Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

“The second is this ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:31

I find this to be a hard commandment for everyone. There are two reasons for this. But one is a reason you might not think of. You probably have the verse above memorized, but I want to read it closely and think about what is being said. Look closely at the first sentence in that verse. Do you see it, “Love your neighbor as yourself?”

The context of the verse makes it grow in the underlying implication. To summarize the context of the verse, a teacher of the law approaches Jesus and tries to give him a trick question. The teacher asks, “Of all the commandments which is the most important?” In short, Jesus states, “The most important one, the Lord is one, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” And he states, “The second is Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”[1]

When Jesus says that, He really is summarizing all of the commandments into two. All of the commandments involve the love of God, other people, and yourself. He just boils it done to its most simple premise. However, I want to notice how He says “there is no greater commandment greater than these.” And take note of that statement. Keep it in mind.

When I think about the phrasing and how Jesus puts Mark 12:31 and the other gospel variances, it becomes a very interesting verse. Jesus could have put the verse of loving your neighbor a different way. However, He specifically says “love your neighbor as yourself.” When you really think about it, this is such a powerful verse. He inserts another party into the equation. It’s not just God and your neighbor. He inserts self-love. He puts the person into the equation. God wants us to love ourselves and it is part of the greatest commandment. He intentionally says that we need to love ourselves.

Christians are not to be about self-hate because God calls us to love ourselves. That means forgiving ourselves and being patient with ourselves. It means having no false humility. By false humility I mean, thinking things that aren’t true about yourself. Thinking lower of yourself than everyone else. Even though you love your neighbor, you are not fulfilling the greatest commandment because you don’t love yourself.

The other take for this verse would be “since I don’t love myself then I don’t have to love my neighbor.” This is wrong and would not fulfill the commandment either. I know this because if we work out the verse backward with everything the bible says about treating others, then we come back to good treatment of others and therefore ourselves. God doesn’t give much instruction on self- love it seems, but the greatest commandment is “love your neighbor as yourself.” And through that verse he gives us a hint that if we struggle with loving ourselves the measure is to love ourselves like we were our neighbor. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. And it works in reverse.

Do you see now why this little verse is so powerful? It expresses God’s will that if we struggle with loving ourselves that we are to love ourselves like how we love other people.

I will be the first to admit I have this struggle. I’m always harder on myself than other people. I can be downright cruel to myself. I remember sometimes I would make running a punishment for a mistake I made. I remember a few times, I desired to run myself into the ground. To run until I collapsed from exhaustion. And I would punish myself in other ways. However the truth is, God wants me and you to love ourselves and forgive ourselves. He makes it one of the greatest commandments and that itself says a lot.

One method I found that helps in treating myself how I would my neighbor is to picture a friend of mine in the same circumstances and making the same mistakes. And if I would forgive them than what makes me any different in deserving my own forgiveness. My therapist told me in a recent session, to do that when I remember the stupid and insecure things I did when going through the depths of my most recent episode of major depression.

Looking back, I have a lot of regrets and hate some of the things I did. However, if it was any other person I would understand that they were sick and readily forgive them. I would understand that it wasn’t entirely their fault and understand that they weren’t themselves. And that’s the way I have to look at myself when I think about how I pushed others away and how I was also clingy. And also for when I craved comfort to soothe my pain. I need to put someone else in my shoes to understand that it’s okay that I made mistakes.

The struggle of treating myself how I treat others is something I am trying to work on. And most of all, I hope this helped you to try to love yourself more too. Remember God loves you so much, and he wants you to love yourself too.

Until next time,

Ashes

[1] Mark 12: 28-31

Confession

Sorry, it has taken me so long to make another post. I said I would write a series of posts on my perspective as a Catholic convert. I apologize for taking so long. I have not been quite inspired to write. I’m sure this will change though once I’m back at Saint Leo and can attend mass regularly and have fellowship.

Confession.

This word should spark something in every Christian. A few words or images may come to mind like forgiveness or maybe dread. You may picture a dark place full of shame. Or you may picture a scary place. However, when you come to understand what confession is, it’s nothing like that. Confession is about forgiveness and not being judged. It is where you can hear words “you are forgiven.” Confession is a sacrament I love and it might even rival my love for the Eucharist. (Eucharist is the transubstantiation of the body and blood of Christ into the bread and wine in communion.)

