Saturday, December 06, 2014

Rome Says: Premillennialism "Cannot Safely Be Taught" ?

Here's one from the Catholic Answers Forums, surprisingly critical of a Catholic Answers tract:

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 DavidFilmer is offline
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Default Sloppy scholarship in a Catholic Answers tract - can anyone fill in the blanks?

Another thread asked a question about the Church's teaching regarding a point of eschatology.

There have been several similar threads. I have consistently replied that the Church has taught almost NOTHING about the "end-times" apart from what we can read in Scripture (but interpret at our own peril). I'm not talking about the usual death/judgement/heven/hell thing (which comprises Catholic doctrine, and is much simpler, and easily found in the Catechism), but about the "rapture" and the "reign of Jesus," around which much mythology has evolved.

I would have asserted that the Church teaches NOTHING about end-time theology, except that I had found a Catholic Answers Tract a long time ago, The Rapture. The author of this tract is not credited.

According to this tract,
In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism "cannot safely be taught," though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue.
Two things strike me as "wrong" (meaning uncharacteristically sloppy scholarship) about this assertion. First of all, it cites a DECADE, not a year or a date. I realize this is a tract, and is intended to be brief, but it would have been more brief (while being more specific) to say "in 1945" rather than "in the 1940s" (more brief by eight characters, if we count a space as a character).

Second, there is no such thing as "THE Holy Office," apart from the Pope himself. THE Holy Office of Peter belongs to the Pope alone. There are Vatican Offices which speak on behalf of the Holy See, but nobody except the Pope represents THE Holy Office. Other Offices are vicars only.

This tract asserts a teaching which is unfamiliar to me (and to Google, to the best of my ability to utilize it).

Can someone cite any "Holy Office" that taught this idea "in the 1940's" to fill in the blanks left by this tract?

I can't answer the questions this person has raised, however, I would speculate the tract may have been one of the early tracts written by Karl Keating and was originally titled, "Are You Pre, Mid, or Post?" Item Number: T002. Another person says "the Vatican website" "describes the 'Holy Office' as "the former name of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

In regard to the "1940's" statement, the Catholic Answers tract says:

What’s the Catholic Position?
As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been "amillennial" (as has been the majority Christian position in general, including that of the Protestant Reformers), though Catholics do not typically use this term. The Church has rejected the premillennial position, sometimes called "millenarianism" (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676). In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism "cannot safely be taught," though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue. 
With respect to the rapture, Catholics certainly believe that the event of our gathering together to be with Christ will take place, though they do not generally use the word "rapture" to refer to this event (somewhat ironically, since the term "rapture" is derived from the text of the Latin Vulgate of 1 Thess. 4:17—"we will be caught up," [Latin: rapiemur]). 

The comment from the 1940's was probably some sort of reaction to dispensationalism. What I think is interesting is that in my sparse studies of eschatology, there appears to have been a time in which premillenialism was safely taught:
During the first three centuries of the Christian era, premillennialism  appears to have been the dominant eschatological interpretation. Among its adherents were Papias, Iranaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodius, Commodianus, and Lactantius" (Robert Clouse, The Meaning of the Millennium (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1977), p.9)
So, if the defenders of Rome want to claim the early church, they should be premillennial.

A Catholic Answers participant states: "A quick wikiwalk leads me to p 212 of Acta Apostolica Sedis 1944, where the phrase in question (and in Latin) is: systema Millenarismi mitigati tuto doceri non posase The date is 21 July 1944."

The Wiki article states:

After Adolf Hitler's unsuccessful attempt to implement a thousand-year-reign, the Vatican issued an official statement that millennial claims could not be safely taught and that the related scriptures in Revelation (also called the Apocalypse) should be understood spiritually. Catholic author Bernard LeFrois wrote:
Millenium [sic]: Since the Holy Office decreed (July 21, 1944) that it cannot safely be taught that Christ at His Second Coming will reign visibly with only some of His saints (risen from the dead) for a period of time before the final and universal judgment, a spiritual millennium is seen in Apoc. 20:4–6. St. John gives a spiritual recapitulation of the activity of Satan, and the spiritual reign of the saints with Christ in heaven and in His Church on earth.

1 comment:

PeaceByJesus said...

Few RCs are likely aware of this also:

674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.569 [Rom 11:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39.]

"For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"571 The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",572 will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".573

675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576 -

I once argued at length against a assertive RC who denied a special future turning to the Lord by Jews was predicted by Scripture or Rome.