You Can't Escape God, 1978
History of worship for Christians
CHRISTIANITY'S CONVENTIONAL CONCEPTS OF SO-CALLED 'WORSHIP' will be startlingly amended and amplified as we now extend our study of the Church to include its instructional methods for helping Man to advance toward God's beneficent objectives.
Thus, let us note that even the word --"worship" -- as applied to Christian participation in Church conducted religious services has misleading implications. In semantic terms, it is a carry-over from ancient times when Man assumed he needed to perform acts of obeisance, costly or demeaning to himself, to appease a Deity or deities who might otherwise capriciously choose to bring various kinds of great harm to human beings. Accordingly, it was hoped that the price paid for such appeasement would be more than offset in favor of the worshiper not only by allowing him to escape such injury but also by causing him to receive some paralleling divine benefaction.
So it has been in that same ancient sense that many modern Christians have assumed that their participation in Church-sponsored acts of worship is simply to flatter the Deity as a wholly sufficient-in-itself means of purchasing some favors from God in return. What such Churchgoers have failed to see is that the so-called worship services conducted by the institution founded by Jesus are entirely for the benefit not of God but of Man.
Actually, such services are a process of two parts. First, they are of an educational nature to aid Man in acquiring the wisdom requisite for preparing his soul for admission to Heaven and for his gradual achievement of a byproduct of peace and optimum happiness on Earth. Second, they are a means by which Man can obtain certain infusions of the Holy Spirit not only for his soul but also to improve his cerebral receptivity to the educational process itself.
Of course, most Christians tend to realize there is some educational element included in the religious services which the Church provides. Yet, many of these simultaneously are unaware that, for example, such acts of obeisance as genuflection (i.e., knee-bending toward an altar) which ostensibly are gestures of worship in the ancient sense of "worship" are actually elements of the Church's instructional program in that they achieve a pedagogical result by means of a psychological impact.
At the opposite extreme, there are many men who -- erroneously supposing that participation in religious services is simply a means of establishing a quid pro quo relationships with God -- decide they do not need the "quo" and therefore withhold the "quid." Thus, by refusing or neglecting to participate in such services they not only reflect their ignorance of the church's purpose but also continue to lack the benefits which it actually provides.
Let us now proceed, therefore, to recognize there are a wide variety of religious practices which the Church may use to produce for the participants the two aforementioned results: First, to add to the theological and moral wisdom of the members. Second, to provide them with added quantities of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in the following pages of this chapter we shall be dealing with the specific methods by which the Christian religion, especially in the functions performed by the Church, accomplishes and can increasingly accomplish a vast quantity of the intended results. In so proceeding, we shall analyze first the mechanisms and efficacy of prayer -- separately from such matters as the Christian sacraments -- because prayer is one technique for Man's advancement which may be either wholly private or a part of a public religious services.
Prayer: In the view of atheists, of course, prayer is simply "talking to the wind;" moreover, even a great many professing Christians have wondered whether there can be any efficacy in addressing any supplications to God.
In response to such challenges or puzzlement, let us initially note two questions which identify the principal areas of doubt or denial. One question demands: "How is it possible, if there is a God of love, that we cannot rely on him invariably to respond favorably to such prayers as for the ending of a war or for sparing a child from a fatal illness?" The other question inquires: "How could it be scientifically possible for prayer-messages to bridge the distance from Earth to Heaven, and how could a God send any response that would bridge the same gap in the opposite direction?" Both questions imply, of course, that praying may be a wasted effort; either that no God exists or that he fails to receive prayer-messages, or has no means to respond, or that he responds in a capricious manner.
In contrast, our logic in earlier chapters has presented numerous structures of proof which show that a God of the Universe does surely exist and that he makes use of physical processes to work many wonders, even though human minds have hardly begun to comprehend the scientific principles by which such phenomena are accomplished. Thus, the clearest way to deduce the efficacy of prayer should next consider the three chief phenomena which the proven trustworthy witnesses reported concerning the event known as the Transfiguration of Jesus. On that occasion, as our study has earlier explained, the great fervor of God's Son in the act of praying caused him to receive so vast an intake of the Holy Spirit that his body and even his garments became luminescent. In addition, the witnesses observed the presence of Moses and Elias despite the fact that the earthly lives of those two notables had terminated a number of centuries earlier. Thirdly, the observers heard a voice from a source concealed by a cloud in the sky, saying , "This is my Son, the Chosen One."
Now let us note that Jesus' added intake of the Holy Spirit on that occasion was an automatic response to his heightened electronic receptivity produced by his fervor. Thus, no heavenly being -- somewhere in Outer Space -- was needed to take any responsive action of causing the infusion to occur; indeed, there was not even a need for the prayer to be "heard" to accomplish this portion of the total result. In contrast, the visit of Moses and Elias, and the sending of the voice message from the sky, required actions by others than Jesus himself; thus, these two phenomena show that the prayer was truly both heard and answered.
Presently, however, we direct our attention to the kind of results which are accomplished entirely within the person who utters a prayer. One result, we perceive, is self-instruction. By the act of praying, the individual reiterates to himself a confidence in the existence of a beneficent God and even implies his own desire for his soul to become qualified for reincarnation in Heaven. Thus, each act of praying -- regardless of any other results -- is a self-teaching process which deepens by reiteration an acceptance of the basic theological and moral truths. Hence, each act of praying also reminds the supplicant of his desire for a so-called "forgiveness" of sins and this is matched automatically by an inner attainment of a corresponding degree of absolution. We perceive, therefore, that there is no necessity for a prayer to be heard for it to have a pedagogical effect including progress toward soul perfection.
Moreover, because an inner improvement of conduct attitude makes the individual more receptive to an intake of Earth's supply of the Holy Spirit, the participant in prayer receives automatically a pro-rata added infusion of particles thereof by an influx process of electronic penetration, to remain within him as long as the related improvement may also continue or be further increased. We deduce this Holy Spirit response to human prayers not only because it is consistent with all other aspects of the logic of our study but also because it is directly analogous to our explanation of the luminescence of Jesus at his Transfiguration.
In turn, there can also be deduced a cross-effect between a prayer's resolve for attitude improvement and the resulting infusion of the Holy Spirit. Thus, although it is rare for the quantity of the Holy Spirit so received to be sufficient to heal physical infirmities in modern times, the varying amounts obtained by prayer are surely sufficient to have an effect upon our mental functioning. Showing a preference to locate among our brain cells because of the nearby presence of the soul-cell, such particles of the Holy Spirit assuredly make our mentalities more efficient in much the same manner that preservation of an adequate blood supply to the brain will maintain the cerebral power of a man who otherwise would suffer a brain impairment. Of course, the Holy Spirit in a human brain can be only one of two factors determining the level of mental efficiency; the other must consist of whatever capacity the brain genetically inherited as combined with the effects of conventional educational processes. However, the cross-effect of the Holy Spirit will be found in the fact that a mentality which has been sharpened by such an infusion will view all conduct problems more clearly than otherwise possible and will be strengthened in a good conduct attitude by a clearer grasp of the importance of such an attitude's retention.