Generally, this sacrament is controversial in Christianity. Though, the purpose of this post is not to provide evidence to convince someone that confession is instituted by Jesus, but to discuss what confession is to me. I ask that anyone who wants to debate the biblical truth of confession with me please refrain from doing so.  For those who do not know catholic teaching, and to avoid anyone who wants to be a troll, confession does not mean that God is so limited that he cannot forgive sins directly. He can, there is no argument about that. It matters on the motive. It has to be out of love for God and grief over hurting and offending a Lord who is goodness himself. It cannot be out of fear or terror for your salvation.

Back to the purely spiritual side of the faith, and the intended topic, confession is very different for me than compared to some cradle Catholics. That’s not to say I don’t get nervous before confession, but I don’t dread it. Confession is still quite tricky for me still. I’m new Catholic and I was accepted into the church this year the 2nd Sunday of Easter. I am in no way a baby Christian though, and should not be mistaken for one. I am just new in the catholic faith. Therefore, I’m still getting use to how confession works and what is considered a good confession and what is a bad confession. I have actually only been to confession three times, but I would love to go every week; my circumstances prevent me from doing so though.

Beyond my personal circumstances and experiences, Confession is a great gift. I love how in confession I can hear a verbal expression of my sins being forgiven. However, it should not be understood that you need a man to forgive you. God is the one who forgives and knows your intention in the confessional. The priest in the sacrament of confession represents the Church and Jesus. The love of hearing absolution stems from when I was a child. As a child, it was hard for me to ask for forgiveness and not really know if God forgave me. I was left wondering if I was forgiven because I kept doing bad things over and over. Things like disobeying my parents and arguing with my brother. Some were intentional, as in “its fine if I do this over and over again because God forgives me.” This is a common faulty notion among people and can be found in every denomination. It didn’t seem right within myself that someone should forgive another who is just abusing forgiveness to do the bad act again. The Lord’s Prayer says “forgive our trespasses as those who have trespassed against us.” Therefore, I had this sense that just asking for forgiveness wasn’t something that could guarantee that God forgave you. This sense had some truth to it. Forgiveness depends on your intention and if you are repentant.

Another crucial aspect of confession is the examination of one’s self. With the sacrament of confession, I am more aware of my failings and my need for grace. We see ourselves as we really are. We get to know ourselves very well.  This is beneficial to us in that we actually see who we are and not what we think we are.  To clarify my point, there is this notion that the way we see ourselves is not how we actually are. We see ourselves better than we are. Conversely, other people are a better gauge at who we really are because they don’t have our biases, nor are they in our head. One way to see ourselves is by the others, but we can do that also by examining ourselves and not fooling ourselves to feel good. This helps us grow as people and not to settle for who we are now.

This aspect is important to me because I can see where my faults are and have better understanding of being humble. This humility is also facilitated in confession by the fact you stare your sins in the face and have to own up to them. You speak aloud your faults and fully acknowledge that you had done wrong to the priest. You acknowledge that you are not as good as you should be and acknowledge that another person. This can be uncomfortable, but it teaches you to see yourself with reality and not have a distorted perception of yourself.

In addition, when speaking out loud your sins to a priest, you come to see how patient and kind Jesus is. You can see how forgiving He is. The priest is supposed to emulate Christ and his love. In my confessions, the priests were undeterred by my sins and were kind. They respected me and did not look down on me in any way. Not to mention, some of the priests I saw for confession acted like my sins I had confessed was not the bane of all evil. Their view of me didn’t seem to change. They saw it as the past and left it there. lack of negative reaction or even having slight negative expressions on their faces has lead me closer to understanding how to forgive like Jesus. There were no judgments except that I was trying to follow God as best I could. And nothing will be or would be held over my head against me. In little a way, I think priests have helped facilitate my views on not listening to what I hear about someone’s past because it is in the past. They could have changed and realized their mistake. Though, I am not perfect at this yet and I’m leery about doing such in certain situations, it has helped me see that past mistakes are just that. In the past.

The sacrament of Confession has offered way more to me than with only praying for forgiveness to God. It has let me see past the darkness and cast me into the light. I can see my need for God and see my true self with all its faults. I have clarity in understanding myself and judging myself. I see humility as what it is. I also see the crime of deluding myself in thinking some questionable choices I made were right. I see my need for forgiveness since confession requires awareness of one’s self and your sins. Confession is a great gift. The greatest part about it though is the slate is washed clean. The sins are gone. Forgiveness, love, and grace has washed them away. And if grave sin was committed, God warmly embraces you back into communion with him.

Why Catholic? My Story on Why I Became a Catholic.

