Ankit Dhawan Few followups from your reply to my first question:
    Your reply: The soul is created “ex nihilo” (out of no pre-existing substance) by God. It does not “take birth” as such, but is directly created by God without any mediating agent or substance. The final destination of the soul is union with God in the life of the Trinity. This “union” is not to be understood in terms of the annihilation of the individual person, but as the infinite glorification of the individual person. 

    My question: Are you saying that soul is not born nor it dies- in other words soul is eternal? If yes, then where does soul reside before human body is born and where does it go after human body dies? What is the physical characteristic of soul- does it have a shape or form, can it sense, think, act? How does soul enter from some sort of staging area (before birth) into human body? and where does the soul rest after the human body dies waiting for the judgment day? What are the symptoms of soul? This last one ties to my query if animals have soul?
  • Ankit Dhawan Follow up to Q2: When Adam and Eve fell, my soul was not there? Why does the entire humanity fall for the disobedience of two people? Why are we born with original sin?”

    your reply: When our first parents fell, your soul was not there. We are “born with” original sin because the sin of our first parents brought disorder into what God intended to be a well-ordered state of affairs. The introduction of disorder thereby diminished *all* states of affairs in human experience; an event that never should have happened necessarily causes all subsequent events under its causal influence to occur in the wake of “that which should not be.” Thus (because of just one disorder in the human sphere), a disparity between “ought” and “is” therefore obtains in all of human experience. God (in his justice) has willed only that which is highest and best for us, but our situation (having been diminished by the introduction of events contrary to God’s order) cannot now correspond to this perfectly just, well-ordered state which is the intent of the Creator. Because our human nature is made for this “original justice”, we (who inherit this same nature as our first parents, but now find ourselves in a world of disorder and pain) are *driven* to try to find that happiness of original justice which was lost. There are very many unfortunate consequences of this drivenness, and we can address them according to your interest.

    Follow up: Unless I misread your response to first question, I thought soul is never born and is eternal. That being the case, how can we now say that I wasn’t there when Adam and Eve were there? May be I didn’t have my human body, but my spirit must have been somewhere- right? Anyway, following that I wasn’t there and that Adam and Eve messed up God’s plan of original justice. My point is that they sinned, I didn’t- so why am I born in original sin? If my biological father commits murder, the judge will not put the entire family to electric chair? Similarly, How can I accept inheritance of sin? Either I was there and in some fashion participated in the disobedience of Adam & Eve, or my doubts about original sin still stand. Let’s assume that on the basis of scriptures you will help me cross this hurdle and that somehow or the other I am born in Original Sin, then what does this mean? I asked somewhere that why do infants die right after birth (or even in womb)? Isn’t God unjust in letting this kind of premature death (Newtown shootings are recent example)- I was told that due to our birth in Original sin, our default punishment is death. Therefore, who we see as innocent babies are actually not that innocent! So, in this sense, according to Bible (again based on my friend’s argument) death of new born or unborn children is reflection of God’s justice. I have trouble buying this plot and your response of inheriting sin from Adam & Eve still does not meets the burden of my corroboration in their sin. As you can see, I am not through with this reponse to ask the question about *drive*.
  • Ankit Dhawan Followup Q3: If God is the source of everything, then did He create sin? If No, then who did? If Yes, then why subject humanity to hell for something that He created?”

    You reply: God is the source of all being, but is not the source of all “states ofaffairs” or situations. Created persons have, as a necessary aspect of their essence, freedom of the will. Free will makes it possible to give and receive love, but this freedom can be abused. Sin originates in the abuse of freedom, and is not created by God. God does not subject humanity to hell. Rather, God wills that which is highest and best for every person. The prospect of hell arises from the “destiny destroying” power of original sin. Neither God nor man has to want it. It is a necessary consequence of a shattered destiny:

    After the original sin, all actions of human persons proceed from the context of an event that should never have happened. Given that the order of original justice entailed a perfect harmony, the introduction of disorder brings about a “cascading failure” which, in the life of every person, eventually results in the total frustration of the purpose for which he/she was created. Created to be immortal, if there were not an intervention of God to save it, the soul would continue on in a “living death” in which there is total opposition between desire and reality. This “fallen immortality” is hell. God attempts, by every legitimate means, to save us from eternal loss. [There are many potential questions to discuss here, but we will wait for you to raise them.]