Thus, we have perceived that the two chief self-responses to prayer consist of the pedagogical effect in which the individual reiterates to himself his conscious or subconscious acceptance of the basic theological and moral verities, and of the receiving of an added infusion of the Holy Spirit pro-rata to the prayer-related improvement of conduct attitude. In addition, however, as our study next will recognize, many prayers receive responses which come from heavenly beings rather than involving only the person by whom the praying is done.
The most dramatic demonstration of external responses to prayer was, of course, the arrival of Moses and Elias at the Transfiguration of Jesus and the voice from the sky on the same occasion. Thus, these phenomena made it evident that it is somehow scientifically possible for a prayer to be transmitted outward from Earth, to be received at some point also outward from Earth, and for the receivers of a prayer to respond with appropriate action. Even so, it is not unreasonable that human nature would like to know in the terms of modern science just what the process is by which such communication has been and still can be accomplished.
Accordingly, let us note the significance of the fact that the arrival of Moses and Elias was accomplished within a time span obviously of not more than a mere few minutes. This makes it clear that the visitors did not traverse the vast distance from Heaven to Earth within the brief period that Jesus was praying, that they came from a place much nearer than Heaven. In turn, the same conclusion makes it also clear that the prayer-message of Jesus did not need to be transmitted all the way from Earth to Heaven, that it was intercepted at the nearer location. Moreover, such interception makes it implicit that not all external responses to prayer are dependent on action by God himself. Indeed, even the voice from the sky was -- or could have been -- simply a stand-by message that had been waiting to be relayed at an appropriate time.
Thus, the foregoing conclusions concerning the Transfiguration prayer of Jesus lead to an inescapable corollary that there must be an Annex of Heaven which, even today, is somewhere within our earthly galaxy and where some of the prayers that are uttered on Earth are intercepted by angels or by other beings who have been deputized by God to serve as interceptors with authority to render suitable responses by their own decisions.
Actually, the foregoing conclusions concerning the mechanisms of prayer need not be surprising. Thus, in accounting for the response of Moses and Elias, they are also consistent with our earlier conclusion explaining how God, his Son, and other heavenly beings have bodily visited Earth and explaining certain other phenomena reported in Christian teachings. For example, again we note it is an accepted fact of modern astronomy that within our galaxy there are many undetected celestial bodies of substance as large as a hundred miles in diameter. Moreover, our inability to detect and identify one of such as these as a still-present Annex of Heaven is logically due not only to the factors of size, distance, and maneuverability but also possibly to its having a total absorbency of beams sent out by electronic apparatus from Earth.
On the other hand, the same or a similar Annex was surely brought much closer to Earth in ancient times than at present. Thus, we can rationally estimate that such a celestial body was probably at an elevation of no more than a mile when, at the birth of Jesus, a group of shepherds saw an illumination which came from it, and heard the carols of angels who may have descended partly a way from it. Again, it was probably at the same height when Moses and Elias heard and responded to the prayer of Jesus. Hence, less than a single minute would have been required from them to arrive at the scene of the Transfiguration. Moreover, with a polarity control of the electronic particles of their bodies, their touchdown on Earth's surface would have been as gentle as they chose to make it, and they would have been guided to the scene by the electronic beams which the radiant Jesus emitted.
In the foregoing manner our logic has accounted for the responses by those who heard Jesus' prayer. But how did his communication go forth to the point at which it was intercepted? The obvious answer is that it moved by a process analogous to radio transmission. Let us also perceive, however, that it was surely just his thoughts rather than his voice which by the prayer-process were transmitted. Thus, we may further identify the process either as a form of telepathy or of some equivalent.
We can concede that telepathy may be but seldom -- if ever -- operable between two human beings on Earth. In the first place, none of us can possess such great power of transmitting as was possessed by the radiant Jesus. In the second place, it is deducible that none of us can have so great a capacity of reception as those who received the thought-messages from Jesus. On the other hand, we can likewise deduce that even a weak-power sending of our own outbound prayers can be received by God's deputies because of their superior capacities for reception. Similarly, we can also deduce that despite our own weak capacities for reception, we can subconsciously receive thought-messages from those deputies because of the relatively great power of their capacities for transmission.
In turn, it is a highly significant further deduction that some of our prayers go forth with greater power than others; that many "weak" prayers are never received. Thus, a prayer asking God to grant a blue ribbon to a baby show entry or to restore the original color of gray hair will be recognized by the minds subconscious logic as too trivial to permit a successful transmission.
But what about prayers that make important requests but fail to obtain a favorable response? What about prayers that ask God to end a war or to spare a child from a fatal illness? In the case of war, let us remember that such conflicts are a product of Mankind's reluctance to learn how to apply the principles of morality to the economic-social-political relationships among men and among the World's nations. In other words, God refuses to except us from the earthly penalties of Man's own failure to escape from moral ignorance. Similarly, there are valid reasons for non-intervention by God's deputies in many cases in which, for example, prayers are offered for a child to escape a fatal illness. In the first place, if earthly death could be invariably postponed indefinitely simply by a process of praying the human fear of death would cause Mankind to need bodies equipped for immortality on Earth and Earth would need environmental conditions equivalent to those of Heaven. In the second place, God requires us to learn that a fatal earthly sickness, even of a much-loved child, simply brings the soul more quickly than otherwise to an ultimate reincarnation in Heaven.
Let us note, however, that a great many prayers do obtain a favorable response from God or from his deputies. Of course, we can seldom know in which cases there has been such an intervention. This is because there are many instances in which a prayer has been answered favorably but in which we assume the objective would have been obtained even if no prayer had been offered; thus, God's deputies do not sound a trumpet each time they make a favorable response just to let us know it was they who caused the prayed-for result. Moreover, a great many prayers are answered obliquely. The childless couple may find themselves with many nieces and nephews or may learn more about love by adopting a child than as though their prayers for parenthood had been answered directly. Indeed, a great many prayers are answered negatively because God or his deputies have in mind some purpose of greater importance. Thus, Moses had to be denied his desire to lead the Hebrews into the Promised Land because God needed a younger man for that task. Similarly, George Washington went childless but became the "father" of a whole nation.
Next, let us note that only in the rarest of cases does God, or his deputies, make direct use of physical forces by which the response to some prayers is supplied, such as providing manna for the Hebrews in the Wilderness. Instead, the ultimate forces responsive to prayers are usually applied by Earth's own people, and more often than not they are not even aware that their acts are prompted by a long-distance nudging. In other words, one person may subconsciously receive a message-thought from God's deputies in response to another person's prayers. As a result, the one who receives the message is led to perform an act which he assumes is of his own initiative but which is actually due to the prompting.
Finally in our analysis of prayer we confront the question of whether all prayers should be addressed to God. In other words, is it theologically proper for some prayers to be addressed, for example, to the Virgin Mary or to some of the saints? Our logic finds the basic answer is primarily negative simply because such prayers presume there are some beings who are more generous than God. On the other hand, we can also know that God's love for us is so great that it is tolerant of such a practice. Thus, even as we can be sure that Jesus did not address his Transfiguration prayer to Moses and Elias but only to his Father, although God's Son was fully aware of the interception process, it is also significant that in the only prayer which Jesus phrased for Mankind's general use, he said it should be addressed specifically to: "Our Father who art in Heaven."