I decided to be Catholic based on theological reasons and based on things I found in the bible. I don’t believe in choosing a denomination based on how you feel. I feel like it should be grounded in reason. Choosing on how you feel is typically how people choose a church it seems, at least it is nowadays.

To start off my story, I wanted to be a preacher. With that desire, I knew it came with great responsibility. The bible warns about being a false teacher and I was worried that I could be one. It was my responsibility that if I was to be teaching I needed to figure out which denomination I thought had the truth and believed in my heart to be what Jesus meant. This was really instilled in me when one of my friends mentioned how he didn’t think every church was right, that there had to be one that held the whole truth. He also believed that salvation may be contingent on that too.

While I was 18, I started following some outspoken fundamentalists on twitter. They would criticize well-known preachers that showed on television. I remember there was this one tweet that said something like “false teachers don’t know they are false teachers.” This struck me as something I had never thought of and opened the possibility to me that I could become a false teacher and not know it.

Originally when I read the passages in the bible about false teaching, there was this inherent idea that the teachers knew they were false and were doing something they knew to be wrong. This concept I held unconsciously was revealed to me with that tweet and passages I increasingly read about false teaching gave me this urgency to find what I believed to be the truth. My friend’s idea of how one church has to have the full truth struck me and made me realize correct theology is very important in teaching to others. It shapes your beliefs about Jesus and salvation.

I had the fear of my own salvation when I realized that correct theology could be linked to salvation and also this urgency to be able to lead others towards that truth if that was the case.

Now, that I’m older and more familiar with theology, I realize that idea of fearing for my salvation wasn’t necessarily correct. Christians are not gnostic. This means we do not believe salvation is contingent on special knowledge. Though truth to a certain extent is needed, but enlightenment of something or an awakening, ike gnostics believed, is not needed for attaining salvation.

My search began the summer of 2013. I poured over scripture for months. I spent hours and hours invested into this search. I would wake up each day and read my bible. I learned the gist of various theologies through the internet and tried to compare them to what I found in the bible.

Catholic was 2nd on my list of theologies I really did not like and hoped wouldn’t be found. The 1st on my list of hoping for it being unbiblical was Calvinism.

Scripture started to look catholic to me in my search for biblical truth. What threw me over the edge of affirming the Catholic faith was the most biblical was when I disproved Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is the doctrine of the bible alone. It was made by Martin Luther when he separated from the Catholic Church and formed the Lutheran church. With Sola Scriptura being proven unbiblical, that’s when my eyes were opened and could not ignore what I had just seen.

Now you are probably wanting to know the verses I found that disprove a doctrine held by pretty much every protestant church. Don’t worry, I plan on giving you the list of what I found disproving this doctrine and I’ll talk a little about the verses.

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:15 NIV

Another Translation of this verse says:

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. – 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

This verse implies that not all the teachings are written down and concedes that the bible does not contain the teaching of Jesus passed down by the apostles. A lot of translations use the word “traditions” just like the English Standard Version does. Protestant churches believe in the bible one, but the Catholic Church believes in Tradition and Scripture. It acknowledges that there traditions or teachings that are not in the bible, but were passed down by word of mouth. The very fact the bible doesn’t contain all of the apostles’ teaching really hit home for me and was the big breakthrough for me in turning to Catholicism. The doctrine I had known and practiced all my life was in fact not biblical.

I found other verses besides this one pointing to the same fact that Sola Scriptura was false teaching. The one in 2nd Thessalonians was the just the major one for me.

Here are the other verses I found proving Sola Scriptura unbiblical:

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” – 2 John 1:12 NIV

“I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink.  I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” – 3rd John 1:13 – 14 NIV

These verses were addressed to an elder of the church and the letters mention guidance on spiritual life. Therefore, the letters held teaching and since John had a lot to say I think he had a lot more to teach him. This also shows that not all of the teachings are in the bible.

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” – Jude 1:9

The story that the book of Jude tells is nowhere found in Exodus. This story could have been an oral tradition, but it affirms that not everything was in the Old Testament too.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” – John 21:25

This verse comes from the Gospel of John and clearly states that not everything was written down.

These verses proved to me that Sola Scriptura was unbiblical.

I also found other verses that alluded to the catholic faith besides these. There are verses in the New Testament talking about the sacrament of confession.

“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” – John 20:21–23 

Jesus is talking to the disciples in this verse. He is clearly indicating the sacrament of confession here with the authority given to tell someone their sins are forgiven.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1st peter 4:8

Why would love cover sins if we could just pray for forgiveness for our sins?