    Followup: I will resist the temptation to not read your first statement as “God is not sovereign”! I will jump right to “free will” as that is one heck of a confusing concept where I note that even devout and sincere Christians don’t agree. Following the response to my previous two questions, I am born in “Original Sin”, and now I have “free will”. However, being in Original Sin, I don’t even have an iota of goodness in me (Calvin view). Not only that, I don’t even have capacity to choose anything but sin on my own. So, if that is what Original Sin brings to us, then what is the value of “free will”? Now, let’s assume that we do have free will, does this mean that I can choose not to sin? If yes, then on my own I can live a sinless life and go to God’s kingdom and there is no need for Jesus. If no, then why do we say that we have free will?
  • Rohit Narayan This is interesting dialogue…..will keep an eye on the responses….a very happy new year to all of you
  • Ankit Dhawan Rohit- if separately you wish to bring other thoughts from Dr. Naik or Vedas, feel free to do that on my fb page. Let’s keep the discussion here focused on Bible. Thanks!
  • Rohit Narayan Ankit, noted…but the questions are so deep it will take me a while to contribute…but I definitely will…tks
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan

    You wrote:
    I have one request, if not too much of a burden, to include scriptural references to your reply where possible so that we can distinguish between scriptural supported reply versus personal (or congregational) deductions from something that is not explicitly stated in Bible. Thanks again!

    We reply: Will will attempt to comply, but the answers to the questions you pose are a synthesis of the *whole* Bible, and individual citations will not prove the conclusions. At best, any scripture can be shown to be consistent with the overall framework, but scripture alone cannot prove the framework.

    The unity between the many books of the Bible with their divergent literary forms and progressively evolving understanding of God’s relationship with us is not contained *within* that set of books. The unifying principle comes from the outside, and without that unifying principle, there is no clear meaning to the scriptures. Hence, there are so many denominations though they are reading mostly the same books of the Bible. To open eyes, it is plain that the books of the Bible are not even generally consistent with each other if read literally.

    The Catholic Church was endowed by God with the authority to determine which books were in the Bible, and also has the authority to make judgments as to what this collection of books is saying. This authority enables the Church to define as heretical any opinions to the contrary (though these opinions may appear to have scriptural support). 

    There are no Christians who go by the Bible alone, for all of us rely (whether knowingly or not) on the teaching of the Church for not only the canon of scripture, but for that firmly established standard of orthodoxy which is taken for granted on many matters not explicitly mentioned in the Bible yet nonetheless essential to the Christian faith. The doctrine of the Trinity and our belief in both the true divinity *and* true humanity of Jesus are examples of those core ideas that are not entirely clear in scripture. They required the authority of the Church to define the nature of Christian belief against the rising popular heresies of the times.

    As we respond to your questions, you will notice a pattern: The contradictions and unreasonable inferences you are questioning about the “Christian” faith are *not* (in any degree) part of what is taught by the Catholic Church, but are (in every case) instances of a deep distortion of Christianity that is almost entirely contrary to the teaching of the Church. Consider that in reviewing your initial list of questions, we agree with your intuitions broadly: If the Christian teaching were saying what you suspect it is saying, then you would be right to reject it because of its incoherence and obvious incompatibility with what we would expect from a just God.
  • Ankit Dhawan NA Response: As we respond to your questions, you will notice a pattern: The contradictions and unreasonable inferences you are questioning about the “Christian” faith are *not* (in any degree) part of what is taught by the Catholic Church, but are (in every case) instances of a deep distortion of Christianity that is almost entirely contrary to the teaching of the Church. Consider that in reviewing your initial list of questions, we agree with your intuitions broadly: If the Christian teaching were saying what you suspect it is saying, then you would be right to reject it because of its incoherence and obvious incompatibility with what we would expect from a just God.