Up to this point we have considered prayers as though they were only for the obtaining of direct and tangible results. For example, a sailor might pray for divine intervention to prevent a ship from sinking in a storm. But such a prayer would not necessarily be answered favorably unless the ostensible objective was perceived by God or his deputies to serve some additional objective hitched to the Deity's plan for the qualifying of souls for admission to Heaven. Thus, if the saving of the ship saved the life of someone who was needed to perform some sufficiently important added purpose there would be a favorable response to the ostensible objective of the prayer in order to accomplish the related unostensible purpose.
Now let us note, however, that the Church recommends prayer not only for the achieving of sufficiently important directly tangible results but also for the insufficiently noted reason that prayer is highly important as a pedagogical instrument. That's why, although prayer may be thought or spoken in private, the Church universally provides for prayer to be one of its chief instructional methods as included in so-called worship services.
How can praying serve as an instructional method, to help human beings gain admission of their souls to Heaven and to help achieve peace and optimum happiness on Earth? The answer is of two parts. First, a person cannot think or utter a prayer without such action having a self-instructive effect of reiterating an already-possessed knowledge or hope of the existence of a God and a corresponding knowledge or hope that such a Deity has a love for Mankind which even includes a provision for a second life for human souls. Second, even a silent prayer requires thoughts to be expressed in terms of words; thus, praying requires the related thinking to be clarified in order to get it even self-expressed in words. Indeed, this is why the typical Church service provides not for just one but rather for several prayers -- in baseball terms, "to cover all the bases."
Sermons: The most obvious method employed by the Church in performing its function to teach is, of course, by the preaching of sermons. Thus, we include the topic of preaching in this opening phase of our analyzing of the Church's pedagogical techniques because preaching, like praying, need not be confined to the content of formally-structured worship services.
For the immediate purposes of our study, however, hardly more than a mention of sermons is needed so that they will be perceived to be one of the principal methods by which the Church provides for its divinely-authorized teaching function to be performed. Obviously, the imparting of knowledge from any person to others by means of spoken words is the most elementary and most recognizable form of a pedagogical process.
Even so, there are two additional reasons that we shall not need to deal more than briefly with sermons at the present point of our study. First, we have already noted that anyone may validly teach-preach as much of theology and morality as he actually knows, even if he has only a 'soap-box' instead of a pulpit. Second, we are reserving until later chapters a further amplification of the divinely-imposed limitations of authority for the Church to teach, including an analysis of the ways and the extent to which some clergy in both ancient and modern times have been guilty -- by processes of Clericalism -- of violating those limitations.
It will be appropriate, however, now, to note that sermonizing is not necessarily confined to spoken words. Thus, there are no divine prohibitions against the ecclesiastical use of printed words for the advancement of the Church's authorized objectives. Likewise, we conclude that the Church is equally free to use still other forms of preaching such as may be done, for example, by television and motion pictures. Indeed, our logic further holds that for the sake of its obligation to teach with maximum or optimum efficiency, the Church should not hesitate to supplement or substitute for spoken sermons an occasional use of other direct-instruction facilities even in the midst of congregational services to whatever extent that the modern technology of visual aids may be shown to be appropriate.
HOW THE CHRISTIAN SACRAMENTS AID MAN toward ultimate fulfillment of God's objectives -- in contrast to the atheistic view that these rituals are merely "mumbo-jumbo" -- now becomes another pertinent topic for our continuing study of the Church's methods for the furthering of its authorized functions.
What is it that we are talking about when we speak of "sacraments?" As a first response, let us simply name two that are most commonly known among Christians -- baptism and holy communion. In turn, let us note that although some Christians contend that those are the only sacraments, a majority of Christians hold there are also five others -- confirmation, penance, unction, matrimony, and holy orders.
We perceive, therefore, that the only way we can determine whether a so-called sacrament is really a sacrament is by analyzing the basic characteristics of sacraments generally and then by analyzing what each of the possible seven actually accomplishes, while also explaining in scientific terms the nature of each of the related processes. We note at once, therefore, that the standard definition of a Christian sacrament is that it is "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, instituted by Jesus." We observe, however, that this is an inadequate definition. In the first place, it does not specify what is meant by "grace." Secondly, it does not tell us what the process is by which the "sign" produces that putative result, or how the process purportedly helps human souls achieve admission to Heaven while simultaneously helping the sacramental participants to attain peace and an optimum of happiness on Earth. Thirdly, the definition leaves room for argument concerning whether a sacrament, to be valid, must have been personally instituted by Jesus. Hence, our study now proposes to correct those deficiencies.
Let us proceed, therefore, by initially examining the status of non-Christians and of nominal Christians who fail to be sacramental participants. Accordingly, let us hark back to an earlier conclusion that all souls ultimately become qualified for and are admitted to Heaven regardless of whether their earthly possessors had been Christian or not. What this means, in turn is that even the sacrament of baptism is not a vital essential for admission to Heaven. Hence, it is evident that the fundamental purpose of the sacraments is simply to help the participants attain God's objectives more quickly and more easily than would be possible if the same persons, instead, were non-participants. Later on, our study will identify of what that assistance is composed. Presently, we need only to perceive that it is something added to what the same persons as non-participants would normally earn in an equal time-span by other processes leading in the same direction. Thus, because this something added is literally a "bonus," it is an "unearned gift from God" and it is that which is known to theology as "grace."
Accordingly, anticipating the fact that there are two overlapping components of the assistance-gift obtained through participation in a Christian sacrament, let us now perceive that the first of these is a pedagogical result. For example, an adult who chooses to be baptized would surely not do so were it not that his already existing degree of good attitudes includes a desire to acquire an increase in his goodness. In other words, his participation is a reaffirmation of whatever good attitudes he has previously come to possess. Thus, the act of adult participation in baptism is pedagogical because it reiterates in the participant's mind his awareness of what goodness is, as opposed to evil. In particular, his act reminds himself that he already possessed confidence in the existence of a God and of a second life for the human soul. In addition, such participation is pedagogical because it acknowledges a commitment to seek further increases in the participant's theological and moral knowledge leading to further improvements in the goodness of his actual conduct.
The second of the two ways in which an unearned gift from God is deduced by logic which begins by analyzing the nature of the "outward and visible sign" which leads to the "inward and spiritual" results. Thus, we find it significant that in all of the sacraments there is provision either for a direct physical contact between the administrator and the recipient or between the administrator and certain intermediate substances which are then given to the sacramental recipient. In baptism, for example, the person being baptized is touched not only by the baptizer's hands but also by water which has been touched by the same hands. In confirmation, unction, and holy orders, there is also a special emphasis on the "laying on of hands." In penance, the priest who promises that a condition of forgiveness has been attained also uses a manual gesture. In matrimony, the priest, the bride, and the bridegroom all touch the ring which is a token of a status that has God's blessing. In communion, the celebrant priest performs a ceremonial of consecrating the bread and wine before these elements are received by the communicants.