I also found the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” – James 5:14

In my faith that I grew up in I had never heard of this being done, but the Catholic Church has this as one of their sacraments.

I also found a reference to purgatory on my search for biblical truth too.

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” – 1st Corinthians 3:11-15 

Notice how the person is put through a fire and in other passages fire is associated with refinement. Also, take note that even though the person was not perfect, nor was his faith, he went through the fire and still attained salvation. This seems to suggest that there some type of thing like purgatory. This not hell because salvation is attained.

Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny – Matthew 5:25-26

This verse also seems to reference a certain purgatory for our actions and how we are punished, but the are released from the refinement we are going through. There is still this aspect that seems to be that we are punished for bad deeds by being thrown in prison. There is this option of getting out, but only if you have paid back everything you owed. Therefore, you are not meant to be in that prison forever. Thus, it cannot be considered hell or an earthly prison. The judge in the passage can be seen to be God. This passage is presented on the Sermon on the Mount and probably is not referring to an earthly prison.

These were some of the verses I found on my journey I took at nineteen. There are many verses I know now that also points to Catholic ideas, but I wanted to give you the evidence I had stumbled upon that let me know the Catholic faith was the one that held the truth.  The full truth. By the way, as a side note, one of the purgatory verses may not be one I found during that time. I don’t quite remember, but nonetheless, it points to the idea of purgatory.

The Inquisitive Child

Greetings my followers and anonymous readers!

I have decided to write a series of posts on the great things about Catholicism, from my point of view as a convert. I use the word “convert” simply because it is commonly used and people understand better than the phrase I prefer to use. I prefer the phrase “changed denominations.” For convenience, though, I just say “convert” since it is the common vernacular.

If you are just catching up, and I’m not entirely sure if I have mentioned this before; I was confirmed as a full-fledged Catholic this year. As I mentioned in the earlier paragraph, I am what is called a “convert” to Catholicism.  I grew up a protestant. More specifically, United Methodist.

To start off my series, I’m going to give you a rundown on my faith Journey. The next installment will include my story on my conversion to Catholicism. Much of this up until high school has to deal with my experiences at Vacation Bible schools.

I was like most kids, but I had a lot of doubts as a child with my faith because things didn’t add up. I had questions and I would get an answer in a weird tone. In addition, the answers were usually rather dumb and didn’t satisfy my question. I remember, at the age of ten or so years of age, being told the story about Thomas. They would say “don’t be like Thomas” and at the time I related most to Thomas. I also related to Martha, and this bothered me. They were both used as negative examples on what not to be.

What I learned as a child was that asking hard questions was considered taboo. To me, the atmosphere I got was that you aren’t supposed to ask questions or if you did you are looked at as someone who did not have enough faith. There was this certain shame to it. It seemed like I was the only one who struggled with certain questions as a child and doubted my salvation.

The reason I doubted my salvation was because I had gone to many different Vacation Bible Schools over the summers as a child. I would go to different denominations because they had their VBS on different weeks of the summer. I suppose my mother did that so we had something to do. From the different denominations, I would get different theological perspectives and that confused me even more. I remember I went to a Baptist VBS and they did an altar call. I was 10 at the time, and from what I think I remember, they asked for those who were unsure of their salvation and wanted to go to heaven to stay behind in the sanctuary of the church. They spoke about the terrors of hell and I remember I was scared and was very fearful that I would end up there. I stayed behind because I thought this would be the way to finally be like the rest of the kids with the assurance of their salvation. When I did that, I received a bible and said a prayer. And I was basically told I was saved. What they said didn’t make sense to me at the time, because, I believe, I had stayed because of fear and the unanswered questions I had. There were many reasons for why I stayed and this I’m sure is not just the one.

Another thing, in those Vacation Bible Schools I went to, we would read passages for our lessons, and to me, some of the passages indicated that salvation was not guaranteed just because you have a belief in Jesus and that he died for you. Though, the teachers never touched on this and I was afraid to even bring up a notion like that. I thought the other kids would figure me out, and see that I had questions and doubts. I was afraid of what would be said or thought about me. Internally, I couldn’t let go of the fact that passages seemed to say that salvation was not a given and there was another aspect to it. As you can see, I was left with much confusion and had this notion that one should have blind faith. Eventually, I just accepted that and it put much of it to rest.

