New updates can be found here. Lots of new material to go over.
Also, we reached over 1,000 views/hits to this site! Amazing! I’m amazed that people from Russia, England, Norway, and even Saudi Arabia have been checking out this site. I really do hope that Project Augustine and this site will continue to expand and reach more people the world over.
Tonight we had another interesting discussion on various topics. We discussed whether God still sends plagues down to mankind today. For instance, just as people in medieval Europe thought the Black Death was a punishment from God for their sins, in today’s world, can we say the same thing about AIDS being God’s punishment for homosexuality? Many believers still hold onto this belief, even in today’s scientific world. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this was the case – that God had sent the AIDS epidemic as punishment; how would that effect your understanding of God’s character?
We could add further examples of God sending down plagues as punishment in the Bible (such as the plagues brought down upon Egypt by God through Moses). Does God still do that today? Or does God not have anything to do it at all – it’s just nature running it’s course?
One person gave a response saying that it’s possible that it was both.
Also, in regards to many Europeans, including the Catholic Church, blaming the Black Death being caused by Jews, thereby leading to much persecution upon Jewish communities throughout Europe, you can see parallels in today’s world as well. Just as Christians produced a scapegoat in the Jews for all their miseries as a sign of God’s wrath upon them, today’s Christians (conservatives and fundamentalists in particular) blame homosexuals for many of the ills and impending doom and judgment of America and or the world.
History repeating itself yet again…
Of course, tonight, there was much discussion about the topic of Purgatory. Michael, a former Catholic but also our resident Catholic “scholar”, had much to say about Purgatory and indulgences, including their interesting link to Mass.
Then the topic was brought up about the fate of the “unevangelized dead”. You’ve most likely heard this argument many times before: What about those who were born at the “wrong place at the wrong time”?
Take for instance an Aborigine living in Australia centuries before Christ – would God send him to hell for all of eternity because he or she didn’t know the Gospel or have known about the God of the Bible (yes, I know it’s an anachronism because there was no such thing as the Bible as of yet until centuries later) or let alone the coming of Jesus? Granted that no one is righteous before God, but still, can God really send the Aborigine to eternal torment for his geo-historical predicament in which he or she has absolutely no control over? Or does God give them a free pass to heaven? Or will the Gospel be preached to them during Judgment Day, and they’ll get a second chance to accept or reject Jesus? Same argument applies for those with mental disabilities and handicaps.
When you think about it a bit more, something like Purgatory doesn’t seem too far fetched in some cases…
But when you think back to the time when the Black Death was going on in medieval Europe, to a time where there was no understanding of microbiology and modern medicine like we have today, you basically had no other choice than to look to the Church for help or answers. The Church did it’s best to comfort and provide possible answers to those who were suffering and dying.
Although some of us might complain that MacCulloch is seemingly too biased against the Church (well, you could argue that this happens to any historical writing) and has a (personal) bone to pick with the Christian Church in general in this book, he still does give a fresh view and explanation to the background to the Church’s beliefs and practices. I don’t think you’ll find the same explanations MacCulloch gives for Purgatory and indulgences in official Catholic versions of history for instance.
Nevertheless, it’s very engaging to learn and read about.