Let us reflect, therefore, that when Jesus himself was baptized the ablution of water applied to him by John the Baptist was the outward and visible sign of this sacrament and that the immediate result was a visible descending of particles of the Holy Spirit upon God's Son and entering into him. Thus, by the application of that ritual, even Jesus received an added gift of a quantity of the Holy Spirit as one of the components of what theology calls "grace." Moreover, it is an inescapable deduction that Jesus' provision for the baptism of ourselves anticipated a similar (but greatly reduced) effect upon us. In other words, we deduce that we also receive some particles of the Holy Spirit through the water used in baptism. We also find it wholly rational to explain that the quantity we receive is relatively small because we have less receptivity than Jesus had, and because a modern baptizer has much less capacity for imparting particles of the Holy Spirit than did John the Baptist or the Apostles. Nevertheless, we observe, even a small quantity is a gift to be highly treasured.
Likewise, it is easily deducible that Jesus supplied a large infusion of the Holy Spirit for the Apostles when he instituted the sacrament of holy communion on the occasion of the Last Supper. He knew they were on the even of a maximum test of their confidence in his divinity; hence, they needed a special fortifying in preparation for the sadness and shock they would encounter on the following day. Accordingly, it is obvious that he caused particles of the Holy Spirit to enter into the bread and wine which he gave them. These particles, as we now can perceive, were implanted in the intermediate substances even as similar particles were implanted, for example, in the moist clay which Jesus applied to the eyelids of a blind man for the healing of blindness.
We comprehend, therefore, that in instituting the sacrament of holy communion, Jesus knew later Christians would obtain two benefits therefrom. First, a modern participation in this sacrament would cause a pedagogical benefit. Thus, each communicant would be re-reminded of his already existing acceptance of the basic truths of the Christian religion -- particularly including a renewed awareness of the divine love for Mankind which was demonstrated by Jesus' acceptance of crucifixion and of his proof that earthly death is not final. Second, each modern participation would cause some particles of the Holy Spirit to enter into the communicants through the intermediate substances of the process.
We find no occasion to be surprised that the recipients of the sacraments experience no physical sensation from the infusions of the Holy Spirit which they thereby receive, or that no physical sensation is experienced by those by whom the sacraments are administered. Thus, there was only one time when Jesus remarked of feeling an out-flow of the Holy Spirit from himself; that was when the woman suffering loss of blood touched his garments, whereupon he commented that "I feel strength gone out of me." Likewise, there was no instance when any of the persons healed of physical infirmities mentioned any "tingling" or other sensation from the penetration of the Holy Spirit particles into their bodies; their only awareness was of the accomplished results. Yet, those results clearly signify to us what had actually caused them.
Even so, there is still no need for surprise that an increasing of the Holy Spirit in the recipients of the sacraments today is unlikely to cause any identifiable miraculous healings; it is simply a case that the quantities of the particles so received in modern times cannot be as great as when Jesus instituted the Christian practices of baptism and of holy communion, or when he and the Apostles performed miracles of healing.
But as the infusions of the Holy Spirit today can usually contribute only remotely to physical healing, what then shall we recognize as their purpose -- other than to enter into the soul-cell so as to increase its physical capacity to be taken to Heaven? The answer, implicit or stated at many points of our study, begins with the conclusion that one chief effect of these particles is upon the cells of the human brain so that the sacramental participant's mental equipment is able to function with a sharpness greater than it otherwise would possess. Thus, such an intellect will be more perceptive of the distinctions between good and evil and of the consequences thereof. Hence, the effect of such an infusion of the Holy Spirit will enhance even the paralleling pedagogical effect of sacramental participation.
TO EXAMINE ALL THE SACRAMENTS INDIVIDUALLY, we shall do well to begin by delving deeper into baptism and holy communion, the two that we have already been citing as our means for introducing the others.
Baptism: It appears that all Christian denominations practice or approve the sacrament of baptism today, yet there has long been a misunderstanding concerning its supposed relationship to some supposed "Original Sin."
For many centuries most Christians were taught by the Church that only the souls of baptized persons could be admitted to Heaven except by a special dispensation from God himself. Moreover, the Church darkly hinted that such divine exemptions might be extremely rare. Accordingly, it was held that an unbaptized person faced a critical risk of finding his soul experiencing an eternity in Hell instead of Heaven.
The first of two erroneous premises upon which those erroneous teachings were based was that once a soul had gone to Hell it was never released. In contrast, as our logic has already contended and will amplify later, although a reincarnated soul in Hell will have a terrifyingly painful experience, all such souls will individually win release by completing in Hell their qualifying for Heaven.
The second erroneous premise long related to baptism has been that Adam and Eve committed an Original Sin and that all persons subsequently born "inherited" a residue of guilt therefrom; thus, it was held that only by baptism could that inheritance be nullified, forgiven. In contrast, as our earlier logic has shown, Adam and Eve -- in their discovery of the meaning of good and evil as distinguished from the merely animalistic concepts of pleasant and unpleasant -- were innocent of the sin which mis-readers of the Bible have attributed to them. Hence, baptism is not related to a non-existent sin supposed to have been committed in the discovering of the knowledge of good and evil.
Baptism does relate, however, to sins which a participant in this sacrifice may himself have previously committed, although we shall defer a full clarification of this relationship until we shall be analyzing later the sacrament of penance. Yet, we can partly clarify this aspect of baptism at once. Thus, it is commonly said that baptism achieves a "forgiveness of sins." Actually, however, what baptism symbolizes is a washing away of evil attitudes which caused previous sins to be committed. Hence, the condition of so-called sins-forgiven is simply the condition in which the penitent sinner himself has inwardly succeeded in substituting specific love attitudes for specific evil attitudes. In other words, the washing away element of baptism is simply a symbolic recognition of what the penitent sinner himself has already achieved. This is to say that even if he did not accept baptism he would still -- by his substitution of good attitudes for evil attitudes -- have escaped the post-Earth penalties which would apply if he had not accomplished his attitude improvement. This, let it be explained, would be because the post-Earth penalties of Hell are not for the punishment of sins but for the correction of evil attitudes which caused the sins to be previously committed.
Even so, it is plain that baptism produces two benefits that are vastly to be desired. First, by choosing to be baptized and by participation in its ritual the penitent sinner reminds (i.e., self-teaches) himself that he has found it desirable to substitute certain good attitudes for certain evil attitudes; hence, there is a gain by a pedagogical process. Second, by participation in baptism, the penitent sinner receives a bonus quantity of the Holy Spirit transmitted to him through the water used in the baptismal ritual.
A penultimate significance in this analysis of baptism is found in Jesus' reference to this sacrament as being a process of being "reborn." Of course, the primary meaning of that term is simply that baptism is intended to be the beginning of a new condition of earthly life. Yet, we note that Jesus likewise said the soul also must experience a "rebirth" in Heaven. moreover, in terms that were cryptic until analyzed in an earlier chapter herein, Jesus said the rebirth of the soul must be "of water and of the spirit." Hence, we deduce that baptism with its earthly combining of water and of the Holy Spirit was intended even for pedagogical purposes to symbolize the process of the soul's reincarnation in Heaven.
Finally, in our analysis of baptism we note that when Jesus was on Earth and for a considerable time thereafter it was apparently the Christian practice to baptize adults only. One reason presumably was that the spreading of the Gospel was most in need of the kind of action which only adult converts could provide. A related reason was surely that the conversion of adults rather automatically ensured their children would follow in the parental footsteps. In the modern World, however, baptism for children is more common than for adults. This has been partly because the erroneous belief persisted that even infants needed to be sacramentally absolved from the (supposed) existence of the "Original Sin." On the other hand, even with a modern abandonment of that fallacy, we find the propriety of baptizing children is theologically sound for two reasons. First, it is good for them to learn later in life that, through the love of their own parents, they were pledged in childhood to seek Christian perfection. Second, a later opportunity is offered by the Church for persons baptized in childhood to repledge themselves of their own volition through the sacrament of confirmation (which will be analyzed in later pages herein.)