However, I still held onto the notion that we are not guaranteed salvation. I considered salvation to be something I hoped for and avoided the question because I had no answer to it. Therefore, I focused more on who God was and not on the notion of my salvation. I was a kid who was very much loved rules. The statement “rules are made to broken” sounded very idiotic to me and was just a phrase people said to justify the bad thing they were going to do.  I saw God as order. I also saw him as that rewarded good people and gave the bad people punishment. I didn’t see him as being that wanted a close relationship with me. I saw him as something distant and that I had a relationship with him, but not like a friend. He was more like and acquaintance I went to when I had things on my mind and was afraid. Someone prayed to before tests. I also saw him the person that would get back at the people who bullied me. I saw him as my vengeance. The vengeance notion is biblical, but it lacked the maturity of what being a Christian meant. This as you can see, was not a great relationship, like I have now. To put it a different way, I use to imagine him as a being that lacked patience and was a father who was strict and didn’t understand. Some people reading this may have a hard time picturing this as something I thought, but even while I had that notion I still very much had reverence for him and understood that we should try to be better people.

It was during my high school years that God really got a hold of me. And you can probably tell from my earlier posts that since then Jesus has been something I have loved to talk about. God wasn’t this strict Father to me anymore. I came to really understand what his love is and how much he loved me. I began to believe that I was probably saved, but it wasn’t important to me really. Yes, I still had that fear of hell, and I’m sure everyone does, but I saw that it is better to love God for who He is and His love for me than what he can give me.

The experience I had was God was there for me when I went through my first episode of Major depression, granted I didn’t have the official answer that it was depression. What helped me during, that time is that the idea that God love me immensely took a greater meaning and helped in my dark thoughts. At that time, I felt like everyone was pretending to be my friend and only my parents loved me. When I had a thought that God loved me immensely, it overpowered my dark thoughts of being unlovable. The fact that God loved me became something that was meaningful. It planted the idea in my head during that time that it didn’t matter about anyone else. They were not important and didn’t matter. They didn’t matter because Jesus loved me so immensely. And he was also rejected and knew how I felt.

That wasn’t all he did though, in the mornings I would have this feeling that I can’t describe. I thought it was God though. At first I was scared of this feeling, because it was unknown to me. I believe it was God letting me know he was there and giving me peace at the time. Though, at the time I mistakenly believed it was God healing me. Which is what shook my faith when I was 20 when I went through my second episode and much worse episode of depression. In retrospect, I see that time as God really doing something. I was diagnosed with depression and not a disorder that gave you weird feelings. I believe that was God showing me he was close to me and giving me peace as I went through something that wasn’t diagnosed yet.

It may seem farfetched like I’m deluding myself, but I can’t fully explain the impact this had on me. It made me yearn to dedicate my life to him. Eventually, I gave up on my previous dream of being a video game character designer/graphic artist and instead decided to pursue theology.

Be on the lookout, the next installment will be about my conversion to the Catholic faith.

My Second Shadow: Life with a Chronic Illness

In case you are new to my blog, I was diagnosed with Major Depression a year ago. It has taught me some beautiful lessons and has also taught me lessons in harsh reality. Major depression comes in episodes and looking back I can say for sure my first episode happened when I was 15 years old. Little did I know at the time, that this thing had a name or that it was based on a chemical imbalance in my brain. That period in my life use to be my deepest darkest secret, until it happened again. My second episode happened when I was 20 years old. By that time, I was a little more educated on what to do because of the psychology classes I took in college. I got a therapist when it became apparent that it had gotten bad again and it was dangerous for me. In between then and the time it got bad again, I realize I doubted it ever went away. It was more like it was always there and that it would have times when it would be worse than others. I would describe the time between 16 to 19 years old to be just this sense that there was this darkness within me and just trying to ignore it.  It was like this weariness and grimness was there, but it wasn’t like it was back when I was 15. I didn’t have that panic or have intrusive thoughts of death.

The reason I am writing about this topic again, is because I am concerned. However, one thing I learned with going through depression at 20 years old is that people tend to minimize my concerns or brush them aside. Or they even say “everyone is like that.” They fail to acknowledge my concerns have weight and that I am different from people who don’t have depression. Therefore, I find it safe to express them on my blog and know that this way of expression does not encounter those problems.

The past few days I have been sleeping too much. WAY too much. Today, I slept for 16 hours and that concerns me. Before I was officially diagnosed and was waiting to be diagnosed, depression was just a guess by a one of my therapists, I use to sleep a lot because I didn’t want to face reality. To me, depression was the worst thing I could have been thought to have. It shook my faith and my sense of what life would be like for me. The reason it shook my faith though, is a story for another time. So because of that I would try to sleep whenever I was bored or didn’t want to deal with things. Sleep was my escape from a maybe diagnosis that scared me so much.