    AD Response: I sincerely hope that my arguments are proven unreasonable inferences, and that your Holy office will bring the light of truth to a fallen soul like me. However unreasonable my doubts are, they are there none the less, and I am urging the best of Christians to remove these doubts and save a fallen soul. I can apologize for my ignorance, if I am distorting the tenets of Christianity. But, I continue to request you to clear up the distortions and get me back on track. Thanks again!
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan We are not saying that your inferences and arguments are unreasonable. We are *agreeing* that you have correctly identified genuine contradictions and unreasonable stances in the version of “Christianity” you are questioning. The distortion is not coming from you, but rather you are responding very reasonably to the distortions that have been presented to you.
  • Ankit Dhawan Thanks! I have been exposed to the Calvin doctrine before, so that may be behind some of the issues I am having trouble reconciling. I am looking forward to your great service to God in clarifying my doubts.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan Thank you for your response. Concerning the Calvinist ideas you are doubting: We reject all of them definitively as *necessarily* false and unworthy of any further consideration. The reason behind this certainty is that these ideas entail obvious contradictions, and any concession to taking them seriously requires an abdication of all authentic standards of goodness and justice. We Catholics believe that God’s justice and goodness are not contrary to our human standards of justice and goodness. God’s standard is certainly *beyond* our human standard, but not opposed to it. As truth can never contradict truth, so it is that God’s justice and goodness are never in contradiction to what we (made in the image of God) hope for or desire. Rather, God’s goodness and justice superabundantly exceed our desires in every way by going into the realm of what we would consider “too good to be true,” and thus outside the bounds of what we had even considered possible.

    If the religion you described in your first post were true, it would be a very sad thing indeed.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan Concerning Question 1:
    You wrote: “Are you saying that soul is not born nor it dies- in other words soul is eternal?”

    We reply: Definitely not. We are saying that the soul is *created* directly by God out of nothing. There is no pre-existing substance out of which the soul is made. God brings it into being directly.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan Concerning Question 2:

    You wrote: “Follow up: Unless I misread your response to first question, I thought soul is never born and is eternal. That being the case, how can we now say that I wasn’t there when Adam and Eve were there? May be I didn’t have my human body, but my spirit must have been somewhere- right?”

    We reply: The answer to the first question was misread. The soul has a beginning according to Catholic teaching.

    You wrote:
    Anyway, following that I wasn’t there and that Adam and Eve messed up God’s plan of original justice. My point is that they sinned, I didn’t- so why am I born in original sin? If my biological father commits murder, the judge will not put the entire family to electric chair? Similarly, How can I accept inheritance of sin? Either I was there and in some fashion participated in the disobedience of Adam & Eve, or my doubts about original sin still stand. 

    We reply: Original sin has nothing to do with being blamed or punished by God for the sins of another. It simply means that you are injured by their sin. Because we are all interconnected, the disorder of an individual sin ripples out to affect everyone. Unless we receive the rescue of God to restore to us what has been lost because of the *injury* we experience through this ripple effect of sin, then we will necessarily experience the total frustration of the purpose for which we were created. The “rescue” needed is called the redemption.

    You wrote:
    Let’s assume that on the basis of scriptures you will help me cross this hurdle and that somehow or the other I am born in Original Sin, then what does this mean?

    We reply: Confirming the view we expressed above, here is what Pope Benedict XVI says about original sin:

    “Finding an answer to this requires nothing less than trying to understand the human person better. It must once again be stressed that no human being is closed in upon himself or herself and that no one can live of or for himself or herself alone. We receive our life not only at the moment of birth but every day from without–from others who are not ourselves but who nonetheless somehow pertain to us. Human beings have their selves not only in themselves but also outside of themselves: they live in those whom they love and in those who love them and to whom they are ‘present.’ Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives–themselves–only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself. To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for. But sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship, then this event–sin–touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it. To the extent that this is true, when the network of human relationships is damaged from the very beginning, then every human being enters into a world that is marked by relational damage. At the very moment that a person begins human existence, which is a good, he or she is confronted by a sin-damaged world. Each of us enters into a situation in which relationality has been hurt. Consequently each person is, from the very start, damaged in relationships and does not engage in them as he or she ought. Sin pursues the human being, and he or she capitulates to it.”–Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

    You wrote:
    I asked somewhere that why do infants die right after birth (or even in womb)? Isn’t God unjust in letting this kind of premature death (Newtown shootings are recent example)- I was told that due to our birth in Original sin, our default punishment is death. 