Communion: When Jesus instituted the sacrament of holy communion on the even of his crucifixion, he gave bread to the Apostles and said, "This is my body . . . ." Then he gave them wine and said, "This is my blood . . . ." First, however, he had touched both the bread and the wine while uttering a consecration of them -- a blessing. In turn, he told his followers to "do this as a memorial of me."
Now because Jesus spoke of the bread and wine as "body" and "blood," the priests and laity of some Christian denominations have believed that, although the elements of this sacrament continue to look and taste the same as ordinary substances, a mystical transubstantiation of them is accomplished whereby they become, in effect, true portions of his physical self. In contrast, other Christians have insisted that the bread and wine remained bread and wine at the Last Supper and were simply symbols of Jesus' body and blood.
It will be perceived, therefore, that the actual status of the bread and wine that have been consecrated by a priest in a modern service of holy communion -- as will be deduced by our logic of science herein -- will serve as a much needed element for Christian accord. Thus, the conclusion of our logic will be that what happened to the bread and wine when Jesus touched them or their receptacles and spoke the words of his blessing at the Last Supper was analogous to what happened to the clay which he moistened with his saliva before he applied the mixture to the eyelids of the blind man. In that act of healing, Jesus implanted particles of the Holy Spirit into the clay poultice and although the clay continued to be clay it had been caused to include an added ingredient. Thus, as we now can perceive, Jesus implanted particles of the Holy Spirit also into the bread and wine so that these common substances would be the vehicles for taking the added particles into to the bodies of the Apostles. In other words, although the bread and wine themselves continued to be ordinary forms of food and drink, they contained particles of the Holy Spirit as additives that had been previously stored in the body cells of Jesus himself. Moreover, the particles so added can appropriately be called a holy substance. Nevertheless, in a technical sense they were neither bread and wine nor were they body and blood. Instead, they were the food of Heaven, the particular form of electronic particles which can enter into bodily cells and which account for the radiance of God and for the immortality of all beings in Heaven.
Thus, it was addition rather than transubstantiation which characterized the bread and wine which Jesus gave to the Apostles and it is a similar addition which occurs when bread and wine are consecrated for the sacrament of holy communion today. On the other hand, this distinction does not imply that the elements of this sacrament are any less holy than the believers in transubstantiation have deemed them to be.
How do the particles of the Holy Spirit become implanted in the bread and wine when the sacrament of holy communion is performed today? The answer is clear. In the first place, we know that the Apostles were able to obtain a continuing supply of the Holy Spirit so that they had the power to transmit varying quantities from themselves into other persons and even into intermediate substances. Thus, when Jesus told them to perpetuate the ritual of the Last Supper it is obvious that he intended them to transmit particles of the Holy Spirit into the bread and wine of subsequent enactments of this sacrament the same as he had done at its institution. In turn, because it was Jesus' intent that this sacrament should be celebrated in perpetuity, we can also know that he realized a modern priesthood would -- like the Apostles but on a reduced scale -- be able to implant particles of the Holy Spirit into the bread and wine of holy communion the same as this was originally done. Hence, it is evident that a modern celebrant of this sacrament, by performing its outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace, makes himself so highly receptive to Earth's supply of the Holy Spirit that, imperceptibly, he receives the infusions which then pass from him into the sacramental elements which he dispenses to the lay participants.
How much of the Holy Spirit a communicant will receive and retain as an "unearned gift" will vary pro-rata to each individual's level of qualifications. However, the quantity cannot be sufficient to cause physical healing except possibly in extremely rare cases because it would be contrary to God's plan for Mankind for modern miraculous healing to be easily obtained. Likewise, we can be sure that an excessive frequency of participation in holy communion cannot build a cumulative total of the Holy Spirit within a person to an amount greater than such a person merits. In other words, both reception and retention are keyed to each individual's receptivity and this is measured, in turn, by the depth of each individual's sincerity of desire to acquire the grace which holy communion is able to provide.
Finally, of course, the sacrament of holy communion provides a pedagogical benefit for the participants. In other words, the providing of this sacrament comprises one of the methods by which the Church performs its function of teaching, of aiding Mankind to acquire the kinds of wisdom which God desires all men and nations to acquire. Thus, even the decision of a person to receive holy communion is self-instructive in that it reiterates his own existing acceptance of whatever Christian truths he may already possess and thus reminds him that he should seek still more -- and become increasingly obedient to them.
THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN ADDITIONAL SACRAMENTS offered by the Christian Church, just as valid as baptism and holy communion, will be additional conclusions of our continuing logic. Accordingly, we shall consider now the trio known as confirmation, penance, and unction.
At this point we encounter the contention of many Christians that the sacraments are limited to those that were personally instituted by Jesus; thus, that only baptism and holy communion conform to that requirement. Our logic responds, however, by concluding that it is immaterial whether a sacrament was so instituted by Jesus himself.
Thus, in the precedents of Christian baptism and holy communion, Jesus set forth what the characteristics of a sacrament must be -- an "outward and visible sign" of the obtaining of an "inward and spiritual grace." But in addition to his establishing of those two sacraments, Jesus gave authority to the Church to deduce many truths of theology and morality which he had not mentioned and to adopt many practices other than those he had taught prior to his departure from Earth. For example, it was the Apostles who decided that the Christian religion should abandon the Jewish sacrament of circumcision. Likewise, the Apostles demonstrated that the Church had been given perpetual authority to confer gifts of the Holy Spirit by sacramental practices which were either wholly new or differing in detail from those practiced in the time of Jesus.
Hence, because the ceremonials of confirmation, penance, and unction will be found to provide "outward and visible signs" and to confer an "inward and spiritual grace," we must deem them to be valid sacraments just as surely as are baptism and holy communion -- regardless of by whom they were instituted. Moreover, this principle will also apply to the sacraments of matrimony and orders which will be examined in a later section of this chapter.
Confirmation: Why was the sacrament of confirmation instituted, how is it performed, and what were the circumstances of its beginning?
The Bible provides the primary answers although its records have had to wait for the commentary of modern science to be clearly understood. Thus, let us further examine the previously mentioned experience of certain Samaritans who had been converted to Christianity during a missionary tour of their area by Philip the Evangelist. Concerning this, the Scriptures relate that "When the Apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he (i.e., "its particles") was fallen upon none of them; only they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." Similarly, the Bible tells of Paul confirming Christians at Ephesus. They had previously been baptized but when he laid his hands upon them, "the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and prophesy."
We perceive, therefore, that the early Christian writers assumed no particles of the Holy Spirit entered those baptized until the Apostles provided a sacrament to confirm the baptisms. Our logic modifies that older view, however, by simply recognizing that the infusions received at the baptisms performed by non-Apostles were too small to be easily known, whereas when such as Peter, John, and Paul laid their hands on persons already baptized the infusions were so contrastingly enormous that many who were thus confirmed experienced even a psychic ecstasy.