My main concern with my sleeping habits that have been happening this summer is because sleeping those many hours is a symptom of depression. I am afraid it may not be under my control as well as it was before. This morning I woke up and it felt like it took so much energy to just sit up. It felt exhausting to even think of getting up out of bed. It is something many people do not understand. It took so much of a fight for me to get out of bed to take care of the neighbors dogs. I’m also tired all the time again. The medication I am on keeps the horrid monster at bay. However, even with medication, I can still feel it there. It isn’t as all-consuming as it was a year ago, but I can still feel it there. The way I describe it now is that it is a shadow.

The concern I have is something I have to deal with along with my therapist. In my experience, talking to others about my illness isn’t always the best, unless they see me having a breakdown.

The thing with my depression is I sometimes wonder what it would be like to not have this darkness inside of me. If this darkness is what makes me feel so different and feel unsatisfied with others and their trivial pursuits. Or that be just part of my INFJ personality. However, I know foe a fact if I didn’t have a chronic illness I would be different. I would have more achievements and more hobbies. I would probably have more things that are completed and not so many things that are a work in progress. It’s hard knowing that without an illness you could do so much better, but in the end I have to accept my reality and work with it as best I can.

19 Of The Best Quotes That Perfectly Explain What Depression Feels Like

This is a must read!! As someone who has Major Depression, I feel like this is really accurate and could help others in trying to understand what it is like to have depression if someone they know is going through it.

Thought Catalog

Ryan McGilchristRyan McGilchrist

1. “I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” – Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story


2. “The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be…

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Brazils $900 million World Cup stadium is now being used as a parking lot – Vox

Just Sayin'

Brazil spent about $3 billion building 12 new or heavily refurbished stadiums for last year’s World Cup. Officials promised these taxpayer-funded venues would continue to generate revenue for years, hosting concerts, pro soccer games, and other events.

But as Lourdes Garcia-Navarro at NPR reports, most stadiums are failing to generate much revenue at all. The most expensive one, in Brasilia, is most regularly used as a site for a municipal bus parking lot.

One big problem is that several of the stadiums — including Brasilia’s 72,000-seat, $900 million venue — were built in cities where there are only minor league pro teams that don’t draw large crowds. This was done so World Cup games could be spread across the entire country, instead of just the southeast, where most of the top pro teams play. It’s as if we built gleaming new stadiums in Montana and Alaska for hosting a…

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Here’s Which Harry Potter Character You Are Based On Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

I got Dumbledore!

Thought Catalog

ISTJ – You are Harry Potter

Harry PotterHarry Potter

Principled, single-minded and selflessly devoted to the pursuit of justice, Harry was a textbook ISTJ. Though he was not always a fan of the spotlight he’d been forced into, Harry took his role as a warrior against dark magic incredibly seriously. He was prepared to go to any lengths necessary to defend what he believed to be right – demonstrating classic ISTJ conduct.

INFP – You are Luna Lovegood

Harry PotterHarry Potter

Romantic, speculative and perceptive of connections that evaded others, Luna Lovegood was a classic INFP. Though her head-in-the-clouds nature was certainly an exaggeration of the norm for this type, she was anything but shallow or unintelligent. Luna was sharp, fearless and loyal where it mattered – and throughout the Harry Potter series, it mattered a lot.

ENTP – You are Fred and George Weasley

Harry PotterHarry Potter

Clever, opportunistic and mischievous to…

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The One Advantage Anxious People Have Over Everyone Else

Thought Catalog

Flickr / Sarah JoyFlickr / Sarah Joy

Anxious people tend to have weird ticks like biting their nails, stuttering, and fidgeting. But on the upside: they’re apparently smarter than everyone else!

The University in Ontario, Canada conducted a study, surveying 100 students to see how much they worry. The students who have more angst tend to score higher on the verbal intelligence test.

Not to mention, this isn’t the first study on this matter.

In 2012, psychologists from Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya asked 80 students to assess artwork presented by a software program but were set up by the the researchers to activate a computer virus seemingly by accident. An actress then would attempted to get technical support. The students who were more anxious proved to be the ones who focused on fixing the virus.

So yes, you may be a worry-wart but lucky you! Seems as though it’s a sign of great things…

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Jesus Went to Hell

The Apostles’ Creed creates a lot of discomfort with a little clause that is present in its lines of affirmations. This clause is the phrase “He descended into hell” and refers to Jesus. Some churches take this as a metaphor or avoid the topic. Some go so far to even omit the phrase from the creed. The claim for this omission of it is that it is not biblical, and, therefore, cannot be true. However, I will prove with logic and scripture that you have to say Jesus descended into to hell to have orthodox Christology and soteriology and it should not be omitted or taken as a metaphor for Jesus’s suffering.

