Category: Christianity

Karl Marx: Theses On Feuerbach. 1845

Karl Marx wrote his “Theses on Feuerbach” in the Spring of 1845. Friedrich Engels made some editing changes, and the short and sketchy text was published much later (after Marx’s death) as an appendix to Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy in 1888.  Source: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume One, p. 13 – 15. Introduction The “Theses on Feuerbach” are eleven short philosophical notes that were meant to outline the first chapter of the book The German Ideology. The 11th thesis became famous and was used on Marx’s grave. “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various...

Jacques Maritain: Man and the State (1951)

The State is not the supreme incarnation of the Idea, as Hegel believed; the State is not a kind of collective superman; the State is but an agency entitled to use power and coercion, and made up of experts or specialists in public order and welfare, an instrument in the service of man. Putting man at the service of that instrument is political perversion. The human person as an individual is for the body politic and the body politic is for the human person as a person. But man is by no means for the State. The State is for man.

Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian reflection on the “New Age”

This official text of the Catholic Church on New Age movement is the result of a six-year study on the New Age movement. It was published in 2003, and is critical of the movement. The Vatican theologians consider New Age philosophies to be based on “weak thought” and highlight the differences between Catholic thought and the New Age paradigms. The Vatican wants to warn Catholics against mixing Christian meditation with Eastern approaches to spirituality. The document also discusses the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, which it characterizes as “a paradigm for our engagement with truth”. The document concludes that “..there is never...

Christianity

Summary of Christian Beliefs It’s hard to define what Christian belief actually includes. The following list is modeled after the Catholic Church requirements;  other Christian groups may not agree with everything on this list. That there is one supreme, eternal, infinite God, the Creator of heaven and earth. That the good will be rewarded by him for ever in heaven, and that the wicked who die unrepentant will be punished for ever in hell. That in the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, coeternal, coequal: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That the Second Person of...

The Message of Jesus

During the Fall of 2015,  I was teaching a class on mysticism, and the question was raised, what are the central teachings of Jesus? Is Jesus a mystic? What are the ingredients for a genuine Christian life? These questions are important because one cannot claim to be Christian and at the same time ignore the examples set by the life of Jesus. It is not enough to proclaim that “Jesus saved me and will save you” in order to be a true Christian, despite  the claim that salvation occurs through faith alone. What are the central teachings of Jesus, and what are...

Aquinas: Human actions, goals, free will

What is the relation between human action and natural teleology? In these articles from the beginning of the second part of the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, he answers that we have to distinguish between human acts that come from a deliberate will, and therefore they are the proper domain of humanity, and actions that are natural even if they re performed by humans. He also argues that all human actions have a final goal, and it cannot be infinity itself. The principle in the human intention is the last end; consequently, it is not possible to aim directly at infinity, ...

Aquinas: Is the Incarnation necessary?

John 1,14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  The incarnation is probably the aspect of Christianity that is hardest to grasp. In the following articles from the third part of the Summa Theologica,  Thomas Aquinas explains why this was necessary for the salvation of human beings. God could have saved us in many ways, but the incarnate Christ is the most elegant and easiest solution. Here is his reasoning: (The text is quoted from the New Advent website.) Article 1. Whether it was fitting that God should become incarnate? Objection 1. It would seem that it was...

Sermon on the Mount

The  “Sermon on the Mount” is a central to the teachings of Jesus. It is a sermon that he gave to his disciples relatively early in his journey, and it contains the famous “Beatitudes”, blessings of people who are in the eyes of the world poor, stupid, unfortunate, or suffering. It also contains the “Lord’s Prayer,”  the direction on how to pray. This text is from the Gospel of Matthew,  and I quote chapters 5 to 7, from the “New International Version (NIV)” translation. Introduction 5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat...

St.Paul: Letter to the Romans. Law and Sin.

The text was written around 54/55 in Corinth, Greece.  It is one of the core texts of Christian theology, and discusses the relations between nature, law, sin, and redemption.  I am quoting chapter 7, and the beginning of chapter 8. The translation is from the  New International Version, and the numbers in the text represent chapter and verse numbers. 7 Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to...

The Rule of the Franciscan Order

The Catholic Church contains groups of people who are particularly dedicated to it, and who organize themselves in religious orders. They are tasked in various forms with the spreading of the faith. One of the early orders are the Franciscans, created by Saint Francis in the early 13th century. Saint Francis lived an exemplary life of poverty and compassion, thus emulating Jesus. The legend says that he was so joyful and peaceful that even the animals wanted to be around him, therefore he is often depicted surrounded by animals. He quickly had many followers in the human world as well....

Thomas Merton

 “Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race. His Life (Quoted from the website www.merton.org) “Thomas Merton was born in Prades, France. His New Zealand-born father, Owen Merton, and his American-born mother, Ruth Jenkins, were both artists. They had met at painting school in Paris, were...

Meister Eckhart – Predigt 52

Sermon 52 on  Blessed are the Poor (Matthew 5,3) is from Eckhart’s last period in life. I found the German text, and here it is: Beati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum. “Die Seligkeit selbst öffnete den Mund der Weisheit und sprach: „Selig, die arm sind an Geist, denn ihnen gehört das Himmelreich“. Alle Engel, alle Heiligen und alles, was geboren wurde, alle müssen sie schweigen, sobald die Weisheit des Vaters spricht. Ist doch allle Weisheit der Engel und aller Geschöpfe reine Torheit vor der unergründlichen Weisheit Gottes. Und sie hat behauptet, die Armen seien selig. Nun gibt es...

Meister Eckhart – Self-Communication of God

St John xiv. 23.—“If a man loves me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” We read in the Gospels that Our Lord fed many people with five loaves and two fishes. Speaking parabolically, we may say that the first loaf was—that we should know ourselves, what we have been everlastingly to God, and what we now are to Him. The second—that we should pity our fellow Christian who is blinded; his loss should grieve us as much as our own. The third—that we...

Thomas Aquinas

Content: Timeline of his Life 1225 Thomas Aquinas born at Roccasecca 1230 Begins studies at Montecassino 1239 Continues studies at University of Naples 1244 Joins Dominicans; family protests decision by imprisoning him for a year 1245 Released by his family, Thomas goes to Paris to study with Albert the Great 1248 Accompanies Albert to newly founded Dominican school at Cologne 1250 Ordained a priest 1252 Returns to Paris; writes Contra impugnantes Dei cultum, a defense of mendicant orders 1256 Named master of theology at Paris 1259 Sent to Italy, where he would teach at Anagni, Orvieto, Rome, and Viterbo c....

Meister Eckhart

Meister Eckhart is a frequently-quoted German medieval theologian and mystic. He is popular in new-age environments and among spiritual seekers, but some of his statements can be interpreted as pantheistic, and therefore the Catholic Church always had some problems with him. His Life The following biographaphy is quoted from the Eckhart Society Webpage: “While there is no evidence as to the exact date of Meister Eckhart’s birth, scholars generally agree that he was born around 1260, in or near Erfurt which lies midway between Munich and Hamburg and north-east of Frankfurt, probably in a village called Tambach. He is thought...