Obviously then, the outward and visible signs of confirmation consist of a laying on of hands by such members of the clergy as have a special authority to confer a greater quantity of the Holy Spirit than is within the power of others of the priesthood, even as this was also true in the time of the Apostles. Obviously also, the inward and spiritual grace received in confirmation consists not only of such an infusion but also pertains to a pedagogical effect. Hence, confirmation not only is a valid sacrament but also is simply one of the several methods which the modern Church has an obligation to apply within the category of "worship services."
Of course, the performing of this sacrament in modern times is unlikely to produce either a state of ecstasy or a physical healing because Jesus made no provision for the amounts of the Holy Spirit received in modern applications of this process to be as great as they were in the time of the Apostles. Nevertheless, the fact that some quantity sufficient to be of much importance is truly received in confirmation today can be known by recognizing -- as the Apostles demonstrated -- that it was never the intent of Jesus to limit the sacraments to baptism and holy communion only.
There are, of course, a number of supplementary reasons that the Church came to use the sacrament of confirmation increasingly subsequent to the time of the Apostles. One such reason is that when a time arrived in which increased emphasis could be placed on the instructing of children in the Christian truths, the Church realized that the baptism of persons as young as these could not manifest self-decisions; thus, there was need to use the sacrament of confirmation later in life as an act of self-acceptance of the previously parentally-sponsored baptismal decision. Footnote here12-1 (See Footnotes)
Penance: The sacrament of penance -- commonly described simply as "confession" (to a priest) -- has raised more hackles of dispute among Christians than almost any other item of doctrinal controversy. Hence, we must provide this topic with an explanatory approach concerning the true meaning of the so-called "forgiveness" of sins.
We proceed, therefore, by recalling that whenever a human soul ultimately becomes totally filled with the Holy Spirit it is automatically admitted to reincarnation in Heaven. Likewise, we recall that such a stage is attained by a process in which the soul's earthly possessor develops a total attitude of love which thereby constitutes an eternal rejection of evil. In other words, it is the total acquirement of such an attitude which constitutes of itself the status of having been totally "forgiven" for previous sins (i.e., for previous evil attitudes.) It is apparent, hence, that Man individually achieves an automatic annulment of post-Earth penalties for previous sins which is proportionate and simultaneous to each step of pre-Heaven progress he makes -- regardless of whether he has received assistance from the Church or has made his progress solely on his own. On the other hand, it is obvious that Man should welcome all the assistance which the Church can make available and by whatever methods it is authorized to provide, including participation in the sacraments which we are presently examining.
Now let us note that in confirmation, for example, it is an already-achieved repentance which causes a penitent person to participate in the outward and visible sign which this sacrament provides. In other words, a pro-rata state of forgiveness has been achieved before the ceremonials are performed to affirm and fortify it. Similarly, the ritual of holy communion is intended to be approached with a previous repentance decision. Yet, confirmation is a one-time-only sacrament. In turn, although a Christian may participate hundreds of times in holy communion there may be many occasions when this sacrament cannot be provided as a procedure for affirming a previous abandonment of evil attitudes. Hence, under the authority granted by Jesus, the Church began many centuries ago to provide the sacrament of penance on an "often-as-needed" basis to fill what otherwise would have been an undesirable gap in its sacramental facilities.
As so provided, penance has four components. First, the receiver of this sacrament must possess a feeling of sincere contrition for his previous sins and for whatever injuries they may have done to himself or others -- so that this "feeling" itself will constitute a good attitude supplanting a previously evil attitude. Second, as proof of his sincerity, he must confess to a priest the specific sins and related attitudes for which he feels contrition -- so that his sincerity will not be dulled by self-contained secrecy, and so that he will clearly identify and acknowledge, even to himself, what his evil attitudes have really been. Third is the inclusion of a provision not only for indemnification of his victim to whatever extent this may be feasible, but also for the penitent's performance of acts of symbolic self-punishment. Fourth, is a pronouncement of "absolution" to the penitent by the priest who has heard the confession.
Let us observe again, however, that because a penitent's substitution of good attitudes within himself to replace their counterparts of evil can self-create within himself the condition which is called forgiveness, he actually accomplishes his own absolution by his own change of heart regardless of whether, in such case, he additionally participates in the sacrament of penance. Thus, in any event, if he does participate in this sacrament the pronouncement of the words of absolution by the confessional priest simply provides a special reassurance of what the penitent himself has inwardly accomplished.
Yet despite the fact that forgiveness can be obtained without employing the formalized process of penance, the availability of this sacrament serves a highly useful purpose. In the first place, many sinners cannot recognize some of their own evil attitudes except by a probing discussion with a confessional priest. In the second place, there are many potential penitents who would not seek to mend their ways if they believed their previous deeds and attitudes could not be forgiven; thus, such persons need the reassurance which a confessional priest will provide. In the third place, it can be too easy to direct a secret and non-itemized confession to a distant God, whereas a confession heard by a priest requires of the penitent a clearer identification of his evil deeds and attitudes and a more conscious degree of contrition for them.
Moreover, our logic consistently deduces that, although forgiveness obtained without the sacrament of penance will be accompanied by the receiving of a pro-rata earned infusion of the Holy Spirit, there is surely in addition an unearned infusion when the forgiveness is certified by a priest's pronouncement of absolution. In other words, because a priest's authority to provide an assurance of forgiveness is akin to that possessed by the Apostles and because those original members of the Christian priesthood transmitted particles of the Holy Spirit both for physical and moral healing, we must conclude that a special infusion is also provided through the sacrament of penance today.
We must also analyze, of course, what usefulness there may be in a so-called "general confession" wherein the members of a whole congregation may individually acknowledge in unison that they have "done those things which we ought not to have done" and have "left undone those things which we ought to have done." Accordingly, we note that even when sins are itemized in an individual's private confession to a priest, the absolution pronounced implies a conditional factor wherein the sinner has achieved forgiveness only to the pro-rata extent that he has actually achieved an attitude correction. Hence, the same conditional principle must also apply when a priestly absolution is spoken following a congregation's uttering of an all-purpose confession. Thus, our logic recognizes there are many circumstances in which a generalized confession is sufficiently helpful for penitent sinners. Equally, however, we must also recognize there are other circumstances in which penitent persons are adequately assisted by the Church only when they become voluntary participants in the item-by-item formula of the sacramental penance process. Footnote 12-2
Unction: Often known as "extreme unction," this sacrament perpetuates the procedures used by Jesus and the Apostles for the miraculous healing of physical infirmities; however, it has come to resemble more specifically the sacrament of penance in its modern applications to persons believed to be near death.
In the sacrament of unction, the supposedly dying person is given special opportunity and encouragement to signify an eleventh-hour contrition for evil attitudes not previously corrected. Then, if it appears such contrition has been shown, a priest anoints the penitent with consecrated oil and pronounces a remission of certain categories of sins. As herein interpreted, however, this pronouncement means simply that the priest assures the recipient that God promised forgiveness to whatever extent a penitent has achieved a genuine correction of previous evil attitudes.