    We reply: You have been greatly misinformed. Death does not come from God, but is infinitely offensive to God who wills only our good. Death comes as a natural consequence of the disorder caused by sin. Life presupposes right order, but disorder has been introduced into the world by sin and interferes with life. There is a good reason why God, though omnipotent and omniscient *cannot* prevent suffering and death. We will discuss this reason at length if you like.

    You wrote:
    Therefore, who we see as innocent babies are actually not that innocent! 

    We reply:
    On the contrary: They *are* innocent, and when they grow up to be sinners, they are simply *hurt* children who are looking for the peace of original justice without knowing how to find it. A sinner is someone who has tasted death and wants to live and not die. Not knowing what to do, we just do what we can to reduce our pain with whatever tools that are available to us. Through the redemption, God has made a way for us to receive the fullness of justice we seek without having recourse to sin.

    You wrote:
    So, in this sense, according to Bible (again based on my friend’s argument) death of new born or unborn children is reflection of God’s justice. 

    We reply:
    Your friend’s view of God and the human person are so contrary to reality that atheism (which at least allows one to remain loyal to authentic standards of justice) would be a much holier view.

    You wrote:
    I have trouble buying this plot and your response of inheriting sin from Adam & Eve still does not meets the burden of my corroboration in their sin. As you can see, I am not through with this reponse to ask the question about *drive*.

    We reply:
    The fact that you find the plot unconvincing is proof of your good will. You are pursuing truth in an honest way despite threats of eternal damnation from those misrepresenting Christianity. Many atheists do the same, and we salute them for it.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan Concerning Question 3:

    You wrote:
    “I will resist the temptation to not read your first statement as “God is not sovereign”! 

    We reply: God is sovereign, but we must not make that common mistake of understanding divine sovereignty to entail that God is running things directly. In truth, the world is *not* operating in God’s will, but is full of events which are totally contrary to God’s intentions for humanity. It is only through the redemption that it becomes possible for God to draw good out of evil. Through the redemption, all the power of evil is turned against itself, and therefore God’s purposes (and hence his sovereignty) are assured. Furthermore, the effects of the redemption permeate all space and time, so there was never a time when evil had the upper hand. We assert the following:

    1) Apart from the redemption, sin, suffering and death are infinitely offensive to God, and only lead to a shattering of divine providence and human destiny.
    2) Through the redemption, God has reconciled all things to himself, and nothing can separate us from him. Hence, we can affirm the following two quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    “Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin. Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin. “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1008)

    “We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him.” The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:
    St. Catherine of Siena said to “those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them”: “Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.”
    St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: “Nothing can come but that that God wills. and I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best.” 
    Dame Julian of Norwich: “Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith… and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time – that ‘all manner (of) thing shall be well.'” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 113)

    You wrote:
    I will jump right to “free will” as that is one heck of a confusing concept where I note that even devout and sincere Christians don’t agree. Following the response to my previous two questions, I am born in “Original Sin”, and now I have “free will”. 

    We reply:
    You have free will in the sense that your freedom has not been completely destroyed. It is, however, seriously impaired because of the sufferings you have experienced by being in a world filled with disorder.

    You wrote:
    However, being in Original Sin, I don’t even have an iota of goodness in me (Calvin view). 

    We reply:
    The Calvinist view is false. It is self-evident that you have goodness in you by the fact that at least some evils offend you.

    You wrote:
    Not only that, I don’t even have capacity to choose anything but sin on my own. 

    We reply:
    Human beings were created for a situation in which all of their individual needs were met (original justice), but now (because of original sin) we live in a world of pain where our needs go unmet broadly. We were also created to be in total communion with others, and to be integral to the happiness of all other persons. Both of these aspects of human nature (the desire to meet our individual needs *and* to meet the needs of others) are inherited from our first parents. Now, though, when we cannot meet our needs in this disordered world, we are *driven* to try to meet them by our inherited nature. We can hate this drive towards selfishness and fight against it, but we are not made to fight ourselves, and so we will repeatedly give in to selfish behavior despite all resolutions to the contrary. All the while, the desire to be in total communion with others *remains*, because it, too, is inherited. Every person finds that they are in a state of perpetual conflict and frustration (torn between self and others). Some are so injured by this conflict that they are psychologically destroyed. Others cope through an intricate game of self-deception. There is no healthy natural response because the situation is intrinsically unhealthy and unnatural. The bottom line is that we are all looking for the justice that was lost, and this present state of affairs is a fiasco. God understands why we do what we do. He wants to save us from this *unjust* situation, not to inflict an unjust punishment because he blames us for a crime we didn’t commit.