Before I begin, I want you to see the apostle’s creed and the phrase for yourself.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Amen.

Now to start my explanation, the word “hell” in the Apostles Creed is actually the Hebrew word “Sheol.” In Greek the word is translated into “hades.” They are the exact same thing in that the people there do not have any vision of God[1]. Therefore, to proceed in explaining the necessity of statement “he descended into hell,” it is essential that one understands Jewish culture, which should be an inherent concept that one should understand when reading the Old Testament to read it correctly. Not understanding Jewish culture may be a flaw with some church’s reading of scripture and why they omit the phrase from the creed. Anyone of any measure of scholarship and knowledge should use knowledge of Jewish culture in conjunction when reading the Old Testament.  In the beginning, the Jews, at first, did not seem to have a good concept of an afterlife. The afterlife in Jewish culture at the time did not relate anything of joy and happiness. In the book of Psalms there are references to this place called Sheol.[2] Psalm 8:5 states: “The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me.” This scripture verse states that the act of dying is different from Sheol. There is the concept of Sheol and there is the concept of death in the Jewish culture at the time. Psalm 6:6 says, “For in death there is no remembrance of you. Who praises you in Sheol?” This states that death is what leads a person into Sheol. It shows this by the order in how death is mentioned first. Numbers 16:30 says, “But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the Lord.” Jewish tradition considered Sheol to be beneath the earth. Numbers 16:30 reflects this view that Sheol was beneath the earth. It also uses the word “descend” just like the Apostle’s Creed does. It is important to mention that it wasn’t until the book of Daniel that the idea of the resurrection is first mentioned.[3]  The righteous and the non-righteous did not have the same fate though in this concept of the afterlife. The righteous were held in Abraham’s Bosom, and these are the people Christ came to save from within Sheol.[4] Second temple Judaism had an eschatology that developed throughout the past and culminated into this eschatology.[5]

With establishing the existence of Sheol and how it is valid to the Jewish culture at the time, the idea of liberation for those souls by the death of Jesus and his descent is made to be more probable than not when one considers Jesus as the savior of all. Psalm 49:15-16 mentions the redemption of the just souls from Sheol. It says:

This is the way of those who trust in themselves, and the end of those who take pleasure in their own mouth. Like a herd of sheep they will be put into Sheol, and Death will shepherd them. Straight to the grave they descend, where their form will waste away, Sheol will be their palace. But God will redeem my life, will take me from the hand of Sheol.

It is presumed that David is writing this, and therefore we should consider the author to be a righteous and just person. The fact that the author knows that there will be redemption from Sheol for him suggests that the righteous will be redeemed. This also states that are awaiting Jesus’ descent into hell and that there is a place called Abraham’s bosom where the righteous go[6]. The purpose of the death of Jesus was to allow humanity to gain entrance into heaven. The people of humanity before Jesus did not have access to heaven and therefore there needed to be this place for the righteous. Therefore, those who came before Jesus were in another place and we have confirmed in Jewish tradition to be Sheol.  To deny Jesus’ descent becomes very problematic in that sense.

The concept of Jesus descending to Sheol when omitted or taken as a metaphor becomes very problematic. Not only does it become scripturally a problem because much of scripture is left with no meaning, but it creates a problem for one’s Christology and soteriology. When one denies that Jesus went Sheol, he is denying Jesus came to save all. He is, instead, asserting that Jesus came to save those people alive in his time period and afterward. This becomes problematic because the crucifixion can be seen as not totally fixing what humanity did in bringing death into the world. It’s claiming, essentially, that Jesus is not fully divine, and therefore, could not repay everything humanity owed.  On the other hand, one can also be asserting Jesus did not have enough humanity to be the repayment on behalf of humanity, nor was his humanity valid enough for him to go to Sheol just like other humans. This assertion would mean that man cannot be resurrected, due to the fact we can’t be the level of human Jesus was. Therefore, there would be no resurrection. You cannot say Jesus is fully human without saying He went to Sheol. Jesus faced death which was a design not part of God’s plan for creation, yet it was man’s fate. Therefore, Jesus in humanity should have also descended into Sheol because of the fact He was fully human. To deny the descent is to deny the resurrection is possible for humanity because it states Jesus is not fully human. The denial of the descent, at most, states Jesus is a mixture of Divine and human that make up this being of the Christ. This is idea of a mixture is condemned in some of the early creeds that came about within early Christianity. The mixture idea of divine and human would fall under the heresies by Apollinaris, Theodore of Mopsueste, or even Nestorius.