Many Christians have erroneously assumed that a recipient of unction is thereby handed a free ticket for immediate admission of his soul to Heaven. In contrast, our logic repeats that acquirement of soul perfection normally requires a slow and long-time process of learning; thus, only in rare cases can the correction of evil attitudes achieved in a death-bed ritual be sufficient to complete such a perfecting. On the other hand, our logic concludes that at least a limited improvement in the attitude of love can be achieved in some cases even in a death-bed repentance. Thus, to whatever degree such improvement is actually accomplished there must be a corresponding infusion of particles of the Holy Spirit which are received by the supposedly dying person.
Accordingly, we cannot escape a related conclusion that the mechanism by which this gift is bestowed must consist of the outward and visible signs by which the sacrament of unction is applied. In other words, our logic holds that in consecrating the oil and in anointing the recipient with this made-holy substance, the priest who administers this sacrament performs an act analogous to that in which Jesus applied moist clay to a blind man's eyes, whereby particles of the Holy Spirit are transmitted through an intermediate substance. As Jesus demonstrated in several cases, however, such an infusion can be related either to the correction of a physical disability or to a correction of evil attitudes. Thus, for reasons previously cited herein, it is only in rare cases today that an administering of unction can supply a sufficiency of the Holy Spirit to accomplish a postponement of the recipient's expected death. Hence, the sacrament of unction in modern times has come to be used almost exclusively for spiritual rather than physical healing. In other words, it has come to be essentially the same as the sacrament of penance except that the penitential aspects of unction relate to imminent death rather than to earlier periods of life.
FINALLY AMONG THE CHURCH'S SACRAMENTS are matrimony and so-called "orders" -- the latter of these relating to the ordination of men to membership in the Christian clergy. Our juxtaposing of these two does not imply, however, that acceptance of either excludes the other; to the contrary, our logic can find no basis to conclude that a participant in marriage cannot be eligible for the sacrament of orders or that admission to the priesthood should require a man to adhere to a celibate condition.
Matrimony: How the marriage of a Christian man and woman can be performed as one of the sacraments of the Church so that they thereby receive an augmented gift of the Holy Spirit, and how non-sacramental weddings of Christians or non-Christians are equally valid in God's eyes despite their lack of that special benefit, are matters not difficult to explain yet in need of much explanation.
Linked with the topic of marriage, of course, are a number of closely related questions -- such as divorce and non-marital sex -- but for the sake of clarity in our continuity we shall defer consideration of these until a later chapter. Thus, we shall presently proceed from an oblique direction by considering first the moral status of marriage among non-Christians and of marriage among Christians accomplished without use of the church's matrimonial sacrament.
We perceive, therefore, that because the biological laws of the Cosmos require sexual unity of male and female for the producing of successive generations of our species, and because it is God's desire to receive human souls -- ultimately all of them -- into Heaven, it is impossible rationally to suppose he can frown upon a marriage of love merely for its possible lack of having been solemnized by a Christian ritual. Accordingly, we are confronted with a question of what special benefit, if any, there may be for participants in marriage by the Christian sacramental process. The answer to this can be boiled down to a mere two sentences. First, the Holy Spirit obtained by the love attitude in a non-sacramental marriage may be described as an "earned" portion, drawn from Earth's all-purpose supply. Second, however, we find that the participants in a Christian sacramental marriage are the recipients not only of such a basic infusion but also of a supplementary quantity which is a product of the sacrament itself.
Considering that there is no physical sensation in receiving any particles of the Holy Spirit, how can we know that either of the two quantities are received in such a marriage? We can know it because the sacramental process was devised by the Church within the authority given it by Jesus; hence, as a valid sacrament, the Christian marriage ritual must be responsive to the same principles as the other sacraments. On the other hand, the receiving of the two quantities is no guaranty that either of them will be retained. Thus, subsequent to a Christian marriage ceremony it still is possible for one or both of the participants to become so motivated later by evil attitudes that resulting actions or non-actions may cause the marriage to disintegrate. Hence, as earlier promised in our study, we shall need to consider the status of divorced persons in a later chapter.
More immediately, our logic must deal with a question of why a bonus quantity of the Holy Spirit is conferred only in the Christian sacramental process. The heart of the answer, we find, is simply that only the members of the Christian priesthood have inherited the power, originally granted to the Apostles, to receive and transmit special quantities by means of the sacramental rituals. Thus, it is highly significant that Jesus said that baptism should be "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" because this shows he meant that the entire range of Christian sacraments could be valid only when performed by persons (of a priesthood except in special cases) who, by speaking those words, would sincerely denote themselves as Christians rather than as non-Christians.
How is the special infusion of the Holy Spirit transmitted in the Christian sacrament of matrimony? The answer begins with the fact that the priest first makes himself receptive, even if subconsciously, to a special infusion by his own desire to relay the blessing of Jesus upon the bride and bridegroom. Thus, the priest himself first receives imperceptibly the particles which he subsequently imparts. In further detail, we deduce that even as Jesus and the Apostles sometimes planted such particles in intermediate substances, so are lesser quantities transmitted by the priest officiating at a wedding into the ring of metal which is the outward and visible sign of the love of the couple being wedded and of the inward and spiritual grace which they sacramentally receive. In addition, we deduce that even the priest's gesture of benediction can also radiate particles of the Holy Spirit to the newly wedded couple.
Holy Orders: A ceremonial for admitting new members to the Christian priesthood, conventionally known as the conferring of "holy orders," will now be found to be the seventh of the valid sacraments which are among the Church's methods for aiding in the advancement of Mankind.
In this case, the outward and visible sign is provided in modern times by the same basic ritual that was employed by the Apostles. Thus, the conferring of holy orders is performed when duly authorized members of the clergy lay their hands upon the head of a candidate who has been found by them to be acceptable for admission as a certified members of the priesthood. In that physical contact, as we can perceive from previous analysis of the other sacraments, the postulant receives a special infusion of the Holy Spirit as an addition to whatever quantity he has earned by his own attitudes toward good and evil.
In its traditional form, this sacrament is performed only by members of the clergy who have been elevated to the rank of bishop. Thus, we note it was the Apostles themselves who not only began performing the sacrament of holy orders after they had been commissioned as the original "bishops" of the church by Jesus, but also it was they who found it necessary for efficiency to arrange the priesthood in a three-level pattern comprised of bishops, priests, and deacons.
Despite the precedent of the Apostles, however, a denominational controversy has swirled for several centuries around the question of whether it is necessary for a man to receive holy orders to become a divinely-authorized member of the Christian priesthood. Much of the dispute has originated in the view of some denominations that the only persons who are divinely authorized to confer holy orders are such top-ranking members of the clergy as have likewise been admitted previously to the clergy by receiving this sacrament themselves in a continuity tracing back to the Apostles themselves.
To a limited extent in contrast to the foregoing doctrine of "apostolic succession," our logic now comes to realize there have been and still continue to be many divinely accepted members of the clergy who have not received holy orders in any sacramental manner. Obviously, it is a theological truth that any Christian, having learned much or little of theological and moral truth, has a God-granted freedom to tell other persons of whatever verities of religion that the teller may actually possess. Hence, such a telling of others is a form of "volunteer preaching." In turn, whenever a man devotes a major portion of his time to such preaching and perhaps to various forms of ministering, it will often by the case that the motivation for such endeavors will be the volunteer's love for God and for his fellow men. Hence, even if such volunteers have not received the sacrament of holy orders, their possession of such love makes it evident they must have received some other specially added quantity of the Holy Spirit in response to their love-engendered receptivity.