    You wrote:
    So, if that is what Original Sin brings to us, then what is the value of “free will”? 

    We reply:
    Even though our freedom is greatly impaired, we retain enough of it to begin to cooperate with God’s effort to draw us out of this destroyed system of things. There is much to say about this, and we are happy to answer your questions indefinitely.

    You wrote:
    Now, let’s assume that we do have free will, does this mean that I can choose not to sin? 

    We reply:
    You can choose not to sin, but your own nature will fight against you, and your resolve will erode because you were not made to be divided against yourself.

    You wrote:
    If yes, then on my own I can live a sinless life and go to God’s kingdom and there is no need for Jesus. If no, then why do we say that we have free will?

    We reply: We retain enough of our freedom to respond to God’s attempt to rescue us. By his grace, we can recognize our need, and give God permission to save us. He will then begin to transform us into Christ. Once again, there is very much to say about this, and we will let you lead with more questions.
  • Ankit Dhawan I don’t have words to thank you for the effort you have put in responding to my queries. Your sincerity is reflection of Godliness that I hope is infectious. I will study your response carefully and continue with my queries. I read Ezekiel 18:20 and have trouble reconciling with original sin. However, you have given pretty detailed explanation that I need to meditate. This note is to express my deep gratitude for your kindness.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan Thank you for your note. Concerning Ezekiel 18:20, please see our response to Matt Tillman’s post from December 18th (just a little further down on this page). Let us know if it does not answer your concerns, and we will expand upon it. We will be responding to the remainder of the questions you posted as time permits.
  • Ankit Dhawan Alright Sir, I now understand Original Sin as some sort of after birth defect that I get infected with after I make contact with material world, no fault of mine. However, despite being faultless at the time of birth, this disease of Original Sin will certainly impose death upon me. This scheme is not very pleasant, and our Father recognizes this. To counter this bad situation, He orchestrated a plan to save us all through redemption. Can you please explain how does that happen? God- the Almighty, King of Kings, could have just said “Hey! Original Sin and it’s painful effect Death!! just go away” and we would all have been back to square one. Why go through this exercise of sacrificing His own Son, only to see him come back after three days… looks like God was trying to check off the “death” box and trick the system. May be you were going to get at this to answer my propitiation question in the original list.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan
    We will now go through the remaining questions briefly, and then focus on your question about the redemption (in a separate response) as it is the one upon which everything hinges:

    You wrote:
    If God is just, then why does He accept substitute sacrifice as payment for our sins? In old testament, He accepted animal sacrifice- more specifically blood of a clean animal. It does not make sense that I should slaughter another living being to pay for my sins? The whole notion of propitiation defies the just nature of God.

    We reply:
    You are right that this model, if it were true, would indicate that God is unjust. It is, therefore, a false model. God has not accepted a substitute sacrifice in payment for our sins in that way. Consider the following from Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI): 

    “To many Christians, and especially to those who only know the faith from a a fair distance, it looks as if the cross is to be understood as part of a mechanism of injured and restored right. It is the form, so it seems, in which the infinitely offended righteousness of God was propitiated again by means of an infinite expiation. It thus appears to people as the expression of an attitude which insists on a precise balance between debit and credit; at the same time one gets the feeling that this balance is based nevertheless on a fiction. One gives first secretly with the left hand what one takes back again ceremonially with the right. The ‘infinite expiation’ on which God seems to insist thus moves into a doubly sinister light. Many devotional texts actually force one to think that Christian faith in the cross visualizes a God whose unrelenting righteousness demanded a human sacrifice, the sacrifice of his own Son, and one turns away in horror from a righteousness whose sinister wrath makes the message of love incredible. This picture is as false as it is widespread.”

    You wrote:
    5. How was human race getting saved prior to Jesus? Are they all burning in hell?

