The nun turned her back on the class ( we were still not safe from scrutiny…we all knew she also had eyes in the back of her head…) Jimmy Cummings could make these strange voices and sounds and get us giggling…and then when the good sister turned around to find the culprit…Jimmy could instantly take on the countenance of a cherub and someone else would be blamed. His unique ability served him well. He is now Voice Actor Jim Cummings…the voice of Winnie the Pooh!
I digress…Back to what the nun had written on the green blackboard…She took the pointer…a weapons grade staff with a rubber tip that looked like a ballistic missile, and pronounced the phrase she had written
She then went on to explain that whenever the Pope was seated in the chair (also called the throne of St. Peter) whatever he said was infallible. He was not to be questioned for he was speaking in the place of God. The Latin phrase ex cathedra means “from… or out of the chair”
There was another Latin term we would learn,
Imprimatur was the term used to describe the authority of the Church when it came to anyone publishing anything that had to do with the teachings of the Church. It was an official endorsement or sanction…a seal of approval. Yet another Latin phrase would be used to certify the official Imprimatur…
It means “Nothing is in the way or is unacceptable or offensive”
Two days ago, I was listening to a national talk show…I actually got on the air and was able to engage the host on a topic that is important to me…how the media is intentionally trying to undermine our values and beliefs. As I remember I used the term Imprimatur in my remarks. After the conversation and just before the commercial break, the host teased the topic for the next segment.
“Stick around folks, did you hear the Pope said there is no Hell?
The current Pope has made numerous remarks that seem to confute not only Catholic Dogma, but the Bible itself. He took a lot of heat when he opined about the whole issue of homosexuality. “Who am I to judge?” I mean no disrespect, but I said out loud when I heard it, “I know who you are…You are Vicar of Christ on earth, the unquestionable representative of God to over a billion people. You sit on a throne, and utter remarks that are deemed to be infallible. You and those who rule with you can excommunicate people, hence cut them off from the means of grace…ergo consigning them to the Hell you said is not what the Bible describes, and Jesus believed to be real. In the New Testament, Jesus mentioned the word Hell more than He did Heaven.
The implications of all this are far reaching. What else in the Bible will be deemed to be inaccurate or false? Does the word infallible mean…sometimes or ‘sort of’? And what of all the tormented souls who died believing that they were damned to Hell? The Pope is reported to have said that the unrepentant ones don’t go to Hell. They just disappear. The bible describes torment that never ends…Dante’s inferno.
There is an angst that is palpable in our world…Constitutions mean nothing. Vows mean even less than nothing and we, lemming-like, rush to fall into the abyss as the institutions of power in our country disassemble all that was based on God’s word.
Listen to this noble school mission statement. ”Christo et Ecclesia” For Christ and the Church! This is the founding mission statement of Harvard! Princeton had this lofty goal for its students, “To know God in Jesus Christ…to live a godly sober life.” (Everett Piper, The Wrong Side of the Door, p.23)
God said “I am the Lord. I change not, therefore you are not consumed.” The writer to the Hebrews said under the unction of The Holy Spirit. “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God!” We have for a long time meekly submitted to the abandonment of the very notion there is such a thing as Truth. One writer quipped “God created man in his own image and likeness…and now man has returned the favor.”
I remember preaching a message years ago in which I talked about the Bible’s use of the word authority. Now for Catholics, authority rests in a man who speaks ex cathedra…from the chair. For those who rule us politically their authority can be described as ex officio….out of the office they hold. But for the believer in Jesus the authority that He grants us is based on our relationship with Him. The word translated authority in the Greek is exousia. It is a derivative of the verb “To be” It can be rendered ‘Out of who I AM’.
Is there a Hell? Is it how the Bible describes it? I read in the Bible that there is a hell and that Jesus affirmed it and warned that some will go there. I have staked my life on its veracity.
I hold that the answer does not rest with a man, or an organization, or a tradition. The bible says “All Scripture is God breathed.” “Heaven and earth shall pass away”, said Jesus, “but my words will never pass away.” That is proof enough for me. In the same Bible that people edit and parse into oblivion there is something worth noting. Yes there is a Hell and no one has to go there. Amazingly some may end up there not because God is an angry ogre.
Jesus said this:
“…and this is the judgment…that the light has come into the world but men preferred the darkness because their deeds were evil.”
I put the question to you…What do you prefer?