Indeed, Jesus himself made it evident there could be some men who would perform some clerical functions even though they were exceptions to the process of apostolic succession. On the other hand, he showed he preferred that the members of the priesthood should be mainly admitted by the sacramental process of holy orders in the continuity of that succession. He displayed that preference by his choosing and training the Apostles themselves. Thus, it is significant that they were not self-appointed or chosen by their followers; instead, they possessed no priestly authority until Jesus conferred it upon them.
Moreover, it is significant that the Apostles came quickly to realize that not every man who sought admission to the priesthood would be suitable for acceptance. For example, Peter rejected the request of Simon-the-magician to be given the power to exercise a priestly function.
Hence, although Jesus allowed for some exception to the policy used by the Apostles of limiting membership in the clergy to persons who receive holy orders in apostolic succession, it behooves us today not only to verify that the traditional process of conferring such orders is a valid sacrament but also to perceive some of the reasons that the Church in future will need to rely increasingly on the apostolic standards for the inducting of new members into its priesthood.
There are two reasons for increased adherence to those standards. In the first place, a candidate for the priesthood receives a pedagogical benefit by submitting himself to this process. Thus, he cannot even be considered qualified for the priesthood until he has been appropriately educated in the Church's theological and moral truths. Then, by his mental and physical participation in the sacrament of holy orders he re-acknowledges (especially to himself) the truths that he has so learned and accepted. In the second place, a recipient of sacramental holy orders receives a special supplementary infusion of the Holy Spirit as the inward and spiritual result of the outward and visible signs.
Concerning the receiving of that infusion in the sacrament of holy orders, the words used by St. Paul when he personally ordained Timothy to the Christian priesthood are especially significant. Thus, "I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God (i.e., the gift of the Holy Spirit) which is (put) in thee by the imposition of my hands," said Paul to Timothy. In such manner, Paul not only testified of a passage of the Holy Spirit from himself to Timothy but also made it clear that the transmission was then, and would be in similar case in the future, accomplished through the physical touch of duly authorized hands -- even has has been deduced by the independent logic of our study.
AN EFFICIENT USE OF READINGS FROM THE BIBLE in congregational services -- as another of the methods by which the Church contributes to its teaching function -- calls also for a thoughtful analysis.
In conventional modern practice, some denominations do but little Bible reading in worship services; others have their clergy read aloud to the assembled laity very lengthy passages. Some choose the excerpts to be read almost at random; others follow a standardized formula of selections. In one widely-used system, a holy communion service requires the reading of a portion of one of the Gospels (i.e., Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and the reading of a portion of one of the New Testament's Epistles but occasionally of an excerpt from the Old Testament. In another systemic variation, some denominations require at certain other kinds of services the reading of a "First Lesson" from the Old Testament and of a "Second Lesson" from the New Testament.
It is evident, therefore, that some related questions are now in need of being confronted. First, is there a need or any considerable benefit for Christians individually to read or to have heard the entire content of the Bible? Second, to what extent are readings of Bible passages a useful instructional instrument for inclusion in congregational services?
Seeking by impartial logic to find true answers, let us begin by pointing out that the Bible is a history of some 6000 years of an evolution of theological and moral truth. As a result, it is far too long and far too complex for most Christians either to undertake or to digest. In part, its complexity is due to the fact that, because it is a record of continual advancements of such truths, each item of the related progress is, in effect, a correction of a previous void or a previous error. For example, the concept that God admits souls to Heaven is a corrective of an early erroneous concept that he is relevant only to our lives on Earth. In addition, many passages of the Bible are so cryptic that they cannot be understood by a rank and file reader lacking a background of theological and scientific education. Thus, our logic finds the Scriptures should be regarded as a source-reference book chiefly for the use of biblical experts such as are found mostly within the clergy. In other words, although the Church must leave all men wholly free to read the Bible independently, the principal learning from the Scriptures by most Christians will quite properly depend on the reading of excerpts therefrom as programmed elements of congregational services. Moreover, the choosing of which excerpts will be most edifying is also a matter that will be best left in the hands of the clergy.
There is, however, some room for improvement in such choosing. For example, in one passage in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, the words "circumcision" and "uncircumcision" are repetitiously used ten times in a highly complicated discourse with the result that when this material has sometimes been read in a congregational service it is certain that not more than one listener in a hundred has understood the teaching that this portion of the Scriptures attempts to set forth. Similarly, the Old Testament to a far greater extent has passages that are wholly trivial by modern standards. For example, in the Book of Ezra, a listing of the Jews who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem takes 59 successive paragraphs; yet, this record now has ceased to have hardly any usefulness whatever.
In contrast, for example, no Bible reading -- privately or in a congregational service -- could be more highly instructive concerning the nativity and childhood of Jesus than the second chapter of the Gospel according to Luke. Moreover, the other most usefully instructive passages of the Bible are so numerous that if they were read in rotation, one each week, it would take at least five years just to cover these alone.
Our present analysis of Bible readings would be remiss, however, if we failed to discuss some of the different versions of the Scriptures as translated into the English language. The books of the Bible were originally written, of course, in Hebrew, in other Eastern languages, and in Greek. They were later translated into Latin. Then in the 17th century, two English language translations came into use. One of these was the Douay version, prepared for the use of Roman Catholics; the other was the King James version for the use of Protestants. Actually, each of these has merits as compared to the other. Moreover, Christianity still has access to many of the earliest Greek, Latin, and Hebrew versions from which those 17th century translations were made.
More recently, there have been other English translations which have attempted especially, with varying degrees of success, to use more modern words and idioms than their same language predecessors. For example, "The Jerusalem Bible," a 20th century English translation, makes many passages of the Scriptures more understandable than either the King James or the Douay versions and is happily characterized by an excellent typographical arrangement including the insertion of topical headlines and the use of sub-heads at convenient reference positions.
On the other hand, there are occasional bits of word-beauty in the King James version which are lost in the Jerusalem text. For example, it will ever be difficult to excel or even to equal the ear-pleasing phrases in the King James version of St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians in which the Apostle is quoted as saying, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or as a tinkling cymbal." In contrast, the Jerusalem version says, "If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing."
Yet, even in that passage, the Jerusalem translation recognizes correctly the distinctions which modern users of the English language make between the words of "charity" and of "love." Thus, to moderns, charity is commonly taken to refer specifically to the donating of goods or money to indigent persons -- whereas Paul had neither goods nor money to bestow. Accordingly, the Jerusalem text makes it clear that Paul was speaking in the broader terms of love by further quoting him as saying that "love is always patient and kind . . . . does not take offense . . . . delights in the truth . . . . (and) is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes."
Thus, on the basis of the foregoing analysis, our logic concludes it will be desirable for each member of the clergy, having been taught to recognize such distinctions, to make his own choice of which version of the Bible from which to read to an assembled congregation as one of the Church's methods for the teaching of theological and moral truth to men and to nations. Indeed, why not let the clergyman simply borrow the word "love" from the Jerusalem version to insert into the more beautiful context of the King James version in such a passage as we have herein cited, thereby to retain the best features of both?
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