    We reply:
    They are saved through Jesus. The effects of the redemption permeate all space and time. It is not *religion* that saves us such that we have to believe some set of propositions in order to be saved. Rather it is Christ *himself* who saves us, and seeks all who desire what is right.

    You wrote:
    6. Only 20% of 6 Billion population claims to be Christian. That equates to 1.2billion… of the 1.2 Billion, only 10% or so are really committed and surrendered Christians.. that equates to 12 million. Does that mean roughly 5.9 billion are headed for hell? If yes, then how does this reconcile with God is love?

    We reply:
    It does not reconcile. If it were true, then the one orchestrating such a thing would *not* be a god of love. We would be right to *rebel* against such a “deity” (even if it were real) in hope that there is an unknown God of true justice and love who will deliver us from this *antichrist* who has fraudulently claimed divinity.

    You wrote:
    7. Do animals have soul? What is the scriptural reference to this answer?

    We reply:
    All living things have souls as the soul is simply the principle of life which unites the matter of the body to be a coherently functioning unity. We are not aware of scriptural references about this, but it is more a conclusion of Catholic philosophy.

    You wrote:
    8. God’s character does not change… then why did he initially allow humans to only eat plants; and then later on said never mind, go ahead eat animals too. 

    We reply:
    This is an anthropomorphism in scripture. It is not literally true of God. There are more serious instances of God apparently changing in scripture, but none of them are intended as literal truth. For scripture, the literary form of any given book must be taken into account, and some of the books are “myth” and “legend.” Their purpose is to express certain truths through a story framework. The story may not be historical, and the depiction of the nature and action of God will not be theologically accurate if taken literally.
  • Ankit Dhawan Dear Sir: I am very thankful to you for your valuable time invested in responding to my undeserving questions. Over the last 6-7 days I have learnt a whole lot about Catholic view of Christianity. I will not jump to say that I have understood all your responses to my satisfaction, as the process involves first erasing the old notions and then imbibing the new ones. But, I have no hesitation in thanking you over and over again for your display of genuine love and mercy in responding to my queries. Things that are still bugging me are (1) the need for Jesus’s atoning death versus God could have used his word to mitigate death due to original sin; and (2) why innocent babies die, and where do they go after death? This one may be interesting one, because if you say hell, then you know my follow up… if you say heaven, then what’s wrong with abortion (you just facilitated a soul’s promotion to heaven)?
  • Ankit Dhawan AD Q 5. How was human race getting saved prior to Jesus? Are they all burning in hell?

    You reply:
    They are saved through Jesus. The effects of the redemption permeate all space and time. It is not *religion* that saves us such that we have to believe some set of propositions in order to be saved. Rather it is Christ *himself* who saves us, and seeks all who desire what is right.

    AD Followup: How does this happen? The world had not witnessed Jesus’s pastimes on Earth for them to surrender their faith in Him. If their surrender was not needed, then my question is- did everyone got saved before Jesus’s birth? What is the basis for your response? 

    I will wait for your post explaining the need and significance of Jesus’s atonement. You have straightened me out on lot of other issues, the need for Jesus’s death in this whole scheme is very intriguing to me.

    If animals have soul, then why do we murder animals to satisfy our palate? Doesn’t non vegetarianism go against “Thou shall not kill”… up until your post, I was lead to believe that animals have no soul.

    I am going to google the word anthropomorphism to better understand your response to “God’s character”… the question still looms in my mind. Are you suggesting that God does change his character based on time and situation? If yes, then I may open up the debate on Gay marriage, if He would be more sympathetic in 2012 to the gay cause. Thanks for your enlightenment.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan Thank you for your questions. Please continue to ask about anything you like until you have received fully satisfying answers. 

    You wrote:
    Things that are still bugging me are (1) the need for Jesus’s atoning death versus God could have used his word to mitigate death due to original sin;

    We reply:
    To begin to answer your question we will start with two quotes from Pope Benedict XVI:

    “In the Bible the cross does not appear as part of a mechanism of injured and restored right; on the contrary, in the Bible the cross is quite the reverse: it is the expression of the radical nature of the love which gives itself completely, of the process in which one is what one does, and does what one is; it is the expression of a life that is completely being for others.”