People object to Jesus’ descent into Sheol because they claim there is no narrative in gospels about the event. However, death is a solitary experience and two people cannot enter death together. Therefore, it is rather foolish to think an apostle could write about the account of Jesus going to Sheol.  However, it should not be misunderstood to be that the apostles did not know that Jesus was to descend into Sheol. It is revealed in the new testament Jesus was to descend into Sheol. There are New Testament references even if it is not a narrative of Jesus being in Sheol. Mathew 12: 40 says: “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jews at the time believed Sheol was at the center of the earth. This verse corresponds with the place they knew Sheol was. The tomb Jesus’ body was put in was not at the center of the earth or under the earth. Matthew 12:40 could not possibly be referring to the tomb. Another aspect that further emphasizes the relation to Sheol with Matthew 12:40 is Jonah while in the belly of the whale uses a hyperbole to Sheol. This parallel further gives indication that Jesus descended into Sheol.[7] In the idea that Jesus rose from the dead is another example of a reference within the New Testament. The specific use of the word “rose” or “rise” is an indication of Sheol as well.[8] Jesus’ body was not placed at the center of earth, so it is wrong to say that he rose from the dead and to deny the descent into Sheol. In order for something to “rise” into life upon earth, it would have to have descended first. This descent gives the idea that there is a place below the earth and Jesus departed there because he had to “rise” from the dead. To deny the descent could be to deny the resurrection. To deny the resurrection becomes its own problem which unravels one’s Christology. The resurrection is arguably the most important event in Christendom.[9] Therefore as you can see scripturally it is an error to state that there is no scriptural evidence or to state that the clause in the Apostle’s creed is meant as a metaphor.

There is the a verse in 1st peter that Augustine talks, about but I find the passage too ambiguous and thus, have some doubts about what it is referring to and have not mentioned it for a reason. However, did you know when you go to the website biblegateway and select NASB translation and then type Sheol into the search 65 verses with that word come up? That is a big number and shows that it is not something that should be overlooked. In other translations, it is referred to it as Hades or as the realm of the dead. This little word is rooted in history and should not be ignored like it seems to be.

The lack of a straight forward narrative in the New Testament should not totally discount the concept in the Apostle’s Creed. The use of such an argument shows the lack of full knowledge of scripture within the Old Testament and an understanding of Jewish culture. Another reason this argument is invalid is because John 20:25 says, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” This verse states that not everything Jesus did was written in the bible. If everything was written down the bible would be much bigger than what we have today. It is a fallacy to believe that everything Jesus did was written down and contained within the bible. Therefore, one cannot cite that argument, especially because the argument proposed the idea of the Trinity would not stand up to that question. The Trinity is not specifically and straight forwardly mentioned in the bible.

In conclusion, the clause “descended into hell’ is an orthodox statement. It can be found in scripture and logically based on Jewish tradition is an event that took place. It is incorrect for the phrase to be omitted from the Apostles’ Creed or to be taken as a metaphor. Christology and soteriology would incompatible with scripture if the belief of the descent is not held. Without the belief of the descent Jesus cannot be named the savior of all. It leads to problems within ones theology and leaves a hole in Christianity itself. Therefore, it seems that one needs to say that Jesus descended into Hell in order to have orthodox Christology and to understand the salvific purpose Jesus came to fulfill.

References/footnotes:


[1] Catholic Church. 1994. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[2] Boadt, Lawrence. 1984. Reading the Old Testament: an introduction. New York, N.Y.: Paulist Press. 216-217.

[3] Boadt, Lawrence. 1984. Reading the Old Testament: an introduction. New York, N.Y.: Paulist Press. 217.

[4] Catholic Church. 1994. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[5] Levering, Matthew. 2012. Jesus and the Demise of Death : Resurrection, Afterlife, and the Fate of the Christian. Waco, Tex: Baylor University Press, 2012. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 21, 2015). 15.

[6] Catholic Church. 1994. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[7] “Why Did Jesus Descend to Hell.” Catholic Answers. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/why-did-christ-visit-hell-after-his-death-0.

[8] Matthew 28:7

[9] Ashwin-Siejkowski, Piotr. 2009. The Apostles’ Creed the Apostles’ Creed and its early Christian context. London: T & T Clark. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=601623. 63.