    “In Jesus’ Passion, all the filth of the world touches the infinitely pure one, the soul of Jesus Christ and, hence, the Son of God himself. While it is usually the case that anything unclean touching something clean renders it unclean, here it is the other way around: when the world, with all the injustice and cruelty that make it unclean, comes into contact with the infinitely pure one – then he, the pure one, is the stronger. Through this contact, the filth of the world is truly absorbed, wiped out, and transformed in the pain of infinite love… If we reflect more deeply on this insight, we find the answer to an objection that is often raised against the idea of atonement. Again and again people say: It must be a cruel God who demands infinite atonement. Is this not a notion unworthy of God? Must we not give up the idea of atonement in order to maintain the purity of our image of God?… It becomes evident that the real forgiveness accomplished on the Cross functions in exactly the opposite direction. The reality of evil and injustice that disfigures the world and at the same time distorts the image of God – this reality exists, through our sin. It cannot simply be ignored; it must be addressed. But here it is not the case of a cruel God demanding the infinite. It is exactly the opposite: God himself becomes the locus of reconciliation, and in the person of his Son takes the suffering upon himself. God himself grants his infinite purity to the world. God himself “drinks the cup” of every horror to the dregs and thereby restores justice through the greatness of his love, which, through suffering, transforms the darkness. (Pope Benedict XVI)

    And a quote from the Second Vatican Council:

    “He who is the ‘image of the invisible God’ (Col 1:15), is himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. Human nature, by the very fact that is was assumed, not absorbed, in him, has been raised in us also to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his Incarnation, he, the son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man. The redemption of the world-this tremendous mystery of love in which creation is renewed is, at its deepest root, the fullness of justice in a human Heart-the Heart of the First-born Son-in order that it may become justice in the hearts of many human beings, predestined from eternity in the Firstborn Son to be children of God and called to grace, called to love.”

    So, we *begin* by establishing that the atonement has nothing to do with God satisfying his “justice” through punishing Jesus. Rather, it has to do with God satisfying his *justice* by guaranteeing that we are *well.* His justice is not satisfied until evil has *no* power to harm us. In Christ, he has made it possible to annihilate every evil which would take us away from the justice that God wills for us. By the fact that God has united himself to *each* of us (whether Christian or not), all of our sin, suffering, and death are transformed to be the suffering of Christ. Because our suffering is God’s own suffering through human nature, its meaning has now been transformed forever. Apart from Christ, our sin, suffering, and death are only destiny-destroying evils. But, united to Christ, each of our lives becomes the means by which every other person is redeemed. That is, *restored* to a just situation where we are no longer lacking what is good. Benedict XVI says:

    “Entrust to the Lord the discomfort and pain you have to face, and in His plan you will become means of purification and redemption for the entire world.”

    We will continue to explain in a separate comment.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan
    You wrote:
    Things that are still bugging me are … why innocent babies die, and where do they go after death? This one may be interesting one, because if you say hell, then you know my follow up… 

    We reply:
    Innocent babies die because of sin. That is, they are either the direct victims of murder, or they are the victims of the disorder which has entered the world because of the sin of others. All accidents and disasters come from the fact that the harmony of creation has been altered by events which are contrary to the order of justice which God has ordained. A personal and private act of sin causes a ripple-effect of disorder to afflict the whole world because all things in nature are causally interconnected. The accidents and disasters which cause so much pain are not from God, but are the amplified consequences of disorder introduced into the world at the level of the *individual* person. These disasters make no sense because they originate in evil, which is the violation of order and reason. Their impact has no respect for justice or human dignity. This situation is infinitely offensive to God. If he *could* stop it without hurting us in a far worse way, he would. He is not watching indifferently. Rather, he endures this infinite offense as one who is being *crucified*.

    We ask you to forcefully reject the idea that God does not love us, or that “love” does not mean *love* as we would want. The Father loves each child as much as he loves Jesus. Jesus loves each child as much as he loves the Father. And to love is to will nothing but the perfect happiness of the one you love. Any teaching deviating from this is not teaching about God, but is luring us to kneel before an *idol* of fear.

    The reality is that Christ has united himself to every person. When a child dies, it is Christ who dies. When a criminal dies, it is Christ who dies. It is only if a person were to deliberately condemn *themselves* to hell would they fail to receive the gift of God.

    You wrote:
    If you say heaven, then what’s wrong with abortion (you just facilitated a soul’s promotion to heaven)?

    We reply:
    The fact that God has transformed our human lives to be one with his divine life of glory does not mean that we are to deliberately embrace evil. 

    We are saved by Love for *love*. If we do not allow God to transform us into love, but prefer to embrace fear (and abortion is always the worship of fear) then we will not want to be with him. Though we are “redeemed” it will be as if there is no redemption for us. We, in choosing to refuse love, will have chosen to remain under the dominion of death despite God’s omnipotent effort to save us.
  • Ankit Dhawan Based on your responses about Original sin as an unfortunate situation imposed on human beings after Adam and Eve’s fall; and this injury significantly compromising our nature to “not commit” sin; and God’s display of infinite love to undo the filth in this world (sinful world) by offering Himself up completely through Jesus’s death- does this mean everyone gets saved? To make my query provocative, does the person who sexually assaults and kills young innocent children get saved? Jesus died for everyone (Christian and non Christian), then he surely died for this child rapist as well. You may say that in committing these heinous crimes, this child rapist rejected to receive the love of God, and hence chose hell for himself. But, why wouldn’t he use the insanity plea, “my head got messed up from the “no fault” injury I inherited when I was born. So, due to this sinful nature that I acquired I committed these crimes and my state is so morally challenged that I have no faculty in my brain to ask for or receive God’s love”. One thing we can be sure of is that God’s love is abundant and sufficient to save the entire human race. So, does everyone get saved?
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan 

    You wrote:
    “Alright Sir, I now understand Original Sin as some sort of after birth defect that I get infected with after I make contact with material world, no fault of mine.”

    We reply:
    Just to clarify: We are afflicted by original sin from the time of our conception. The child in the womb still suffers from the disorder of the world.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan

    You wrote:
    Based on your responses about Original sin as an unfortunate situation imposed on human beings after Adam and Eve’s fall; and this injury significantly compromising our nature to “not commit” sin; and God’s display of infinite love to undo the filth in this world (sinful world) by offering Himself up completely through Jesus’s death- does this mean everyone gets saved? 

    We reply:
    It means that all have been redeemed. There is nothing that needs to separate anyone from God. He has conquered evil. It is only if a person would *refuse* to accept this gift of God that they would not be saved. There is a reason why a person would choose to refuse the gift, and we will explain if you are interested. Our hope is that all will be saved.

    You wrote:
    To make my query provocative, does the person who sexually assaults and kills young innocent children get saved?

    We reply:
    God seeks after such a person with omnipotent effort. A murderer and rapist was once an innocent child who was seriously harmed by the effects of original sin. God has not forgotten that child, and will restore what has been lost if only given the slightest permission to do so.

    You wrote:
    Jesus died for everyone (Christian and non Christian), then he surely died for this child rapist as well. You may say that in committing these heinous crimes, this child rapist rejected to receive the love of God, and hence chose hell for himself.

    We reply:
    On the contrary, none of us have yet chosen hell. The choice for hell is done in perfect knowledge of what we are choosing. It is done so perfectly that there is no possibility of receiving any new information such as to change our minds. We are all still in a state of confusion here, and none of our choices are absolute.

    You wrote:
    But, why wouldn’t he use the insanity plea, “my head got messed up from the “no fault” injury I inherited when I was born. 

    We reply:
    It is true. There is some part of us that has never chosen to sin. God knows this even if we do not. He accounts our past sins as unjust suffering which has befallen us. When we stop defending our sins and give them to God, then *he* defends us from all accusation. He only alerts us to our sinfulness so that we can stop defending that which will destroy us. None of this has anything to do with blame. 

    You wrote:
    So, due to this sinful nature that I acquired I committed these crimes and my state is so morally challenged that I have no faculty in my brain to ask for or receive God’s love”. 

    We reply:
    You do retain the faculty to respond to God’s grace. Our freedom has been impaired, but not completely destroyed. All of our actions are mixed with their negation. 

    You wrote:
    One thing we can be sure of is that God’s love is abundant and sufficient to save the entire human race. So, does everyone get saved?

    We reply:
    We hold that hope. God is very good at what he does.